Debt Recovery Restart - a view from a Debt Collection Agency
In this blog, Sarah-Jayne Brayford, Client Services Director at Advantis Credit, provides an overview of the effect that the current COVID-19 crisis has had on the work of her Debt Collection Agency, and the steps that they have taken to address it.
Advantis Credit is an experienced debt collection agency (DCA) based in Stoke-on-Trent, providing debt recovery and ‘trace and collect’ services to clients in both the public and private sectors.
As one of Indesser’s panel of FCA-accredited DCAs, we are at the ‘coal-face’ of Government debt recovery. We work closely with Indesser to fulfil our shared ethos of treating customers fairly in all debt recovery activity, and on maintaining our reputation for excellent performance and service.
As you might expect, the current COVID-19 crisis has had a marked impact on our business. Following the ‘lock-down’ announced at the end of March, there was an almost immediate, and significant reduction in the number of new debt placements, and a pause in the recovery activity on existing debt portfolios. As the result, we had to put on furlough 80% of our staff, whilst the remaining 20% worked incredibly hard (from home) on ensuring continuity of key business processes including client support services, finance, handling of complaints, and other support services.
Throughout this period, we also made sure that we kept in close contact with each of our clients providing them with both business and market updates. We maintained regular communication with all furloughed staff, and made a significant investment in putting in place robust social distancing measures in our office so that they could return to work in a safe environment. These include:
- A thermal imaging camera to check staff
- A one-way system around the office
- Availability of masks and hand sanitiser
- 2m distancing
Since the end of July all of our staff have returned to work and we are now seeing debt placements beginning to pick up and debt recovery activity restart. However, things are not the same as they were before the lockdown. To reflect the likely increase in the number of customers unable to pay their debts in full, and the greater number of those in ‘vulnerable’ circumstances, we have worked with Indesser to refine the debt recovery strategies that we apply, and provided staff with additional training, where required. We have also looked to the future, by recruiting additional staff in anticipation of an increase in the number of debts placed with us.
So, whilst these are far from ‘normal times’, we believe that we are well-placed to support Indesser and HM Government in recovering debt in a fair and ethical manner.