One of the most common questions I get from clients is "why should I pay you to fill out some forms when I can do that myself for free?" I'll admit, when I was working as a workout officer for a bank, the same thought crossed my mind when borrowers were using workout consultants. But now, after years of working for myself, and after putting together countless SBA Offer In Compromise packages, I can say with certainty that I do add lots of value to the process, which certainly includes the preparation of paperwork, but also includes a methodical thought process that allows my clients to make offers that have a great chance of being approved.
It's important to keep in mind that when it comes to completing the required forms, it's not enough to simply complete them. They need to be completed in a way that fully supports your argument. Just to be clear, I am NOT saying that you should change the facts to support your argument. What I am saying is that the facts need to be presented in the right light in order to make it easy for decision makers to see why your offer is better than any other alternatives. Whenever a client attempts the SBA OIC paperwork on their own, very rarely do I see it prepared in the fashion that I'd recommend.
In general, when clients attempt to complete the paperwork themselves, I get one of two variations:
1) The Half-Hearted Attempt - When asked to fill out paperwork, some people approach it with the attitude that the forms don't really matter, and that filling out the paperwork is a nuisance. Given all the money at stake, it's unclear to me why someone would take this approach, yet it still happens. They do things like "guesstimate" account balances, and leave whole sections blank. When it comes to explaining what they are offering, why they need to settle, and why their offer is worth considering, they make blanket statements such as "I'm broke" or "I don't make much money". When you make such a weak effort, it's apparent to your banker and the SBA when you aren't making a serious attempt at stating your case for a settlement. As a result, they won't take the offer seriously. Also, when you "guesstimate" figures, it's fairly obvious that the figures you are presenting are not accurate.
2) Quantity, Not Quality Info - Many borrowers have the sincere desire to be thorough on the OIC paperwork, but they end up doing what I refer to as "brain dump". Not knowing exactly what the focus of the OIC argument should be, the client writes a short novel about their situation. The problem with that is your banker doesn't have the time or inclination to read a short novel. With 100 other files to deal with, bankers want a clear and concise explanation that tells them everything they need to know in order to make a decision without the extra fluff. Writing a lengthy narrative can result in important facts getting buried beneath reams of irrelevant ramblings.
In summary, the benefit of working with a SBA workout expert is that an expert can ensure that your OIC paperwork is thorough, concise, and comprehensive. They will include all the facts you need, and leave out the miscellaneous info that will only serve to water down the important facts. I always tell clients that preparing an OIC is not unlike renovating your kitchen. Sure, you could do it yourself, but if you hire an expert it's likely that the final product will be of higher quality, and the likelihood of a catastrophic mistake will be greatly reduced.