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Conversation is the antidote to conflict

My career has been built out of the existence of conflict, My advisory business, NJK Advisory, trains business owners on how to get rid of grey areas in transactions that can create space for dispute, Our investigations company, International Private Investigations, investigates the truth behind fractious situations.

Our  IPI Debt Mediation Services Division mediates disputes,  and our repossession division, NZ Repossession Services, recovers the secured assets once the commercial relationship has reached the end of the line.

To be completely transparent, all of the activities that I participate in professionally would be rendered absolutely redundant if the parties involved had clear, timely, honest and forthright communication.

With disputes or conflict people tend to do one of two things. They either ignore them and hope they will magically resolve themselves, or employ heavy-handed tactics to attempt to teach the other party a “lesson” about how they feel they should be treated. In other words, they try to swat a fly with a nuclear bomb.

Neither of these approaches are the most effective from either a financial or time efficiency perspective.

The most clear example of the above can be seen with some of the finance companies that we work with. They all have the same onboarding techniques, very similar client demographics and operate under the same lending criteria.

Some have almost no defaulters and some have a great deal – the only difference that I see is in the frequency of client contact reflected on the file notes when we get involved.

When Company A sends one of their files through for action (very rarely), we see multiple outbound “customer care” calls just checking in to see how the client is doing and asking if there is anything that the company can do to assist the client.

It is important to note that these calls are made while the account is still current and precede any defaults.

When company B sends one of their files to us (frequently), any outbound communications are reactionary calls made after a default event and these calls very rarely are answered by the client without multiple attempts and normally only after a prepossession notice or other threat of legal action, all of which incur costs on behalf of the company that will need to be recovered from the client.

When dealing with the clients of Company A to recover assets, we more often than not find that the clients are at the address that we have been sent to and the assets are usually in a good saleable condition or the client settles the arrears in full. With Company B, the clients often need to be traced, and we find that the assets are either in poor condition or have been illegally on-sold.

The difference between the two communication approaches can be in the 10s of thousands per file, much of which will be unrecoverable if the client decides to go a NAP (No Asset Procedure) or bankruptcy. My advice to my clients is always that communication is the most effective method of correction.

Just a thought.

Related: NJK Advisory – Fixing it before it breaks

Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr is regional manager for DebtFree NZ Ltd and director of International Private Investigations Ltd. He can be reached on 021 876 527 and Nick@debtfreenz.com

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