Sundays around our house start off quiet. I usually hear the sound of a screen door slide open and the smell of toast wafting down the hall, and the TV in the living room where my wife, Stephani sits curled up on the sofa with her coffee watching “CBS Sunday Morning.” It’s rare for the two of us to be into house work or honey do's so early these days. We prefer to start things off slow to the feel-good vibe of great storytelling. CBS Sunday Morning always has something moving, and this Sunday I watched a story close to my heart about a new kind of debt collector.
Bill Bartmann and his company CFS-II, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, believe the best way to collect on someone's debt is to help them start earning again. His company provides a gamut of free services, including resume help or free housing, and they're trouncing the competition in the process. In the story we heard from Bill’s customers, and I refer to them as customers very purposefully because despite their predicament of finding themselves in debt, CFS-II treats them all with dignity and respect, offering creative solutions for solving the root cause of their debt problem.
One of their clients was a nurse named Lori Factor who, after her hours were cut back at work, fell behind on her bills and ended up in collections. Part of her debt was being handled by CFS-II. Bill Bartmann told Lori “I’m here to help you,” and this statement triggered a reversal of fortune and her road to recovery. As Lori put it, “I just felt like well maybe I can get out of this mess”. With the team at CFS-II’s help, Lori managed to restructure her bills, renegotiating many of them and proclaiming at the end of the story that her bills were all paid off.
To understand the CFS-II approach to collections, you have to go back to the recession of the early 1980’s when company founders, Bill and Kathy Bartmann, found themselves deeply in debt due to the failure of an oil-related business when the price of oil plummeted. According to the company’s web site, Bill and Kathy vowed to find a better way to deal with debt collection. Believing they could make a difference, they started a small agency and true to their pledge, Bill and Kathy never treated customers the same way they were treated. They treated every client with dignity and respect and soon found that most of those clients wanted to find a way to pay back their debts. Since they started their company, Bill and Kathy have helped over 4.5 million families get out of debt.
I really enjoy hearing about innovative companies like CFS-II who try different techniques with amazing results.