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What Makes a Website “Good”?

There are several things that make a good company website. It needs be clear on your mission, easy to navigate, and needs to let clients know exactly what your auto repo company can do for them. It needs to get your logo out there and project an online image of what your real world business is all about.

A client that lands on your website needs to know what you can do for him. Make the content short and concise. No one wants to wade through a novel of text to find out what services you provide. A viewer should not have to work to find what they are looking for.

Have a classic-looking website. Do not be too flashy, have blinking lights, or loud music blaring at your viewers. Very few people like to suddenly have music blasting at them while they are at their desk at work. They also do not want to look at a site that is visually loud in color and design. Your site should look like a professional business site, not a blog, banner farm or Facebook page.

Your site should be inviting to your viewers. When they arrive, they should feel like they are in the lobby of your office or a five-star hotel that is welcoming them to come inside and stay for awhile. They should feel at home when they visit your website.

Your company website should be free of grammatical and spelling errors. Before publishing your site, you need to proofread your site multiple times, and also have someone else proofread it. A second set of proofing eyes will always find errors that the first proofreader misses. Oftentimes, the original author misses his own errors when he proofreads what he wrote. I have found this to be true when I write an article.

Your site should make contacting you very easy. Place your email address, physical address, mailing address and company phone number all throughout your site. You also should have a “Contact Us” link and page on your site which will take the viewer to all of your contact information.

Last but not least! Maintain your website by keeping it free of spam, broken links, errors and other pesky problems that annoy viewers and make you appear unprofessional.

For starters, this is 2012, and every business needs one!

But here is a list of additional reasons why you need to build an auto repossession company website.

  • A website will always improve your company image. Clients are bound to ask you for your website address, and if you do not have one, then you need to have some solid reasons to tell them why you don’t. Telling them it is too expensive certainly will not help your image! Every one of your current and potential clients is going to have a website. Why don’t you have one?
  • A website can help get your company some exposure. Having a website is essentially like having a billboard on every street, in every city, town and neighborhood, in every state of the country. It gets you noticed, which results in more business.
  • A website can reduce costs because it is a permanent, non-print brochure for clients to view. There are no mailing, design or printing costs when a client visits your repo company website and views your “online brochure”.
  • A website is always working for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • A website offers your clients and potential clients a choice. They can call you at the contact number you list on your site. They can find and utilize your fax number on your site, and they can send you an email. A potential client can find you through Google or other search engines and have several ways to contact you when they need an auto repossession done in your service area.
  • A website makes you competitive. If a potential client is looking online for a repossession agent in your area, and you do not have a website for them to find, then I give you a 150% chance of not getting that repo assignment! If you have a company website and no one else in your area has one, then you are bound to get work from clients searching your area for an agent. If you have a site and some of your local competitors also have a site, then at least you have a chance to compete for business.
  • A website is like a window that clients can look through to get a peek into your business. Most nationwide clients are probably not going to be stopping by your office to say, “Hello”, but they can stop by online to visit you. If you include some professional photos of your operations and offer some rich textual information about your repossession business, then they are able to get to see the real you and how your business is run.

A website, like anything else, takes time to work. Relevant and fresh content, blog posting, search engine optimization, good key words, link exchanges, pay-per-click ads and length of time online will help to move you up the Google search ladder. It is something you do not want to start and shut down 1 month later just because you did not get 100 new repo orders off of your new site. You need to be patient to see the fruit that results from having an online presence.

I would certainly be smiling if I made an additional $7,000 every month off of an investment that cost me very little. People that invest in the stock market would love to invest just $500 to $1,000 and get $7,000 every month as a return on that tiny investment!

The reason I am writing this article is to call out to all of you auto repossession company owners that do not have a company website. I want to tell you that you are missing the train on something that will bring you business. Who in their right mind would not make a small investment that results in big money coming their way? You are in business, folks, and you need to come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to spend a little on advertising in order to build your business.

Let me be frank with you – many of you are spending a whole lot more on coffee over a year’s time than you would spend on a professional website. Many of you freely spend money on cable TV, satellite radio, cigarettes, chew, coffee, fast food and all sorts of things that are not building your business in any way, shape or form. There is not any return on investment, and yet you do not hold your wallet close to your chest when it comes to these expenditures.  I am not against spending money on entertainment, but I am against doing so when you do not even think about having some sort of advertising budget for your company. I hate to hear a guy express to me that he can’t afford something that costs very little that would bring him more business. We all can afford to find the cash to bring more revenue into our businesses.  We all spend money on the “feel goods” of life. News flash – an extra $7,000 a month is a big “feel good” for me!

Folks, I do not care if you you use the http://repoindustry.com/ custom website design department to build your site. I do not care one bit if you use someone else to build it. But, for your sake, I only care that you actually have a website! I am telling you that if you do not have a website, get a professional designer to build you one right away. Your business can’t wait any longer!

In the past few months, I have talked with hundreds of repo company owners that have told me the same figures over and over. That their website reels in as much as 20 or more orders every single month from lenders that find their website online. Many times, the order is a one-hit wonder, and they never do another repo from that lender again, but many have brought on a high-volume lender that found them through their internet presence. They advertise on all of the auto repossession company directories, have good content, and, in time, rise to the top of page 1 of Google. These owners have wreckers, offices, storage lots, repo insurance and all the “must haves”, but they also have an online presence. They have an advertising budget, market their companies, make sales calls and spend money to build something great.

Recently, I have also spoken to hundreds of repo business owners that are dying on the vine and crying the blues about not making a profit. These owners have wreckers, offices, storage lots, repo insurance and all the “must haves”, but they do not have a website or an online presence. They do not have an advertising budget, they don’t market their companies, do not make sales calls and refuse to spend some money to build something great.

What is the one big difference between the people I talk to? One group is like cigar boats flying over the waves of a  smooth, blue ocean. The other is like boats that are taking on water, listing to one side and, slowly but surely, sinking. The good news for the second group is that I am sharing with you what I hear on a daily basis about what is building repo businesses. I am telling you that what I hear actually works. It is free advice and you can take action and get things turned around. If…..you are willing to learn from others.

Buy Here Pay Here Clients

I know there is sometimes a lot of negative talk among repossession agents and repossession company owners when the subject of working for Buy Here Pay Here car lots comes up. Personally, when I owned my company, I never actively pursued used car lots for business. I say that I did not go after their work, but I did do work for two BHPH lots. Both of these used car lots were owned by friends of mine, and not only did we do their repossession work, but we also did their auction transports and towing. They both paid very well and were not resistant to paying for extras such as investigative fees, mileage, cutting keys, delivery and even a close fee. Both accounts had a pretty good handle on the whereabouts of their debtors. Both of them could have done their own repos, but chose to farm them out to me because they did not have the time, nor did they have the desire to deal with angry debtors. I had many other BHPH lots approach me to do their repo work, but I was too busy to accommodate them, and I also only took the other two car lot accounts on because I knew the owners. I knew they did not do any underhanded deals, and they knew what I expected.

After I sold my company, retired and then started http://repoindustry.com/, I really never thought much about car lots and their repossession work, other than what I read on the forum when our members discussed the subject. The last few months, in my talks with auto repossession company owners, the subject seems to always come up. I am finding, because of the current soft auto repossession market with lenders, that more and more companies are doing a heavy volume of repo orders with BHPH dealers. Lenders are not writing paper like they used to, but the reports I am getting are that the used car lots are rolling the paper out.

When the conversation comes up, I fully expect to hear that these accounts are dead-end repo orders, dangerous, and pay $150.00 a car. However, I was surprised to hear that although there are some dead accounts, the used car lots are often paying better than some lenders. I am also told that they are willing to pay for extras without putting up a fight. One repo company owner told me, “It’s because they have a smaller volume of accounts than a lender will have, and it is very important for them to get their collateral back. They take their accounts more seriously than a lender that has 10,000 cars out there”.

I was also told that there are so many used car lots out there with repo work, that a repo business owner can often pick and choose whom to work for. The good-paying accounts with decent paper are the accounts they keep, and the car lots that haggle on price and have terrible paper are the ones they dump.

In a conversation I had this week, a company owner said that he loves the diversity in his accounts and BHPH’s add to that diverseness. He has some large and small finance companies, some local banks and credit unions, some title loan accounts and a slew of BHPH clients. He says that the client diversity protects his business because “all of his eggs are not in one basket”. He can afford to drop a client, or even be dropped by one, without being thrown into a financial skid that would result in a huge revenue loss, if he were dependent upon one main client.

Another thumbs up that the BHPH car lots are getting is that there is no waiting to get paid. Oftentimes, the car lots are paying in full when the unit is dropped off and sometimes even paying the repo fee in cash! “This helps keep the cash flow rolling into the business until the slow-paying finance companies decide to cut a check”, according to one repo business owner.

I am linking this article to a thread in the forum, rather than having comments here, to see what input you all have on Buy Here Pay Here accounts. Please click here to discuss.

If you are looking for more business and want to increase the amount of repo orders your auto repossession company is getting, then list your company in our directory by clicking here. A Gold or Platinum listing will also give you access to our lender client sales force program, our repo company custom forms creator, our update click and create tool and give you full access to the hidden Repoman Fraternity. If you are not a listed member, you are missing out on revenue for your business, insider knowledge, and the internet exposure that your company needs to have.

If you are a repoman, an auto repossession company owner, or you work in the office of a repo company and are not a member of the most active auto repossession forum on the internet, then click here and join.

The Slow Death Of the Repossession Industry

I learned an intelligent phrase years ago -”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and I am quite sure that everyone reading this has also heard it before. This article is a call to the auto finance industry to release the stranglehold it has on the auto repossession businesses they have contracts with, to recover their past-due collateral.

Let’s take a look at a couple of decades ago to see where the repo industry was and where it is today. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, auto repossession companies pretty much kept recovery rates somewhere in the 80% range. I know for a fact that collection managers would have put the axe to our necks and found a different adjuster if our rates were not in that range. There was less violence in the auto repossession industry back then, and also much fewer debtors suing clients and repossession company owners. Email was just emerging and proprietary systems were unheard of, yet communication flowed pretty well, despite the absence of those ways of communication.

Fast forward to the present. Today, recovery rates are reported to me in the 50% to 60% range, and sometimes as low as 40%. Almost daily, there are multiple news articles about repossession agents being shot, stabbed, beaten, run over and subjected to other forms of violence. Debtors are being arrested and agents are getting locked up, as well. Lawsuits resulting from repossessions being executed are at an all-time high. Despite today’s technology of mobile phones, laptops, email, text messaging, instant messaging, and a slew of auto repossession portals to flow repo orders through, communication between clients and adjusters is in a sad state.

The repossession companies and the auto finance companies, forwarders, banks and credit unions need to examine how and why the industry has changed so drastically for the worst, in the past 3 decades.

We can blame it on Operation Repo all we want. We can claim that debtors are more seasoned at being on the run. We can blame the repossession agents and accuse them of being unprofessional. We can point all sorts of fingers, but I say it all boils down to greed. It is the sheer fact that clients want a professional, honest, hard-working repossession company that has a nice office, staff that always answer the phone, secure storage lots, and brand new equipment – but they are too greedy to pay for it. Clients want a 9-course, southern, provincial French meal, but want to pay for a four-cheeseburger White Castle meal with a small fry and a small drink.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, involuntary repossession fees were over $325, plus key, bag and tag, delivery to auction fees and, oftentimes, mileage and investigative fees. Clients generally paid a close fee as well, and many times paid the full repo fee when the repo agent’s efforts resulted in the account being brought current. There were no programmable keys back then, insurance was a whole lot cheaper, gas was dirt cheap, and wreckers (if used at all) were not that expensive. Repossession companies were paid a fair fee for what they did, and this enabled them to focus on doing the job well. They did not have to cut corners to save money. They did not work for free, and they had awesome pick-up rates. There was less violence and fewer lawsuits because they did not have to take chances to get the car just so they could get paid.

In today’s repossession industry, everyone seems to want to pay only if the collateral gets picked up. This causes repo agents to do things they would not ordinarily do just to survive financially. I find it funny how silent it gets when I ask a collector if they would work only if they were paid on the accounts that were brought current by their efforts. I see them grimace when I follow up with the fact that they are an employee and not a business owner, and yet their income is guaranteed, minus the expenses that come with owning a business. They get paid just to show up to work and put in 8 hours, while repossession company owners are working 24/7 and getting paid pittance fees that guarantee them a trip to bankruptcy court. Paying less and less obviously does not get you better service or results, yet clients continue to trim down what they pay.

What would result in paying adjustors a fair fee for a professional service?  Let’s ask ourselves some questions.

  • Wouldn’t it make them better vendors?
  • Wouldn’t it cause them to work hard and be loyal to their clients?
  • Wouldn’t it raise the bar of professionalism in the recovery industry?
  • Wouldn’t it lessen violence and lawsuits?
  • Wouldn’t it cause pick-up rates to be better?
  • Wouldn’t it make these company owners better citizens to America and contributors to it’s economy?
  • Wouldn’t it make for better business for America and it’s economy?

The industry was never broke. So why on earth did you set out to fix it? Your actions have just about destroyed this industry and the professionalism it once had. Each day, I speak to one or more veterans of the repossession industry that are calling it quits. The reason is always because it is not profitable for them anymore.

This article and petition are a call to the auto finance industry to get back to compensating their adjusters fairly. if you continue down this path, the only adjusters left won’t even qualify to make the cut to be on Operation Repo. Then we can say – R.I.P to the repossession industry.

Repossession company owners  – please feel free to put your company name and owner’s name in the comments below. There is nothing wrong with asking to be fairly compensated for a professional service.

As the old saying goes, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” If you are having problems with your auto repossession business, it is not your agents and office staff that are to blame. It is not the debtors or your clients fault. It is certainly not what you complain about most–”the nasty forwarders fault”; as the owner, it is your fault. The buck stops with the owner of any business, and the auto repo industry is no different.

Your true character will eventually rise to the surface, no matter how much you stroke and massage the lie. If you are lazy or dishonest or careless in the running of your company, then expect that your negative quality will be imparted to your staff. If you are slothful in your appearance, then expect your staff to follow suit. If you break rules in business, then your employees will emulate your actions. Your company needs to have strong core values that provide the optimal auto repossession services to your current and potential clients. You, as the owner, need to communicate and ensure that your employees also possess your vision on your company values and objectives. Lead by example and never deviate from your mission statement. Have regular meetings with your staff to make sure they catch your passion for having the best customer service, recovery rate and professionalism in the industry.

However, how you conduct yourself as a business owner is not determined when you are seated at your desk in your office. It starts when you pull back the covers and arise out of bed. Statistics show that a company owner that manages a strong personal reputation will transmit that to his company, develop loyal customers, have dedicated and productive employees, and reap profits higher than the average in their industry. Your personal reputation will follow you into business. You are a business owner, and everything you do as a private citizen will reflect on your business. Your actions as a husband, father, son, brother, neighbor, coach, lodge member or whatever personal role you are in at the moment will rub off on your company’s reputation.

As the company owner, before any situation arises, you need to decide how you will act on a personal level before you decide your actions as a business owner. For example, I decided in my life that I would never steal, even if there was no one around to catch me. I decided that long before I was ever a business owner. That decision probably occurred when I was in high school. One day, my rollback was in desperate need of tires–and not just one tire, but all six tires. It was in the month of March during the dreaded tax season–low volume of repossession orders–time. Suddenly, the storage yard gate swung open, and, lo and behold, a competitor’s rollback rolled into the yard with one of my agents at the helm. This competitor was closing its doors and was not going to redeem the truck that happened to have 6 “just like new” tires that were an exact match for my truck. I could have swapped out those tires and not one person would have noticed. The collection manager that sent over the repo order on the truck was a dear friend of mine, and he probably would not have cared if I stole those tires. But, I would have known, and by doing so would have broken the rule I set on myself, before I was a business owner, to never, ever be a thief. The truck went to auction with its nice tires and I bought a new set for my rollback.

You need to act professionally at all times, whether you are on the clock or off the clock. You are a business owner in the community and all eyes are on you. You never know whose set of eyes are doing the viewing, as was the case of a friend of mine that owns a repossession company. He was involved in a road-rage incident and made the decision to curse out the driver with whom he had the altercation. He ended the situation by giving the dreaded middle finger. He did not realize that the driver was the brother of the woman riding in the car. She happened to be the wife of the collection manager of one of his largest clients. Not only was she in the car, but her children were in the back seat. To add insult to injury, they had just left the hospital where they had been visiting their dying father. The story ends with my friend losing an account where he was picking up around 40 cars a month. I know his rates, and that is close to a $15,000 a month loss (not including his key cutting and transport fees) in business, over some cuss words and one finger.

You need to do some self examination of your personal life and reputation and ask yourself some questions.

  • Do I conduct myself in my personal life in a way that would make my family proud?
  • Do my actions benefit those around me?
  • Do I contribute to the community I live in?
  • Do I live by a certain set of standards no matter what situation arises?
  • If someone were to ask the neighbors on my street, would they all say they were happy to live by me?
  • Do I treat the people I interact with in my daily life with respect and kindness?
  • Do I make people have a better day after having contact with me?

If you are not giving yourself high marks when answering the above questions, then your personal reputation is probably hurting your company’s reputation. You need to work on fixing your actions and personal reputation so you can begin building a great reputation for your company.

Personal Property

One of the most important steps of the repossession process is the personal property inventory. Any veteran of the auto repossession business can tell you scores of stories about debtors claiming that the Rolex watch or diamond ring they left in their vehicle was missing. Of course, someone that owns a $20,000 watch or ring can certainly make their car payment, right? In any case, these sort of claims might be leveled against your company, and you will want to protect yourself from this window of liability. You might be thinking that a debtor would not be able to pursue a lawsuit because they are a “deadbeat” that won’t be able to afford a lawyer to file the case on alleged missing property. I have known of more than one repossession company that thought the same thing, and lost a suit filed by the debtor all on their own, without paying a lawyer a dime.

Your Word Choice Can Make or Break You

When you inventory someone’s property, make sure you are very detailed and careful with your descriptions. Never say a gold ring or a gold watch, but rather describe these items as “gold colored”. Be sure you never call a watch by its brand name, as it might be a knock-off. Your description of an item might place more value on it than what it is actually worth. Complete your detailed property inventory, listing all items, and have one last entry of “various personal papers and trash” if those items are indeed found in the car. I know of some company owners that video inventories of personal property that are over a certain value.

Storage

Make sure you safely and securely store all of the debtor’s property in a container that is clearly marked with the debtor’s name, the lender, the account number and the date of repossession. The date record will allow you to track when the property can be disposed of. We never stored any liquids found in a vehicle because we did not want them spilling on any of the debtor’s other items. We also feared the possibility of a HAZMAT situation if chemicals leaked and came into contact with other liquids. If you choose to store liquids, make sure the containers are tightly sealed and stored on a level surface, and consider putting the container into a plastic bag. Always store any valuables, guns, jewelry and cash in your company safe. If you do not have a safe, then get one. All property should be stored in a locked area that is accessible by a limited number of people. Property in my company was only accessible by our lot man or by me as the owner.

Illegal Contraband

Contact your local police jurisdiction if you find illegal contraband, such as drugs or drug paraphernalia in a debtor’s car. Make sure you obtain a police report when they take custody of it. I can remember finding a revolver with the serial number obliterated off it in a brown paper bag in a police officer’s truck we repossessed. The ATF and internal affairs division of his police department was very happy to take custody of what might have been used as a drop gun. That debtor is now a former police officer convicted of several crimes, including making death threats to an ATF agent. He tried to file a lawsuit on us for turning over the gun to the ATF, claiming we caused him to lose his job, even though he had multiple criminal charges. Our detailed incident report and property inventory stopped his claim cold.

When it comes to a property inventory, more is always better than less. The more detail, the better. Your company will have more creditability when the report is neat, concise and consistent.

I keep getting a lot of questions about what should go into an auto repossession company packet. What’s in your packet, besides the normal insurance certificate, bond, licensing, certifications and coverage area, depends on several factors. You need to look at the strengths of your repo business and highlight that in your packet.

Of course, if you have been in business for 25 years, then I would showcase that. However, you may not have been in business for a long time, so you won’t want to focus on “been in business for three years”. Another way to convey your experience in the business would be to count your years of experience working as a repossessor, rather than only being in business for 2 years. If you have some veteran repo agents and office staff members working for you, you will want to describe your employees as seasoned. When I had my company, I had personally repossessed thousands of vehicles, and my agents had done the same. I touted “thousands of damage, drama, lawsuit and violence-free vehicles repossessed” when talking to potential clients.

If you have never had an insurance claim, you should highlight that in your packet, and promise damage and problem-free recoveries. Be sure you let them know if you have never had a lawsuit. If you have a fleet of wreckers, you will want to showcase that. If you have only one, then of course, refrain from mentioning that. You should make it known if you have had previous law enforcement, investigative, or skip-tracing experience. Let them know if you worked in collections or for an auto finance company in the past.

Put the microscope on your strengths and fail to mention your weaknesses. Talk about your great customer service in your office and how you feel an update is just as important as a condition report on a repossessed vehicle.

Now, I am going to tell you what will be the most important content to have in your repo business packet to insure that you are going to be the company getting the lion’s share of the repo work in your area. Compliance is the key! We are about to go through an onslaught of repo company office inspections. From what I am hearing, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is currently conducting audits of many of the major lenders and their collection departments. This is going to force the lenders to use due diligence in selecting a repossession company as a contractor. If I were creating a company packet, my main focus would be laying out how I keep debtor’s data safe by truncating all but the last 4 digits of their social security number on a repossession order. I would explain how sensitive data is monitored internally through the use of passwords and audits on office computers, to locked file cabinets and office doors, to the shredding of all documents. I would talk about my office and storage lot security, and the cameras and electronic security systems I have in place. I would be sure to mention how I do drug tests and criminal background checks on my employees. Talk about the certifications that you and your employees have. Include details of on-the-job training you conduct with your repossessors and office staff. Most auto repo companies do not have a company handbook detailing the standard operating procedures of their company. If you do not have one, then you need to get one! You should make a note in your packet that you have a company handbook and include some key excerpts from the handbook, demonstrating how you protect your clients with your written policies. This compliance information will be the best selling point in your packet to potential clients in the coming months and years.

You have already invested a lot of money into an office, office equipment, auto repossession insurance, wreckers and other needed tools to operate a successful auto repossession business. Promoting your auto repossession business does not have to be as expensive as you might think. The repossession industry is a whole different animal than any other business out there.  You need clients, and you want to get your repo company noticed, but unlike other businesses, you won’t be advertising on billboards, the radio or on television. Of course, you won’t want to do anything silly like a K-Mart blue-light special, offering the first 5 repos at 20% off or other similar embarrassing promotions!

You might be wondering, “How can I advertise my repo business effectively?” Here is the http://repoindustry.com/ company promotion list:

  • Plan a sales pitch. You will want to know what you are talking about and be able to confidently speak about your company by phone or in person at any given moment. No long pauses, stuttering or other signs that show a lack of confidence in your company.
  • Don’t have a website? Get one right away.
  • Set up a free internet business listing with Google.com/local/; Bing.com/local/; and listings.local.yahoo.com/ and be sure to include a link to your website and a description of your company.
  • Set up a business profile page on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, and be active on those sites.
  • Have a printer make up some professional business cards, a company packet, letterhead and envelopes. Always have business cards with you. You never know whom you are going to meet. I know of one repossession company owner that went to a fundraiser and met a man that was in upper management of a nationwide finance company. He never, in a million moons, expected to meet a prospective client at this meeting. If he did not have business cards with him, he might have had to write his contact information on a dirty napkin, and probably would not be picking up an average of 75 cars a month over the last 5 years from that finance company.
  • Pass out your business cards to everyone. You never know who might know someone in the auto finance industry.
  • Send your company packet to as many lenders as you can.
  • Have a Power Point digital packet created so you can send it via email.
  • Have a professional one-minute DVD made about your company with video of your office, equipment, storage lot and staff. Include a brief message from the owner, talking about the benefits of using your repo company. This DVD can be included in the company packets you send out, can be uploaded on Youtube, and can be sent via email.
  • Make sales calls as often as you can. Do not be afraid of the dreaded “cold call”, because they can’t kill you, they can only say yes or no.
  • Join professional business associations, such as groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or other civic associations. You are bound to make some contacts there, as well as get personal satisfaction from being a member of these worthwhile organizations.
  • Pay for online memberships of auto repossession industry directories.
  • Send out online press releases about your company.
  • Attend auto repossession, skip tracing, and other industry-related seminars. You can also offer to speak at some of these seminars, branding yourself as a professional in the repossession world.
  • Write an article for an online repossession industry-related website or hard copy publication.
  • Network with other repossessors online and in person. This industry could be great if we all learned to lend a helping hand to each other.
  • At all times, act accordingly and professionally in your business and personal life. You and your equipment can be your best and worst commercial! I know of one repossession company owner that recently got into a road-rage situation while driving his wrecker. He was quite depressed to realize he had flipped off one of the top members of the board of directors of a credit union that he did work for. He lost that account, which averaged 25 repossessions a month – that is pick ups, not repossession orders!   Not including transport and key fees, he lost nearly $9,500 a month in revenue. Now that is one expensive middle finger!!!

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Meeting for lunch with a potential or current client is an excellent way to grow your auto repossession business. Eating with a client sets the scene for a casual and intimate connection. This setting can bring about a bonding experience leading towards a long-lasting business relationship.

Of course, you have to handle yourself professionally and sociably for this to happen. Eating with someone will bring familiarity to the relationship, exposing your manners (good or bad), weaknesses and strengths. Depending on how you conduct yourself, it will either strengthen the relationship or ruin it.

Before making an invitation for lunch, you need to determine if your client can fit the meeting into his schedule. Some collection managers get bombarded so frequently with lunch offers that they make it a practice not to accept any invitations. If they can’t meet you somewhere for lunch, or don’t have the time, then offer to meet them at their office.

When you invite a client to lunch, you need to make the purpose of the meeting very clear. Do not act as if you just want to hang out and shoot the bull. Make it clear that you are paying for the meal by saying, “I’d like to take you to lunch” or “Please allow XYZ Recovery to buy you lunch.” Do not say, “Let’s do lunch” as it will leave him wondering who is going to pick up the tab. A good invitation would be: “I’d like to meet with you and talk about (insert your purpose). May I come and see you sometime? Or, could you break away from your busy day to let me take you to lunch?”

Be sure you choose a place to eat that is appropriate for a business lunch! You will want to avoid noisy places, restaurants located in areas plagued by traffic congestion, and, certainly, seedy strip clubs or hole-in-the-wall bars! Find a restaurant that has an inviting feel to it. The location should be close to your client’s office and convenient for him. The meeting place should be chosen with only him in mind and not you. As the host, you should be the one to choose the venue, unless he outright requests a certain restaurant.

Here is a list you should consider when making your restaurant choice:

  • One that serves a variety of cuisines such as a café, bistro or steakhouse. This is to be sure your client will be able to pick out a dish he likes.
  • One that you have been to before and know that the food is tasty and the customer service is first class. Remember if it is not first class, it’s no class!
  • Pick a place that is clean, has a relaxed atmosphere, and, most importantly, quiet.
  • If the meeting is out of your area, search the internet for restaurants with great reviews.
  • Do they accept your credit card?

You do not want to be stuck sitting in the restaurant lobby for 20 or 30 minutes because there are no tables available, so be sure to make a reservation! There is nothing worse than looking like a poor planner by ending up having to go somewhere else to eat because your client can’t spare the time for the 50-minute queue for a table. Also, be sure to reserve a quiet table for your meeting.

Arrive at the restaurant at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time. Use the restroom when you arrive so you do not have to excuse yourself during the lunch to do so. You should allow the hostess to seat you, and tell her to be on the lookout for your client. While you are waiting, have a word with your waitress. Inform her that this is a business lunch and you would like her to bring you the bill. Also request that she keep interruptions to a minimum, but not to sacrifice customer service in doing so. Promise her a healthy tip for her service.

Once you have your table secured, you may go to the restaurant lobby and wait for your guest to arrive. When he arrives, allow him to follow the hostess to the table and let him choose his seat.

Lunch rules:

Shut off your mobile phone.

  • Give undivided attention to your guest and the meeting.
  • If he makes the first move and orders alcohol, then you may, as well, but go light on the booze with just one.
  • If he is pounding the drinks, you should still sip yours and do not get even remotely close to being intoxicated.
  • If he orders a drink and you are not a drinker, just tell the waitress that you will have water for now.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Match your client’s meal. If he has a three-course meal, then you should do the same.
  • Try to order something similar so your plates will come at the same time.
  • When you choose your food, be sure you order food that is not messy and easy to eat. No Saganaki flaming cheese, barbecued ribs or Oysters Rockefeller!

Getting down to business:

Do not attack him with business talk as he is sitting down. You need to wait for an appropriate time to talk shop. For new clients, you should spend some time getting to know each other. For a current client, take some time to catch up on things since your last meeting. Enjoy some light conversation minus any talk about politics or other touchy subjects. Sports, travel, and hobbies are excellent subjects for conversation. Continue to hold off on talking business until your meals have been ordered. A great time to talk business is between the salad or appetizer and the main course. When the bill comes, casually pick it up and place your credit card in the bill holder and close it. This should be done with absolutely no effort or attention drawn to it.

The day after your lunch meeting, you should send the client a short note thanking him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to meet with you.

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