Archive for January, 2010

Now Is The Time For Businesses To Seize The Moment

If the past year could be defined as an employment malaise, it would seem that 2010 is shaping up to be a defining year for the future of employment in our nation.   Over the past twelve months, America saw roughly three million jobs vanish, as the result of massive downsizing and outsourcing to cheaper markets overseas.   Now employers seem to be sitting idly by, awaiting the other foot to drop…yet they haven’t a clue what that other foot will be. 

As I discuss in Kicked to the Curb, now is the time to seize the moment which is what savvy businesses will do.  They realize that top flight talent can be acquired for pennies on the dollar, businesses can be purchased on the cheap and creative thought and ingenuity can open up entire new markets.   These types of cutting edge companies will define the workplace for the next generation.  

But there will be those who will let the uncertainty associated with everything from healthcare reform to the general direction of our nation keep them watching warily from the sidelines.  As things get worse before they get better, these types of “old school” companies will continue to reduce their size and lose their positions in the marketplace, hedging their bet that those taking risks will lose.  

This will not happen for the simple reason that the companies sitting idly by are the very companies that have had a blood letting of talent from their organizations in the name of “corporate right sizing”.   While this may appease shareholder fears, it actually has an adverse impact on the long term viability of these types of organizations.   In the most serious situations, such as the GM’s of the world, the government has gotten involved meaning that these types of companies will be hamstrung by vast amounts of bureaucracy and regulation that many prevent them from ever being successful again.  

So what does all this mean for the coming years?   My money is on innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit.   Many small companies will benefit at the expense of larger, out of touch companies.   Organizations that can turn on a dime will be able to endure and adapt unlike the Titanic’s of the business world who, of late, can seem to steer clear of economic icebergs.  

For the ten percent of Americans who are out of work or are underemployed, this is where to put your chips.   While on the surface, working for a small company or even starting one, the facts would seem to tell a different story. 

In a recent Business Week study, big companies were more likely than small companies to cut employment.   Using several examples from Kicked to the Curb, the very reason jobs are less secure in big companies are the economies of scale that simply mean no job is safe.   In smaller scale operations it may take employers months to hire, train and deploy someone of a needed competency. 

The other key component is sales expectations, which have been down across all size businesses.   Understanding that there are only two ways for a business to survive, by cutting costs or increasing sales, puts larger companies at a severe disadvantage for the simple reason that they are not nimble and tend to be reactive as a result of their bureaucratic scale.  

So what’s the outlook for 2010?   The economy will begin to rebound slowly and likely towards the end of the year.   Employers will watch warily for signs of increased government mandates, such as healthcare, which if passed could drive unemployment several points higher.   They will also watch the elections in November which will play a role in decisions made for 2011 and beyond.  

My suggestion to any business leader is to not sit idly by.   It’s a buyer’s market for employee talent and market share.   Buying opportunities for struggling businesses abound.   Those who capitalize on identifying opportunities and increasing their bottom lines in 2010 will likely reap huge rewards in the future.  

Chris Tidball is the author of Kicked to the Curb: 20 Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your World Has Been Turned Upside Down and can be reached at chris@christidball.com

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January 29, 2010 at 8:26 am Leave a comment

Effectively Playing the Blame Game to Maximize Comparative Negligence Results

Why are claims organizations hamstrung by this concept? Why do they leave millions of dollars on the table annually? Nobody really knows the answer but the one consistency that I hear is that they need improvement.

Continue Reading January 20, 2010 at 10:48 am 1 comment

Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later – The Dilemma for Maximizing Debt Collection

Who isn’t looking to make a quick buck in today’s tough economic times?   Whether it is the homeowner struggling to make the mortgage payment or the business looking to find new sources of revenue, the answer is everyone is looking for money. 

 Where there is money to be found there are debt collection agencies.   Herein lies the problem, as not all collection agencies are created equal.   In recent months there are have been a slew of issues arising out of agencies who operate outside of the scope of the law. 

 In multiple states, the Attorneys General have come down hard on collection agencies operating outside of the scope of the little understood FDCPA.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a federal law that applies to third-party debt collectors, prohibits certain behaviors by collection agents. 

In addition to the federal act, there are numerous state acts in addition to unfair business and practice regulations that govern when and how money can be pursued and collected.   Making matters worse is that some types of collections, such as insurance subrogation, are not included in the federal act BUT are governed in certain states.  

 Having spent a number of years in the management and executive ranks of multiple financial institutions I can attest to the lack of understanding of this type of governance.   Often it is assumed that business partners will operate within the parameters of the law which is why it comes as such a shock when a state oversight board or attorney comes knocking on the door. 

 As I discuss in an upcoming article in an industry trade publication, businesses that want to succeed in maximizing profitability have to stay above the fray being caused by the behaviors of some rogue agencies.  While there are many outstanding collection agencies who comply with the FDCPA, others have notoriously taken shortcuts in the name of cutting costs which is precisely how they are able to offer their business partners deep discounts on rates. 

 The adage pay me now or pay me later would seem to apply in these types of situations where the cheap rates are often the carrot used to get in the door.  But remember, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.  

Like many industries, collection is a trade and requires and element of skill to be successful.   Certainly there are those who will pay minimum wage or utilize unskilled labor overseas in an attempt to cut costs.  The question is just how effective will they be? 

 A simple analysis can be made using a large utility company who currently utilizes the services of three vendors.  The blended collection rate on these past due utility rates is 8%.   At first blush it would appear that the three agencies are doing a competent job of achieving their goals until the data is further examined.   Of the three agencies, the two with the “discount” rates are collecting at a rate of 4%, while the one agency being paid for quality results is at 18%.    Clearly a case of getting what you pay for. 

In today’s world of litigation and consumer advocacy companies can never be too careful about who they select as a business partner.   The cost of litigation, in particular class action lawsuits, will far outweigh any savings provided by vendors willing to cut corner or provide inferior collection processes.  

 To learn more about maximizing your bottom line, contact Chris Tidball at chris@christidball.com.

January 19, 2010 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

Is Anyone Immune To Job Losses?

As the unemployment rate continues in the double digits it seems that no sector of the economy is being spared.   Making matters worse is the uncertainty for prospective employers who face increasing mandates from the inevitable healthcare reform and the probable cap and trade tax.

From Wall Street to Main Street, employees with tenure are being let go in alarming numbers.   Often, this is some of the most seasoned talent, posing an even greater challenge to companies struggling to break even. 

For many impacted by an adverse turn in their career it is difficult to deal with the fact that your job is gone or that you may be next on the chopping block.   The worst thing to do is wallow in self pity, as this wasn’t personal but rather a business transaction with an adverse impact on your lifestyle.  

While not trying to minimize the impact that any job loss, or even potential job loss will have on individuals, it is critical to formulate a plan to minimize this impact.  

Networking will be the single biggest factor in regaining control of your life.   Even in good times, many professional positions are never advertised.   With employers cutting back, looking through the classifieds may be one of the worst ways to find a new job.  

Since the beginning of the recession nearly 9 million jobs have vanished and with employers realizing that they can do more with less it is highly unlikely that these jobs will ever return.   In addition, many companies are simply closing down, leaving ever more people out of work.   The kicker is that increasing mandates by the government for employers to provide healthcare will mean less traditional employment, with many opting to circumvent regulations with the use of independent contractors. 

The reality is that there are jobs available for talented individuals.  It may not be next door or even in the next state, but it is there.   In addition, with companies cutting back there are tremendous opportunities to provide them with services that will allow for the outsourcing of such functions as Human Resources,  Account Receivables or Debt Collection.  

Rest assured, there is a silver lining to the economic downturn in that is forcing Americans to become self reliant and to use ingenuity to come up with solutions to their problems.   In a culture that has become increasingly dependent on government, this is a very positive sign that the best days for America are yet to come, as this type of rugged individualism is precisely what is needed to compensate for the nanny state entitlement mentality.  

For those who have become a statistic, it is critical to network, network and do more networking.  Free resources such as Linked In, Facebook and Plaxo provide for great networking opportunities.   LinkedIn has actually become one of my top sales tools for generating new leads!  Join trade associations appropriate to your background.   Yes, they cost money but they provide invaluable opportunities to meet decision makers and get beyond the HR filtering process.   

The key is to keep a positive attitude and understand that amidst all of the doom and gloom in the media, there are many opportunities available.  Whether it’s a new job or your own business, the right plan is sure to put you on the road to success.

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Chris Tidball is a former Fortune 500 executive and author of Kicked to the Curb : 20 Rules For Coming Out On Top When Your World Has Been Turned Upside Down.   Learn more at www.christidball.com or contact him directly via email at chris@christidball.com.

January 5, 2010 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

The Hangover

While “The Hangover” may have been funny, the real hangover from the Great Recession of 2010 is taking its toll. Sequoia Financial, a leader in debt collection and subrogation has the remedy to make 2010 a very prosperous year.

Continue Reading January 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment


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Chris Tidball is a claims and revenue management consultant and author of the "20 Essential Rules" series of self and organizational improvement books. You can ask him a question at chris@christidball.com

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