Grant: Sheldon, how are you sir?
Sheldon: Doing well Grant. Yourself?
Grant: Very good. Very good. Thanks for joining me for this zoom interview. For everybody watching, this is a Sheldon Wheeler, President, CEO of Dana Properties in El Paso, Texas. One of the, if not the largest management company and in the El Paso region now. Congratulations on that.
Sheldon: Well, thanks Grant.
Grant: Yes, so I really appreciate you taking the time to kind of run through some of these questions. I’m just wanting to get your feedback on the service and your experience using it. You’ve been using it now since 20 maybe right before 2017 right? 2016?
Sheldon: I believe we started around November, 2016.
Grant: Awesome. So well you know, let’s start from the beginning. What were you guys doing before we added Sperlonga Credit Reporting to the collection process?
Sheldon: I think we did the typical thing that most management companies do, sending out the typical demand letters and that doesn’t work. Getting an attorney involved, sending out those demand letters and then following the regular process of filing liens and lawsuits. Before we signed up with Sperlonga, there was no proactive tool that we had to use to try and reduce the collections.
Grant: Right, right. And were you rewarding any homeowners that paid on time? Did they have any kind of reward or benefit for doing so? Any incentive there?
Sheldon: There was no incentive at all for paying on time.
Grant: So, how did you first hear about us? It’s been a while, but I don’t know…?
Sheldon: I remember seeing an ad in the CAI publication that you all were beginning the service and I believe that was about two years before we finally came on board.
Grant: Awesome. And what was it that, you know, when you thought about credit reporting and Sperlonga service, what was it that made you finally decide to use the service? Is that something you’ve been thinking about or wanting to do? Some people say they’d been looking for it for years, they never had access to it.
Sheldon: Yes. Once I saw the ad and then went to the website and started doing some research, it seemed like, you know, the best technology available to reduce the delinquency rates and also the fees for the services were extremely reasonable. And so we signed up, we got a lot of our associations signed up initially. And we have found that not only have we reduced our delinquencies by around 30%, but we’ve also reduced the amount of money that we’re spending on mailing out demand letters, time we have to spend with the attorney and going to court. It’s just been a tremendous service and a wonderful tool for us to use.
Grant: Can you tell the folks at home a little bit about how you do business to differentiate yourself and grow the business?
Sheldon: We are the only ones in El Paso that have the software that’s compatible with Sperlonga. So now when we go out and we interview for a potential new client, we’re the only ones that can sell the service that we can report to credit bureaus and we tell them what the cost is going to be and they’re amazed at how low we can provide that service to them. And they’re also happy that, especially for some of the lower dollar properties that is going to help the residents build positive credit reports.
Grant: That’s awesome. And you know, you are now the largest management company in El Paso, correct?
Sheldon: Correct. We have probably our next closest competitors, probably about one eighth our size.
Grant: That’s awesome. So very full field when you first started and now you are king of El Paso. I love it.
Sheldon: Yes. Well you all have helped us get there as well.
Grant: We’re happy to do it and happy to hear all the great reports that come back.
Sheldon: Most of our communities did sign up for the service. I’d say about 90% of them signed up. And out of those 90, I haven’t looked at the statistics for each individual one, but when a board asks me after we’ve used your service for a year or two years, “What the effect has been?'” I run the reports, it’s almost consistently that we have reduced their delinquencies by 30%. And that’s without us taking any other action, no demand letters from our office, no attorney demands it’s been great. And we’ve had some residents that didn’t really believe that we had the technology available to report to credit bureaus. We had a FBI agent and army officers that called us that they had their security clearances pulled because they were not responsible in paying their bills on time and they wound up sitting behind desks until they were able to clear up their debts.
Grant: I mean, those are great examples and a lot of people think, “Wow, maybe that’s hard core.” But as soon as they pay the monies they owe to the community, right? Their credit goes right back to essentially normal. Right? They have every single month to pay on time?
Sheldon: You would expect FBI agents and army officers and doctors to pay their bills on time. If they hadn’t been paying their car payment or their mortgage or their credit cards, it would have been the same result. So this just helps elevate their home owners assessments to the level of responsibility that it should be.
Grant: Right. And now are those people all signed up on ACH now and making regular payments?
Sheldon: I did look at a report about 60 days ago to see how much our ACH has increased over the last two years. And it’s probably increased by about 25%. So that’s an additional savings to our associations. We have about 7,000 units that we’re managing. So when you add 25% more that we’re not having to spend a printing and postage on monthly statements, that almost pays for your service itself.
Grant: Right, right. I mean, we love hearing that kind of feedback. And I mean, you’re exactly right. I mean, that’s the whole goal of the service, right? It’s fundamentally changes the priority of the process. “I’m going to pay whenever.” And they can go for a year. They pay at the end of the year, they had a little bit of money or whatever and the association gets made whole. The association’s been in a bind now for that entire year. Right? So it really forces people to live up to the obligation.
Sheldon: It’s been a tremendous service and I would recommend it to everybody across the nation, that manages homeowner associations, except for the ones in El Paso. I would recommend it to everyone else except my competitors that this is a tremendous service. It reduces the workload on all your association managers in terms of having to send out demand letters or whatever your process is. I mean, when you reduce 30% of your workload just on demand letters and you figure you’re sending out 25% less statements every month, then it frees you up to actually go out there and manage an association, to do your inspections, work with your board. It’s just a tremendous amount of time saving.
Grant: That’s awesome. Well, I don’t want to take up a lot of your time, Sheldon. I know you’re busy out there running all of El Paso.
Sheldon: Thanks Grant. I appreciate it. And thanks so much for everything you and your team does.
Grant: Thank you!