I was listening to a Dave Ramsey call (on Youtube) this week and heard him say the average tenure of a collections agent at a collections agency is 90 days.
If you are in the debt collections industry I’m guessing you don’t really like Dave Ramsey. Much of his advice with regard to collectors is to figure out how to negotiate for pennies on the dollar, get it in writing, and do not give them access to your checking account.
I did a quick search and didn’t find any information supporting that claim (that agents turn over every 90 days) but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’m sure you have some agents that have been there for years while others last about six hours.
But if we just go on an average of every 90 days, we have a serious problem. Sure, there are always more people who will apply. But if you find the right person, why would you want to go replace them? The cost of losing someone (downtime) and then having to find, interview, train, and ramp up a new person is EXPENSIVE.
Towards the beginning of my career I worked at a nationwide janitorial company and learned that in the janitorial industry you could see a 300% turnover rate. I just couldn’t understand that… every 4 months your employees leave. A big part of the manager’s job was to keep a steady pipeline of potential hires, do quick interviews, and train, train, train.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
I’ve been wondering how, if I owned a collections agency, I would keep my employees for longer than 90 days. Here are three things what I came up with. They might seem trivial, but I think they would have a real and significant impact on retention.
Most of the posts on the Snowfly blog go back to creating a culture, so of course I’m going to talk about creating a better culture. But I’m not saying this just to blow smoke. I’m serious about creating a better culture… a culture where your employees are glad to contribute. They get satisfaction out of going to work and feel like they are making a difference in the company and perhaps the world.
In HR conferences people talk a lot about employee satisfaction. If that sounds too fluffy to you, consider that increased employee satisfaction has a direct impact on employee performance and employee engagement. These have an impact on your culture, which impacts your employer brand. When you have a strong, positive employer brand it is easier to attract more of the right talent to your organization, reducing hiring costs. Of course, all of this would have a measurable impact on retention, bringing down all of those related expenses, which means you have a stronger bottom line.
Culture is not fluff. Culture impacts profit, corporate health, and your sustainability. It is time to get serious about creating a strong and positive culture, and we’d love to be a part of that. Call us and let’s talk!
If your job consisted of being the super bad guy all day long, don’t you think that would wear on your soul? Calling people who don’t want to talk to you, probably getting yelled and cussed at, and feeling like people just want to avoid or fight with you. How long would you last?
Probably not even 90 days. I wouldn’t last that long. Unless I had help to understand what my role was, who I was calling, etc.
One of the most important things you need to train for is anything to help your team not violate the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Violations can be costly, to the point of putting you out of business. So of course, train your employees on that.
The next most important thing, though, might be to help them understand what their role is. They don’t need to get mad at the person they are calling. On a job description at Job Hero it says the collections agent is a “liaison.” When you understand, because of proper training, that you are a communications medium, you don’t have to be angry or get emotional. You are simply communicating information from one party to another, and back and forth.
Yes, an agent has some decision-making to do. Yes, those decisions can greatly impact lives and families. Yes, this can be overwhelming and heavy. But if you have proper training, and perspective, you can help your agents understand that they are not the villain, and they don’t have to play the role of a bad guy, ruining lives. They can actually help debtors and lenders, and even make the world a better place. When they understand the bigger picture, they can take pride in their work, and actually have increased employee satisfaction.
You know what else you need to train for… how to use the phone system, how to log calls, etc. But make sure your training includes perspective. This could have a huge impact on retention and your bottom line.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about pay. Of course, an organization wants to pay a fair wage, perhaps market value, and make sure they are fiscally responsible. At the same time, collections agents can be motivated by a better-than-market wage. We’re not talking about doubling market wages, but any significant increase in pay could make the difference between keeping your high performers or losing them to someone down the road.
Maybe just 10% more than market might be enough to do the job. And you’d likely make up that 10% by reducing the costs of talent acquisition if your turnover decreases, not to mention the increase in productivity with more tenured, experienced, and trained employees.
You could work on any of these three things and make improvements in your organization. Or you could work on all three at the same time. Fixing pay might be a quick decision and and easy change while changing culture might happen over months and years.
If you want to improve retention, employer brand, culture, performance, satisfaction, training, or any of the things from this post, we’re ready to chat. Just reach out here.