The Skip-Trace Puppy Mill

Guest Editorial

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

The world is changing and so is our industry, sometimes not for the better. In today’s fast-paced world, from the food we eat to the technology we use, everyone is looking for that next big thing, and they want it fast. Well skip tracing is not high-speed microwave cooking.  It is more like a slow-cooker: add all the right ingredients, set to warm, and let it simmer until the meat is tender and the flavors have mingled to form the perfect meal.

Some skip companies in the marketplace today could be loosely compared to a puppy mill operation: Just like the puppies being sold on the corner, they look good enough to draw you in, but what do you really know about the production?  The skip puppy mill is usually a large staff working on a high volume of accounts, sacrificing quality for speed, and in the process, producing a lower locate rate.  This type of setup can process upwards of 1,000 assignments, locate a hundred, thereby yielding a 10% locate rate.

I won’t contend that all of the large operations are necessarily run like a puppy mill, or that they settle out at 10%.  Yet I know that when I ran my business, if you were not operating at a minimum of about a 70% locate rate, you were looking for new line of work.

A professional tracer can only work about 6 to 8 skips a day effectively.  There are days where you work a file for a couple hours and need to set it to the side to simmer a little, letting the current work take effect.  Then you move to a new file and repeat the process. While other days you may work one file for a solid 8 hours as one lead just falls into place with the next.  Like a great book, you just can’t put it down.

The puppy mill operation is geared to produce fast results, and for some this may be what they want.  It’s geared to churn and burn, working the numbers without getting deep into each file.  A skip-tracer approaches a file with the desire to input the time, the quality, the attention and the skill to ultimately determine who is smarter—the skip or the hunter?

So before you look to hire that next skip company, decide what you want and ask a few questions: what are their qualifications, training, certifications, insurance? How many employees do they have on staff, and what is the average number of assignments allocated to each member on the team?  This will give you a general idea of how much time will be allocated to your skip accounts.  Perhaps most importantly, ask what their locate rate is with current clients.  Any tracer worth his salt can answer that question off the top of their head, and with great pride!

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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