I met Stanley Silver through BNI where we went to the same group for 6 years. In the past, there have been unfortunate occurrences where we have had to use his services, with successful results. I thought it might be interesting to you readers to know a bit about life from a debt collector’s perspective!
Here is his interview – enjoy!
Who are you and how long have you been a debt collector?
I have been in this business 19 and a have years – my business is SJ Collections for 5 years 3 months – but previously traded as Essjay Commercial Investigations for 11 years 3 months and prior to that for about 3 years as a sole trader.
Why did you decide to be a debt collector?
I decided to do this business because a friend suggested it as he knew someone who was retiring in the business and thought that it was something I would be interested in
Before that, I was in retail and had several market stalls within London selling imported babies and children’s wear.
What parts of the work do you do?
I am in charge of getting the work and processing it and I sometimes use associates to trace people on behalf of clients and to serve legal papers when necessary.
Marketing wise, I am mostly getting work by word of mouth and by giving a personal service through recommendations. I get repeat business from clients I have acted for since I started in the business and also for one off collections.
I also attend several networking meetings. I also do monthly newsletters, regular blogs and social media by outsourcing which I hope will lead to more enquiries
What do people misunderstand about your work?
People don’t realise that not all debts are collectable. In my experience, all debtors generally want to avoid paying or delay as much as possible. There are occasions when people have genuinely forgotten, such as old debts when the creditor has not sent a statement or they have moved and have not been traced.
How does your fee structure work?
My fees work on a contingency basis for straight forward debt collection, but all legal work costs are in addition to my commission
Do you have a certain percentage success rate?
No as all the different businesses I act for the collection rate varies. To clarify; a few years ago it was probably as high as 75 – 80%, but it is now in the region of 60%, again depending on the type of business or individual client I am acting for, which in turn reflects to the type of business or individual am pursuing.
Some years ago I was instructed to repossess a flat in Bayswater that was reported to the Managing Agents that it was being used as a brothel. I drafted and alied for an accelerated Possession Order which included the Witness Statement of the police officer who attended the property, but the Judge rejected it and said that we would have to follow due process and wait 14 days from the date of the Hearing.
I made a comment to his clerk, who just smiled.
There is an article under Case Studies on my web site. Who knows, the Judge may have had a vested interest?
What have you noticed about your workload/demands in relation to economic trends/recessions?
I am usually busier, when there has not been a recession, strangely enough, and debts are usually more collectable. Also the Insolvency work is busier and more collectable. I am getting a lot more enquiries and this has led to acting for more clients, but a lot of the instructions would seem to be clutching at straws as my gut feeling tells me that the majority of these debts will be uncollectable for a numbers of reasons; including debtors having vanished, moved abroad, no visible assets and legal costs being uneconomical to pursue.
What have you earned about human nature from your job?
Being a cynic, and I suppose because of the business I am in, I am more distrusting.
Nevertheless, there were in the past “professional debtors” that obtained credit and had no intention of paying.
This type of debtor is less prominent due to the credit checks now being taken. Furthermore, due diligence of trade debtors should be mandatory for a business not to fail.
What debt retrieval advice can you give people who are looking for help on this?
My website has a page “Documents” where there is a “suggested” application form for credit, also advice on avoiding cash flow problems.