Tools Every Repoman Needs
Must Have Auto Repossession ToolsHave you ever been out repossessing cars and finally found that account you have been chasing for weeks? It would be a big let down if you suddenly realize you don't have the right tool needed to effect the recovery. This article will hopefully give you a comprehensive list of tools you need to have on hand to be successful in the auto repossession business.
I have seen a slew things done by auto repossession agents that were not prepared to do the job assigned to them. I once saw one of my repo agents jump out of his truck to check the Vehicle Identification Number on a car he was trying to repossess. His problem was that he forgot his flashlight at home. He embarrassed himself in front of his boss by trying to read the VIN with a Bic lighter. It was windy and his lighter kept blowing out. He also forgot the VIN number he was supposed to be checking. He ran back to his wrecker and fumbled around looking for his repossession order in the most disorganized mess of paperwork I had ever seen. To top the evening off? I noticed he was wearing a pair of flip flops to do a man's job. His footwear would have been more appropriately worn on a trip to the beach. His career in the repossession industry did not last long.
I have also had the pleasure of observing my prized agent, Ron, pulling cars like an artist. This was not something I saw once or twice, but every time I watched him repossess a vehicle. He always had all the tools he needed on each and every repossession. I watched him use a floor jack to work an Explorer out of a tight spot. I witnessed him using a variety of mechanic's tools to get the job done many times. On many occasions I observed him spraying his flatbed deck down with a water and soap solution so the vehicle would easily and quietly slide up the deck. He always had chains and straps that were long enough for any size tire or vehicle. His truck was the pride of my fleet because he always kept his hands clean by wearing gloves and wiping his hands after every repossession. He had all the right tools and "all the right moves" to always get the job done.
What should a repoman keep in his toolbox at all times?
1. A mechanically sound wrecker.
You will want a clean and dependable wrecker that you can depend on. You will look like a fool if you break down in someones driveway while you are trying to snag their ride. A self-loader would be my first recommendation, but if you can get the job done with a wrecker with an "L" arm system then go for it. I was using one long before self-loaders came on the scene and repossessed just as many cars back then as I can with a self-loader.
2. A reliable flashlight.
You need one that always works and with either a fresh set of batteries on hand or a mounted on board charging system. It can be quite windy in the middle of the night and using a Bic lighter to read a VIN screams, "I'm a hobo".
3. A Global Positioning System (GPS).
This is a must if you want to save time and money. I recently used a Garmin while traveling around the county on a 3 month vacation and found it to be pretty accurate. It was never wrong when it announced that I had arrived and the address was on the left or right. I think I only had one problem when I was traveling on a newly constructed road that had recently opened.
Having the Proper Tools Equals More Cars Repossessed4. An organizer for your stack of repossession orders.
Disorganization can kill your auto repossession business. If you are not organized you will forget to run new as well as old orders. You will misplace a new address that a lender sent over that day. They only thing worse than not having a fresh update for your client is asking the bank rep, "What order are you you talking about?", because you lost it in your messy paper pile.
5. A laptop with a laptop stand.
A laptop is necessary for updates, checking emails as well as having internet access in the field. The laptop stand will save you the cost of replacing your laptop because you had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting a squirrel or other road obstruction. There are only a few things worse than seeing your unsecured laptop go flying off your passenger seat and smashing down on your floorboard.
6. A wedge, stick and door pump.
The days of the 300 piece breakout kit are pretty much over. If you do not have these three items, then you need to go directly to AW Direct and place an order.
7. A wide array of chain lengths, "J" hooks, tow straps and ratchet straps.
You need to have the right lengths and sizes to tow any size tire or vehicle. You don't want to see the monster truck you just repossessed go skidding passed you because you did not have tow straps long enough to strap it down. Trust me, if this happens, it will take less than a minute for your client to delete you off their "preferred" agent list forever. You should also have some straps to tie off a steering wheel that won't lock. Yes, I know that you usually use the seat belt for that, but what if the seat belt is missing or can't be pulled out?
8. An air tank.
Fix a flat and a plug in the cigarette lighter type tire pump may be cheap and easy to store, but I can't think of a time either one of them ever worked for me. An air tank is the most reliable tool you can have in your truck to inflate the tires on your debtor's vehicle.
9. Jumper cables or a portable jump start pack.
You are going to come across a slew of dead batteries in the auto repossession business, so get one or the other.
10. Mechanic's tools.
Have an assortment of sockets, ratchets, screw drivers, crescent wrenches and regular wrenches. You never know what you are going to need out there.
The Repoman's personal tools to get through the night.
(a) Gloves, hand cleaner, baby wipes and some clean towels. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and also a grease free wrecker interior means more dollars in your pocket when you go to sell it. I have to mention that your truck is your office and you will be more productive if it is clean and neat.
(b) Clean clothes, work boots, some breath mints or gum, and maybe a spare deodorant and bottle of cologne for those long hours. I know the public perceives the repoman as a stinky grease ball, but let's not fit the image.
(c) An assortment of snacks, beverages and your favorite tunes on CD to make the night enjoyable.
My last list of recommendations include a high quality ballistic vest, brains, street smarts and the decision making ability to know when it is time to call it a night. Most of you have a family to go home to, so develop a sixth sense to identify a situation that is unsafe or might even turn deadly. It is better to drive off on your own free will rather than be carted off in an ambulance.
Feel free to discuss or add your "must have" repoman tool by clicking on this link.