Tag Archive: repossessing with keys

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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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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Over the last couple of decades, I have seen auto repossession companies come and go. Both friends and competitors have closed their doors before my eyes for a variety of reasons. Some closed their doors due to money management and poor business practices. Others closed their doors as a result of illness or old age. I have often heard divorce and personal problems cited as reasons for throwing in the towel. Out of everything I have heard, I would say one of the most frequent reasons for closing an auto repossession business was just being plain tired and giving up. Time and time again, I have had repo company owners tell me they were burned out and closing their doors. They were tired of battling with staff, clients, debtors, and other headaches that come with owning an auto repossession. If you, as the owner, are burned out, your business will also become burned out. Your office staff and repossession agents will catch vibes you put off, and business will suffer. Never let your employees see you down. For your sake and your business’ sake, you need to always be on top side. Having a positive attitude will be contagious and will lead to your business running better. Of course, this will lead to higher profits and business growth. I have been in the offices of both types of companies – the “burned out” one and the “on top side” one. The two are farther apart than the East coast is from the West coast, and it is the “on top side” business that is raking in the cash. Not only is the business making money, but the staff and owner are having a blast doing what they love! In the “burned out” office, you can slice and dice the thick tension, see the pain in everyone’s face and loosely predict the date and time they will go bankrupt. Most of us got into this business with a great love for the auto repossession industry and the life that goes with it. If you get burned out, you will lose the love for this industry and, just like a marriage, the relationship will come to a painful end.

Feeling burnout coming on? Spend some time with your family or get involved in a charity!

Tips and more info on how to run an auto repossession business are found here and here

In an earlier post, we talked about learning to respond to the word “no” and how to be persistent in this business. Today’s tip was inspired by Bryan McCollister, owner of Faith Financial, Fort Worth, Texas. It also deals with the word “no”, but in a different way. You should not only learn how to overcome the obstacle word “no”, but you need to learn how to say “no” as well. Saying “no” could be used in response to a request for free storage or maybe for doing work on a contingent basis or possibly for a low fee for repossession work. Far too many auto repossession companies are taking any business they can get without weighing the costs. These “eager beavers”, jumping at any work that is thrown at them, are the reason why auto finance companies are expecting every agent to work for pennies and provide free services. These same lenders are in the business of making money, and yet expect you to work for free. They would not be providing auto loans to people if they were not making money, and you should not do work for them if you are not making money.

When I talk to people in the auto finance world, I often ask them a couple of questions that make them squirm. The first is, “Would you do your job if you were only going to get paid if the people paid up or the car gets recovered?” Another is, “Would you come in to work on Saturday and Sunday if you were not going to get paid for those hours?” None of them ever say that they would, and then I compare that to freebies that auto repossession company owners are often asked to do by clients.

About 10 years ago, I used to do work for a client that paid well. We got $325 a car, plus keys plus transport with a cure fee, if we got the debtor to pay up. We picked up about 100 or more voluntary repos a month that made it a guaranteed $30,000 a month account for us. We were very happy to do their auto repossession work because we were making a nice profit. I recently spoke with an auto repossession company owner in my old area that is currently doing the same company’s work. He is doing their invols for a whopping all-inclusive fee of $265 a car. He must make keys, transport the cars to auction, and does not get a cure fee for that price. I know he is not making money, he knows he is not making money, and you know it, too. He should have said “no” to that account from the start. The cost of business has gone up since I did auto repo work for them.

How is it possible that this lender’s fee has gone down and not risen to $450 per repo plus keys and transport with a cure? That question demands an answer, and the answer is that some poor soul needed work so badly, that he was afraid to say “no”. Lenders weigh the decision on whether or not to put you on their vendor list, and you need to do the same when thinking about doing work for a client. If you are not going to make money working for a client, then you need to just say “no”.

I am not talking about making a living, either! A person makes a living at a job, but business owners need to make money – not lose money. Weigh the costs before bringing on a new client, and if you are not going to make good money, then you need to turn them down with a confident “No”!!!

Some auto repossession company owners will never get a “yes” or a “no”. That is because they do not take the time to pick up the phone to call any potential lender clients. I know you are all busy repossessing cars, making keys, dealing with debtor’s property, talking on the phone with your current clients, and managing your employees. If you own an auto repossession business and just read the above “too busy to call potential clients” list, I am sure you can add a thousand more reasons! However, if you are not always building your lender client portfolio, then you will eventually lose ground. In the future, one or more lenders will stop using your repossession services. This will happen regardless of the wonderful service you are providing them. I have talked to countless auto repo company owners that have lost clients for whom they did work for many years. These clients loved them and they had long relationships with them. They lost them as clients due to mergers, a collection manager retiring, the lender making the decision to go the forwarder route, etc.

I know of one owner that saw his best client vanish when a bank president’s son decided to go into the collateral recovery industry.  When I had my repo company, I received calls every week from lenders looking to give me business. I was making a lot of money and had more than enough work, and could have sat back and taken the new work when I got the calls. Luckily, I knew that a business that was not growing was dying. I made it a point to sign on new lenders every month, even if it was just one. How did I do that? I decided to call a certain number of potential lender clients every day. Some of the calls I made were first-time calls and others were follow-up calls to the lenders that were not looking for new agents. Set yourself a goal to call and TALK to five possible clients every day. I capitalized TALK, because leaving five voicemails does not count. Dial clients until you have spoken with five and are able to get them your company packet either by email, fax or snail mail. If a lender declines your services, tell them you would like to check back with them in a month or another time that they agree to. Also get their name, direct line (if they have one), an email address and a fax number. Anyone that has been in this business for any length of time will tell you about a time they spoke with a collection manager that seemed interested in using them and were never able to get them back on the phone again. Your services will be declined by many, and you need to contact them again in the future with a follow-up call.

As your “no” list grows, keep making your five, fresh calls a day and add one to three follow-up calls to your daily sales routine. I keep hearing owners telling me that they do not have time to make sales calls. If you are thinking this as you are reading this, then you need to make a commitment to make time to grow your business. I have been in the business and, besides working hard, I spent a fair amount of time horseplaying with my agents and staff, drinking coffee, taking long, long lunches, visiting with friends, and even watching TV in my office. I had a lot of good times running my company, but I had to prioritize my time. We can always find time for the things we enjoy doing. I enjoyed being successful and making money, so I made time to make that happen. Do not get discouraged when you are making your sales calls. Remember, each “no” is one step closer to your goal!

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How can the word “no” motivate you to build a successful auto repossession business? If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you are going to hear the dreaded “no” word a lot. The first “no” you are going to hear is when you ask the people you know if they think it is a good idea to get into the auto repo business. I remember when I was thinking of buying the repossession company I was working for, I asked some people in my life if they thought it was a good idea. 99% of the people I asked told me “no”. Listen, if you are going to succeed as a repossessor, you need to take the word “no” as a personal challenge. When I was told, “No, it is a bad business move”, I thought to myself “Really? Watch me!” and I bought the company. From day one, you need to get into the mindset that a “no” can NOT stop you. Once you decide to get into the repo business, be prepared to hear the word “no” a few more times and plan your reaction. You will hear “no” when you seek business financing. You will hear “no” when you apply for a loan for a wrecker. You might hear “no” a few times when you try and secure auto repossession insurance. You will hear “no” a hundred times or more when you try to sign up clients. Experiencing “no” so many times is going to be some great training for you! Debtors are going to tell you “no” day in and day out when you try to get them to turn their collateral over! You have to be able to conquer the word “no”! You need to resolve this issue in your mind if you want to be the owner of a successful auto repossession business. When you hear the word “no”, you have a decision about how to interpret it. If you are told, “You can’t do that”, you can take that in and believe it and say to yourself, “You’re right, I can’t”. In every conversation, there is a buyer and a seller. If you are “selling” me that I can’t do it and I “buy” it, then I can’t do it. On the other hand, for me, I would take you telling me I can’t do it, and turn that doubt into racing fuel. Hearing that “no” fuels me and challenges me to conquer the “no”. Hearing that “no” is actually a positive motivation for me and, as a business owner, you need to have that spirit as part of your makeup. You need to make a change within yourself if that is not one of your attributes. One way to do that is to look at the people that are telling you “No, it is not a good idea”. How successful are they? Is their life the kind of life you would be delighted to have? Do not take advice from someone who has not done it and done it successfully. If you talk to some of the auto repossession industry “greats” that are truly successful, they will rarely tell you that you can’t do it. It is always the failures in life that will tell you that you cannot do it. I talk to auto repossession company owners every day. There is one thing very different from the successful ones and the ones that are barely making it. It is not cash flow, underfunding, not having enough trucks, employee problems, a lack of clients, or the evil forwarders I continually hear about. It is simply the word “no” and how each owner reacts to that word. Learn to positively react to the word “no” and turn it into fuel that will drive you to reach your goals. If you do, NOTHING can stop you from having a successful auto repossession business.

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! If you get a great system going with your auto repossession business, then do not change a thing. Of course, if recurring problems come up that affect your business, you will have to make minor or major adjustments – depending on the problem. But, by all means, if things are flying right, then do not change your course of direction. If a small problem does come up and a change needs to be implemented, then tweak things “mildly” – no major changes. Making a change can affect the entire operation of your auto repossession company, and, if things are pretty much running smoothly, you do not want to do that. Do not change your office staff unless you absolutely have to.

One of the things that was the ruin of the repo company in this series was that out of nowhere they decided to make changes for no reason at all. They fired one of the best skip tracers they had because of a personality conflict. He was doing an awesome job, but he could not get along with one of the owner’s sons. The son decided to go on a campaign to get rid of him and was successful at getting him tossed. The skip tracer went to work for one of the company’s competitors and, slowly but surely, began to pull business away to his new place of employment.

You also do not want to have a high turnover rate of the repomen you have working for you. Making changes in your field agents can negatively affect your business, as well. Not only should you not change the repossession agents you have working for you, you should also try to not change their routine.

The next unnecessary change that they made at the company discussed in this series was to “shake up” the repo agents by shuffling the areas in which they worked. For the most part, the recovery rates of all the agents were really good, but they thought they were getting too comfortable working the same areas. They also were trying to punish a couple of the guys – once again over personality conflicts. They had drivers that normally worked in areas close to their homes driving 50 or more miles to work an area another agent used to cover. Then, they had the agent from that area going the same difference to the other guy’s area. Pure insanity! These repomen had developed contacts, knew the streets, knew the hiding places and had decent relationships with the police departments in the areas they had worked in. Now, they had to start from zero, and it showed in their recovery rates. The lenders began to notice that it was not business as usual, and that something had changed. I can be a bit outspoken, and I voiced my concerns to the owner. He appreciated the input, but his kids did not. They began to target me and accused me of getting in the middle of the family business.

Here are some traits that a person needs to possess in order to be a great repoman.

  • Trustworthiness – A lender needs to know that you are going to do what you said you would do. Do not make promises you can’t possibly keep.
  • Honesty – Your effectiveness as a repoman cannot afford to be caught in a lie, even one time. If you did not do something, that’s okay, but if you did, then own up to the lender.
  • Leadership – You have to be able to make tough decisions, solve problems, and work through difficult decisions. Everything rises and falls on leadership.
  • Confidentiality – Lenders want agents that do not disclose information about their debtors. Your clients do not want to get hauled into court because you have loose lips.
  • Work ethic – Being a repoman is a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week job. The repossession industry is not well suited for a lazy repoman.
  • Generous – Be sure you give back to your community. You should not only give monetarily, but also give of yourself. There is nothing more rewarding than giving your time to a good cause. Click here to read more on charity.

Please feel free to comment on what you feel are essential qualities every repoman should have, or discuss it on our forum here

Well, we were back in business dent pulling ignitions, pulling steering wheels and repossessing a bunch of cars, trucks and motorcycles. I think life was a lot easier using keys to repossess cars back in the day before self loaders. We only used a wrecker to repo a car if we had to. If it was wrecked, did not run or had flat tires, we called for a rollback. When we called we did not use a cell phone either, but dropped a coin into a payphone. Am I dating myself? Using keys was a breeze. It was quick, quiet and easy. There was no clatter of a diesel wrecker to alert the debtor that his car was being repossessed, but just a couple of taps of a dent puller extracting the ignition lock tumbler and popping a new one in. Sure, once in a while you had to pull a steering wheel, but it was at least quiet. The other nice thing was that it was not expensive to drive around or take public transportation to look for cars that were up for repossession. Now you have programmable and chip keys to take the fun out of being a repoman! Has technology ruined the auto repossession business?

What other types of technology have destroyed the repo industry?

Comment on the blog or on our forum here