SIRs Represents Independent Contractors

A few years ago, a group of field service and inspection personnel decided that too often, work in the field wasn't being done properly.

So they decided to do something about it amely, they formed a group to help represent and educate field service professionals.

Mimi Norris, one of the four founders of the group and currently its vice president for membership, said the Society of Independent Representatives was formed in the aftermath of turmoil in the field services marketplace, with some firms going bankrupt or closing their doors and leaving contractors unpaid. Some field service contractors took big hits as a result.

Many field service inspectors and maintenance contractors began communicating with each other via chat rooms about common problems they encountered. Because many work in different geographic areas, they often are not in direct competition with each other and can benefit from sharing information.

The SIRs also intends to secure vendor discounts to increase profitability, raise awareness throughout the industry, offer training and business consulting, and define ethics and standards where standard guidelines may be ambiguous, the group said.

Its mission is to identify field service representatives who perform quality work and promote ethics and standards within the industry. The group also hopes to identify potential problems and find solutions as well as assist in the creation of cooperative efforts between members who work in geographic proximity to each other.

In the end, the group hopes its efforts will help members increase their profitability.

SIRs allows industry participants to share ideas about common REO problems involving plumbing, locks, lawn care and presale checklists among other issues.

"We started the organization to get together and say, 'This is the way you are supposed to do it. If you are going to be in the business, do it right,'" Ms orris explained.

The group also advocates for the field services industry, encouraging the Department of Housing and Urban Development to raise fees for certain procedures if participants feel the current allowable fee is insufficient to cover expenditures associated with a given task.

The group started the organization in 2000 has been accepting members since 2001. As such, it is a fairly new player in the menu of organizations servicing segments of the mortgage servicing industry. The group recently met with HUD officials, along with the National Association of Mortgage Field Services and the Society of Field Inspectors, to discuss issues of concern to the industry.

Field inspectors, maintenance contractors, and people who do minor rehabilitation work are the core membership focus for SIRs, she said. The group may expand to seek additional membership from attorneys and other REO or foreclosure participants in the future.

The reason the group is known as the "independent" representatives is because its members are independent contractors rather than working for large, national firms.

"We are representing that bank or that lender, but we are not their employee. We are independent from them," Ms orris said.

SIRs includes a free directory of professionals in the field services field on its website (www.sirs4quality.org). The other founders of SIRs are Richard Mason, Charles Smith and John Cahill.

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