In this weeks Leading the Way blog, Andy Rose, Chief Executive Officer, shares some insight into some of the key reasons Bristow & Sutor succeed in the highly competitive enforcement industry.
Over to Andy…
In recent times, Bristow & Sutor has publicly shared ongoing efforts to collaborate further with debt advice professionals, provide better support to vulnerable people, add social value to communities we engage with and utilise the latest technology available for the benefit of our staff, clients and customers. Improvements like these are immensely important and we remain committed to these aspirations. But it is also important that we recognise, reflect and communicate the fantastic results and performance we already achieve.
Most of the time, when enforcement firms are selected as a provider of services to a Local Authority, they join a list of preferred suppliers. The best performers who can resolve the most outstanding Council Tax or Parking Charge Notice (PCN) debts, get the most work throughout the duration of the contract and in future. We are extremely proud to say that Bristow & Sutor is usually the first name on these lists and we have established a reputation as ‘top performer’ in regions all over the UK. But what sets us apart and can be attributed as key factors towards this success?
Dedicated resources and a human touch
Firstly, we ensure we are always available. Bristow & Sutor has invested in people more than anything else and we have grown heavily over the years. Consequently, we now have large teams of specialists that are all highly trained and at client and customer disposal at all times. This volume of internal resource allows us to ensure that every case we look at is done so in detail and never treated as simply a number on a spreadsheet.
We do not believe in box-ticking exercises and our engagement touchpoints are designed to ensure that case notes remain both up-to-date and contain useful and informative data. It might sound obvious, but we reiterate the importance of looking at notes and details around every case before we engage, as this often provides the type of insight that can make the difference between speaking to someone or if in communication, reaching a positive outcome. We recognise the role of autonomy and related technology, but behind every one of these channels are experienced people who are tasked with analysing and optimising performance and best practice.
Accountable and incentivised performance
Training is essential to high-performance and due to our wholly owned and wholly accountable direct model of employment, we can ensure our workforce is always at the forefront of the latest developments, techniques and certification. Bristow & Sutor currently spends over £800k annually on courses and continual professional development. I have spoken previously about my hopes for directly employed enforcement agents to become the industry norm and the impact this has on our ability to collect has only reinforced my views.
When EAs are self-employed there are all too common pitfalls that see individual efforts fail and leave important cases unresolved. This cycle usually consists of the self-employed EA receiving a case, visiting a property, and being the sole owner of that case and associated activity, before sending the case back and moving on. In contrast, because Bristow & Sutor EAs are directly employed, they are incentivised and required to take the next steps and go the extra mile. In addition, the fact that different agents will be involved through the life cycle of a case, means that there is a multi-person approach, providing a varied approach, internal audit of activities, driving a better outcome. We have seen countless cases resolved because our employees have spoken to a neighbour, contacted a relevant letting agent or taken additional steps to help trace a debtor. In the best case, this activity directly impacts collection rates and at the very least it better equips future engagement tactics or removes the need for additional wasted visits to an empty property.
Problem solving and flexibility
Above all else, Bristow & Sutor remain adaptable to client and customer needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to collection requirements and every person we engage with is different. Therefore, we must be prepared to provide different approaches and to make educated data-driven decisions on how to best communicate. These adjustments can be as small as the time of day we engage, the wording we use in letters and emails or offering different forms of communication such as WhatsApp messaging.
It is important to remember our EAs are all Level 2 Qualified and are trained to spot and signpost people towards advice, making referrals to specialist welfare and safeguarding teams as soon as a potential case of vulnerability is identified. We regularly provide focused training on the three stages of recovery (compliance, enforcement and sale or disposal), contact and payment options, taking control of goods and of course, the impact of the coronavirus on the collections process. We are all looking forward to no longer mentioning the challenges of the coronavirus, but it is undeniable this unique moment in time has shown our immense adaptability. Even during a global health crisis, we were able to change the way we operate to ensure the safe, efficient and effective continuation of enforcement, successfully obtain vital funding for our clients when they and their service users needed it most.
Our Independent Advisory Panel is helping the business towards its ambition of being recognised as the most responsible, transparent and innovative provider of enforcement and debt collection services in the UK and we look forward to sharing more on this soon. Preparation is something we take seriously and we are fully prepared for the upcoming Breathing Space legislation. Our clear strategy for how we will work with both Local Authority customers and debt advice professionals will help to ensure this process is both efficient and effective.
Bristow & Sutor remains committed to its ethos of being cool, calm and collected.