Tag Archives: collection

New look, new insights

If you’ve visited our website this week, you might have noticed things look a little different…

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If you haven’t, we’d love to have you stop by to learn more about how our nearly 40 years of experience position us uniquely to Collect & Protect your receivables.

Want to apply what we’ve learned from that experience to your own team’s commercial collection efforts? Download our brand-new guide Mastering the Art of Collections. It’s one more way you can put our knowledge to work for you, and it’s absolutely free!

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Whatever your collection needs, we’re here to help. Get in touch and talk to our experts.

 

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So Sue Me

When a collection agency has exhausted its efforts and payment still hasn’t materialized, it’s time to consider the next step: filing suit.

How does a creditor know when litigation is the right course of action? The (sometimes frustrating!) truth is there are no guarantees, but there are key factors that can help determine whether a lawsuit is likely to produce results that make the effort and expense worthwhile.

How much do they owe?

Filing fees, process server charges, and other unavoidable expenses — typically referred to by the catchall term “court costs” — vary widely from state to state and sometimes even from county to county. The one thing they all have in common is that they’ve risen sharply in the last decade, driven by up by budget-crunched state and local governments.

These costs completely separate from the collection attorney being paid for their services, which is generally on a contingent percentage basis similar to that of collection agencies: If the creditor doesn’t get paid, neither do they. In some cases, if the risk of recovering nothing is high, they will charge a non-contingent suit fee, typically 5% of the balance due, as compensation for their work on the case.

With all this in mind, it’s rarely worth the effort and cost to pursue litigation for a balance less than $5,000.00.

What’s the status of the entity?

If your debtor is a business, are they operating? Do they have a valid telephone number and physical address? Are they listed as active by the Secretary of State? If the answer to any of these questions — especially the last one — is no, there’s a strong risk that the attorney won’t be even able to get them served with the initial complaint. And if they are served, it’s likely to end up in a “paper judgment” that never results in any payment.

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If your debtor is an individual, it’s even more important to make certain you have a valid physical address where they can be served. There’s no backup option, no registered agent or service via Secretary of State. And the truth is, most judgments against individual debtors never recover any funds, because…

Do they have attachable assets?

One area where your collection agency’s experience and resources are invaluable is in determining what assets the debtor might have. Nothing is foolproof, but there’s a wealth of public records your agency can use to paint a helpful picture of the debtor’s financial situation. That active business that looks like it should have plenty of resources to pay its bills? It could turn out that they have prior judgments against them, liens placed by the IRS, or a big mortgage secured by all their inventory and equipment as collateral. The liens and secured debts take priority by law, and those outstanding judgments often mean there was nothing left over to pay those creditors — which means there won’t be for your debt either!

With an individual debtor, consumer protection laws severely limit your ability to collect on a judgment. Wages can be garnished on a limited basis — if they’re earning them, and if they don’t qualify for a variety of exemptions. Or a lien could be placed on their home or other property, which won’t matter until they try to sell it.

Are they disputing the debt?

Debtors who just evade demands are one thing, but what if they insist the debt isn’t owed at all? Even if they can’t or won’t give you a valid reason why they believe they shouldn’t pay, a debtor who won’t budge from their position is likely to contest the suit and drag you through a drawn-out litigation process in the hope that you’ll decide it isn’t worth it and go away.

It’s tempting to stand up for the “matter of principle,” but it doesn’t always make pragmatic business sense. Better to decide at the outset whether the amount owed is worth it, before you invest the money and effort in a lawsuit.

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Is it ever worthwhile to sue?

That long list of cautions might make it seem like we’re trying to talk you out of ever filing suit in a collection matter! But many accounts, after careful review, do emerge as viable candidates for litigation. This is just an overview. Each claim is different, and your certified agency can analyze and make a recommendation about which ones look likely to produce results. In partnership with a bonded collection attorney, they’ll help you navigate the system for the best possible return on your investment.

To learn more about how Brennan & Clark works with attorneys in the Triadic System to minimize losses and help protect your interests, contact us at info@brennanclark.com or (800) 858-7600.

The ups and downs of extending credit

Extending credit to customers has always been a complex proposition, but never more so than today. When is it right for your business to take that step?

Retail stores, healthcare providers, and transportation services typically require straight cash transactions for their rendered services, while many other business types offer extended credit.  This arrangement can encourage customers to spend more, and can help establish healthy company-customer relationships.

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Many businesses offer credit in hopes of improving sales. But offering credit can bring more losses than gains for some companies, especially with startups and local businesses. Credit can cost the company money. When a seller offers credit, the customer is using the product they have on loan, but the company gets nothing from it until they are paid.

We would all like to look at customers as clean slates who can pay on time. Unfortunately, some customers take full advantage of the credit, causing the company to lose money. Being aware of a customer’s credit rating and history can go a long way toward protecting your company.

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Even a customer with a clean credit history, though, can have an unexpected downturn, or in some cases simply show the true colors that may not have been reported on their credit before. When that happens, and when your in-house receivables team hits a dead end, it may be time to bring in the professionals.

A dollar can’t be in two places at once. Let us help you keep yours where they belong! Contact us today at (800) 858-7600 or info@brennanclark.com to learn more.

The Triadic System in Commercial Debt Collection

When an account is referred to third-party collections, the process leads to one of three conclusions:

  1. The agency is able to collect the balance due.
  2. The agency determines that the balance is uncollectible (because the debtor is bankrupt, deceased, out of business, or a number of other factors).
  3. The balance might be collectible, but not by the agency.

rotated-triangle1When your agency has exhausted their efforts and is looking at number 3, it may be time to consider filing suit. That’s when the Triadic System comes into play.

The litigation system is sprawling and complicated. Many debtors and their attorneys count on it being too much of a hassle for creditors to navigate, hoping that the problem will go away when it ceases to be worth the creditor’s time and expense.

The three sides of the Triadic triangle work together to support the creditor:

  • The collection agency continues to serve as the creditor’s point of contact, helping to demystify the process, making sure all the right information and documentation gets where it needs to go, and advocating for the creditor’s best interests.
  • The law list provides a referral to a law firm licensed and experienced in the jurisdiction where suit will need to be file, acts as liaison between the agency and attorney as needed, and insures the creditor’s investment in the lawsuit through a bonding program.
  • The attorney makes demand on the debtor and files suit, typically on a contingent fee basis, representing the creditor’s interests in court and reporting regularly to the agency on the progress of the case.

For quality of service and peace of mind, be sure your agency is a certified member of a professional organization such as Commercial Collection Agencies of America, and that they work with law lists and attorneys affiliated with such an organization.

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To learn more about how Brennan & Clark can help your business navigate the system, contact us at info@brennanclark.com or (800) 858-7600.

Resisting Call Reluctance

Illinois-based collections agency Brennan & Clark offers customized debt recovery solutions, as well as consulting services and legal help to clients in the receivables management industry. Brennan & Clark offers its collection staff comprehensive training in all aspects of collection calling.

Call reluctance is defined as a heightened apprehension or fear of making phone calls. Sales professionals and collections agents alike often experience call reluctance during daily operations. It causes an inhibition that slows or stops progress, hinders confidence, and affects a person’s ability to establish rapport, communicate effectively, or realize the desired return. Call reluctance can occur now and then despite high levels of skill, experience, and industry knowledge.

One of the most effective tactics for overcoming call reluctance is to take a head-on approach in which the caller simply picks up the phone and dials a number. Particularly in the collections industry, spending large amounts of time on the phone conversing with debtors is crucial. Some collection agents find that good posture helps their confidence, and many professionals also remark that asking frequent questions helps them maintain a feeling of control. Once a call is completed, it is generally best to continue straight on with practice by dialing the next number as soon as possible.