Q: Tell us about you.
A: I am a graduate of New York University’s Leonard H. Stern School of Business and have a strong background in the data and analytics industry. My roots are grounded in taking technology solutions and driving business value and impact to organizations and creating value for people. I currently live in New York where I was born and raised, surrounded by a big Italian and Greek family that keeps me grounded. I’ve been married 28 years and have two grown daughters, ages 20 and 22. For fun, I enjoy music and have played bass in a rock band called Rock Steady for five years. I also have a collection of 15 guitars.
Q: Why did you decide to join the DRN team?
A: I loved what I did at Lexis Nexis and the data and analytics space. Data and analytics help make companies more productive and generate impact like they have never seen before. I realized that DRN’s Value Network is proven, self-fueling, and impactful in many ways. I knew I could capitalize on it by making it bigger, stronger, and enhance its value to all. A lot of Affiliates think DRN is in the camera business; we are not. We are in the data and analytics business and operate a Value Network that fuels the ability of repossession agents and auto finance clients to drive more revenue. In my short time here I am amazed hearing from Affiliates how our solutions improve productivity by up to 40 percent and how our data helps Affiliates intelligently look for targeted vehicles. I truly believe the opportunity for DRN is to use our Value Network to increase the revenue opportunity for Affiliates and expand the volume of business we can capture from automotive finance clients. Once we accomplish this, you’ll see DRN expand into other markets with new and innovative data solutions.
Q: In your opinion, what are the main issues with DRN/LPR technology?
A: Our industry leading LPR data solution captures images of license plates; cleanses and resolves those images into useful data points that are maintained in the world’s largest database of vehicle image data. We’ve created a system that matches open assignments to this database and alerts Affiliates or lenders when targeted vehicles have been located. This drives intensity and productivity for commerce in the repossession industry. As part of this solution we drive extreme value by giving back to productive Affiliates a way to make money by contributing data to the DRN network in the form of our LPR2.0 solutions. The benefit of being in the DRN network is one of the biggest advantages of using our solutions. I had one of our Affiliates come to my office in Texas and tell me how happy he was to get the checks we send him. And with more and more lenders using LPR2.0 in conjunction with their direct assignments we see this benefit growing to the point where no other LPR technology provider can compete with DRN and the value we bring to both Affiliates and automotive finance companies. We are also seeing this benefit being recognized by lenders as well. Yesterday I was with a major customer who told me that he only wants to do business with agents that use our technology simply because of the size of our network (over 700 million scans) and the value of how our LPR technology drives the network effect he needs to bring back the value of his assets.
I’ve heard the complaints we’ve received from people telling me the cameras don’t work; they can’t make their money from the solutions we sold them, etc., etc., etc. So I decided to dig into the problems and look at where the problems really are. We learned from our statistical information that we know the cameras are working. We know the exact failure rates and we completely understand the possible error factors, such as how the camera is positioned on a truck or spotter car, camera misuse or poor installation, and some cases (especially with those cameras purchased where we first started this business) issues around using first generation technology. To fix these problems we are making serious investments. First, we’ve come out with a new camera design that eliminates the challenges of all previous generation devices with improved distance and resolution functions. We’ve expanded our support offerings to provide Affiliates better service levels. I’ve made substantial investments in our IT infrastructure and by beginning of Q2, we will be releasing a new, free software upload to correct many of the synch and uploading challenges we’ve heard about. And we’ve come up with a completely new hardware bundle that is shock resistant for easy installation. We’ve really listened to our Affiliates and in a very short time we are on track to see exponential improvement that reinforces our leadership position in this market.
Q: What plans does DRN have to address these issues?
A: We’re expanding and making substantial investments in the first and second quarters of this year. We’ve already worked on synchronization issues, invested in new systems and hired new programming staff in the few weeks I’ve been here. We have 58 new projects scheduled and will continue to make investments to improve our software platform and systems. Moreover, we are not taking the ideas from our Affiliates for granted. When I first got to DRN, one of our Affiliates in California told me how he needed to use our historical data to assist him with the analytics and optimization of his business. This capability is now formally on our enhancement roadmap with a schedule for release.
Another big initiative I’ve implemented is one of management. I feel it’s important to have those who are closest to the customer make decisions and take ownership for the issues they need to drive the business. With this, all our Affiliates will see both Bruce Cummings and Brett Balint with the decision-making and action-taking authority to streamline how we do business, but more importantly, take those good ideas back into the company, with the right business case, and get things done. We simply will start listening and taking action better.
We’re making other improvements as well. We’ve installed a new phone system to help Affiliates reach the right person when they call; we’re improving our customer response rate; we’re expanding our marketing, finance, IT and support departments to reinforce the value of what we do. We want to provide Affiliates and clients with more support and focus on business issues.
And you’ll be hearing from us more often. We have five values we’re focusing on this year to help our affiliates:
- Increase productivity and impact on profitability
- New revenue and expand revenue streams (LPR2.0)
- Operational efficiency and lowered costs
- Significant ROI with clear business impact and sustainable gains
- Clear competitive edge for Affiliates because their clients are demanding it
Q: What should Affiliates expect in the future? Short term? Long term?
A: We’re in a unique position as a technology solutions provider to have different conversations with those in the finance industry. We’ve become the fulcrum to elicit change, and we will have new conversations with people in the automotive finance market to drive better productivity and more business. My goal is to get automotive finance customers to realize how our LPR2.0 solutions drive a “Network Effect” that allows them to realize an increased return on their assets that improves profitability, lowers operating expenditures, and drives a healthier balance sheet. I’ve already started these conversations with senior executives in the automotive finance space and my goal is that we will do business with the majority of them.
DRN is in the business of making money and Affiliates should expect conversations about business impact and revenue. Past conversations have been centered on problems, but future conversations will be about opportunity and revenue. We will engage in conversations with Affiliates that are focused on these topics. Some won’t like it (because they want to remain in the past), but the ones that understand business and want to prosper will.
We will target revenue, change conversations, look to bring more technology solutions (skip-tracing tools, etc.) to Affiliates to increase their productivity. We want to help the industry be more intelligent on how they gain insight and take action. This industry is reluctant to change, but it’s ripe for change. The more Affiliates use data and technology to take action, the more it will change the mindsets of clients. We want to benefit Affiliates with productivity while we benefit clients through success of assignments.
Q: What has surprised you most about the recovery industry?
A: In the past, I’ve been able to easily assimilate and understand businesses, and this is the approach I have taken with the automotive finance industry. I have been willing to dig in to learn as much as I can and experience it from the perspective of the Affiliate. I even went out in a wrecker one night to experience it. It was important to me to understand the mechanisms of people in the value network.
I’ve been surprised how mired in legacy the client side of this business is and how clients are stuck in an old way of doing business even when they have the power to make changes to improve their results. For example, the current process where clients are giving the same assignments to different people two weeks apart (with the same addresses) is not efficient and not all qualified assignments are given to qualified people. Many of the checks and balances used are arcane and limit a client’s ability to capture revenue and improve their bottom line. The smart automotive finance companies are taking advantage of LPR2.0 technology. We’re even seeing it used on the front side of the business despite all the “price” concerns in the market. I think if all of us push the value of using technology to expand and complement the efforts of this business, we’ll start seeing the volume of business shift to those who embrace this way of doing business.
Also, there are people doing less than honorable things with our technology, including clients, partners, and Affiliates. We will put a stop to it because we have made a considerable investment in the technology and because it diminishes the value of our network for those who should be deriving benefit from it.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I’ve only been here a short time, but I’m very excited about this industry. The people are great and I look forward to having conversations about business, and revenue opportunities that will empower people to make better decisions that impact those they serve.