How to Become a Repo Man
So you think you would like to repo cars for a living. Once upon a time I thought being a repo man would be an interesting and fun job, but now that I've seen the work firsthand, no thank you! I was accustomed to facing armed and violent trespassers on my rural land, I have faced a moody bull head-on with my intention to get into a fist fight if necessary, and very little of anything is interpreted as truly dangerous, but in my interpretation there is little as unpredictably dangerous and unwanted as an emotionally unsettled debtor having their car repoed. Land and family are worth risking one's life to defend; repoing a car for a couple hundred bucks is not worth the risk.
Are you serious about becoming a repo man?
Do you want your website to be built by someone who knows the repo business firsthand and can help find you new clients?
Some repossession companies only accept voluntary repos from banks and other lenders where there is less chance of the repo men meeting resistance from the car owners. For those types of repos the repossession company is little more than an over-priced towing service.
There can be a considerable amount of finesse and guts (or sheer stupidity) required for the repossession companies that go after the hard to find customers. Repo companies that accept involuntary repossession assignments may often spend many hours, days, or weeks tracking down the vehicle, and even after the vehicle is found there might still be considerable work ahead in the form of having to deal with a vehicle owner who has already proven to not be cooperative. Psychologically stable individuals are capable of rationalizing in their minds that they are in debt, that they must pay the debt or return the vehicle, and that to keep the vehicle without paying for it is a crime punishable by imprisonment. Involuntary repossessions may typically be from individuals who are psychologically unstable; who are not capable of accurately rationalizing their situation due to their thinking process being emotionally based (their decisions are not based on coherent facts, but rather the decisions are based on physical desires). Attempting to remove a possession from an individual who thinks and behaves emotionally will very likely result in the individual exhibiting an uncontrolled emotional response of the unwanted kind. Death threats by previous owners are common; the threats being aimed at everyone in the repo business, at the lender, and even at the salesman who sold the vehicle. Do you really want to have an occupation that deals with mentally unstable individuals?
Even after a vehicle is repossessed there may be additional work in the form of writing condition reports to the lenders as well as removing all personal possessions from the vehicle, writing a list of the possessions, and being present when the previous owner appears at your place of business to retrieve their possessions. It is common for an individual who got their car repoed to claim that the repo man stole the individual's possessions from the vehicle, and it is also common for a person to retrieve all of their possessions, sign a release form stating that they got their possessions, and yet some months later the person begins claiming that s/he never got their possessions. The lies and violent behavior from debtors are far more prevalent than you might imagine possible.
A repo man who has been repossessing cars for about twenty years recently told me that he had never seen as much violence as he is seeing today. People who live on the 'better' side of town, who almost never witness physical violence and even less psychological instability, they cannot imagine how it might be possible for an occupation to be so negative. I have serviced the security systems at numerous city and county jails, plus I was a maintenance supervisor over the security systems at a maximum security state prison, but never did I meet inmates as violent and psychologically unstable as what I regularly had to deal with in the repo business (but then too, none of the inmates were allowed to have cell phones, which is an item that I see pressed against the ear of almost every incoherent individual whose car was involuntarily repossessed). If you become a repo man, just know up-front what you are getting into.
Repossession Laws - Vehicle Repossession Business Company
Laws regulating repossession companies are too complex and numerous to list in one article. Too, each state has its own specific laws, and if you are interested in becoming a repo man then it is your responsibility to spend the time necessary to sit down and discuss with a state employee all of the laws that your company must abide by. Vehicle repossession companies must have state licenses, federal Department of Transportation licenses (for tow trucks), and numerous other certifications and permits. Being a professional repo man is not a simple thing that anyone can do.
Stating it plainly, the vehicle repossession business requires that the repo man be an individual who is self-starting, self-disciplined, and skilled in researching data (addresses, social security numbers, license numbers, phone numbers, etc.). If an individual does not have the self-initiative to visit the several government agencies to acquire all needed licenses, then the individual is not well qualified to be a repo man.
Vehicle Repossession Company Insurance
One universal requirement is liability insurance. Before a bank or other lender will consider hiring you to repossess vehicles, you must carry about a $1,000,000.00 liability insurance policy to protect yourself and the lender in case there is damage to the vehicle or other property. Depending on your state and your history with insurance companies, expect to pay $1,000.00 to over $5,000.00 per month for insurance on your company and tow truck.
Vehicle Repossession Company Software
Repo Systems has a good online data system for repossession businesses that can be shared with lenders. The advantage of lenders being able to access your account is that the lenders can make updates or read your progress reports while you are away from the phone. Repo Systems worked well when I used it.
Public Data is good for looking up miscellaneous information about a debtor.
Quick VTR is an excellent source for finding vehicle addresses when the VIN number or license plate number is known. Other states should have similar online access to their registered vehicles.
All of my customers' websites are ranked #1 on search engines for their keywords.
A well designed website is one of the most profitable investments, while also being one of the least expensive.
Vehicle Repossession Company Advertising
To my knowledge the two best methods of advertising are to (1) personally visit lenders with details of your business, and (2) advertise online. Online advertising consists of having a basic website plus placing a few small ads on various repo business related websites. I created the website for the repossession service that I previously worked with, and though the owners originally voiced an opinion that Internet advertising was not profitable, within a few months new business began coming in, and now the website is in the top ten on the major search engines. (Update August 10, 2011: After breaking ties with the repo company, I also stopped freely promoting the company's website with external organic SEO. The last that I checked, the site was not able to be found in search engines.)
There are a couple other good methods of increasing business, and I freely give away the information to all of my customers who pay me to build their website. At present there are some local businesses and lenders that will not speak to a company without my being the go-between: if your company has high standards, we can open a few doors for you.
Vehicle Repossession Company Myths
While researching information for this article I came across numerous claims by various sources that obviously had no experience in the repo business. Below is a short list of some of the myths of repossession companies.
Myth 1: The repo business is a big money maker. While it is true that many repossession companies will show good profits, most repo men will earn very little if any at all. When figuring in the costs for a truck, insurance, fuel, shop, storage area, telephones, software, licenses, and the many other necessities, the repo business can become a high-investment high-risk venture. However, there is a method to dramatically cut overhead to a fraction of normal costs.
Myth 2: It is easy to get lots of business. During my time working for a repo company I observed a small number of repossession companies being given the majority of assignments while the majority of repo companies received precious few or no assignments from lenders. Twenty repo companies fighting over one bank's monthly total of twenty assignments is not 'a lot of business' nor is it 'highly profitable' for most of the repo companies. Having a lender choose a specific repossession company was one of the positions chosen of me by the lender; I know what lenders look for and want.
Myth 3: A vehicle repossession only takes about half an hour. Perhaps once the repo man is at the vehicle's location he might be able to grab the car and be gone within half an hour, but there is also the time needed to drive to the location, the time to drive back from the location, the time to inventory the vehicle's personal possessions, the time to write condition reports, the time to telephone the police to report the repossession, the time to meet with the debtor to return the personal possessions, the time searching for the vehicle (days, weeks, maybe months), the time to invoice the lender, and the many other chores that consume time for each assignment. The repo business can be very time intensive, and almost never is an assignment finished in "about half an hour" or even in two hours. Having an experienced individual assist with the initial paperwork setup can cut costs throughout the repo company's years of business.
If you have what it takes to be a repo man, then start with one of your most important tools, a website. Visit the WebsiteDesigningAmarillo.com page for more information and samples of layouts.
The Good Side of Being a Repo Man
Regardless of the numerous drawbacks, there are some advantages of being a repo man. If you own your own company you will be free to make your own decisions instead of having to try to meet the demands of an employer. If your sleep cycle is one that does well at night, then you will likely enjoy searching for vehicles while the owners sleep. If you have little or no home life, and you enjoy driving a tow truck most hours of the day, then repoing can be a good option. If you build your business correctly, you should be able to hire help to do all of the work while you receive the majority of profits. If you enjoy engaging in psychotic yelling matches with psychotic debtors, then you will surely love being a repo man. The most wanted repo man, however, is the one who is leveled-headed, articulate, and feels a sense of justice when a vehicle is rightfully returned to the lender. There is a very specific reason why some repo men get twenty times more business than the other repo companies, and knowing what the reason is can make or break a new repossession company.
I hope this short article has provided enough information to spawn questions and ideas. My hope is that the reader will use the information to judge whether or not the repossession business is worth the cost, and if the reader still finds the cost to be acceptable then the person will not find too many unhappy surprises after s/he has invested the time and money to become a repo man.