Tag Archive: auto repossession

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.


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.

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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I have spent thousands of hours behind the wheel of a wrecker in my career as a repoman, as well as when I was the owner of an auto repossession business. When I was an owner, I was a working owner and I still jumped into a wrecker and picked up collateral, as well as did ride alongs with my repo agents. As a driver, I was never in a major accident (or minor one that I can remember) in all those years, but there were some real close calls where I could have wound up in the morgue. I can remember riding with another agent I worked with where we both could have died. We were out in the country and there was snow on the ground, but the roads had been cleared. Although he was not speeding, he was traveling at a pretty fast pace and, as he came over a hill, we hit some black ice. The truck begin to spin at a fast pace and I had the “life passing before my eyes” experience. My partner never gained control of the wrecker and as we skidded off into a field we missed several telephone poles, trees and fence posts. Fortunately, neither of us were hurt and the truck did not have any damage. How could this have been avoided?

Over 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to take an EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operations Course) and what I learned there stuck with me. Always be prepared for an accident and you’re less likely to have one. The course taught me to not only keep my eyes on the road just in front of me, but as far down the road as I could see. It taught me to look through the rear window and on through the front window of the car in front of me, watching all along for potential dangers. It taught me to always stay active by scanning in front of me and to the sides, and to use my mirrors to monitor the rear.

There are several things that could cause a repossessor to have a crash. One would be outside distractions – from a pretty girl jogging on the street to the repoman scanning houses looking for collateral. There are also internal distractions – the phone, the GPS, the laptop and, of course, the CD player and radio! Be sure you curb your wrecker when fidgeting with any of those devices, and use an earpiece for phone communications when you are driving. Illegal actions such as driving too fast or unsafe lane movement can also cause a crash, and poor maintenance on your wrecker can be the culprit in a crash – bad tires and brakes both come to mind. Weather conditions, as in the situation I described above, are also potentially hazardous.

As I get older, I have learned one thing. Driving faster does not really get you there that much quicker. When you are out working, slow down! It might not only keep you from having an accident, but you might notice a vehicle you are looking for by moving slower. Always be sure you take the appropriate evasive action when faced with a potential collision. You might want to think about and practice what you will do when something really happens.

My final word is about fatigue and sleepiness. I have been there and, if you are going to be truthful, you have too. We have all had plenty of nights on the hunt where we worked way too many hours. I can remember plenty of times where I was rolling around in the darkness and found myself nodding off. What did I do to combat that? I tried to get the right amount of sleep, but, of course, that did not always happen, so I became a contortionist! I could sleep in all sorts of positions in my wrecker! I can remember several nights when I went to a police department parking lot or a rest area to grab a quick nap, and woke up and found myself curled up on the floor of my wrecker. I am 6’4″ tall and at that time I was quite large, so that was a real feat for me. If you find yourself nodding off when you are driving, do not be stupid and continue on down the road. Your life and the lives of drivers around you are more important than some debtor’s vehicle. Find yourself a safe spot, pull over and grab a power nap. Do it a few times a night if you have to, until you are completely alert to drive. I want all of you to make a lot of money in the auto repossession business, but, more importantly, I want you to go home to your family safely every night.

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Going into the auto repossession business costs money – actually a lot of money. I know it can be tempting to call up an old friend or family member and bring them in as a business partner to get the funds you need to get your repo business going. I have yet to see a partnership where there were not some HUGE bumps in the road. Oftentimes, the auto repo company had more than just some bumps and went off the road and crashed in a ditch because of the partnership that was formed. Having a business partner can cause friendships to end, family members to never speak again, and, oftentimes, even divorce.

This happens because it is nearly impossible for two people to have the same vision and mission for the repossession company. Anything that has two heads is a monster! I have seen co-owners almost come to blows over the brand of printer that was purchased. I know of one man that lost his best friend because his friend thought being a business owner meant less work and not more work, and decided to only contribute about 3 hours a day to their new repo business. One partner was out repossessing cars 80 hours a week, while the lazy partner was hardly putting any miles on his take-home wrecker and was lucky to pick up three cars a week. I know of one father and son repo team that have not spoken to each for nearly 10 years. Not only that, when their partnership blew up, they went out and each started an auto repossession business of their own. Now father and son are competitors in the same city, and when asked how the other is doing, they go into a swearing tirade about the other person.

My first advice is to pass on the partnership, even if it means the delay of launching your repo business venture. However, if you are still sold on a partnership, let me give you some advice. Documentation! Documentation! Documentation! Every detail about your partnership, each of your responsibilities, your business plan and how the repo company is going to be run needs to be in writing. I am not talking about a 3-minute napkin plan the two of you came up with while having lunch at Chick-fil-a, either. Everything needs to be done under the advisement of a licensed attorney that can direct you on the correct way to preserve the company and partnership you are setting up and also put it all in writing. You also need to develop a company handbook that will be your indisputable “Bible” on how things will be done. If it is followed to the letter, there will be fewer disagreements.

Secondly, you need to be sure that the two of you see eye to eye on every aspect of the business and other areas, as well. I look at every business relationship like I am looking at a possible spouse. I am married now, but when I used to date, I had a strict screening policy. When I first dated someone, I watched for little things that irritated me or things they said or did that I did not like. I knew that if there were little problems in the beginning, there were going to BIG problems later on. If I saw the smallest problem with a girl with whom I was on a date, I made it the last date! I actually ended a date while looking at the menu, because the girl revealed to me she was a vegan, card-carrying PETA member. I was a hunter and love my rib-eye steaks, so I suggested we go home immediately! She was not happy, but my motto in love is better to cry once, than cry every day for the rest of your life! I do not believe in the theory (I say it is a lie) that opposites attract and make for good relationships. If you are going into business with someone, you need to be like minded. You need to think the same way in nearly every way – business, personal, political, etc.

I wish you all the luck in your auto repossession business venture. I will again advise you to pass on a partnership in your company. If you go against my advice, do it cautiously. And remember, partners share everything–the risk of investing, the responsibility, the sweat and labor, the stress and headaches and, most of all, the profits. For me, I am not willing to share the profits, so I will handle the rest all on my own!

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Absolutely Not!

So, you have been making some sales calls and finally got an appointment with the collections manager of a lender you are trying to get repossession business from. What should you wear to the meeting? I have seen some real fashion disasters worn by auto repossession company owners going to meet with a lender. I once was visiting one of my clients and one of my competitors dropped in unannounced to try and get some repo orders. He showed up in jeans with the knees torn out of them, a wife-beater t-shirt, a wallet chain and a pair of flip flops. He had a dirty ball cap on that said “Porn Star”.  I am not sure if he had bathed or brushed his teeth that morning, but he smelled like recycled summer sausage! I have told this story before and have been told I am a great story teller. I wish it were just a story, but it did happen. Needless to say, he never got one order from my client and was soon up for repo himself.

I have had many people tell me that all they wear is Harley Davidson shirts, jeans and boots, and they are not changing who they are for anybody. That is great; I used to wear “biker wear” a lot myself. In all my years in business, I found one thing out – people react to what you are wearing. If you show up anywhere in a ketchup-stained tank top and shorts, you will be treated a whole lot differently than the man that is wearing a pair of dockers, a buttoned-down shirt and some casual shoes. I came to this revelation some years back in my daily trips to my bank to take care of personal and business transactions. If I went into the bank looking like I just fell off the mattress, I was treated exactly how I looked. I was barely greeted, there was no smile, no chit chat, and even the customer service was substandard. However, when I entered the bank in casual business attire or, once in a while, wearing a nice suit jacket and tie, they fell all over me. They greeted me, they smiled, they were in a hurry to assist me, and sometimes they told me I was looking fine! Some of you may say that they should treat all customers the same, and that is 100% true. But the reality is, that it does not happen that way. Shortly after I made my discovery that your appearance will determine how you are treated, that particular bank approached me and offered me an unsecured business line of $60,000 to use for payroll, if some of my clients were slow to pay. Was it because of how I dressed when I went in there? I would say that was definitely a big part of it.

I am not saying you need to wear a suit all the time, but I am saying to dress for the occasion. If you are going jogging, wear a jogging suit, t-shirt and tennis shoes. If you are going on a poker run on your “hog”, put your leather chaps on and a Harley shirt – but do not forget to wear a pair of jeans under those leather chaps! And if you are going to meet with a lender, dress appropriately if you want your auto repossession business to grow.

So, I ask again. What is appropriate dress for meeting with a lender? Is it a suit? I would say no. You are a repossessor and, honestly, I can’t ever remember meeting a client that was wearing a suit. You do not want to dress better than the client you are meeting, so I am suggesting you wear casual business attire, like a pair of dress pants or khaki dockers with a nice buttoned-down shirt. You will also want to be sure you have showered, slapped on a little anti-perspirant, combed your hair, brushed your teeth and ironed your clothes. Below are a couple of examples of what to wear and what not to wear when you are trying to get clients to use your auto repossession business or visiting clients that already use your repossession service.

This would be appropriate.

This is not cutting it!

Please do not EVER dress like this!

This would also be fine.

The Past: People have been borrowing money and buying things on credit for a long, long time. Back in the day, many lenders felt very comfortable sending out a bank employee to collect on past due accounts and, oftentimes, to repossess collateral. There was a time where auto repossession insurance, bonds, associations and licensing did not even exist. The practice of in-house auto repossessions is a rarity in this day and age, but, once in a while, it still happens.

At some point (I am told in the mid 1950’s – old timers, feel free to comment) lawsuits, assaults and the hassle of doing it themselves became an issue, and lenders began using outside contractors to perform their auto repossessions. This system worked quite well for years and years, and deep business relationships developed between lenders and the local repossessor. This relationship resulted in loyalty and trust between the two, and owning an auto repossession business was quite profitable. The lenders were happy to pay fees for professional services, and not only paid for the basic repossession, but also for other services the repossessor performed. These fees included key cutting, mileage, storage, investigation and skip tracing, condition report and photos, transport to auction and, oftentimes, extra for accounts where a lot of time was spent in getting the collateral picked up. They nearly always paid a close fee.

One major lender (that I will not call by name), in my opinion, broke the local adjusters down by bringing up the dreaded “C” word – contingent only. An all-inclusive fee was forced upon the repossession company owners by this company and, by not collectively saying “No”, this industry began to slide down a slippery slope. Other lenders slowly but surely began to follow this contingent-only trend and, although some stood their ground and said “No”, a majority did not. This allowed the lender to adapt a practice of setting the repossession fees, rather than the repo company owner setting his own fee.

In the 1990’s, debtors became more mobile and more lenders were having their “paper” spread across all 50 states. There were also a lot of mergers and acquisitions of smaller banks, and large nationwide banks became the norm. Lenders began to add more adjusters to their vendor list, and this is where I believe the personal relationship between lenders and local adjusters began to vanish. Juggling thousands of agents became a daunting project and emails, faxes and proprietary systems replaced the old-fashioned telephone update.

The Present: In a day of technology, the personal touch this business used to have is all but gone. We now have mobile phones, VOIP systems, land lines, fax lines, email, and instant messenger programs, and yet I see less communication in this business than ever before. I see lenders that have no idea who the adjusters they use really are. Oftentimes, there is no contact information or issuing customer service representative name on a repossession order. Without that, how can an agent call to request more information or give an update? Recovery rates are down, fees are down, operating costs are up, and a majority of repossession company owners are not taking a stand to keep this industry great.

The Future: The future is yet to be seen. You, the auto repossession company owners of today, are this industry’s future. To start, you need to conduct yourselves honestly and professionally at all times. You can right the future of this industry by educating yourselves and learning to be better business owners. You need to work united together to mold this industry into whatever you would like it to be. This means taking a collective stand to work for fees that make your company profitable and worthwhile.

The answer is yes. You need to have some sort of company handbook to set some standard operating procedures (SOP) for your auto repossession business. Having a company handbook will save time in your daily operations because it lessens the possibility of having to answer the same questions over and over again. It will help create uniformity and set a standard in your company, as well as prevent disagreements on how things need to be done.

If you have an SOP for your company, then there will never be a question as to what is expected of your office staff and repossession agents. They can sign that they received and read the handbook. This holds them accountable for their work performance, whether it is good or bad. Your employees will not be able to claim ignorance about a rule when you have to take action on a violation of a rule found in the handbook. This can help protect you and your company from unemployment claims, as well as possible legal action. You can combat claims of favoritism if you simply enforce the written policies of your company equally with all of your employees. It will put all employees on level ground, and this helps create a happy and well-running work environment. A well-drafted company handbook will not only protect you, but also protect your employees, as well.

Having a company handbook is also a valuable tool in marketing your auto repossession services to potential clients. It shows that your company is a professional, efficient company that has guidelines on how to serve them from the acceptance of the repossession order to delivery of their collateral to auction. You can actually share with the lenders your step-by-step written guide on how you get the job done and minimize their (and your) window of liability.

Your handbook should detail all the procedures you want in place for running your collateral recovery operation. It can lay out such things as hours of operation for your office, to medical and sick leave, to drug testing of employees. It can map out the recovery process you want your repo agents to follow in the field, and how you want your office staff to stream information to your lender clients.

You want to be sure you cover all areas to avoid lawsuits from debtors. One area in particular would be the storage of a debtor’s personal property, how it is inventoried and what documentation you have the debtor sign and file upon receiving his personal effects. One suggestion I have for you that was a rule at my company was the storage of liquids. We always disposed of liquids – chemicals, bleach, laundry detergent, gasoline, etc. We did not want a hazardous material spill or chemical reaction to occur at our office. Another suggestion I have for you is to have a rule regarding the storage of firearms and what procedure is set for returning guns to a debtor. One of our members and contributing authors, Bill Meinhardt, posted an excellent suggestion in our auto repossession forum. Bill posted this:

“I always unloaded the weapons and rendered them temporary inoperable with plastic pull ties” in a thread titled Guns and ammo in car – what’s your policy?

I suggest to all of you who do not have a company handbook to get one. it will professionalize your repossession business and help things to run more smoothly at your company.


I read a quote recently that said, “The man who inspires loyalty will never die alone or at least his death will not go unnoticed.” I have known a slew of people in my life that have demanded loyalty from the people around them. Some of them were business owners demanding loyalty from their employees. Others were pastors expecting complete loyalty from their parishioners. I knew of one chief of police that demanded 100% loyalty from the police officers that were under him at his department. I even have known some husbands that expected undying devotion from their wife and children. I guess there is nothing wrong with any of the above scenarios, is there? The problem that I saw in many of those situations was that the loyalty was expected to flow up to the leader, but was not reciprocated back down to the followers. Loyalty in any relationship needs to be a two-way street. It needs to ebb and flow between the king of the castle and those that dwell in his domain. In each of the above relationships, I saw a police chief, a pastor, a husband and a business owner demand loyalty from those under him, but these men did not return the loyalty they so fervently demanded to those around them. How can we, as business owners, be loyal to those members of our organization? We can be patient, understanding, attentive, and forgiving to our employees. We need to see them not just as employees, but as human beings that have personal lives, struggles, and the ups and downs that life dishes out. Of course, when you are running a business, you must have expectations of your employees, right? Definitely, but your responsibility as the person running the company is to be sure that your staff receives the proper training for the job they were hired to do. You need to be sure that what you expect from them is patiently explained and taught. You need to not get angry or explosive when a mistake is made and to take the time to retrain them on what they did wrong.

I remember being in the office of a “mom and pop” repossession company a few years ago. They had a decent office, they had some nice-looking wreckers, and they even had a storage lot with a decent amount of collateral stored there. The owners greeted me with a big, friendly “hello” and invited me into their office. As soon as I walked in, I could feel that something was not right in the office. All of their staff greeted me with a smile, but, for some reason, it lacked in sincerity. As I was sitting there talking with the owners, I could hear a phone ringing and ringing in the main office, and one of the owners seemed to get stressed, all of a sudden. He quickly answered the phone and was very abrupt with whom I suspected was a client calling for an update. As soon as he hung up, he exploded into a loud tirade and chewed out the girl that did not get the call. She explained that she was on the phone with another lender and he blew up even more loudly, using some of the vilest profanity. He then came back into the office and loudly told me (so she could hear) how worthless that girl was and how he was gunning to fire her. A few weeks later, I heard that girl quit and, over the next several months, that company went through a string of office workers. This was because the explosive behavior of the one owner caused a high turnover rate in their office. That company is still running today, but, in my opinion, at only 50% of the potential it could be running. Sadly, I know of many repo companies where this scenario is played out day in and day out.

Employees treated with loyalty and respect will be loyal to you. I had one big, strong, muscle-bound guy working for me, that probably would have charged hell with a bucket of water for me. When I sold my company and retired, he cried on my last day at the office.

I sometimes joke about death and funerals, and it relates to the above quote – “The man who inspires loyalty will never die alone or at least his death will not go unnoticed.” When I am joking about the topic of funerals, I always say this: “Some people will die and will have loyal friends that will fight to be pallbearers to carry the beloved’s casket. Others had better be cremated, because they will be lucky to have one person willing to tote the urn that their ashes are kept in.” Loyalty – expect it, but also give it.

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Are you branding your auto repossession company? Before you answer, let’s take a look at some of the essentials of branding. A successful brand needs to:

  1. Be different. Forget about all the cliché claims that other repo companies make. Be unique in ways that really matter to the lender.
  2. Make promises on which you can deliver. Never make claims that you can’t live up to. I know several repo business owners that are unable to be honest with their lenders about service. Some regularly accept assignments that are way, way out of their service area, and they do this thinking they will make their client happy. They always promise to be diligent on running those long distant accounts, but are lucky to get around to even doing a first run. The bad news is, the client won’t be happy. The owner would be better off to tell the lender that they only provide quality service and, in this case, they can’t do that. They could then give the client the name of another repo company right in that area. The lender will appreciate the honesty.
  3. Interact with your clients. Get to know them personally and develop a deep, long-lasting relationship – a bond, if you will. Be genuinely interested in them personally, instead of just being interested in their business.
  4. Communicate regularly with your clients. In a day and age of landlines, cell phones, text messaging, email, twitter, Facebook, etc., there is no reason why you should not stay connected with your clients. Don’t forget the U.S. Postal service for getting a Christmas card or birthday card delivered right to your client.
  5. Have a catchy company name, logo and motto. I was told recently by a vendor manager of a large lender that said a cool name and motto sticks out in their mind when someone does a sales call. She said that the staff in the vendor department sit around talking at lunch about the coolest name of the companies that had made sales calls that day. You don’t have to change your name, but you can always add to it. For example, there are several auto repossession companies in America that bear the name Bulldog Recovery. If there are twenty of them nationwide, how would an owner of one of them get their name to stand out in a nationwide client’s mind over the rest? How about a catchy motto? “Bulldog recovery ~ We take a bite out of your past due accounts”. Corny? Maybe, but that Bulldog Recovery will stand out from the other Bulldogs.
  6. Get your name out there physically. Get packets, brochures and business cards in the hands of every possible client out there. Do not send an expensive gift to one person in a department, but rather send something that brands your company to every customer service representative that works for your clients. If your name is on every desk of a recovery department via coffee mugs, post-it notes, pens, etc., whom do you think will come to mind when they need a car picked up in your service area? Check with your client to see if this is allowed. Most will allow it, if it is a small gift to every employee and not just to one person.
  7. Get your name out there in the cyber world. Hello! It is 2012, and if you do not have a website, get one built. You need to drive traffic to that site. The way you do that is to advertise on ALL the online auto repossession company directories on the internet. Am I plugging our site? Sure, I am. If I said I was not, I would be lying. However, I am also plugging the 4 or 5 other directories out there, as well.  You need to be on ALL of them, not just ours. The successful repossession companies out there advertise in the directories, and the ones that struggle do not. You also need to write some auto repossession articles on your website and a blog you set up, as well as other repossession industry related sites that will allow you to do so. Why? To brand yourself as an auto repossession expert and professional.

Your brand will reside in the hearts and minds of your current clients, as well as prospective lenders. A strong brand is invaluable as you battle to build a broad client lender base. It is so very important to spend some time investing in, researching, defining, and building your brand. Your brand is the source of a promise to your lenders. It is the foundational cornerstone in the marketing of your auto repossession business. Google, Coke, Ford, Dairy Queen and many other successful companies brand themselves. You know their names because they branded their companies. Besides knowing their name, you need to learn from them in the area of branding.

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