A Maine collection agency can help a small Maine business improve their cash flow by recovering their bad debt. Agencies typically work on a percentage of sums recovered, with rates can vary based on many factors including the age and size of debt, type of business, number of files submitted annually.
A Maine collection agency seeking to recover debt owed by Maine consumers must be licensed and bonded. The Maine Department of Consumer Credit Protection in Gardiner is the licensing authority. A Maine collection agency seeking to recover debt owed by Maine businesses (commonly referred to as commercial or B2B collection) is not required to have a debt collection specific license. However, as with any relationship, you should verify that the agency is indeed a business authorized to conduct business in Maine.
Your first step is to clearly define, and then articulate your collection goals. Many medical providers prefer a softer, more compassionate approach to debt collection. They want their agency to reflect the personality of their practice. Other companies, particularly in commercial collections want a more dynamic approach, up to and including actions in Maine Small Claims Court.
Once your goals are defined, you must clearly communicate them to potential agencies and see how their approach matches yours.
Other factors to consider are:
1. Local – How important to you is it that your collection agency be in Maine? We recently successfully completed several large commercial collections for out of state companies who were owned money by businesses in Maine. Being local created a sense of urgency, and it also provided us the opportunity to see firsthand if the business was still operating. For Maine consumers, a Maine collection agency would have more knowledge of local economic conditions such as mill closings that might impact the consumer’s ability to pay the bill.
2. Experience – Does the collection agency have experience in your industry? Always ask for you check references.
3. Credit reporting – While I personally believe that credit reporting is an overused tool in debt collection, if it is important to make sure the agency has the capability to do it.
4. Research tools – Half of the people sent for collection will need some sort of research (referred to as “skip tracing” in collection-speak. How does the agency go about finding people and their assets?
5. Technology – Does the agency have the tools to give you the information you need? Also, does their use of technology in contacting debtors work for you? Many agencies use automated calls to contact debtors – will that work for your customers?
7. Legal Capabilities – While Maine collection agencies who are not attorneys cannot represent you in Small Claims Court, if you believe you may want legal services, make certain your agency has a relationship with attorneys who can take your case to court. In the same vein, make certain the agency is experienced in post-judgment collection.
8. Rate – Notice I listed this factor last – not because it is not important. A competitive rate is great, but make sure you know what is and what is not included. Most Maine collection agencies work on a “no collection, no fee” or contingency basis. What services are included in the rate? A low rate may mean your customer only receives one letter and a few phone calls.
In the end, hiring the right Maine collection agency may be the smartest move you make for your business this year. Best of luck with it.