This article is a spin off from my recent article titled “Why Do I Need You To Fill Out Some SBA Forms?“. In that article I explained, as best I could, why the SBA Offer In Compromise process is about much more than just filling out some forms. I’m a pretty cautious guy, so I can relate to potential clients who have apprehensions about engaging the services of a consulting such as myself. Today, I’m going to explain how I often rely on relationships with people who works for banks, the SBA, and Treasury to get fast, fair and accurate decisions.
There is an area of the SBA known as “Treasury Offset”. They are the last stop before the file is referred to the Treasury Department (i.e. where defaulted loans go to die). The letter that the Treasury Offset are sends has SBA letterhead, and gives the borrower 60 days to submit an Offer In Compromise. Years ago, when I first started out as a consultant, I would simply call the phone number on the letter and it would ring and ring and ring. And then ring some more. If I was lucky, I’d get someone one the phone who was clearly the low man on the totem pole, and that made the whole process really difficult. Along the way, I was lucky enough to come into contact with some more senior people within that group, including the supervisor. Now, when a client comes to me with that letter, I go straight to the people who I know are fair, competent, and responsive. They like working with me because I am courteous to them, provide comprehensive packages, and I am very responsive to them when they need something. In short, I make their job very easy. I don’t waste their time with “low ball” offers or by providing incomplete info, and in return, they make quick decisions that I almost always deem to be fair. Just to give you an idea of why it matters so much, I recently had a client who had been working with someone else within that area on their own. That employee was so incompetent, the offer had been rejected, but they never bothered to tell my client and referred the file to the Treasury. Only after I stepped in and reached out to the supervisor of the group (who I have worked with extensively) were were able to get the situation resolved.
There are also situations, when a file is still with the bank who issued the loan, when my relationships come in handy. Every so often I come across a banker who doesn’t know much about the SBA settlement process. As a result, they make up excuses about why a settlement cannot be worked out. In those situations, I try my best to diplomatically educate the banker, but if they are stubborn and don’t want to admit they are wrong, I find it necessary to reach out to people that are high up in SBA management whom I used to deal with in my time as a banker. (Note: I don’t like going over people’s heads, but in some cases it can’t be avoided.)
Overall, the point of this article is that in many cases, reaching a fair settlement within a reasonable period of time is just as much about who you know within the system as it is about the offer itself. Working with someone who has done settlements with banks, CDCs, the SBA, and the Treasury will ensure that no matter who you are dealing with, that you will experience the benefit of past experience, while also ensuring that your situation can be escalated, if need be, to someone who has the power to make things flow more smoothly.