5 Ways to Incentivize Your Collections Agents that DON’T Have to Do with Money

Providing the right incentive to collection agents can make a big difference in effectiveness. Working in a call center every day can be mundane, but a great culture can really increase the energy and productivity. While commissions and bonuses are always a popular way to incentivize, you can also motivate and enhance performance through non-monetary rewards and benefits as well. Here are five key ways to incentivize your collection agencies without using cash.

Public Praise

Everyone likes to be recognized when they do a good job. Making the praise public also makes it more meaningful as your staff is recognized in front of their peers. Giving public praise is not only motivating to the person you’re complimenting but can also encourage others to do better so they too can receive recognition. Find a way to incorporate a “Call Center Agent of the Month” in a public place. Take a minute where everyone listens as management gives a public compliment of an employee going the extra mile to accomplish a company goal.

Never Hesitating to Reward the Same Top Performers

If certain members of your staff repeatedly out-perform others, be sure to recognize their continuing good work so they stay motivated to keep excelling. Your top performers deserve special recognition when they continue to perform above-par time after time, so you should not be afraid to give repeat praise. While your company can also have team goals, rewarding the best employees will be recognized as a reward for someone who isn’t doing a good job can affect the team’s attitude.

Managers Taking Calls for an Hour

For top performers, giving them an extra break by taking their calls for an hour can be a great reward. They’ll enjoy the free time and a longer break. Others will see this special treatment and become motivated to try to earn it. A lot of employees get motivated by seeing their boss have to do their job for a period of time.

Providing an Extra Day off for Top Performers

Days off are a great reward, as everyone loves vacation time. Everyone on your staff will want to work to earn more time off as a reward for outperforming. Yes, this might cost your company some money in terms of productivity, but your employee must follow office procedures for scheduling the off days so you can also schedule another employee to fill that opening.

Peer Awards and Peer Recognition

Peer recognition can be gratifying and can make staff members feel especially proud about the contribution that they are making to the workplace. Provide opportunities for your staff to recognize each other when they go above-and-beyond in getting their job done. These recognition awards don’t have to be anything major, but it could just be handing someone a gold star for helping out with a task they couldn’t solve.

Providing non-monetary motivators can allow you to keep your staff excited without spending a fortune. On top of that, making work easier with an efficient auto dialer software will also help with office culture. Contact Arbeit Software today to request a free demo of our automated dialer software solution.

Want to Start a Collections Agency? Here’s One Thing You CAN’T Do!

At Arbeit Software, we offer an industry-leading auto dialer to help increase call output and make more collections. But we weren’t always in the technology space. In fact, before launching Arbeit Software, we owned a highly successful collections agency ourselves.

In starting up the collections agency business, we learned a lot of tough lessons. The biggest lesson we learned was…

As a collection agency owner, the one thing you CAN’T do is relax.
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not trying to talk you out of starting your own collections agency. But before jumping into the deep end, know what you’re jumping into.
In our last post, we talked a lot about what it’s like to open a collections agency. But in this post, we wanted to look closer into one question:

What Is the Scariest Part of Starting a Company?
The CEO of Arbeit Software summed it up perfectly…

Alex: The scariest part is not being able to just relax and coast sometimes. There is no downtime, no day off. No matter what, if something fails it’s my fault – every employee’s future, my future, my partners’ future… I feel like all of this is in my hands and that every decision I make will have an impact. We have had such great success so quickly that it’s scary to think it could go the opposite way just as quickly with one or two bad decisions. I do not anticipate that disappointment because we have so many of us involved directly in everything.

Let’s take a closer look at this statement and walk through what it really takes:                

No days off.

That’s right. As the owner of the company you’re responsible for everything. There are no days off. You are constantly involved in almost all aspects of the business — especially at the beginning. You need to dedicate yourself to building quality organization.

If something fails, it’s your fault.

Good or bad, it’s all your fault!  As the owner of the collections company, there are two fundamental areas in which you need to excel at: Hiring good people, and instilling good processes. The leading collections companies have amazing processes, metrics and systems in place to turn good collections agents into great collections agents. (They are also slow to hire, quick to hire.)  This is difficult at first but if you don’t have good, self-motivated people, you won’t succeed.

Don’t get too high, or too low.

As collections agency owners, we saw great success quickly. But we were humble enough to realize that without hard work and dedication, it all disappear just as quickly. As a collections agency owner you need to be diligent and always looking for ways to improve. You need to continually review call metrics, train your staff, and look for small ways to be more productive. You also need to look for new ways to streamline your business processes and allow your team to be more efficient and profitable.

Looking to start a collections agency? Contact someone that’s been in your shoes!

At Arbeit Software, we’ve been in your shoes. Our ownership team has gone from startup to successful agency, and we’re passionate about helping others succeed. In fact, our dialer software was created because we saw a huge opportunity for our own firm to be more productive, be more efficient, and to drive more revenue. If you’re looking to start your own collections agency, call us today. We’ll share some of the mistakes we made (so you don’t make the same ones) but also outline a strategic plan to help make sure you’re profitable quickly.

What Is It Like to Start a Company and Grow It?

At Arbeit Software, we create software aimed at improving the collections process. As a small business created by owners of collection agencies who understand what it takes to be a success in this industry, we know that collections can be a challenging field, but that it also provides ample opportunity.

As our own company has grown and become successful, we’ve helped many collectors meet their software needs, reduce down time and improve the effectiveness of their campaigns. We also want to offer insight to collectors and other business owners about the actual behind-the-scenes details of starting and growing a successful company.

This roundtable is the first article in a series of content coming from the employees at Arbeit Software.  The goal of this series of articles is to provide insight to make your own business a better one.

Today’s question-and-answer session deals with the most basic issue: What Is It Like to Start and Grow a Company?

Here are a few answers from:

  • Chief Executive Officer Alex Villafranca
  • Chief Information Officer Alonzo Rainero
  • Chief Engineering Officer Allan Rossi Lisboa
  • Chief Technology Officer Richard Hacker.

How Did You Get Involved with Arbeit?

CEO, Alex Villafranca: Alonzo and I owned a collection agency, which we started in September 2009, and used another vendor as a dialer provider. We were spending a lot of money and experienced a lot of headaches with downtime. We were sick of those headaches, so we came up with the idea to create our own software. While we owned the collection agency, we were involved with a lot of IT work for agencies in the area, including creating small software programs to make their daily operations more efficient and to save them money and headaches. Creating our own software was a natural extension of this work.

Richard worked for us as a database administrator and suggested we hire Allan to do the programming. We all knew Allan from playing the World of Warcraft, and that is where the rest of our friendships also were solidified. After the software was developed, the four of us decided to split ownership equally in Arbeit. In order to focus on the dialer, Alonzo and I closed down the collection agency.

Chief Information Officer, Alonzo Rainero: I got involved with Arbeit when we decided to transition from the accounts receivable industry to the technology side of that same industry. We noticed that collections technology was severely lacking, especially for what we wanted, so we decided to fill the missing void and created Arbeit Software.

Chief Engineering Officer, Allan Rossi Lisboa: Alex and Alonzo needed some software developed, and Rick knew that I worked in that field. We connected and started working together. The software was well done and started to outgrow the existing business, so we created Arbeit to focus on that.

Chief Technology Officer, Richard Hacker: My business partners are my childhood and personal friends. When I brought on Allan for a software project for Alex and Alonzo, we realized we could build greater things and formed Arbeit as partners.

How Does Your Role Help Grow Arbeit?

Alex: My formal role and tile at Arbeit is CEO, but we are a small company and all of us wear multiple hats. We are too small to have someone for every job, so everyone works in different areas. I work with the sales team constantly, to provide the resources they need to sell. I also spend a lot of time researching and speaking with agency owners, trying to get an idea for what we should do next and what they want and need to succeed.

Alonzo: I have a very versatile role at Arbeit. I primarily handle government paperwork and regulations, hiring, telecom carriers and payroll. I also handle client relations and offer ideas and guidance on current and upcoming projects.

Allan: I write the programs that we sell.

Richard: I work to build and maintain the systems that provide security, reliability and performance to our customers.

What is Most Exciting about Starting a Company?

Alex: The most exciting thing for me is creating an amazing company where people can work, and creating a work culture that everyone here – including myself – loves. It is rewarding to have 15 people working here, especially since we are paying them well and giving them great benefits like profit sharing, full health coverage and vacation time. This might sound like a politically correct and insincere thing to say, but you can ask Allan, Alonzo and Richard when we are in meetings how excited I get about these things. I can’t wait to cut the first set of profit sharing checks to people at the start of July this year.

Alonzo: The most exciting part about starting a company is the endless possibilities. We are able to decide what we want to do, how we do it and when to do it. It is nice to “be your own boss,” but with great power comes great responsibility!

Allan: Being able to do fun things. Being free to make my own decisions about where my work will take me.

Richard: What’s most exciting is the feeling of building something useful and disruptive that our customers benefit from every day.

What Is the Scariest Part of Starting a Company?

Alex: The scariest part is not being able to just relax and coast sometimes. There is no downtime, no day off. No matter what, if something fails it’s my fault – every employee’s future, my future, my partners’ future… I feel like all of this is in my hands and that every decision I make will have an impact. We have had such great success so quickly that it’s scary to think it could go the opposite way just as quickly with one or two bad decisions. I do not anticipate that disappointment because we have so many of us involved directly in everything.

Alonzo: The scariest part of starting a company is the unknown. There is no guarantee that you will stay in business. A new government regulation, industry change or competitor could cause a big disturbance. That’s why it is important to diversify in what your company does and not be locked into only one thing. You have to keep evolving and keep moving!

Allan: It all depends on you. If you fail, the company fails.

Richard: The things that make anything frightening are often the things that make it worth doing.

What is it like to work with other partners?

Alex: It’s amazing. They are the three smartest people I know. We have a unique relationship that is very hard to explain, but I love it. Having the ability to pick their brains with new ideas for the company is awesome. Also, when coming up with new ideas – to have them rip the ideas apart (in a constructive way) is great. The level of trust we have in each other is also a big benefit. We each fill a specific need for the company, and we all think differently about problems. It really has lead us to where we are today.

Alonzo: I have known my partners for most of my life, one for 22 years. We are all like-minded individuals with similar goals and aspirations. I think it’s great that the people I work with are not just partners, but friends.

Allan: A challenge. Everyone has their own minds. Some people are guided by feelings or moods, and it’s very scary to have someone’s mood swing have a deep impact on your life. It is also very helpful because I don’t have all the answers, and I rely on my partners to help me all the time with the things they are knowledgeable about. Having people that you can trust at your side is a huge relief.

Richard: It’s great working with Alex, Alonzo, and Allan. We all bring something to the table, and though we may joke around sometimes, we take our work seriously, and we are always looking out for each other.

What other information do you think would help other entrepreneurs?

Alex: Screw it! Just wing it and see what happens, it’s how we started. Real experience has a greater value then any amount of education, so sometimes you have to try and see what works and what doesn’t. There is no playbook or textbook explaining how to do things, as everything is based on circumstances. There is no one size fits all way to entrepreneurship.

Alonzo: The hardest part of starting your own business is doing it. You need faith in yourself and your partners that you can get the job done. Starting out takes some time and effort, but the rewards are great!

Allan: If at the beginning you are working less than 16 hours a day, you are doing it wrong.

Richard: Develop a set of skills and build something valuable. Then release it to the world.

3 Tips to Improve Call Quality

When your business is dependent upon making calls, there is nothing more important than call quality.  Poor call quality can destroy a business that is dependent upon the phone.  There are many things that can have an effect on call quality. If your company is experiencing poor call quality, contact Arbeit today so we can help. In the meantime here is some free advice, here are my  Three Tips to Improve Call Quality

Bandwidth Speed:  Having proper bandwidth speed is key to making high-quality calls.  Not having the bandwidth speed can lead to calls being missed, calls being dropped, and poor voice quality.  It is important to be sure that you have the bandwidth to support your capacity needed to make calls.  The nerds here at Arbeit recommend having at least 64 kilobytes of bandwidth per concurrent phone call.  This will allow you to be sure you have the proper bandwidth speed to see high calling quality.

Tier One Carriers: Tier one carriers are a key in making high-quality calls.  When you use low quality or budget carriers, you can experience things like dropped calls, distortion, delays on the call, and even busy signals when the line is available.  At Arbeit, we only use the best of the best (tier one carriers.)   Using tier one carriers gives all Arbeit users the ability to make high-quality calls without experiencing things like dropped calls and distortion.

Network Setup: Many things are happening on your network at the same time.  A busy network can cause terrible call quality.  We have two recommendations for you to help fix this problem.  The first would be to configure your network to give priority to your phones. Meaning, if your network was running slow, other features would be stopped in order to keep your call quality high. If you need help with this call Arbeit we will be more than happy to help.  The other option is to have a completely separate network for your phones.  This allows all other things being run on the network to run separate from the phones and will not cause interference to call quality.
If you run a business that relies on outbound or inbound calls. Stop accepting dropped calls and loads of downtime. Contact the nerds at Arbeit and learn how we can help.

How to Give Constructive Feedback

We intuitively know that giving and getting honest feedback is essential to grow and develop, and to build successful organizations. So why is it that many of us put off giving feedback? Maybe it’s because there are so many ways to mess it up.

Here are some common feedback mistakes:

  • Speaking out only when things are wrong.
  • Providing generic praise without specifics or an honest underpinning.
  • Waiting until performance or behavior is substantially below expectations before acting on it.
  • Giving negative feedback in public.
  • Criticizing performance without giving suggestions for improvement.
  • Not conducting regular performance reviews.

Clearly, giving and receiving constructive feedback is a skill that must be honed.

Developing proficiency in this area is essential to building good relationships with, and motivating peak performance from, your team. To help get you started, here are four tips for providing feedback the right way:

  1. Be proactive. Nip issues in the bud and avoid messy interpersonal tangles that result from neglected communication. If you meet with employees regularly to give feedback, it conveys, “Your success is important to me, so I want to be accessible to you.”
  2. Be specific. Although it’s not easy to provide negative feedback, it’s important to be as clear as possible by giving specific examples that illustrate your point.  Instead of saying, “Your attitude is bad,” say, “When you miss deadlines, then cross your arms and look away when I discuss it with you, it gives me the impression that you don’t care about the quality of your work. Can you help me understand this behavior better?”
  3. Develop a progress plan. Be clear about the specific changes in behavior that you expect in a specific period of time, and follow up as scheduled.
  4. Link employees’ performance to organizational goals. Reinforce the value of your employees’ contributions by giving specific examples of how their work and positive behaviors serve the organization and its customers.

At Arbeit Software, we understand and appreciate the value of constructive feedback. So we’d like to hear from you. Please contact us with your questions, comments, and suggestions.

Get Motivated

Five ways to turn negative thoughts into positive action:

  1. You have a lot of potential – start recognizing it!
    You may not be built like a bodybuilder or be mistaken for a supermodel. But with positive thinking, focusing on your strengths, and self-determination you can achieve some truly amazing things.
  2. Decide what you want – and set goals along the way.
    Remember the old saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, it wasn’t! When setting goals, it’s important to keep your long-term goal in mind, but set smaller goals along the way. This will help keep you motivated and patient.
  3. Get focused and discipline yourself.
    Nothing in life is free. If you want to meet your goals, you’re going to have to work for it. Focus your attention on your goals and don’t stray. Make sure each day you do at least one activity that centers around your goals.
  4. Stop doubting your abilities and develop self-confidence.
    Strike the phrase “I can’t” from your vocabulary-because “you can”! Don’t complain or get frustrated with little roadblocks. Instead visualize your success.
  5. Avoid negative people.
    Negativity is contagious. One of the easiest ways to become successful is to surround yourself with positive, successful people.

We hope you find these tips helpful. At Arbeit Software, we take a great deal of pride in helping clients.

Build Trust

Trust is essential when building a healthy and productive work environment. Whether you’re leading an entire department or work hand-in-hand with a just a few coworkers, it’s important to build trusting relationships.

Here are several tips to help build trust with both your coworkers and your superiors:

  • Be honest and share information completely. Be straightforward and honest with everyone and expect the same in return.
  • Be open to the ideas of others. Don’t dismiss an idea simply because it doesn’t align with what you had in mind. Take everyone’s feedback into consideration before making a final decision and let others be heard.
  • Stand up for what you believe in. If you feel strongly about an issue, make sure you voice your opinion–but be sure you can share some evidence to support your view.
  • Follow through on commitments. The easiest way to lose someone’s trust and confidence is to let them down. Make sure you meet your commitments and don’t set deadlines you can’t meet.
  • Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes will happen, and when they do, own up to them. Taking responsibility and developing a process to ensure the same mistake isn’t repeated is a great way to build trust.

At Arbeit Software, we take great pride in helping our clients. If you’re looking for a great new opportunity, please contact us today.