MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- A recent survey of International Association of Commercial Collectors' (IACC) members reveals finding new clients to be a chief concern, followed by the impact of the economy and new regulations, but for most the outlook is bright for 2018. 

Problems that keep me up at night

For all business owners -- and supervisors for that matter -- there are always problems, headaches and concerns to deal with. A recent survey of members of the IACC showed the one issue of most concern – that “keeps them up at night” – is finding new clients.

Survey respondents were asked to respond to different issues based on three categories: Client Cultivation, Angst over the Unexpected, and Recruitment & Retention. They responded to questions based on whether the given issue “most concerned them,” making them toss and turn at night; “occasionally concerned them,” bothering them but not on a consistent basis; or was simply “not a problem.” There was also a “not applicable” response.

For the “Most Concerned” category, an overwhelming 51.56% of the 64 respondents said that finding new clients kept them up at night, followed by 21.88% saying the economy and its impact on commercial collections was a major concern. Regulations that could make the job more difficult was a major concern to 18.75% of those who responded to the survey. 

Issues that are of concern but not all the time

Of the respondents ranking issues that were occasional concerns, though not consistent ones, 62.5% said the impact of the economy was a concern, and, interestingly, there was a three-way tie – at 57.81% -- between respondents indicating that regulations which could make the job more difficult, managing unreasonable client expectations, and training staff to succeed were occasional yet inconsistent concerns for them.

No problem at all

Issues that did not seem to concern survey respondents included keeping headhunters away from a business’ top collectors (68.75%), the impact of bitcoins on commercial collections (57.81%), and concerns that bad publicity could befall the organization or the commercial collections industry in general (45.31%). 

But what else do you worry about?

When asked, “What else keeps you up at night?”, in addition to the specific responses included in the survey, respondents’ answers largely had to do with the topics of clients, regulations, staffing and the legal aspect of the business. Though a few responded that old age and a snoring dog were primary concerns.

One respondent replied, “We do have some clients that delay our fee payments for a very long time and we have communication problems that make it difficult to make our clients understand the legal procedures in different countries.”

Dealing with demanding clients, maintaining the existing client base, and finding and cultivating quality clients that move the growth curve were other issues raised by survey respondents. New regulations, and concern over the current regulatory climate and practices and their effect on commercial collection businesses were also mentioned numerous times.

Regarding the legal aspect of the commercial collections field, one respondent called out debtor lawyers and lawyers looking to take advantage of the system, as well as poor administration in the courts and unreasonable opposing counsel as major issues within the industry.

One respondent wrote, “For the last 20 years, agencies have beaten each other up with rates, and the resulting rate pressure created by agency sales representatives’ desire to land an account leads to regular reductions in the rates offered by attorneys.

“Seriously, how much longer can quality law firms stay in business with rates on commercial claims averaging below 20%? And who started the trend of sending out claims at the same rate no matter where the law firm is located?” the respondent continued.

In addition, respondents said that having “staff that never seems contented,” hiring “top flight talent,” and not having enough time for staff to process files as quickly as necessary were regular concerns as well. 

Over 45% of respondents have been commercial collection professionals for more than 30 years while only 4.69% have been in the industry for between one and five years. Members of IACC for over 30 years were 9.52%, while 25.4% have worked in the field for between one and five years and between five and 10 years.

Benefits of IACC membership that members listed most often included networking opportunities,  collector and agency certifications, and keeping staff focused through the seminars they provide.

One respondent wrote, “IACC keeps me informed on current trends and in touch with our competition, which is very helpful since IACC members are so honest with each other.” 

Perhaps the most striking – and best – news to come out of the survey was that looking forward to 2018, 59.38% of respondents expect their business to increase while only 1.56% said they thought business would decrease in 2018. 

About IACC

The International Association of Commercial Collectors, Inc. (IACC) is an international trade association comprised of more than 350 commercial collection agencies, attorneys, law lists and vendors. With members throughout the U.S. and in 25 international countries, IACC is the largest organization of commercial collection specialists in the world. The IACC contributes to the growth and profitability of its members by delivering essential educational and professional tools and services in a highly collaborative and participatory environment. For more information, visit www.commercialcollector.com.

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