Daniel Day-Lewis was the star of the 1992 movie, “The Last of the Mohicans”. It was a great action movie, terrific camerawork and the acting and story above average. It was based on what many history books refer to as “The French/Indian War” and a particular incident in 1757.
In August of that year, the French army with Canadian militia and various Indian tribes surrounded and conducted a siege of Fort William Henry. The British negotiated surrender, and before long they began a march of about 16 miles/26 kilometers South towards Fort Edward.
The Indian allies of the French were none too happy when the hostilities ceased. Many of them were looking for a good fight and the plunder that had been promised. They were determined to get it one way or another and began attacking the retreating British. The reports at the time indicated a very large number of people were massacred but historians figure the number was in the 150 range.
History books are unclear about the exact role of Montcalm and the encouragement or attempted suppression of his allies. In the movie, the action was a bit more sinister. General Montcalm expresses displeasure to one of his supporters that he’ll just have to fight the same British troops again later. Serious eye contact is made and the rest is left to the viewer’s imagination.
How many times do you want to fight the same battle with the same opponent?
That happens to us a lot in collections and it’s not unexpected. A lot of the same folks will be past due again and again. Sometimes we figure that’s just the business – but there will be times when we figure enough is enough.
When I was the Mortgage Collection Manager for a large Trust company we decided the old letters just weren’t doing it for us. Historically, people might let other bills slip but they always paid their mortgage on time. If they couldn’t, they would call to explain and let you know how they would ‘make it right’.
After a period of high interest rates, a lot of people seemed to be taking their mortgage payment responsibility rather lightly and we took a stronger approach with some of them. The message we delivered included:
➢ Over the last two years, your mortgage has been in a past due situation on X occasions
➢ Please bring your mortgage up to date no later than 3:00 pm. On XX date.
➢ Once your mortgage is current, we encourage you to ensure future payments are made on time and honored by your financial institution.
➢ If this is not the case, we will not contact you further by letter or telephone but assign your account direct to our attorneys for appropriate action to commence”.
It is a strong message, but please keep in mind we were willing to work with our customers who may have found themselves in a difficult situation. This letter was directed to those individuals who we determined were playing a form of cash management – with our money. As a result, we did not have to fight the same battles time and again.
“General Montcalm, we are here!”
Note: From Tim Paulsen’s keynote and book: “Everything I need to know about collections, I learned from the movies!”