David Hernandez is a Client Manager for Pacific Collection Group, a consumer debt collection agency. The agency has the stated goal of servicing its clients’ needs in a “good-natured” fashion. The agency treats the debtors with courtesy, setting it apart from its competitors.
David Hernandez began his career in real estate investment. While he had some successes, he soon realized that he wanted to work in a different area. He chose debt collection because the field presented a challenge, and he wanted to test his skills in a challenging occupation. He is well-versed in the regulatory aspects of running a debt collection agency.
The Group has privately owned debt collection software which helps them handle their clients’ needs with efficiency while staying well within the bounds of the law. David Hernandez and the Pacific Collection Group will continue to provide an important service to businesses and individuals who need to recoup their investments.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I first became involved in debt collection when I was about five years out of college. My first business venture was in real estate investment, but I wasn’t that successful and I found that I needed a different type of mental challenge.
A friend of mine had just gotten a job in debt collection, and she recommended that I give it a try. I was skeptical because debt collectors have such a bad reputation, but I’m glad I signed on.
How do you make money?
We make money by charging fees to our clients. It’s a simple question of fees paid for services rendered.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took a few years for our company to become profitable. This is normal. I’ve heard that some companies take up to five years to turn a profit, but we were a lean business with little overhead when we started out. That helped us to put more of our revenues into profit. It also enabled us to hire more qualified staff.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
We weren’t sure whether the market was already saturated with debt collectors, so we weren’t sure how much of an impact we would make right away. We started with a few loyal clients who spread the word about our services. Word of mouth helped our business grow.
How did you get your first customer?
One of my colleagues’ friends needed some debt collection work done, and my boss offered to help him out. That was our first customer. With word of mouth and advertising, we were able to build a significant customer base within the first year of opening our doors.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Social media is a great way to get new leads. We are active on social media like LinkedIn, and we have drawn a great number of clients from these pursuits. Social media is beginning to take the place of a search engine for many Internet users. We also use online advertisements on Google. Search engine optimization is a big part of success.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We had to let an employee go because their attitude was wrong for our company. We had spent a great deal of time working with this employee to change their attitude, but they resisted us. I was disappointed because I had spent time mentoring this employee when they first started out with the company. That is how business often goes. You have to put your personal feelings aside and do what is best for the company.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
People are ready to deal with a debt collection company that has a different attitude toward the debtor. We try to be as polite and considerate as possible. We believe that if you go in with an adversarial attitude, you are less likely to be paid by the debtor. Of course, we have to be firm with them if they do not pay.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment in business was when we were able to recoup a significant debt for the first time. It felt great to experience success in that fashion. I had a particular stake in this payment because I had worked closely with the client. It felt great to have my way of doing business validated.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am excited to continue working with our debt collection software. We are continually updating it to provide the best possible output. It keeps us from stepping outside the bounds of the law, and it keeps track of every contact with the debtor and the client.
What business books have inspired you?
My favorite business book is How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is a time-honored classic for a reason.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We recently purchased a license for Slack. This program is a huge help with interoffice communications. It is much easier than getting involved in endless email chains.
What is it about debt collection that attracted you to the business?
I strongly believe that debts should be paid. I wanted to make the world fair for the small business or individual who provided a product or service.