Has Our Passion Been Lost?

whr_pssnGUEST EDITORIAL

Greetings from the great State of Alabama! ROLL TIDE ROLL!!

Passion:  (noun) any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.

I know I’m not the only one asking, “Where did the passion go?”  Not to sound like a grumpy old man here, but it was not too long ago that a person got up each morning with one desire: to be the best in their chosen profession. We woke up each morning and did what it took.  We worked long hours, studied, read anything we could get our hands on to figure out how to do the job better.  We went to seminars, TOOK NOTES, networked with our peers and shared information in an effort to reach our pinnacle of success.

As I have said many times, I am a Skip-Tracer. Have been one for almost 30 years, and nothing makes me more proud than to declare my true-calling when asked what I do for a living. My journey started in South Florida many years ago. I was fresh out of the U.S. Army, and wisely coming to understand that a career as a “bouncer/beach bum” might not be the best choice. So I found a job with a local bank and became a “field representative”. For those of you not old enough to know what that involved, we worked in a single geographic area and received assignments from the collectors to go out, knock on doors and ask people for money or keys. It was a job that provided invaluable experience. I learned so much about people: human behavior, body language, networking skills, and more. Each day when I woke, I strove to have the highest clearance rate.

Those of us in this position would spend 2 to 3 years in the field before getting promoted to the inside office, where all of that valuable face-to-face experience could be put into action. Once inside the office, the on-the-job training started all over again. Here we learned how to work a file (long before computers did all the work), calculate repo rates, collection expenses, etc. We developed a relationship with our vendors, and each had trust in one another. From time to time we met, had lunch, worked the field together and more.  Each day we awoke with a determination to have the lowest numbers, locate the most skips, and have the fewest charge-offs. If one of us had too many charge-offs for too long of a period of time, or too many past-due accounts not cleared, it did not bode well for our future on the job, so the pressure was real, but we thrived on it.

After several years in collections, we might move up that ladder of success and become a paper buyer.  This job required the use of our previously accumulated experiences to be able to spot a collection problem or skip before the deal was purchased. We also developed a relationship with the dealers in our area and continued networking. The dawn of each new day came with a goal to be the best paper-buyer in the company.

What happened to us? Well I will tell you (In My Opinion) first that most companies in those days were decentralized, meaning that they had remotely-located, independent branches spread out all over their territory. Each branch focused its resources within their own geographic area and the cultures native to its area. They spent years building relationships and a network of sources, and they competed with all the other branches to form a robust nationwide force.  Sadly the culture of the personalized relationships that the stand-alone branches fostered is fading, as the industry moves toward centralizing to purchase centers or collections centers in one city to cover a region or the entire country.  In the consolidated hives, individuals are made to focus on singular tasks and they fail to develop the richly-layered experiences that could otherwise create the full-service company of yester-year.

Technology, as much as I treasure its progress, plays a role in the development of the mass-production robot mentality. Before we began to rely on computers for every task, we took notes, communicated directly with each other, and we actually from time-to-time, met face to face. We now have credit scores that essentially make the decisions based on cold equations.  With email, twitter, texting, etc., the essential element of real human contact is sadly going away.

I started by asking where the passion went. I could also have asked where the pride went. You see, 20 years ago a charge-off was a loss—not just an accounting function or a set of digits on a coldly-regarded spreadsheet. If you tried to save a repo or found a skip, someone experienced the thrill of success, and was there to say, “Job well done, and thank you!”, and they meant it.

We haven’t come to this unfortunate trend toward singular specializations alone, and we will not rise above it on our own. Rather than being two fists shaking at each other, how about we come together with a good old-fashioned handshake once again? Try saying “YES”, rather than “NO”.

Passion alone won’t get you past the finish line but without it you will never leave the gate or worse in the middle of the race you will find yourself running in place a great book on this subject is “Wisdom meets Passion” by Dan Miller.

The NARS and RSIG events are both great places to re-ignite that passion and learn from one other. I hope to see you there.

Until Next Time… Be Blessed, Be Safe and Happy Hunting!

 

alex_price_1About the Author:

Alex Price is a nationally-recognized expert on the Art of Skip Tracing. Currently he is the Executive Vice President for MasterFiles and author of Skip Tracers National Certification Program, The Florida Records Guide, The Military Installations Guide and blogger with over 25+ years of experience in skip-tracing, collections and public speaking.

Alex Price has become a highly sought-after speaker in the auto recovery, bail enforcement and financial service industries. He combines old school skip-tracing methods with new age cyber-tracking technology to equip attendees with tools that he gained through invaluable experience.  He balances the hard facts about skips with just the right amount of humor and a touch of southern charm.

Contact Info:  alex.price@masterfiles.com , Office: (972) 735-2353, Fax: (972) 735-2354

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2 thoughts on “Has Our Passion Been Lost?

  1. “This industry lost its self esteem when they agreed to work for free, store cars for free and whatever else they give away as an incentive to trade dollars, cheat their employees and endanger not only their personnel, but the public as well.”

    Thank you for the insightful observation garnered from an excellent article by Alex Price. However, raising the question, “Is NARS going to change what is going on”, is where we disagree.

    If in your opinion it will take a massive class action law suit, then the only way to mobilize enough people for a class action will be by bringing them together at NARS. No one person or company can organize these changes in our industry alone; enter the North America Repossession Summit.

    There is still time to make your plans to attend NARS next month. If you and others who believe this industry has lost its self esteem, then coming to Dallas, March 20 -22nd, is your chance to help take it back. The focus of the summit next month is on reclaiming our industry. For all concerned parties wanting a voice in the process, this is their opportunity…

  2. Well Alex I have an answer. The majority of lenders don’t care about the relationship with their vendors except for what they can get for free. Unless you work for a small credit union, you will never speak to the collection manager or even the collectors. This industry lost its self esteem when they agreed to work for free, store cars for free and whatever else they give away as an incentive to trade dollars, cheat their employees and endanger not only their personnel, but the public as well. Forwarding companies were not the first to demand contingency. They learned it from their clients. A good skip agency always paid close fees because they wanted the best agents out there. Now they shotgun them from one agency to the next just like the forwarders. How to you expect to get up to go to work everyday knowing that you have to do the above just to stay in business? There continues to be a contraction in the availability of reputable agencies because of these predatory practices. How many deaths is it going to take before these business models collapse? I am glad that I have always had just one thing in this business that I have been in for over 40 yrs. Integrity. I had it all at one point in my career and now I am a concierge company. We go places others won’t, we find people that others won’t and we do it all for a fee. Do I make a zillion dollars, no I barely make a living. Do I want to get up and go to work in the morning, yes. Am I proud of what I do, yes. Am I ashamed of the industry that I have worked in all my adult life, undoubtedly. Is NARS going to change what is going on, I doubt it. It took Dale Earnhardts death to radically change NASCAR. In my opinion it is going to take a massive class action law suit against on the majors for this industry to have the ability to separate the men from the wannabes. Now back to work.

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