SAN ANTONIO-Bolstering the bottom line is all about mitigating losses, insists Mark Hein, CEO of SWBC's Credit Union Division.

That means focusing on collections and evaluating the team's performance along with the collections system's capacity and flexibility. A good way to evaluate collectors' skill is to outsource a portion of the work, said Hein. "You can then see how well your team performs against the contracted work."

Hein said there are a number of ways to approach the evaluation, but recommended carving off one-fourth of the delinquent loans and handing them over to the vendor. "Say the credit union has 1,000 loans in its collection bucket that are 45 to 60 days delinquent, the more serious delinquencies. Randomly select 250."

Hein recommended then giving three to six months in order to get a fair understanding of their effort, and to consider allowing the company to call members using the credit union's name to get a more "apples-to-apples comparison."

When it comes to payment, Hein suggested asking the company for a return-on-expense calculation. Sometimes, he said, the vendor may take the work on contingency, where they get paid only a percentage of the money they collect. "This is good because the company has more of a vested interest in doing a good job."

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