Over the next several weeks, I will be releasing the results of the first of what I hope is an annual survey that will attempt to capture trends in the repossession industry. The survey will be broken down into covering multiple areas, some lightly and some with a little more depth. The covered areas will include Associations , ALPR, Forwarding and Violence in the industry just to name a few. Just as important, the survey includes industry sentiments and feelings about the state of their vendors and the industry alike.
As I mentioned before sending this out, I have and will keep all respondent identities with strict confidentiality. Apparently, some people did disclose to me some concern that the information might be shared with vendors who may retaliate for them stating dissatisfaction with their vendor/client relationships. Trust me folks, I’ll keep it to myself.
When I started this survey, I did have some assumptions as to what the results would look like and while many of them were right, there were some that did kind of, surprise me. Amongst those that did surprise me, was the low turnout for the collector survey. With a mere 37 participants, I’m really not sure it’s worth publishing and may need to re-do it and market it in a more focused manner.
I hope this survey either validates suspicions many of you have had or confirms the obvious through this less than scientific poll. For those of you kind enough to have participated, I thank you.
To start the results of this survey, I feel it is most important that we first identify who and how big a group responded to the survey (respondents.) Of the 143 survey participants, the highest amount of participation came from California, Florida and Texas. This was not really a surprise as this fell along the same lines as my leading geographic readers reports to the site. What was nice, was to see participation from 36 of the 50 states, which I felt gave a pretty fair representation of the industry as in some states there are very few repossession companies.
Repo Company Age
What surprised me a little was the average company age of the participants. With 49.3% of the respondents reporting having been in business over 20 years and a mere 22% having been in the industry 5 years or less, there clearly has not been what I would say a major surge in new repossession companies since the beginning of the recession. Of course, that is just the results of the survey and many of these new companies fly so far under the radar screen that very few of them caught wind of this or participated.
Respondents Years in the industry
Also not earth shaking are the results of how many years experience the respondents had. With 52.8% responding to have been in the business more than twenty years, it does illustrate that many of, or some of the respondents who had earlier reported to be in companies less than 5 years had received earlier experience in the industry through employment with other companies.
Employees per Company
With only one solo operator responding and nine respondents coming from companies in excess of 31 employees, it appears as though the average number of employees per company is between 5 and 9.
Number of Trucks
With 46% of the respondents reporting to be operating with 1-3 trucks, there seems to be evidence that the average company is still rather small.
Dental and Medical Benefits
While I don’t pretend to believe that the industry thrives to a point where 401K’s and profit sharing plans would thrive, I was a little disappointed by the lack of medical and dental benefits offered repossession company employees. But then again, if “Obamacare” ever kicks in, I guess at least the medical coverage will happen anyhow, as sub-par as it may be.
I was actually a little surprised by the positive and determined attitude the respondents provided to the question “Are you concerned that your company may not be able to survive in the current business environment?.” With 52% responding with a wary but optimistic belief that they will adapt and survive, it is clear that the pessimism of the recession has not fully enveloped the industry.
How happy is everyone in the industry. While it can’t all be sunshine, lollipops, puppies and flowers all of the time, there has been plenty of reason for discourse in the industry over the years. Surprisingly, 76, or 53% of the question respondents do enjoy the business and 26.2% stated “they used to, but not much anymore.”
The initial results from this study show the respondents are for the most, established and experienced repossession industry professionals with a deep concern about the future of the industry. Contrary to popular public belief, the industry is struggling and there is a good deal of concern for its survival. While we’ll touch on the perceived reasons on why in later survey results, it does appear as though the conservative yet tenacious heart of the industry is alive and well.
Next week we’ll provide more results from the survey as they pertain to the industries participation and sentiments of the repossession associations. In future weeks we’ll release the results on forwarding, contingent assignments and violence in the industry.