4 Signs You Have a Valuable Repossession Partner

car origami made with money paper
By Karen Townsend

5 minutes

When you outsource, consider communication, technology, freedom of choice and reporting.

Sponsored by SWBC

Repossession is an unpleasant business that is generally the result of a string of bad events or circumstances, often out of your borrower's control. It's a last resort effort for most financial institutions and, even then, many collectors work to find alternative solutions. 

Your institution most likely outsources these services to repossession partners for many reasons, including the fact that repossession is a hyper-specific skillset. Additionally, it takes countless hours of relationship-building and vetting to establish a trusted list of field reps, repossession agents and auction facilities.

Nonetheless, you need assurances that your repossession partner is the best in the business, performing efficiently and continuously adding value to your financial institution. To help you conduct your own evaluation, here are four signs that you have a valuable repossession partner. 

1. Communication

Much like in life, listening and communication skills are vital to a business relationship. Having mechanisms in place so a repossession partner can easily receive consigned accounts for the repossession process is the first step to recovering the collateral. Gone are the days when lengthy spreadsheets were sent by fax or mail for a representative to review and work.  

A valuable repossession partner will have a streamlined approach to providing repossession updates with you. Ideally, your partner should have a software platform that easily integrates with your core system. This integration will be key to communicating back and forth and streamlining the process. 

With an established communication channel, receiving updates on accounts should be a frequent occurrence. Your repossession partner should provide notification of repossession and real-time quotes for fees and transportation costs. A valuable repossession partner will understand that transparency is key to building and maintaining your trust. 

2. Technology

Back in the day, the bread-and-butter method for locating missing collateral was to go door-to-door. Reps would scour last-known addresses, seeking to speak with family, friends and co-workers. No stone was left unturned during the investigative process. A repossession agent would visit places of employment, daycare facilities, schools and more. While this method of "boots on the ground" was effective, it was time consuming and inefficient compared with what’s possible today. If your repossession partner is still using these antiquated methods, it may be time for an upgrade. 

Advances in technology make tools that you've seen on TV shows like NCIS or the Hawaii Five-O reboot available for productive repossession partners. For example, license plate recognition uses optical character recognition to collect license plate data in areas that are frequently visited, such as places of employment and apartment complexes. 

According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, LPR is used to capture images of license plates and compare captured images against the database of historical and real-time data. In the instance of a vehicle being out for repossession, this technology will notify a repossession agent once a "hit" is received on a plate that's out for repossession and/or has the capability of providing historical data that may prove helpful in locating the missing asset. 

Global positioning satellites are now available in so many devices, including cell phones, smart watches, tablets, and—that’s right—vehicles! This technology is helping to revolutionize the repossession industry, making vendors more efficient with routing technology, geo-stamping, and even workflow management and reporting. These technologies are assisting the repossession industry in keeping up with the changing times as well as streamlining the demands and expectations placed upon a repossession agent in today’s world.   

3. Freedom of Choice

A repossession partner that brings you value is one that offers options so your financial institution is not pigeonholed into only working with specific partners. For example, SWBC's Asset Recovery strategy provides access to a choice of best-in-class partnerships that offer field visit, repossession, skip tracing, titling and remarketing services across the country.  For a financial institution wishing to quickly locate and secure missing collateral, the work of vetting these partnerships is already done. All you need to do is select the best partnership for your needs and allow the vendor to do the work for you so you can focus your efforts on other areas of your business. 

The freedom of being able to choose who you want working to locate your asset gives you even greater control on costs, thanks to pre-negotiated rates. And because these partners have been vetted, you'll know you'll receive high quality work consistently across the board. 

4. Reporting

Analyzing data is a critical part of any laudable process. The best way to know if your repossession partner is providing value to your financial institution is having the ability to review the results through detailed reporting. The luxury of having access to customized reports will provide you and your staff the opportunity to make data-informed decisions. With just a few clicks, you should be able to obtain reporting with such information as recovery rates, repossession and sale costs, cyclical trends, and overall program performance. 

Locating missing collateral is a last resort for most financial institutions. However, when it's time to activate your repossession strategy, you'll want to know you have a team that's going to add value to the relationship. If your current repossession partner is not excelling in communication, technology, freedom of choice, and/or reporting, maybe it's time to reconsider. 

Karen Townsend is director/product sales at CUES Supplier member SWBC, San Antonio, Texas. To learn more about asset recovery and how it can play a role in a holistic risk management strategy, download our free ebook, The Recipe for Risk Management.

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