Tom Lear is just one of Manchester based, Court Enforcement Specialist’s, team of Enforcement Agents, but his account of working during the COVID-19 pandemic gives us all a detailed insight into just how much this ‘strange new world’ has affected the lives of the people on all sides of enforcement…
The very first message that Tom wants to put across is that even now, during an unprecedented and drawn out crisis, the primary focus that he and his fellow agents carry with them at all times, is the need to identify vulnerability at the earliest possible opportunity.
As far as Tom sees it, ‘ethical enforcement’ is the only way to go, and whilst he accepts that there will be people out there who say there can be ‘no such thing’ right now, Tom is confident and steadfast in his beliefs that he and his colleagues have stepped up to the plate since March 2020, by identifying vulnerability immediately, and then by signposting those in need to the appropriate channels of support.
The challenges of COVID-19 we’ll cover in a little more detail later, but Tom is also very aware of his duty to enforce on behalf of the client, and indeed as ordered by the High Court itself in some cases.
The real skill to this role therefore, is in developing a balanced approach, which meets the needs of those on all sides of the situation.
So, why does Tom work so closely with #TeamCES?
We asked him…
“I started working for Gareth Haggerty and TeamCES after hearing about the company and being impressed by their reputation. Being from a military background myself, I felt that TeamCES's values married up with my own, and that being able to do this job with a clear conscience was something that I considered to be very important. It was a deal breaker for me.”
Tom is proud to work for a company where the standards are consistently high, with clear behaviour expectations that are modelled from ‘the top down.’
The processes and procedures that TeamCES have in place are ‘done right’ in Tom’s opinion, and what the company stand for, Tom stands for.
It’s a perfect match then…
“Every Agent I work with is singing from the same hymn sheet, of a similar mindset, and I know that the Agent to my left and the Agent to my right all have the same approach, and even the same beliefs about the job that I have.”
In an industry where you are always relying on teamwork, and the guy or girl next to you for that matter, it’s comforting to hear Tom talk so positively about the role that team work plays in enforcement.
But where does that come from?
Those within the industry know that it doesn’t happen by fluke.
The way TeamCES Agents work is largely dictated by the core values of the company, Tom says, and the fact that the team members share a ‘family like’ bond has to help as well.
With a workforce that largely consists of former forces personnel, it isn’t hard to see how the camaraderie and professionalism that come with military experience, carry through into the enforcement industry.
Tom even says that he has ‘recaptured the bond’ that he has long missed since leaving the forces.
TeamCES are successful, Tom says, because of what has been built up within the company, consistently high standards and two way support.
Because even though there are people out there who curse the word ‘bailiff’ or ‘enforcement agent’ should we say, Tom makes the point that they are simply human beings doing their jobs, and he’s right.
“I completely get why people don’t want to see us on their doorstep right now. There are people losing their jobs, there are people losing their loved ones. I understand all of that,” Tom says…
…and so does everyone else at TeamCES. They have seen first hand just how much damage this pandemic has done to the communities in which they work, but it has hit their clients hard too, and whether people like it or not, they have still got a job to do.
One of the reasons Tom enjoys his job, is because he is able to reach positive outcomes for the clients, who are, ultimately, entitled to get their money or property back.
The whole process of engaging with debtors or trespassers, mediation, negotiation - Tom appreciates the value of every stage of the role, and he enjoys the challenges of each day in the field.
His route to enforcement took a few turns along the way, it would be fair to say, having left the RAF due to an injury after 5 years of service.
Several roles such as an Estate Agent and a branch manager, mixed in with security and mechanical work, saw Tom frustrated at times and eventually he became bored with the routine of sitting behind a desk.
The appeal of a career in enforcement was the freedom of not being confined to the office, the freedom of a new challenge with every new day.
And let’s face it, after the year we’ve all had, it’s a good job that Tom likes a challenge!
“It hasn’t been easy with the PPE and the distancing, but Gareth has supported us brilliantly throughout the pandemic. Everything has been relayed to us, as and when the Government update the guidelines. On top of this, we have been kept busy and received regular phone calls just to see how we’re doing. With the additional challenges of working through a pandemic, this has kept spirits high and is definitely the right way to go.”
So there you have it, Tom’s account of enforcement during a pandemic gives us three main points to focus on…
Point number one has to be that identifying vulnerability remains the primary focus for Agents on the ground, which is reassuring to hear.
Point number two is that the clients need their money back, pandemic or no pandemic, and that as long as guidelines are followed and core values are in action, ethical enforcement can be achieved.
Point number three is the one that not many people think about. Enforcement Agents are people too. They have mortgages to meet, mouths to feed and bills to pay. It’s clear that #TeamCES know this, and Tom’s praises for the company he works for are great to hear.
The end may not be in sight just yet, but news about vaccines give us hope.
Until then, Tom will continue to work hard for everyone he comes into contact with, supporting the vulnerable and serving the client in equal measure.
For what it’s worth, Tom. You’re doing a great job under difficult circumstances.
Keep It up.