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It can be difficult to cultivate and maintain a positive company culture. This is never truer than in a challenging industry like debt collection. But even though there are hurdles to a happy workforce, high employee morale is absolutely achievable.
PDCflow recently reached out to an expert in company culture to find out what makes up a great place to work. American Profit Recovery is an exemplary collection agency. They have been in business for 14 years and boast more than 25 years of experience from Owner Jeff DiMatteo and each of his three business partners. This national third party collection agency serves around 3,500 active nationwide clients including banks, credit unions, medical and dental, small businesses and the lawncare and green industry.
Along with their impressive business credentials, this June, American Profit Recovery was also awarded proof of their strong company culture. They placed number one in their rank on insideARM’s annual list of Best Call Centers to Work for. Here’s what DiMatteo had to say about making your office a great place to work.
Why is Positive Work Culture Important?
Obviously, low morale can be a problem. It makes employees less effective and can come with hidden costs such as using more sick days due to stress and health problems. DiMatteo says his company’s goal since founding has been to create a happy work environment to keep and maintain the best employees.
“Unfortunately, in this industry we have to try twice as hard due to the sometimes perceived negatives of our industry. People want to work with people they like, they want to enjoy coming to work and feel that they are part of a great thing. If your company exudes positive culture it is easier to attract people with a positive attitude and it feeds itself.”
How Can You Make Your Agency a Good One to Work For?
A team-oriented mentality is a huge factor in fostering positive vibes. “It’s easy to say, but people want to feel that they are part of a team,” says DiMatteo. “We want employees to come to work every day to not only work hard and feel good about the work they do, but also see results from their hard work.”
American Profit Recovery encourages this team spirit by holding weekly and monthly meetings to keep everyone on the same page and aware of the goals they are working towards. DiMatteo also stresses the importance of rewards as part of an effective team management strategy. “Knowing that they are contributing to the goal is important, and being rewarded for the production with pay, benefits, bonuses and prizes go a long way. We want our people to feel appreciated.”
Keeping Morale High After Difficult Calls
Part of leading a winning team is to look at environment. In credit and collections, this means ensuring a positive environment even when your team’s work is challenging. Agents spend their days navigating stalls and objections from consumers, and sometimes even encounter hostility on the other end of the phone. What can leadership do to keep attitudes positive?
“Our team members go into every call with the goal of helping a consumer,” says DiMatteo. “The satisfaction of doing that many more times than having a bad call makes them easier.”
A workplace culture of support can make a difference as well. If your people have a bad call, it’s important they know there are coworkers, managers and owners with open doors to support them. American Profit Recovery has even begun tracking compliments given to their employees to reinforce the great things they’re doing day in and day out.
Competitions for Motivation
We already mentioned the effectiveness of rewarding your collectors. But management can’t just put a competition on autopilot and expect the team to stay motivated. DiMatteo says the most fun his office has is when the contests are interactive or involve teams to keep everyone motivated. He also notes the need for clear expectations and goals. Employees feel more compelled to do well if these are spelled out.
American Profit Recovery runs a variety of games and incentives for their employees. “What motivates one may not motivate another,” says DiMatteo. He also points out that numbers aren’t the only way to inspire your team to produce their best work. Using consumer compliments or the best consumer call of the week are two criteria they use to reward collectors for great customer service. Doing this encourages collectors to do their best, rewards them for doing so, and enhances the customer experience all at once.
The emphasis DiMatteo and his team puts on goals, incentives, teamwork and customer service are just a few components of running a successful debt collection agency. For more expert advice articles, industry education and more, subscribe to the PDCflow blog.