Looking to solve the problem of not having enough collectors while also trying to help consumers pay off their debts, one collection agency is getting creative, allowing consumers — after receiving some training — to make collection calls as a means of working off their debts.
The man behind the idea is Jack Pott, President and Chief Executive of ARM Andaleg Collections in Lien, Minnesota. A small agency — the company normally has fewer than 10 employees — it has been having a difficult time filling open positions during the Great Resignation, Pott said. The idea for having consumers become collectors to work off their debts came to him while listening to a recording of a call between a consumer and one of his collectors, where the consumer broke down because he did not have a job and had no means of repaying the debt.
“I called that man back and offered him a job as a collector,” Pott said. “He was so excited that he came right in to start being trained. It hit me that if one consumer who was down on his luck could become a collector, then any consumer who is in a similar position might be willing to do it, too.”
Consumers go through training like new collectors before being allowed to engage with consumers. New hires are allowed to work remotely, but must come to the company’s offices in Lien for training. Participants in the program are required to designate a percentage of their paychecks to paying off their underlying debts. The retention rate for individuals who have been hired through the program is better than for those who were hired via job ads that were posted online, Pott said. To date, the company has offered the opportunity to a few dozen consumers and more than half have accepted, Pott said.
Pott said that other agencies have reached out to him as word of his program has spread through Minnesota and beyond.
“Who better to understand what it’s like to not have money to pay off debts than someone who is working to pay off their debts,” Pott said. “I’ve even been called by the CFPB and some consumer attorneys because they want to learn more about what I am doing.”