By Eleanor O'Connor – On
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Debt Recovery Solutions of Ohio began placing an even greater focus on investing in its collectors. Bethany Robertson, Vice President, and Kimberly Atwell, Client Care Manager, share their reasoning behind the decision, what changes were implemented, and the benefits they've seen as a result.
Q: Why Did You Decide to Invest More in Your Collectors? [2:15]
A: When COVID-19 hit, Bethany quickly observed a sense of anxiety, fear, uncertainty & doubt in her collectors. Unfortunately, she was unable to provide them with answers because she was also dealing with uncertainty. "It broke my heart," Bethany says. Shortly after, many states began placing new restrictions and regulations on debt collection. Once that settled down and Bethany was able to understand the stance of each state on debt collection during the pandemic, her agency was able to transition employees to working from home. "But there were still a lot of unknowns," Bethany shares.
This was the moment when Bethany saw an opportunity. She realized that it was a great time to focus on her agency's procedures and the future of the debt collection industry. "I personally was able to see a lot of good that could come from it, but I was not very good at communicating that to our employees and easing their uncertainty," Bethany says.
Q: How Did You Implement Those Investments? [6:50]
A: Morning meetings were the first initiative to be implemented. "It started out as a necessity, but it grew into something that is really just a part of what we do now," Kimberly says. Even though people have returned to the office, they still have those morning meetings because of how much they enjoy them. During those, everyone gets to voice their concerns and talk about their goals for the day. Managers also then meet with each team member on an individual basis. Essentially, the morning meeting slowly grew into a culture.
As for how they implemented these morning meetings, Bethany says that they took "small bites" to begin with. Here's what that process looked like.
Phase 1: They started off using Facetime informally to ensure that the team could communicate frequently.
Phase 2: Now, each department has questions they need to answer during the morning meeting (ie. what should we keep in mind, what are we going to implement, how can we apply this and teach our new hires,etc.)
"Everybody's finding out that they're capable of more than they thought they were," Kimberly says.
Bethany says that these morning meetings have also allowed employees to express their emotions in a healthy manner. "We try to create a very open culture; it's okay to be not okay," Bethany says.
They've also made an investment in employees' through Grant Cardone Sales Training University. Through these courses, they're learning how to improve their mental attitude and communication skills. Bethany believes these courses are effective since they give her team another perspective on the topics that they've already discussed. The courses are designed for sales, but she finds that they can also be applied to debt collection. "You really are selling; you're selling your service and you're selling the service that they've already received," says Bethany.
The courses are also useful in teaching them new ways of approaching consumer objections with a positive attitude. Bethany believes that investing in professional development through Cardone University has broadened her team's view of the consumers they speak to. They've adjusted their focus to be less on how much they're collecting, and more on how they're collecting. Cardone University has helped emphasize the importance of helping the consumer. "It's rewarding to our collectors when they find a way for somebody who hasn't thought they could pay a bill to end up getting that taken care of and get that burden off their back," says Kimberly.
Q: What Benefits Have You Seen As a Result? [11:20]
A: The first change that Bethany observed was related to her team's mindset in the mornings. She'd find them coming in earlier and being more prepared to start the workday on time. "There's a really neat energy," Bethany says.
She also mentions that they've experienced improvements in their bottom line, citing a 9.5% growth rate since last year and an increase in collections. Because of this, her team has great enthusiasm about the future despite the uncertainties.
The team's attitude has also transformed since implementing professional development programs and mental health resources. Working in debt collection is tough, but their team doesn't hate being at work. "They come in and they wanna be here, and they're happy to be here, and they enjoy their time here," Kimberly says. Employees at their agency are excited to grow personally and professionally.
Q: What Advice Would You Give to Other Debt Collection Agencies? [16:30]
A: "Don't hesitate," Bethany says. "It was worth every penny that we've paid."
Investing in professional development programs and mental health resources has proven to be a great selling point when attracting new talent and retaining current talent.
About Our Guests
Bethany Robertson is the Vice President of Debt Recovery Solutions of Ohio. She started the agency with president, Kathleen Shambre, back in 2002.
Kimberly Atwell has been with Debt Recovery Solutions of Ohio since 2008. She started out as a debt collector and a skip tracer, then moved over to the administration side of things and is now the Client Care Manager.