Anyone who has worked in both the government and private sectors knows how much they contrast. Survival in government collections requires a great deal of training so accounts receivable professionals may use the same language and business practices as their government counterparts. No easy feat.
This issue shines the Agency Spotlight on Credit Collection Partners and ask its president, Rick Bonitzer, what they have done to train and collect the way the Man does.
How did you get started in collections?
It was part of relocating my family from the Chicago area down to central Illinois roughly seven years ago. CCP was a tiny little business when I took over.
What tool is your greatest asset in government collections? Why?
Having an insider. We’ve got former government officials running our sales and client development teams. Not only are they incredibly personal, possess the qualities you’d want in those positions, but they’re intimately familiar with exactly how specific government offices are run. A big time differentiator in the marketplace.
What tools help you the most with government audits? Why?
Thorough documentation. This is applicable not just for government audits but for all verticals. Plus, it’s just good business. Your agency should have written procedures on all operational processes including dispute resolution, data reporting and availability, remittance policies and accounting methods. It’s a lot of work, but audits will seem less daunting with a comprehensive list of your policies well documented.
What tactic do you implement to maintain good relationships with government clients?
Transparency. We provide our clients with an unmatched level of transparency via our client access portal. Our clients can view letters, review collector notes, obtain current demographic data (i.e. address and phones), and even listen to recorded conversations, all without asking a member of our team. All of this is at their fingertips 24/7. The ability to listen to recorded calls without notice is truly something unique; our clients love it!
What tactic do you find most effective with consumers in government collections?
Well, I’d say training for starters. Training on proper terminology and approach. What I mean by that, is just getting on the same page with our clients with terminology. For example, we largely don’t use the word “consumer” in staff meetings or with clients, we use the word “defendant.” Why? Because they do. In doing so, we resemble a seamless extension of our government client’s office.
What can an agency do to get into government collections?
Exhibiting at a trade show where government prospects regularly attend might be a good place to start. You’ve got to expect and plan to network with other exhibitors at the conference. Your prospects are likely their prospects too. Get to know them. Converse with as many as possible. Be engaging. Don’t expect to plunk down an exhibitor fee, set up a booth and expect your prospects to come to you. It’s a lot of hard work but don’t forget to have some fun along the way. Aside from your booth, your attitude will also be on display.
How is Credit Collection Partners involved in the community?
CCP sponsors a whole host of youth sports teams throughout the year in the community. Beyond that, CCP is a generous donor to community based organizations and causes such as the YMCA, hospital foundations and last year we donated funds to the local “problem solving” court system.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Coaching my kids in sports. Their ages are five, seven and nine. They play baseball, basketball, soccer and flag football.