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VOL. 130 | NO. 101 | Monday, May 25, 2015

 

Absolute Recovery Services Enjoys Solid Growth in Short Time

By Madeline Faber

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Jason Burnett has worked his way through several different collections firms specializing in everything from retail to bank to medical debt.

Now he has partnered with previous client – and previous employer – Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC to form his own company, Absolute Recovery Services.

ARS was formed mid-2014, but Burnett is by no means an industry newcomer. After working for a friend’s collections agency immediately after college, he moved on to work in collections for Frost-Arnett Co. In 2000, he took a break from the industry and went a financial route as a mortgage originator for a Wisconsin-based bank.

After managing collections for Makowsky Ringel Greenberg LLC for years, Jason Burnett formed his own company, Absolute Recovery Services. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

He was able to work remotely and used the opportunity to move to Alaska and teach fly fishing at a lodge for five seasons.

“There’s definitely a bridge there,” Burnett said of his motivation to get back into collections in 2007. “I got back in the collections industry as the housing industry was starting to bust. I saw the writing on the wall.”

Being a mortgage originator, he noticed that business was starting to wane as people grasped for refinancing. He also worked with owners of big multifamily properties who were having a hard time collecting rent.

“It just made me want to learn more and learn and study the law as it pertains to landlords and tenants,” he said. “That's where the road began.”

During that time, he moved back to Memphis and took a job with Financial Collections Agency of Tennessee in property management accounts receivable. He endeavored to collect delinquent debt owed to residential and commercial property owners. Here, he started forging a relationship with Makowsky Ringel Greenberg, a multifamily and commercial real estate development and management company.

A couple of years later, Burnett decided to strike out on his own. He sought out his accreditation from the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance as a certified collections manager. That path was postponed when David Colby, CFO with MRG, asked Burnett to sign on and take over the corporate collections department in 2010.

Under his leadership, he improved collections for a portfolio of nearly 6,000 apartment units and more than 1 million square feet of commercial space. He made significant changes to the department including implementing a new software system, skiptracing resources and services, an end-to-end telephone collections process, a letter campaign and a better legal approach to maximize results. He also started reporting all delinquent payments to credit agencies. All told, he increased collections by nearly 400 percent, which is something the executives never thought was possible.

“I basically changed everything that they do,” Burnett said. “At the time they were understaffed and had no protocol as far as how they handled collections. I set up a system, per se, as to how collections were going to be handled.”

Soon, his independent spirit caught hold. He told CEO Michael Greenberg that he wanted to operate his own company instead of being an in-house collections agent. To his surprise, Greenberg made an offer to be a client and a partner to the new company.

“We made the decision that it would be good for them and me as well,” Burnett said. “In order to keep profits at the same level that I brought them, the logical idea was to go out and start collecting with other management companies.”

MRG provides back-of-house support as well as invaluable encouragement, Burnett said. ARS retained MRG’s collections work and also signed on with nearly 30 additional clients. At the moment, ARS manages collections for nearly 15,500 units. Burnett works in Memphis, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri with a portfolio of 95 percent residential with a touch of commercial properties.

Burnett said that his business stands out from other collections firms because of its close focus on residential properties. Also, ARS only collects payment from the client if they are able to recover the delinquent payments.

“There was a niche there that I could step into. I saw the profitability and the need in the local industry for someone that specializes in real estate,” he said. “Most groups attempting to collect in the real estate arena specialize in other things and are taking on real estate companies just as a filler to their business and not providing a true comprehensive service to those companies.”

He’s looking to expand further east into Tennessee and tap into a similar niche in the market. He’s in talks with a company that manages property in Jackson and Nashville.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 7 32 1,160
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 125 3,507
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 98 2,366
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 84 1,676