Only a small number of people are fortunate enough to find their true calling in their first job and parlay that into a successful career. Jeremy Mapes is one of those few people. Mapes’s clients and the many people he has worked with over the years are certainly happy that he fell into the collections business and has never looked elsewhere. Read on to learn more about Mapes and why you might not want to bet his fee on a hand of poker with him.
Name: Jeremy Mapes
Company: Mapes LLC
Length of time at current company: 11 years … (OMG, has it been that long already?)
Length of time in industry: Over 24 years … (Now my age is showing)
How did you get your start in the industry?
I was looking for a job while I was attending college and caught an ad in the newspaper for an office job at Universal Credit Services. I walked in to get an application and they interviewed me and gave me a psych test to see which type of recoveries I would fit into. I started out in the “Account Management” (soft side) where I was the first person to not only make their high goal but I carried on making goal/bonus for three years every month straight without missing. During the time I was tested with special projects and later, after the company was sold by the hospital to a private investment group, was offered the job of VP of Operations over the division.
What is your career highlight so far?
There really has been so many it’s hard to point to one. My favorite would probably be:
Being tasked with and successfully certifying a public corporation division for ISO/IEC 27001 Information Security Management Systems. They didn’t choose their security division or audit division for this honor/task. They chose me with this complicated task that included multi-national sites, working with multiple divisions, and creating and implementing the architecture that would satisfy the requirements, maintain the standard, and make it available to certify through my framework corporate wide. The fact that they gave me the challenge showed the corporations faith in my skill to successfully accomplish any task they needed regardless of what division or sector it came from. After that the corporation would bring me in to fix any area regardless of sector (accounting, call center, cash, vendors, telephony, etc.) to investigate and fix whatever issues they were having.
When or how are you most productive?
I am most productive when presented with a challenge that a company is struggling with. The ability to solve problems and improve processes has always been the hallmark of my career.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
I would say William (Bill) Higginbotham. The man help start up Circuit City back in the day and he’s successfully navigated and brought positive change to many companies over his tenure. When I met him at Ocwen I got the opportunity to find out why he’s such a talented individual. He would lead the management team, be able to comprehend the challenges, and empower his team to accomplish the tasks without micromanaging. I found Bill to be one of the few people I’ve met in the industry that was truly inspirational and productive. Some of my own observations of Bill were seeing him lead Ocwen’s acquisition of the fifth largest agency in the United States and also seeing him take a money-losing division of Convergys and turn it back into one of the highest revenue divisions they had at the time.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
I think that it is being able to see patterns in everyday business, identify processes that are not being done well, and being able to formulate a solution to improve the process and take the company to the next level. People can always complain how things aren’t going well but it’s people like me that have an answer to that problem that saves the company millions or makes it more competitive.
What do you like most about this industry?
Well, for one I took to it naturally and I wasn’t pushed into it like a second generation owner or someone who just needed to make a living. I think I love this industry because it’s a necessary service that’s been around since the beginning of human history, since the time first debt was created and someone had to ask how the debt was going to be paid. There’s always going to be a need for people that have both the ability to talk to people and to the ability to handle stressful situations. But, most importantly, this industry teaches you how to “close the deal”. That’s what it’s all about in collections. Reaching that individual about a debt and determining how you can motivate them to fulfill their obligations.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
Since we’re wishing here I would say the litigiousness of the industry, meaning the laws that impede automation and common sense. It amazes me how every time this industry has taken a step forward the government has pushed it three steps back. The TCPA should have never applied to the receivables industry. How hard is it to train an attorney to explain to a judge that the TCPA talking about dialing accounts based on “generating” numbers in a random or sequential manner was talking about telemarketers and scammers that pick an area code out of “thin air” and then build number lists with no previous relationship or business from this consumer? The government agencies rather chase the known quantity than hunt down the unregistered malicious companies trying to defraud consumers, which is what they were really created to do and, to date, those malicious calls are still happening … And more frequently than they did before entities like the CFPB were created.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
Probably managing a technology company for a different industry. Technology has always been my Kung Fu. If technology hadn’t risen to what it is today I probably would have gone the doctor route or some other sector where I could do something different than the exact same job every day. I can’t stand repetition. In a perfect world I would be making decent money writing for a travel magazine or show, being paid to see the world or getting rich off taking tourists on beach adventures in some foreign country. Or a comedian, because I enjoy making people laugh.
Describe a typical work day.
My day is never typical. From the minute I get up I’m logged into someone’s system or responding to a question on how to do something or an executive is running a scenario past me on what they’d like to do or how to fix an issue, or I’m conducting a conference call with a business team on the next project or issue that they need to determine how to fix or improve. I never know when my day will end and, sometimes, when it will begin. I’m available 24/7 to my clients. Most have me on a monthly retainer and they can reach me any time. Some weeks I’m flying out to do an onsite audit or meet on a project with a client and others I’m sitting in my business office with one of my dogs snoring next to me and me busting through workflow or code on a company’s system.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I have several guilty pleasures. I can often be found playing in a Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament and I’m very competitive. I love to travel the world and try new and exotic locations. A cruise ship in a tropical destination with a fruity libation in hand, trying to decide if I’m going to attend a dance class, the mini-golf competition, or swing by the casino while looking at a beautiful sunset. My wife and I are certified scuba divers and we love to go diving and explore the oceans. If I’ve had a stressful day I love to take the top down on my sports car and just go for a ride on a wide-open road.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish”. It’s good to know when to spend the extra money so that it will help you make more money or saving you from losing money. I know several companies in this industry that seem to think that people working manually out there on everything, doing it the way they’ve always done it is fine. How hard is it sometimes to realize that if taking the time or the money to invest in automation can save you a ton of labor cost and improve your consistency?
What are you currently reading?
These questions … LOL.
I continuously read book on how to accomplish things or improve. I love to pick up books on entrepreneurship, sales, and marketing. I’m always working to improve my communication skills. And, since I was silly enough to make myself an expert in technology and information security, I’m always reading articles and information to keep my skills up to date.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I think most people that have been in the industry know about my industry experience but they have a hard time framing what it is I do. Some have seen my technology skills. Some I’ve helped tighten up their operations. Some I’ve help them automate their processes so they could eliminate manual work by the staff. Others know me from performing an information security gap analysis and helping them get certified to the gold standard ISO/IEC 27001. And some of the brightest and best have me serve on their board or on retainer to help them direct and prepare their company for their eventual evolution, whether it be to build the company for sale or to grow the company through acquisition or improved competitiveness for the long-term ownership. But the important thing to know is that I am continuously working with receivable companies and their clients and there’s not much that I haven’t seen or done and that I can be a great asset to their business as well, no matter where they fall in the schema of the receivables industry, whether it be creditor, call/solutions center, or vendor to the receivables industry.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Dan Donaldson, Bill Higginbotham, Chris Wosje, Scott Sidle.