I have been a regular attendee to credit and collection industry conferences and conventions for over 20 years and find the benefits almost always outweigh the costs. My first credit conference was in Eugene in 1992; the Oregon Credit Association annual credit conference. Over 125 attendees, all there for education and networking opportunities, many of the best and brightest in the state leading the way. Conference speakers from national credit bureaus and the FBI. Needless to say, I was a bit intimidated and overwhelmed at the expertise and experience I was sharing the rooms with.
Move forward to July 2012 and Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the 2012 ACA International Convention and over 1200 attendees and vendor representatives. At this convention, I was a presenter and seminar speaker, on a first-name basis with most of the ACA staff and know all members of the Executive Committee as colleagues and friends. Still, this was a great learning experience!
I had some specific goals for interviewing vendors at the trade show this year, and was not disappointed. There are a number of new players and new offerings for employment verification services. Can you believe the “new” trend is to call the employer to verify? And they say I’m old-fashioned! Log this under the topic “If it works why did you change it?”. More and better skip-tracing offerings are on the table as well. Office furniture experts, dialer, IVR and other cloud-based solutions, networking to debt buyers and attorney services, financial services, and of course collection software filled the trade show.
The education choices were excellent again this year. FCRA, the economy, CFPB, cloud computing, benchmarking, hiring and recruiting, leadership, and on and on. The convention was filled with expertise, challenges and opportunities to increase efficiency, client satisfaction, and information to grow a quality company and brand.
Each year I still feel very much like the new kid at that first conference, wondering if I will ever know as much as those speakers and presenters and industry leaders. Each year I return home with enthusiasm and energy and ideas, and every year our company benefits immeasurably from my time with fellow owners, managers, leaders and experts. I know it can be an inconvenience for our clients if they cannot reach me for the week I leave town for this event, but I’m certain our company more than makes up for it with the overall increase in effectiveness we offer!