February 12, 2015
It’s no secret that the beat down dealt by the day-to-day life in the commercial collection industry can be brutal. The CFPB, HIPPA, and TCPA are only some of the many things collection professionals must keep in mind with every call or letter. One of the worst things these issues can affect in a collection office is to bring down the mood. A poor mood or negative attitude in the workspace can cause people to make mistakes, anger to flare and turnover to increase. After that, a snowball effect is well underway. It seems the best way to avoid such a situation is to foster an atmosphere of positivity.
“If you have a positive outlook, you are going to get positive results,” said Allen Humphris, when I visited him at Tucker, Albin & Associates.
Humphris co-founded Tucker, Albin and Associates 5 ½ years ago and is the current CEO. His firm focuses on commercial debt recovery and has 100 employees in Dallas and 20 more in Denver. Humphris not only applies his knowledge of collections but also makes sure all of the employees feel the fire for collections that he feels. This aura of positivity could be felt as I walked through the offices and collection floor. Smiles were in abundance and manners were always minded. The collection floor was at a state of zen with soothing music emitting from overhead speakers.
I then went to the sales floor. Like ice to fire, the mood changed. It was still an abundantly positive atmosphere but the outward expression of it changed dramatically. In a room with red painted walls was a sales team that was nearly all on their feet. They were not only reading the script, they were acting it out. High fives were a frequent occurrence and motivational pictures of Bruce Lee and the like were on computer desktops.
I was interested in this agency because positivity was not a product produced by the right circumstances but a tool used to achieve success. If the happy worker works harder then it makes sense to make sure they are happy.
“Some commercial guys are in a little bubble,” said Humphris. “They may not prioritize the technology of personnel. Personnel is the most important ingredient in commercial and consumer firms. We find them where they are undervalued and treat them to an exciting culture.”
Humphris was right. Recruiting can be made easier if you have applicants coming to you. By emitting a positive vibe, the quality of the hiring pool should become better and better allowing you to get the pick of the litter. This can also establish your agency or law firm as one of prestige, which can lead to spinoff benefits such as great marketing for potential clients.
“There is nothing confidential about what we do. We want everyone to start doing it right. Help them or force change.” Humphris said he keeps asking, “What can I do to keep my employees happy? We get off at noon on Fridays and don’t mess with the compensation plan, so you don’t have to work harder to make less money.”
Positivity is also economical. The cost in both time and resources is great when bringing on new hires. With a smile and some creativity in employee maintenance, employees can be trained, matured and add value to an agency for years to come.
“If a letter got the job done, we would not have a staff of collectors, we would have a printing press,” said Humphris. “It takes personnel. They have to be good decision makers. They need to work out the best solution for the debtor to get the best settlement. The salesperson needs to know the customer’s business. The more talent you have the better off you are.”
I made the visit to Tucker, Albin & Associates with managing editor, Joshua Fluegel. Not only were we impressed by their candor and energy, we also learned how important Humphris considered his technology vendors. They are considered partners and are valued for being accessible. This became a principal criterion for selecting the Top Collection Product Companies of 2014.