Rosa Flores and Marcus Cooke are among the staff members at PFC USA, a Greeley company that does business in 40 states around the country. Courtesy PFC

With roots in past, debt collector looks to future

GREELEY — Whether it’s collections or coronavirus, the folks at PFC USA are driven by one word: recovery.

When 116-year-old debt-collection company Professional Finance Co. rebranded as PFC USA this summer, it adopted the slogan “Recover Together” — and the double meaning was obvious. It still had to focus on recovering unpaid debts while the nation tried to recover from a deadly pandemic.

Accounts-receivable management publication InsideARM in August honored PFC USA as the industry’s best place to work — the second time in three years it had earned the top ranking and the sixth consecutive year it had been rated among the best — but this year that “best place” wasn’t necessarily at PFC’s 5754 W. 11th St. headquarters.

Shoop

“We had to do the remote-working thing, and that was a scramble for us,” said president Charlie Shoop. “Prior to COVID, everybody worked here in our office, so this remote working thing was brand new. We had to get 100 people out the door and up and running in a week. So now they can work from home or office interchangeably. They’re free to work either as long as they’re maintaining the quality — but we’ve had zero dropoff in performance and productivity.

“We have a strong company culture that we take a lot of pride in,” he said. “We offer employment but also an enriching and fulfilling employment experience.”

Shoop said training new hires has become virtual, with an online class beginning this month. Otherwise, the impact of COVID-19 on his company has varied. Regulators in some states suspended debt-collection activity, he said, and PFC noted changes in the health-care revenue cycle as many elective procedures were suspended.

“Our debt-collection division is seeing that impact now,” Shoop said. Although the company voluntarily implemented some COVID-19 hardship programs, he added, “we did not experience consumers as a whole being less able or willing to pay. In fact, we saw household consumer debt fall during the pandemic because of the stimulus money and decreased discretionary spending.

“And we’ve had an increase in positive feedback.”

Although new account listings are down as much as 10 to 20% and “we’re servicing a lot fewer accounts now,” Shoop said, “we expect a slow ramp-up as we get back to normal usage of the health-care system.”

Part of its virtual outreach included presenting a webinar in August, “Patient Interactions and Payment Trends Amidst the Pandemic,” for the Colorado health-care revenue-cycle management industry.

It’s an active field, given that medical debt is the nation’s largest cause of personal bankruptcies.

Besides the health-care industry, PFC USA now serves a 40-state client base including government, utility and retail interests and has built a reputation as an active community member and corporate philanthropist, winning United Way of Weld County’s “company of the year” award in 2018.

“Our people are very generous with their time and philanthropy,” Shoop said.

He’s also proud of the Torch Awards for ethics that PFC USA has received from the Better Business Bureau.

“Overall, there’s a lot of misperceptions about our industry and how we do business,” Shoop said, adding that his company cautions consumers against automatically paying on accounts they don’t understand, don’t feel they owe or aren’t financially able to pay at the moment. “We stress listening, empathizing and problem solving,” he said. “We want them to trust our industry to do right by the consumer — and the vast majority of businesses within our industry do.”

According to PFC USA’s mission statement, “An artful balance exists in the collection industry between consumer conflict resolution and protecting our client’s financial interests. PFC’s collectors are trained in conflict resolution, negotiation and are compassionate yet effective.”

The company was founded in 1904 as the collections division of the Weld County Credit Bureau and has been owned and led by the same family since the 1950s. Shoop came aboard seven years ago and took over the presidency from his father, Mike Shoop, on Jan. 1.

In his first year at the helm, Shoop led the rebranding effort, which included renaming its three service divisions. PFC Rev now handles third-party debt recovery, while PFC First is responsible for health-care self pay, and PFC Infuse is in charge of debt purchasing.

Honored by BizWest in 2014 as one of Northern Colorado’s “40 Under Forty” emerging leaders, Charlie Shoop came to the debt-collections firm as general counsel after practicing law for nearly five years in Greeley. In 2011 he co-founded PFC Funding II, which sourced, evaluated, purchased and managed multi-million-dollar consumer debt portfolios. He also guided litigants through the Small Claims Court process as a mediator, helping them evaluate risks and make informed decisions about settling or pursuing claims, a service that resulted in significant savings for the Weld County court system.

Going forward, Shoop sees technology driving changes in his business and his industry.

“One thing that’s really going to be big for us is reaching consumers when, where and how they want,” he said. “Sending letters and making phone calls is outdated. That’s not good enough anymore. We’re now looking at text, email, chat and online portals. That all has to be integrated.”

The company also is touting value-added services. “QA360” is PFC’s quality-assurance and compliance program. “SMART Analytics” stands for Strategies for Maximum Accounts Receivable Turnover” and includes a suite of data analytics driven scrubbing, scoring, segmentation and workflow strategies. “PayPFC” is a secure online consumer payment portal. “AccessPFC” is a secure client portal for self-reporting, online account placement, account inquiry and task management.

More broadly, Shoop said, “we’re a pretty heavily regulated industry,” including having to abide by rules set by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

He said regulation of the debt-collection industry over the last several years has loosened nationally but tightened at the statewide level. “A lot depends on how we’re regulated and how the industries we service are.”

GREELEY — Whether it’s collections or coronavirus, the folks at PFC USA are driven by one word: recovery.

When 116-year-old debt-collection company Professional Finance Co. rebranded as PFC USA this summer, it adopted the slogan “Recover Together” — and the double meaning was obvious. It still had to focus on recovering unpaid debts while the nation tried to recover from a deadly pandemic.

Accounts-receivable management publication InsideARM in August honored PFC USA as the industry’s best place to work — the second time in three years it had earned the top ranking and the sixth consecutive year it had been rated among the best — but this year that “best place” wasn’t necessarily at PFC’s 5754 W. 11th St. headquarters.

Shoop

“We had to do the remote-working thing, and that was a scramble for us,” said president Charlie Shoop. “Prior to COVID, everybody worked here in our office, so this remote working thing was brand new. We had to get 100 people out the door and up and running in a week. So now they can work from home or office interchangeably. They’re free to work either as long as they’re maintaining the quality — but we’ve had zero dropoff in performance and productivity.

“We have a strong company culture that we take a lot of pride in,” he said. “We offer employment but…