The proverbial question: “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Mankind has debated this topic for generations. Philosophically, we can argue many responses to this query. Perhaps no one will ever really know the answer. But with certainty we do know that trees fall every day. We have no ability to stop this process and whether we are there to bear witness to the crash, or not, the process continues perpetually.
This scenario is quite similar to the current regulatory and compliance environment within the collections industry. No matter what sector of the industry you may work in, first party or third, we have suffered through an onslaught of new aggressive regulatory agencies, problematic state and federal legislation, and predatory law firms determined to continually badger good operators. This insanity has got to stop and will only do so with the positive energies properly focused by industry players. Pull on your boots, join hands, and get back to your roots…or stop complaining!
Business associations across the US, including ACA International Inc., the trade association of credit and collection professionals, have been desperately campaigning to obtain the valuable assistance of business operators in a movement to affect change and pave a smoother pathway for our industry. Local chapters of these groups continue to lament the apathy of membership and declining number of participants at organizational meetings. Everyone is concerned but few are engaged in proactive actions that can make a difference and assure the continuation of the invaluable services we offer to the business community and economy overall.
Often as I attend industry meetings and conduct training programs attendees ask, “What is leadership in our industry doing about the mess we’re in right now?” If you ask this question then you are not properly informed. If you wonder if you personally, or your firm/department is doing enough to make a difference, then you haven’t reached out to truly understand the issues and obstacles that need attention.
What can you do to help with positive change? Will your boots on the ground really make a difference? Imagine yourself walking in the woods. It is only you walking on untouched beautiful grounds. After several hours of enjoyment of the serenity you decide to return to where you started. But there is no pathway. No sign that you or anyone has been there. Now imagine 1,000 hikers following you on that same walk. There are many boots on the ground. Not just today but every day they make that same journey between towering trees, around rock obstacles and over picturesque streams and fields. In no time there will be evidence of a path, a clear indication that someone has been here before. Obvious evidence for those that follow in the weeks, months and years to come that, “someone has walked down this path and I now know clearly where to head and from where we have come.” This is the very core concept of grass roots movements that make a difference and drive change over time. Without the action of many, our industry will suffer a continued unsettled, problematic culture challenged by only a few lone voices.
What Can You Do Today?
• Contact ACA International, Inc. at www.acainternational.org and inquire about how you can become involved on a local and national level.
• Become active in local/regional chapters of ACA and join forces with your regional colleagues.
• Interact with trade associations in the medical, financial, telecom, and other industries to understand their similar concerns and initiatives that may mirror ours.
• Contact your state and federal legislators, let them know you are a constituent, and express your business concerns for the difficult environment in which we are forced to operate.
• Be responsive to industry “calls to action” and write letters, make calls to colleagues to engage their assistance and ask, “What can I do to help?”
I was recently working at my weekend home and had to move a very large slab of marble that was serving as a tabletop. I attempted to move the top alone and couldn’t budge it an inch. With the help of one other, we were able to lift each end but couldn’t walk with it. A third person offered help and the two on one side were ok but the sole lifter on the other struggled. Then appeared the fou rth helper and with ease we moved the tabletop. It just took that one other person, that extra effort. There is strength in numbers to reach success. Pledge to be part of this industry’s heavy lifting today by placing your boots on the ground and taking the steps necessary to be part of the pathway to a better business environment.
We encourage our readers to submit a “best practice” idea for inclusion in this column. Until next time, I’m in a collection office near you!
Harry A. Strausser III is president of Remit Corporation/Interact Training & Development. Contact him at harry@ remitcorp.com.