Collections and enforcement agencies have been on the front-line of businesses affected by social distancing measures, but since visits successfully resumed in 2020, our ability to train, recruit and succeed has been exemplary. The reality is that local authority debt recovery is fundamental to the continuation of vital public services, so at a time where job security and opportunities for growth are at a premium, careers in enforcement have begun to attract wide-spread interest and renewed appeal.
At Bristow & Sutor, we specialise in local authority debt recovery and have collected council tax, non-domestic rates and penalty charge notices for over 42 years. We already directly employ over 150 Enforcement Agents (EAs) located in strategic areas around the country. All of Bristow & Sutor’s EAs are fully employed to ensure we retain full responsibility and accountability.
As well as hiring experienced professionals, we take great pride in introducing fresh talent to the industry and train all junior recruits on best-practice from day one. We invest heavily in training throughout our business, spending over £800k annually on courses and continual professional development for all members of staff.
One recent beneficiary of this investment and approach is Imran Iqbal, who joined us in October 2020 with no previous enforcement background but has now achieved his certifications and qualifications with Bristow & Sutor support and guidance. He believes his example shows that a career in enforcement is achievable for people from all walks of life.
“I was born in Pakistan and then lived and worked in Denmark and Sweden before moving to the UK a decade ago. My career background has been varied, from management roles in hospitality to even owning my own restaurant at one stage. Being my own boss has always been appealing to me and when I decided to look at a career change last year, this element combined with added job security were important decision-making factors. I wanted to find an industry and job where every day was different as variety is more exciting and interesting than predicting how each day will pan out before you have even lived it!
It took me four months of training with Bristow & Sutor to get to where I am now, but it has been a really positive experience. There is lots to learn, like the paperwork required, how to identify vulnerability, the rules of enforcement, legislation and negotiation. It is especially intensive right now with things like coronavirus PPE and lockdown safety to contend with, but all the equipment I need has been provided and it's all very straight-forward. I’ve never used so much sanitiser! I have been shadowing other EAs to learn my craft and this is now my first month being out in the field on my own. It was a little bit daunting but you pick it up really quickly and I am enjoying the role so far.”
A long-term career
Bristow & Sutor operates a policy of ‘case rotation’ meaning that an EA only has ‘ownership’ of the case for one week during which time they will undertake visits and update the case file using their PDA. This means that when a further visit is undertaken, it will be carried out by a different EA who will have access to the case notes. The flexible nature of where an EA may be working and what type of case they may be tasked with is often something they enjoy. Imran says this is also helping with his personal development.
“Some things you learn on the job and can only be prepared for rather than taught. Everybody has their own style when communicating but speaking to different people from the doorstep has helped me grow in ability and confidence already. With the variety on offer each day, I can see why this is a long-term career for so many people and I fully expect it will be for me too.
Of course, due to COVID-19, there are some things I have not had experience with yet, such as entering residential premises to value or take control of goods. But Bristow & Sutor has already made sure I understand what this process entails and made it clear that further training will be available to me when this becomes a suitable way of operating once more. I am looking forward to that experience and enjoying even more flexibility in my role once the world goes back to normal!
Finally, Imran has a message for others who might be considering an entry-level career in enforcement with Bristow & Sutor.
“Ambition and dedication will see you succeed. This job suits people who enjoy being outdoors more than in an office, as well as those who are not afraid to just go for it! If you like the sound of a secure job where every day is unique and you get ongoing training and support, this is a great opportunity for you.”