CollectionCenter, Inc. History
Positive Collection Practices
Monetary profit is no longer the only metric used to measure a collection agency’s success. Today’s leading collection agencies are community conscious to better the steadily improving opinion of the industry and fulfill their civic duty.
The following is a revised article from Collection Advisor, where they placed the spotlight on CollectionCenter, Inc. They spoke to Dan Russell, CEO, to understand how we meld a financially successful model with public service to make a holistically healthy agency.
When did CollectionCenter open its doors?
My grandfather, Clyde C. Cos, opened the business as Carbon County Credit Rating Exchange in 1919 in Rawlins, Wyoming. In the 1930s, he changed the company name to Credit Bureau of Carbon County. In the 1980s, we expanded our scope and began doing business as CollectionCenter, Inc., opening additional offices in Colorado and Utah. We now serve the Rocky Mountain Region from our offices in Rawlins, Wyoming and Loveland, Colorado.
What kind of debt do you collect in addition to medical debt?
In our early days, being based only in Wyoming, we had to become proficient at literally every conceivable type of collection work. We did everything from returned checks to bank loans, student loans to retail stores, and credit cards to hospital accounts. We still work in most types of collections. We no longer collect returned checks or student loans. However, we actively work collections in every other arena.
What do you do to stay competitive?
We were one of the first collection agencies to embrace computer technology in the 1970s, and we pride ourselves on continuing to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
Our training focuses on compliance, ethics, and professionalism. We treat everyone with dignity and respect. Our employees love their jobs, and it shows in how they treat one another, our clients, and our consumers. We appreciate how important our work is to our clients’ bottom line and the economy at every level. All our leaders stay informed within the industry as active participants in many associations. Those associations include the collection industry, our creditors’ industries as well as civic organizations. We offer superior service, and we only succeed if that service succeeds for our clients.
How do you keep your staff motivated and happy?
CCI treats our employees as people first. We understand that life happens, and we work together to solve issues. We offer better than average pay and benefits and flexible work hours when necessary. While we are technically a corporation, we strive to make it feel more like a family. We have a “Fun Committee” and a “Wellness Committee” staffed by volunteer employees at all levels committed to the morale, atmosphere, and health of all employees. We participate individually and collectively in charitable organizations and activities, supporting our enduring company value of service to others. We offer great monthly and annual prizes for ideas that make us more efficient and effective.
What technology helps you the most and why?
This is a difficult question as there is continuously evolving technology, particularly in various electronic communication methods. Currently, I would say the technology that is helping us the most is call recording. CCI has recording inbound and outbound calls for several years, and it helps us in many ways. If a consumer contact a client and claims “this happened” during the call, our client no longer has to deal with “he said/she said” descriptions. We can forward the call recording so our client can hear precisely what transpired. We audit recordings for compliance and technique, allowing us to refine and improve our collector performance. We utilize recordings in the training process to expose new trainees to a wide variety of conversations. CCI also offers recognition to the “best call” every month in each department.
What are your most pressing compliance challenges?
Our two most pressing challenges currently would be individual state compliance expectations and frivolous consumer litigation. As we operate in several states, it is challenging to stay abreast of all changes to compliance expectations and frivolous consumer litigation. As we operate in several states, it is challenging to stay abreast of all changes to compliance expectations in each state. We need to change notices and telephone techniques regularly to ensure compliance with each consumer contact based on the state of their residence. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous attorneys will file baseless lawsuits against us alleging violations that never occurred. While we eventually prevail in these lawsuits, it does take significant time and resources to fight them.
What certifications have you, your staff and your company attained?
As a company, we have achieve the Elite Membership status in Associated Collection Agencies for 15 consecutive years (since ACA established the certification). We have been recognized as a “Best Place to Work” by Inside ARM magazine on multiple occasions. Individually, there are too many to list. CCI has dozens of ACA Certified Collection Professionals, several Certified Collection Compliance Officers, and over 15 employees having achieved either the Scholar or the Fellow Degree in Collection Business Management from ACA International. CCI is the only agency in the industry’s history to have three ACA International “Member of the Year” awards bestowed on individual employees. My mother, Linda Russell, was the first female President of ACA International. Four different employees have achieved Certified Instructor status by ACA International and, between them, they have conducted over 400 seminars all over the US and in five foreign countries.
What has CCI done to ensure success in collections?
We appreciate people. We appreciate our clients and the work they do for others. We appreciate the consumers we contact and their efforts to understand and resolve their debts. We appreciate each other, doing a difficult task that is undervalued by the general public, yet doing the job with respect for all and a desire to help. We have friendly in-house competitions trying to compete against ourselves to be better, friendlier, and help more people than we did yesterday. People appreciate being treated honestly and with dignity and respect.
Our commitment to those values does more than anything else toward ensuring our success. Large or small, individual or collective, we celebrate wins.
How do you keep your office efficient?
At CCI, we are continually seeking improvement. We have full-time auditors who review calls and procedures for compliance, technique and effectiveness. They also audit processes, both human effort and automated, to identify areas for possible enhanced efficiency. Our in-house idea contest brings new ideas forward monthly for consideration and recognizes the employees who contributed them. We have “prime time” sessions, limiting distractions and heightening focus to achieve the best results.
Name a time when you were met with a challenge and describe how you overcame it?
The challenge that immediately comes to mind is the COVID-19 pandemic. We are still overcoming it, and we are doing it together – every employee pitches in to take the utmost care in their personal lives and at work. We have incorporated one entry point with temperature and wellness check questions and one exit point. We have spaced employees further apart and instituted one-way traffic patterns and a mask requirement while moving around the office. I record a video each week to send to all employees to stay informed and feel more connected during this difficult time. We carry that spirit of service to our clients and consumers; this is a difficult time for them. Together, that is how we overcome any challenge at CCI
What is one tip you would give someone just entering your company and/or industry?
You perform challenging and sometimes difficult, yet critical work. Be proud of what you do!