A Debt Collection Expert’s Story: How to Be Successful in the Debt Collection Industry
Hi, my name is Adam Stewart, Debt Collection Expert and owner of Debt Recoveries Australia.
If you have ever wanted to start a debt collection agency and want to know how to get started and what can help you make a success in this industry, I can share some of my thoughts and my story of how I got started and how I continue to stay competitive and profitable today.
How I Got Started
Debt collection is not the sort of thing you wake up one morning and say “Yes, this is the career for me!”, at least that’s not my experience.
At university, I obtained a Bachelor of Business with a major in Marketing. This was an exciting time in my life and I was determined to be successful. I started in the travel industry and was really going places. This was a tumultuous time for me as I was a heavy drinker from an early age and I found during my 20’s and 30’s this turned from heavy drinking into “What day is it officer?” Not great for a successful marketing career!
See How Large Companies Operate
Needless to say, my successful marketing career never really took off because of the drinking and partying. I had many jobs during this time and some failed businesses. I ended up working in the insurance industry, for some large insurers processing motor vehicle claims. I then moved into claims recoveries, again for a large international broker. I found I was good at the recoveries and I found it challenging. I think this was the initial key for me – to find something I was good at and I was interested in. I then worked for a short time at Collection House.
Due to my increasing interest in the industry, I managed to be one of the top collectors in my team, so I’m sort of proud of that. It was great to get an idea of how a large collection company operates- what the pros and cons of a large company are, compared to a smaller, more agile one.
Start Small and Think Big
At the ripe old age of 39 I decided to cut out the booze and the partying and get serious about life. Best thing I ever did, looking back.
Around this time, I was working for a large insurance company, heading up their claims recoveries division. I found, once I got serious about my career, I was actually very good at locating missing people that owed money and then negotiating to get them to pay. I did an investigations course to learn more about skip tracing and I studied the collection industry and started research on how to start my own collection agency.
My first business, Debt Recoveries Australia, was born in 2002. I was living in a one bedroom flat in Balaclava and ran the business from that flat and a P.O. Box in Balaclava. Right from the start, I made all my plans with the big picture in mind. Everything from the name, website, office space and debt collection software, was chosen with the end goal in mind – to be the most successful and profitable debt collection agency in Australia.
This, I believe, was one of the keys to my success. Even though I was small at the time (got to start somewhere), everything was planned as if I was already a large, successful debt collection agency.
Partnering with the Best
Another key to my success, I believe, is to seek out the best partners in the business, in terms of software, service providers and staffing. If I wanted to be the most successful debt collection agency in Australia, I had to have the best software in Australia. That is when I stumbled across Sandy and Debtcol. There were plenty of US software packages that promised the world but not many actually based here in Australia that catered for my needs and were able to sit down with me and go through what I wanted and then provide the software to match it.
Sandy, from Debtcol, was the only one I could find that provided all I needed. What’s more, Debtcol was Australian-owned. It was the owner Sandy, I was dealing with, not a faceless software company based in the States somewhere.
Debt Collection Software
All my original clients, collections and invoicing, was done on excel spreadsheets – not a great system for success, so moving onto Debtcol was the firestarter I needed for my business. I was now able to keep track of each and every debt, send automated letters, sms and emails, generate reports for my clients and generate invoices. It even has a built in CRM system, which I still use today.
My turnover, since starting with Debtcol, tripled within a year and I was able to take on more clients since Debtcol allowed me to expand (and it expanded with me), allowing for flexibility and adaptation of my business as it grew.
Growth and Reputation
Steady growth over the years was achieved with careful planning and goal-setting. Partnering with Sandy from Debtcol, we were able to figure out what we needed to achieve success. Having the online client access for the debt collection software was a huge bonus and a great selling point for me in the early days as very few other software companies were providing this.
Constant demand and new clients coming on board, meant I very quickly moved the office from that one bedroom flat into an office in the city. We now have offices all over Australia. Demand for legal services lead to the addition of a legal arm in 2012, called ADC Legal Litigation Lawyers. The advantage was we were able to use Debtcol for all our legal processing and invoicing. This also allowed us to provide our clients with online access to all their legal matters, as well as their collection matters -something most of my clients had never had before. This was another huge selling point and a great bonus for our clients. It also translates to less work for my staff and for my clients, since they can get online for updates.
Plan for the Future
By 2013, Debt Recoveries Australia, along with ADC Legal, was well on the way to becoming one of the most successful debt collections agencies and litigation firms in Australia. In order to accommodate the increasing demand for our services and to provide the best possible service for these clients, we had to have the manpower to back this up.
Setting up a Philippines office meant we could afford to have twice as many staff, passing on the saving to our clients by way of cheaper commission rates. We were also able to provide a much better service since we now have a surplus of staff to perform “back office” administrative duties and debt collection support.
Today, I am still as excited about the future of Debt Recoveries Australia as I was in 2002. I could not do it without the amazing business partners I have today, along with my amazing staff, whom I owe much of my success to. We have new brands and products we will be launching in 2017 and will continue to grow Debt Recoveries Australia to be the best in the industry.
Thanks for reading my story and I wish you the best if you are just starting out, or if you are planning to get bigger. Good luck and I would love to hear from you so I can share my experience with you.
To find out more about Debtcol, go to www.debtcol.com.au or call 1300 765 609.