A majority of Americans take out loans to pay for their new vehicles — as of 2019, total auto loan debt in the U.S. was nearly $1.2 trillion. Instead of borrowing to buy a car, about 30 percent of drivers decide to lease their vehicle, effectively borrowing the car from a dealer for a set amount of time.
Those who finance or lease a vehicle are expected to pay the lender or dealer according to the terms of the loan or lease. If a driver stops making payments, the lender can repossess the car. About two percent of car loans and leases in 2019 were delinquent, meaning the driver was at least 30 days past due on paying.
Someone has to have the job of repossessing delinquent vehicles. Depending on your disposition and skill set, that someone could be you. In this guide, we’ll discuss the process of becoming a repo person and what it takes to become a repo man.
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The Type of People Who Are Repo Agents
A career as an auto repossession agent appeals to some types of people more than others. Along with getting the right licenses and training, it helps to have a few innate skills when trying to get a job as a repo man. The skills you’ll often see in repo agents include:
- Creativity: Repossession agents often need to think outside the box when it comes to tracking down vehicles and people who are behind on payments. In some cases, a driver might try to hide, and a repo agent might need to locate contacts of the driver to track them down.
- Strength and stamina: Repossessing vehicles can be physically challenging work, especially if the driver is bigger than the agent and gets physical when approached. Having physical strength and endurance is a must.
- Negotiation/Communication skills: People who fall behind on their car payments are often going through challenging times in their lives. It helps for a repo agent to have people skills and the ability to negotiate without backing down. It’s also helpful to have people skills if you’ll be self-employed and will need to seek out clients regularly.
- Problem-solving: As a repo agent, you’re likely to encounter a variety of interesting challenges and problems. Creative thinking will help you considerably, as will the ability to step back and solve problems as they come your way.
- Nerves of steel: It’s also important to have nerves of steel when working as a repossession agent. People will have all sorts of stories and will try to convince you to let them keep their cars. Some might become verbally abusive or physically violent toward you.
- Organization: As a repo agent, you need to be organized, so you know where you’re going each day and what you need to do when you get there.
- Business know-how: It’s also helpful to have some basic business knowledge as an auto repossession agent, especially if you plan on working for yourself.
- Networking skills: Many repossession agents are independent contractors who work for themselves and find their own clients. You can’t be shy about approaching potential clients, such as banks and lenders, and making a connection.
How to Become a Repo Man
You’ll want to complete training, know your state’s requirements, earn your certification and join a recovery association. While you don’t need to earn a diploma or degree to become a repossession agent, you do need to pick up some licenses, and you may need to complete some training programs. It’s also a good idea to earn a certification as a repo agent, since completing a certification program can help you better understand the laws that surround repossessing a vehicle — it’s the closest thing to repo agent school.
1. Complete Training
Repo agents often use skip tracing methods to track down drivers who might have gone missing or who might have “skipped” town when they fall behind on their car payments. Skip tracing requires you to dig deep and learn information about the driver, so that you are more likely to discover their whereabouts, and most importantly, the location of the car.
Along with learning skip tracing, you might need to take driving classes to earn a commercial’s driver license (CDL). If you plan on driving a tow truck, you’ll need a CDL to do so. CDL training and licensing requirements vary by state. Check-in with the department of motor vehicles of the state you live or work in to find out what you need to do.
2. Know Your State’s Requirements
Some states require repossession agents to have a license. For example, some states expect you to have a collection agency license, while a few expect you to register as a private investigator. The American Recovery Association (ARA) has compiled a list of licensing requirements and repossession rules for all 50 states and Washington, DC. You can look up your state to find out whether repossession is permitted there and what you need to do to become a licensed repossession agent.
3. Earn Your Certification
Certification programs are available for people interested in becoming repo agents. While certification isn’t required to do the job, it can give you a leg up when applying for positions with companies or when finding clients. One option is to become a Certified Collateral Recovery Specialist through the ARA. The training component of the certification program includes lessons in defensive driving, planning a workday as a repo agent, a review of various consumer protection laws and non-violent conflict resolution training.
4. Join a Recovery Association
Several member organizations exist for recovery professionals, such as the ARA. Joining a membership association can help you connect with others in the recovery industry, access training programs and find a job with a lender.
5. Understand Your State’s Repossession Laws
Some states have different repo laws, so it’s important to understand your state’s rules to avoid an unnecessary trouble.
How to Get a Job as a Repo Man
There are two ways to find work as a repo agent. You can start your own repo company, or you can find work with an existing repo business. It’s not uncommon for beginning agents to work as apprentices with more experienced repossession agents, then move on to start their own businesses once they’ve learned the ropes. Apprenticing with a more established agent also gives you the opportunity to build up a reputation in the industry.
Networking is essential to getting a job as a repossession agent and is a must-do if you want to get repo accounts. You want to meet others in the industry as well as lenders who are going to have work for you to do. Cold calling is one way to make connections and find work. You can also join a member’s association and attend its annual convention to meet and greet others in the recovery industry.
Lift and Tow Has Resources to Help You Start Your Towing Career
When you’re getting started as a repo agent, you need skills, connections and the right gear. Lift and Tow’s hidden towing systems are perfect for repossession professionals. The towing systems attach to a standard pick-up truck, allowing you to drive around incognito when looking for a delinquent vehicle. Our hidden towing lifts are ideal for repo agents who don’t yet own a tow truck or who don’t want to use a tow truck for practical reasons.
Contact us today to more about our towing systems.