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How do I choose a debt collection agency?

Working with a debt collection agency can be a cost-effective way to recover what you're owed, enabling you to take advantage of professional expertise and relieve pressure on your in-house finance team. But how do you make sure you've chosen the right company?

Collecting unpaid debts can be a difficult and time-consuming process. But it's also vital to the smooth running of your business or organisation, helping cash flow and keeping your finances in good shape. If your in-house team is struggling to cope with bad debts or could be more productively focused on other activities, it may be time to consider using a specialist debt collection agency.

A professional debt collection agency can provide valuable support and help you get paid what you're owed quickly and efficiently. You can rely on them for all aspects of debt collection, from chasing unpaid debts to negotiating payment plans or, in more stubborn cases, instigating legal enforcement action.

Sound like a good idea? OK, the next step is to find the best company to work with. But remember, you're not only putting your unpaid debts in their hands; you're also trusting them with your reputation, so there are several important questions you should ask yourself before making your decision...

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Are they FCA regulated?

This is likely to be a deal breaker. If a debt collection agency is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, it's probably wise to strike them off the list from the get-go. Being FCA regulated shows that the company follows best practice and adheres to rigorous standards of service. The FCA publishes rules and guidance that debt collectors must follow and can fine or close down companies that don't comply.

How long have they been trading?

The simple fact that a company has been around for a long time doesn't prove that they're the best choice for debt collection. However, it's worth taking their longevity into account alongside other credentials. After all, they're unlikely to have survived so long without being relatively successful in what they do. And they're also likely to have plenty of experience in dealing with a wide range of debt management cases.

What do the reviews say?

As with any potential new supplier, it's a good idea to Google the company and check out what people are saying about them. That being said, everyone has a few disgruntled customers and some reviews can be unreasonably negative, so you should always take a consensus rather than relying on the first one or two you read. You can also learn a lot about a company from how they respond to any negative reviews or comments, so it's worth also having a look at their social media feeds and the replies they post there.

What about testimonials from current clients?

Recommendation is one of the best ways of finding a reliable debt collection agency. But don't just look at the customer testimonials on their website. Try to talk directly to someone who has used them. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions and assess whether the company is right for your particular needs.

Do they have relevant experience for your industry?

Whether you're an SME, a major corporation or an educational institution, working with a debt collection agency that understands the commercial environment you're operating in will be a big plus point. That's why it's worth checking out their client list and finding out if they already have relevant sector experience.

Will they protect your reputation?

Just because a customer has an overdue debt, it doesn't necessarily mean that your trading relationship with them has irretrievably broken down. They could be suffering a temporary cash flow issue or simply have overlooked the debt. That's why it's vital that the debt collection agency you choose operates with sensitivity, professionalism and full legal compliance at all times. They're representing you and should do everything they can to safeguard your customer relationships.

Will they keep you fully informed?

It's important for your finance team to know the status of any outstanding debt that's in the process of being recovered. Therefore, you should ask any prospective debt collection partner what kind of and reporting they provide. How regularly will they communicate updates? Can they offer 24/7 online access to case files?

Instructing a debt collection agency is a big step, particularly if you've always relied on your own staff to take care of credit control. Therefore, it's vital to do your research. Getting answers to these few simple questions will help you make an informed decision.

  • Are they FCA regulated?
  • How long have they been trading?
  • What do the reviews say?
  • What about testimonials from current clients?
  • Do they have relevant experience for your industry?
  • Will they protect your reputation?
  • Will they keep you fully informed?

At Redwood Collections we're a name to trust. Totally customer-focused, we can handle all aspects of debt collection efficiently and professionally, helping your business Grow Stronger. Find out more.

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