Here’s the reality: without repo agents and agencies, the system would fail. Rather than treating
us as integral components of the ecosystem, we are underpaid, overworked, and mostly
ignored. Most agency owners work 70+ hours a week. As a member of this community, I can
speak to the suffering. We’re kept from attending our child’s events, family vacations, or taking
any time-off for mental and physical health. In short, our time has been taken from us, with no
promise of reprieve or adequate compensation.
The forwarding community has chosen self-preservation—to turn a blind eye to the struggles of
the agent community and to quell any concerns with media-trained corporate jargon. These
words don’t put food on the table or allow agents quality time with their families. Only action
can do that. Unless drastic changes are implemented, without delay, it’s only a matter of time
until the system crumbles.
National associations do us no favors. They are too concerned about their member numbers
and personal relationships to find amicable solutions that benefit the industry. The fact that
ARA and Allied have their conventions on the same date proves that. I have yet to hear a single
valid answer or reasoning for this!
State associations are not doing any better. They have little to no pull, unless multi-state
associations band together with multiple companies, release a white paper, and make noise on
social media. I want to be hopeful, but the cohesion and collaboration it would require seems
daunting at this point, considering how self-interested and divided our industry is.
Equipment prices have increased 30-40 percent since 2020 alone. Most fleets are aging out of
use, because it’s cheaper to fix and keep the old trucks. Cost of fuel up 100 percent, tires up
50%, engine oil up 50%, diesel exhaust fluid up 50%, and parts needed for trucks up 50% ( that
is, if you’re able to find what you are looking for, given current supply chain issues). Yet the fees
to us agents for services provided–the same! How can we continue to provide the level of
service that is standard for our industry and expected from us under these conditions?
Not once have I had a forwarder on my side when a complaint comes in. As agency owners,
we’re always at fault until proven otherwise. The debtor, who has dodged the lender for
months, who then tries to physically harm the agent trying to secure a vehicle, is often regarded
as the concerned party in the situation, rather than the vetted, trained, bonded, and compliant
agent. The culture within the industry puts the agents working with them at an extreme and
Current fuel surcharges in place, sadly, don’t offset the cost of operations. Every unit
repossessed at the end of the month has a fixed cost. I personally use the formula that has been
shared many times by repo data guru Jeremy Cross. These fuel surcharges are a drop in the
bucket, providing little to no relief. In March of 2022, I called every single client we work for to
discuss fee increases, fuel surcharges, and close fees due to the rising cost of business. I
followed up the calls with emails the next week. Most didn’t answer my calls or responded to
my emails right away. The ones that did respond or answered danced around the subject. I was
essentially told that they would have to work on it or speak to upper management and that at
the moment, there was nothing they could do. “We are all working on it and should have
something in the works very soon.” This was three months ago and I still have not heard back
from anyone. Just ignored. It’s not important. It doesn’t affect their upcoming promotion, their
bonuses, or their benefits.
I spoke with a marketing firm recently to make a website for a new business venture I’m
pursuing. They informed me that they are super busy making websites for repo company
owners currently, but none of the new websites have anything to do with repo. Most agency
owners are diversifying and some are looking to move on. Gone are the days when agency
owners gave their undivided attention to accounts, clients, and lenders. This will start to have a
real effect soon. There is only so much a multi-state agency can do. The value,expertise, and
knowledge a regional agency brings is immesurable.
Sadly, I doubt these topics are discussed within high-level management, or with clients when
they make one-sided deals and contracts that benefit everyone except the repo agent. If these
conversations are going on, where and what are the changes that will be implemented? What is
the plan to pay agents what they deserve so that they don’t run themselves out of business?
Why are these real-time, real-world issues not being discussed?
Agency owners spend thousands to come to conventions just to get five minutes with vendors,
clients, and upper management. It will cost me over $4,000 just to walk through the doors at
NARS in Colorado. And for what? What deals are being made? What changes are being
discussed? What continuing education or value is offered to help my business succeed?
I URGE YOU. If you are at the upcoming ARA or Allied conventions, please have these difficult
conversations with clients and forwarders. Hold them accountable. Ask about changes and
dates and when you can expect them. Ask your forwarder of choice to say no to clients who
refuse to pay a fair wage across the board.Ask the organizers why there are two conventions by
competing associations on the same day. Ask what they are doing to better the industry. Hold
them accountable. Do this publicly if you have to, but always remember to remain professional.
Ask questions, convey your hardships. Advocate for yourself and your peers. Let your thoughts
and concerns be the only topic of conversation. We must make ourselves heard. Together, we
can change the narrative of the 2022 conventions and seminars.
In order to move mountains, you have to start by moving stones today.
Stone Mountain, Georgia
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