Sticks and Stones (Part 1)

stcks_stnsGuest Editorial

 Greetings from the great State of Alabama! Roll Tide Roll!!!

With my travels all across this nation I have a unique opportunity to work and train people from every walk of life—from the auto finance industry, to the bail bondsman, to the recovery agent.  No matter their line of work, the most common question I am asked is: “When should we start working a skip?” How far past-due should someone be before we start skipping them?

The answer may surprise you: “At the Point of Sale.” Early recognition at the beginning will save you in the end. Asking the right questions so that your file has the right information up front lays the foundation for getting what you need later on.  Hopefully, the financial institution performed some of this groundwork for you.  If not you may be able to find it on your own.

There is one simple skip tool that every member of your staff should be trained to get up front: Your subject’s nickname. It’s so easy to request, and yet this simple piece of information will find more skips than any other tool I know.

We all have a nickname.  My birth name is Anthony Alexander Price, but I have gone by ‘Alex’ since third grade. So anyone calling me and asking for ‘Anthony’ is unwittingly sending me a clear signal that they don’t know me from Adam. We can take this a step further many of us have that special “family” nickname that just maybe we don’t like to admit to IE: Bubba, Stinky, Curly and so many others knowing this family nickname can place you deeper into the subjects inner circle and people will let that wall down and hold a conversation with you simply due to the name!

Having the subject’s nickname is like having a key that unlocks doors.  It lets you into the inner circle of the subject’s acquaintances so that you can extract the information you need.  If you are lucky enough to find out a person’s nickname that only his family currently uses, then you have struck gold and you are on the path to your subject location.

Over the past few years there is a catch phrase in the collections industry known as “Right Party Contact” and many place a great deal of importance on this with statistics and reports to show how many phone numbers and addresses go to their party.

The flaw in this phrase and many of the stats and reports is they are asking for the wrong person from the very beginning placing the subject on guard and simply say he is not in or wrong number. You can call me all day every day and if you ask for “Anthony” you will be told he is not in and your speaking to me this will skew many stats.

Once you’re in the door, getting the information should run like a conversation:

(1)  Ask open-ended questions rather than shutting them down by coming at them like an interrogator.

(2)  When calling a person’s home or work, listen carefully to the person on the other end of the line. How do they call the person to the phone?  This is a first step in putting together a solid file to work from.

Follow the advice that our grandmothers gave us: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

We have all heard that old saying “Sticks and Stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you” this is a very inaccurate statement from our youth words in fact have great power and knowing when to use them can make or break  an interview in part two we will discuss my 6 favorite words for extracting information!

Until Next time…. Follow me down the path to better skip-tracing!




Alex Price

Master Hunter


Alex Price is a nationally-recognized expert on the Art of Skip Tracing and author of Skip Tracers National Certification Program with over 25+ years of experience in skip-tracing, collections and public speaking.  Alex began his career with Barnett Bank as a field representative collecting past-due accounts. He then moved to World Omni Finance, where over the next ten years he worked in all aspects of collections and handling the nationwide charge-off skip portfolio.


Contact Info: , Office: (972) 735-2353, Fax: (972) 735-2354                                                              

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2 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones (Part 1)

  1. Alex, I can always count on learning something each time I read one of your articles. I cannot stress to lenders enough how important it is to document, document, document everything possible about the customer. When I was a collector looking for a skip, I would always pull the credit app looking for info such as a relative, previous address or reference and guess what I would find? A good portion of the time, not a thing…nada…blank!!! Only the bare essentials on the credit app…nothing more. Preach on brother…may your words of wisdom make it to the lenders!!!

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