Unless you were born into the ARM industry, not many people have aspirations of growing up to work in collections. But it’s satisfying to see someone who clearly never pictured himself working in collections become so ensconced in the industry and grow to embody all of what makes the people in this industry so great — the capacity to help, the interest in learning, and the desire to help. Read on to learn more about Matt Kiefer and why he prefers hops and barley to grapes.
Name: Matt Kiefer
Company: Preferred Collection and Management Services, Inc. d/b/a The Preferred Group of Tampa
Length of time at current company: Almost 3 years
Length of time in industry: 17 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
I left full-service restaurant management to go back and get my MBA so I needed something full-time, that could work around my school schedule. S0 I went to work for Florida Hospital Orlando doing midnight shift ER registration. At the same time I was a reserve police officer for the City of Kissimmee. I worked my way up the PFS chain into Financial Counseling, Legal, graduated with my MBA, and soon was hired as the Assistance Director of the hospital’s wholly-owned collections agency. I was hired at the time this strange thing called HIPAA was scaring the daylights out of everyone so I became fully engaged in learning more about it from both the agency’s perspective through ACA (and Leslie Bender – the HIPAA Queen) as well as hospital training for leadership. I joined a team that trained the different campuses and the staff (both clinical and nonclinical) and that is where I developed the Compliance Aptitude Personal Transition (Capt. Kiefer).
What is your career highlight so far?
I never envisioned myself as sitting at the front of the room giving the presentation or leading a group or association. I guess I was always the shy and humble guy who listened but didn’t speak out. But my career highlight, I believe, has been serving the members of the Florida Collectors Association and the National Healthcare Collectors Association by serving on the boards. I really never thought that would me but Ken Smith (National Healthcare Collectors Association) and Ginny Craig and Jack Brown II (both now retired) encouraged me to get active with the Florida Collectors Association so I did. I served in a variety of positions from Membership Chair in NHCA to Education Chair, Director, and eventually President of the FCA. I am now on my second turn as Vice President of FCA. Staying active, involved, and informed in an industry that changes every day has led to a lot of great friendships and sharing of ideas along the way.
When or how are you most productive?
I am most productive in the late morning and afternoon. I know, everyone says they rise at 5 a.m. and get most of their work done by 8 a.m. or something like that, but I AM NOT a morning person. I guess it was from working midnight shifts as a police officer and late night shifts as a restaurant manager and closing. I am also the most productive when I am fully engaged in what I am doing. If it is challenging, critical, compliance-related, requires fortitude (like in CrossFit), or requires collaboration you will find that I am most productive.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
Leslie Bender has inspired my compliance character, but really all of the board members and past board members I have served with have inspired me and continue to inspire me with their dedication and service.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I don’t think I am or do anything better than anyone else. But I will be among the hardest-working people in a room.
What do you like most about this industry?
The constant challenge. You name it, it is or has been a challenge. Compliance, changing laws, the recession, hiring good people and keeping them, staying within budget, knowing when to cut your losses and acting timely on that, getting good information to make informed decisions, taking a position for the right reasons, working for the right people, all of those can be challenging at one point or another.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
I wish that there was a provision for attorney fees and that we could be guaranteed sanctions when we win frivolous lawsuits so we could cut down the bottom-feeding supply chain as well as update and modernize the TCPA, FDCPA and state equivalents. These House and Senate members that don’t believe in balanced budgets, vote and spend for unsustainable programs and burden us who are among the responsible population that have to actually pay our bills or the lights get cut off are out of touch with reality. If we ran our businesses like they have run the government we would go bankrupt and there would be no bailout.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
I’d be a lawyer. They always win. Even if the client loses, they still get paid. But I wouldn’t be a predatory attorney of a criminal attorney, it would have to be in business or healthcare.
Describe a typical work day.
There is no such thing. Every day is different and many days are a challenge. I live in St. Pete during the week because I work in Tampa, but my home and family is in Orlando. During the week I try and end each day by trying to get across the bridge in time for CrossFit. That is my stress relief. Then I drive to my apartment, watch the news, wrap up anything urgent I need to complete or prepare for the next day and go to sleep looking forward to the weekend when I can go home to the family in Orlando, relax, go shooting with my sons, or head to the beach.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Can I say Shocktop or Blue Moon? I don’t smoke cigarettes, not really into cigars and I wouldn’t know a fine wine or a good single malt scotch if you spilled it on me, but I do like craft beer and among them those two are my favorite.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
You got to work with people to get things done so when you need things done work with them, persuade them, help them see the big picture, but if they refuse, can’t or won’t go through them or get rid of them to get the job done.
What are you currently reading?
I read trade mags and online articles, fitness, business and shooting magazines. I am not really a novel reader. The last real books that I read were Chuck Norris’s biography, “Against All Odds”, and Ben Carson’s “One Nation”.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I love to teach, help others, and give back from what I have learned, whether it be a colleague, a client, a friend, or friend of a friend. In fact, my goal is to write a book and dedicate it to my boys, so stay tuned.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Ken Smith firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or Neal Jagoda with VOAPPS firstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com