In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Bryan Wall, Enforcement Agent Supervisor, shares his experience of working in the collection and enforcement industry and gives his take on what it means to be an employee of Bristow & Sutor.
Over to Bryan …
In an industry that is often misrepresented, Bristow & Sutor is leading the way with ethical enforcement and helping to break stereotypes about enforcement agents, by creating an environment where professionalism and honesty is integral.
I started my career at Bristow & Sutor around 8 years ago, without much knowledge of the industry beyond some management experience in challenging behaviours. The training package over the first three months and constant over the phone support from managers made me feel like I belonged to something since day one. Nothing compares to the family feel, working package or support of the Bristow & Sutor team. Most importantly, in my own times of need, the enforcement management team has always been there for me.
A typical day
Working in enforcement means I meet a variety of people in completely different situations every day, but normally I begin by checking my paperwork and ensuring my equipment is organised and secure. This is followed by activating my PDA and making the office aware that I am a lone worker and have begun my shift.
If I am training one of my colleagues, I would then drive to meet them and make our way together to the first call of the day. On this journey, we look at the case file and discuss what to expect. I am already risk assessing what sort of situations could arise from the property I am about to attend and considering vulnerabilities, dangers, hazards, and possible aggressive situations. Sometimes, if there is little prior information, we can only investigate and dynamically risk assess.
Throughout the day we make our way from call to call, always with one thing in mind, finding a solution for the case and moving it forward. Sometimes we get to a property and find the debtor has moved away, other times we could meet somebody that is not able to communicate due to disability or vulnerability. In these instances, we make a referral back to the office and fill in a questionnaire with the debtor, leaving behind a helpful advice form. Our welfare team then steps in to look after and support the debtor with their next steps.
Unfortunately, there are occasions when the debtor does not want to pay and at that point, we must consider taking control of goods and setting an arrangement. If that fails or if the debtor is not willing to enter an arrangement, we must consider the removal of assets, but this is a last resort with every attempt made to stop this final action from happening.
How can you do a job like that?
I believe that I am helping to bring a new generation of positive enforcement. I love the variety in my job and getting to travel all over the United Kingdom, especially the Isle of Wight. The diversity of people I have met along my way has been fascinating, there are so many different cultures and personalities that you never know who you are going to meet next.
People not involved in the industry often question, ‘how can you do a job like that?’ My response is that I help resolve people’s debt and remove a negative situation from their life in a positive manor, so they no longer have that worry. I have been told by debtors on several occasions that I have taken a huge weight off their mind by helping them find a path towards fixing their problem. When you hear people say things like that, you cannot help but feel positive about the job you do.
Around three years ago I visited an elderly couple who were several payments behind on their agreement. When I turned up, they were expecting me to remove the items on their controlled goods agreement and had even packed some things ready to go. After speaking with them, I discovered they had been hit with hard times assisting a friend paying for funeral. So, instead of removing their goods, we devised a longer more affordable agreement. A few hours later, I received a call from main office to tell me the elderly couple had called in to praise me for my help and assistance, which I admit brought a tear to my eye.
Helping others succeed
As a supervisor, I get to spend time with both trainees and experienced, certificated EAs. I usually spend around a week with colleagues and assess their strengths, as well as identifying any room for improvement. I regularly give guidance and make sure each employee knows they can contact me for support when needed. I am an advocate for contacting the office and utilising the experience and knowledge of managers and supervisors, as this helps with important decision making and avoids any unnecessary mistakes.
I always aim to lead by example and demonstrate how things should be done. Progression and development are what inspires me, so I am always moving forward, doing new things and meeting bigger targets. I like to be challenged and to think outside the box, considering the bigger picture to reach the best results. To do this, I set out clear and concise goals of what is expected; professionalism, compliance and making sure every case is developed in a positive way to find a solution.
As well as an Enforcement Agent Supervisor, I am a scout leader, which involves spending time helping children to build their knowledge and skills. I also get to re-explore the younger me by taking part in climbing and water sports! I am also an assistant instructor in Choi Kwan Do (Korean Martial Arts) and currently working towards my black belt. It is important to remember we are real people too. In both my work and home life, seeing success and progress in those I have supported remains a very proud accomplishment.