Business Article

 
Debt Collection Agency & Law Firm Operations…Then and Now! By Mark V. Matz
Collection Industry Consultant

The speed at which we witness the changes in business and society is increasing steadily. As we move along into the second decade of the 21st Century, collection agencies and law firms who primarily handle debt collection and creditors’ rights issues face different challenges.  Some of these are marketing, government regulations and the interaction with others within the accounts receivable management industry.  

Marketing, as the function we know today, is relatively new.  It came into use during the later 19th Century’s Industrial Revolution (derived from the more ancient word – market).  By the early part of the last century, advertising and promotion were what was highlighted.  It was during this period of time that we witnessed the growth of the debt collection industry as we know it today.  Three elements started the collection business, a collection agency, credit managers and collection lawyer.  Dun & Bradstreet, while founded in 1841, became the entity we know today in the early 1930’s after a merger.  The NACM and CLLA were formed in the later 1890’s and continued to grow as the Great Depression, a world war and the post-war economic boom catapulted American Business to new heights.  Since lawyers were prohibited from advertising, legal directories for collection lawyers came about in the early days of the last century.  The commercial and retail debt collection industry (also know as accounts receivable management) with all the other entities that we know today, derived from the root of these companies.  One of the newest ways to find attorneys is looking online for sites such as www.attorneyscollect.org and www.nationalboardofcollectionattorneys.com.  For collection agencies, try www.edebtcollector.org.  

For most of the late 1800’s through the 1970’s the way business was done remained relatively the same.  When lawyers could advertise, that modified some of the marketing options.  But from the formation of new associations, the expansion of collection agencies along with new technology, things changed quickly.  From the advent of fax machines, cell phones and emails through social networking – and what lies ahead, the root of our business, must remain; seeking to provide the best service by professionally collecting the most money.  You often learn the direction you’re headed by seeking from where you came.  The debt collection industry is not one that is producing a product, but one based on trust and working to provide solutions for clients and debtors alike.  Looking for new ways to market, visit some of the following sites: www.attorneysdesignstudio.com, www.avirtualspokesperson.com.  

Governmental rules and regulations have always been with us.  But as the public became more aware and government interested in protecting them, government regulations and oversight increased over time.  Today, even the commercial sector of debt collections are becoming more regulated following the introduction of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which primarily governs collection of retail (or personal) debt.  State and local regulations are increasingly having an affect on how any collection agency or law firm collects money.  What remains is professional persistence.  

Industry Interaction, also know as ‘networking’ has been a mainstay of the debt collection industry since its foundation.  It will continue to be important, even though the methods have changed.  Technology means that now, networking can be handled through online social networking along with other forms of communications.  Meeting face to face can still be important to better understanding one’s prospect and provider.  There are many ways to keep connected, some of the following sites may help in that process: www.collectionworld.org, www.thedebtcollector.org, www.attorneyslife.com, or even www.attorneyvideoportal.com.  

The short story is simple, the basic premise of how we work in the debt collection industry, whether it be an agency or law firm, directory or association or any of the other companies that provide support – learn from the past not so much as to avoid its mistakes, but to learn what worked well and how to adapt those practices into today’s business world.


Meet Mark V. Matz

Mark V. Matz - began working in the broadcast media for WGN Radio and Television in Chicago, IL (a part of the Tribune Company) back in the late 1970's as part of the team on the then number one rated radio program. He later worked in the station’s Sports Department working for Baseball Hall of Fame Broadcasters Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and Lou Boudreau - before moving into the Finance Department at WGN, reaching the title of Credit Manager in 1986.

Moving beyond broadcasting, he went to work in the credit industry on the association side of the business before branching out to provide marketing services to a number of members of the industry ranging from attorneys, collection agencies and law list publishers. Mark served on staff as Marketing and Membership Director for the CLLA and remains active with the association; including serving as Co-Chair of the National Marketing Committee and on the Midwest Regional Executive Council. He also served on the Creditors’ Rights Executive Council, as Secretary of the Association of Law List Publishers and in various positions on other CLLA and Commercial Collection Agency Association committees. Mark has written numerous articles and spoken at a number of educational programs on marketing, finance, credit and collection issues during his thirty-plus year career.

 

 

 

 

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