When you decide to get some outside help to recover bad debt for your business, you want to make sure that you select a partner that will get you the very best results. I am often asked how the services of a collection agency differ from the services provided by an attorney.
Whether you select a collection agency or an attorney to help you will depend on the kind of files you want collected.
If you have a good number of smaller uncontested files and want a focused, ongoing collection effort that involves communication with your customers by letter and phone, then a collection agency is your best bet. Do you want delinquent customers reported to credit bureaus, or need research done to find customers who have moved? A collection agency is a good option here too.
A file involving a dispute that will probably result in litigation is best for an attorney. An attorney demand letter may be just the right thing to get you paid an avoid litigation, and is usually inexpensive. What happens if the letter does not work. We recently received a file that had not responded to an attorney letter. The debt was 1,000 and the letter cost our customer $150.00. paid up front. The attorney said he would need an hourly rate to continue working the file. We got involved and called the business every day until he paid the bill.
You also need to determine which files make sense to litigate? Are there assets to attach? Decide the cost vs. benefit of legal action.
I get calls all the time from companies who have a large disputed case they want us to handle. I do not mean to say that collection agencies cannot handle disputed files – they can. However, if the only reason you are hiring a collection agency is to avoid paying an attorney retainer, then you may be making a big mistake.
If you want to hire a collection agency, find an agency with experience in your industry. Yes, you should look at the agency’s rates, but understand what is (and what is not) included in the rates.
If you want to hire attorney, ask them about their process if the initial demand letter does not get a payment. Do they follow up by phone? Do they have ability to research and find assets? Ask the attorney Are they going to handle the post judgment as well as the court hearings? Finally, find an attorney that understands collection law. The attorney who handled your divorce or drew up your will may not be suitable.
There are times when either option can get the job done, and you can make a decision based on the collection partner you think you can work with in the long term. Your best bet is to find a collection agency that has a relationship with experienced collection attorneys. That way, you get all the benefits of both approaches. It is one thing to go to court and get a judgment, but another thing entirely to collect on a judgment. The right partnership between agency and attorney will deliver judgments that collect!