The goal of the BLI Collections Department is to bring your customers to ownership of their properties. When we can bring the customer to ownership everybody wins – the customer, the dealer and BLI.
Bringing customers to ownership takes some behind the scenes work. We do all we can to treat your customers with dignity and respect making their rent-to-own experience as smooth and as positive as possible. We know we are representing our dealers once we take over the customer’s account and we take that responsibility seriously. We want to treat your customers in such a way that they will come back to you again and again.
Bringing customers to ownership means there are times that we have to work with them if their account becomes past due. Repossession is definitely the worst case scenario and we view it as a necessary step only after we fully exhaust all other avenues to help the customer keep on track to ownership.
Here are some of the tools that BLI uses to keep our customers current. Because some collections tools require a bit of a payment history from the customer, not all are eligible to use them.
“BLI uses text messages as a preventive tool,” said Will Symmonds, BLI’s Collections Manager. Once a customer opts in they receive a friendly payment reminder two days before their due date, as well as another reminder text two days before their grace period expires. If their rent has already been paid they won’t receive these reminders.
If a customer has a good payment history but can no longer afford their monthly payments, BLI can rewrite the customer’s agreement to lower the payments and hopefully prevent a return.
In the past, rewrites were reserved for rare circumstances, but BLI realized how they help customers obtain ownership of their building.
“We recognize that over time a customer’s circumstances may change,” Will said.
By extending the terms, we attempt to lower a customer’s payment enabling them to continue renting instead of returning the building.
Will said there has been a great response from customers regarding rewrites. “If someone has an income reduction, we are able to reduce their monthly rent, allowing them to keep a building they would have returned otherwise.”
“They’re able to continue renting, and both BLI and the dealer maintain good customer relations.”
To reduce rental payments, some customers get a new building altogether.
“We recommend downsizing to any customer who is either ineligible for a rewrite or requests to return because the building doesn’t fit their needs,” Will said.
“Both the dealer and BLI are able to save a customer, and the dealer is able to make an additional sale!”
One method of helping customers that BLI has used in the past, and still uses, is deferring a payment for a customer by adding the past due payment to the final payment.
“While some customers’ accounts are past due, their financial situation just does not allow them to make extra payments to get caught up,” said Will.
“Deferring a payment allows them to stay on good terms with BLI and avoid paying extra late fees,” he said. “It prevents customers from getting so far behind that they have to return their building, and since the deferred payment is added to the end of their agreement, they aren’t struggling to come up with several payments in a single month.”
Though the name “Collections” might have a negative connotation, BLI’s representatives are friendly and enjoy doing their jobs –helping customers. Here’s how they feel in their own words:
“Each account is different and we have to be creative to think of ways to assist each customer individually. I don’t care how far past due an account is or is not, it is always a win when we are able to see a customer reach ownership. It gives me a big boost when I see a customer that I have invested time in, bring their account current, or even better, pay it off. Nothing makes my day better than knowing that I helped someone keep a building when they are going through a tough time.” –Chrisy Lewis, Accounts Manager
“I love the fact that we are considered account managers not collections agents because BLI does more than just collect payments. Our goal is 100% the same as our dealers and customers. We want ownership for the customer in the end. I think once the customer speaks to us they understand that our goals are the same and we understand the situations life may bring upon us. I think this is made possible by BLI putting their trust in us to make the judgment calls and actually understand the bigger picture of each customer’s life. Each BLI employee takes so much pride in their work and looks at each call as more than just another account. Unfortunately, there will always be returns, but as long as communications are open, we do everything we can to make sure all parties’ goals are met.” –Bobby Hale, Accounts Manager