May 2, 2009 in Announcements (E)
[prMac.com] Atlanta, Georgia - There's been a lot of buzz lately by P.I.s in the Georgia private investigation business about how business has literally "dried-up" for them - thanks to the current recession. Atlanta firm Eagle P.I. Services find they don't have that problem. But they go about marketing their investigation business in a unique way.
When they started their private investigation business nine years ago, they had no customers. Not a single one. They only had 2 investigators, including the owner. They had a website but no money to promote it. And no advertising budget. It was a real shoestring operation to start with.
What they did have, however, was the drive and ambition to build a company that would exceed the quality of service of existing companies in the Atlanta area. And this energy caused them to discover unique ways to drum up business.
They got their first client by employing a very simple concept - walking up and saying hello. They would sit in local courtrooms and watch the proceedings as they took place. They figured if they're not working they may as well be learning something. So, they went to courthouses and sat in on the hearings and trials. They'd hear cases where an attorney would ask the judge for a continuance because the sheriff had been unable to effect service on a subject. Then, one of them would approach the attorney as he (or she) left the courtroom and introduce themselves. They'd offer to not only locate the elusive subject but serve them as well. They sweetened the offer by saying there'd be no charge unless they were able to serve the subject.
The courts are literally flooded with cases. There are attorneys milling around courthouses all the time. Some are working, some are just networking. There's no shortage of opportunities there for the intrepid private investigator to network.
See You In Court
Eagle found that there were other advantages of sitting in on court cases.
* They got to know who the busy attorneys are
* They got to know which attorneys seem like they knew their stuff and which ones didn't
* They got to be seen more often. When another attorney sees you talking to your client they want to know who you might be, if you make it obvious you're not a client.
Courts are loaded with cases whether there's a recession or not. There's probably no excuse for a private investigator to say, "I have no business". It's literally sitting there waiting for them.
Many investigators adopt an attitude of, "I won't do family law work" or "I'm just not into surveillance".
Eagle P.I. say -
"Truth be told, we're not too keen on surveillance ourselves, yet we book thousands of hours a year in surveillance. We don't do the graveyard shift stuff anymore - hanging around waiting for a target to appear - we hire the top surveillance investigators in the city to do that."
"Hello, Dick Tracy Speaking."
When people call a private investigator they may have an image from popular culture of what to expect. Of a blonde-haired floozy, chewing gum and filing her nails as she picks up the phone after the twelfth ring. Or they expect the phone to be answered by a hard-boiled Philip Marlowe type. Or even divert to an answering service.
Eagle P.I. quickly realised that the initial phone contact was vitally important to their business. People ringing a private investigator for the first time can be either in a state of shock or rather timid. Eagle make sure their phones are answered pronto. And not by a floozy either - by a licensed and trained professional investigator.
To Whom It May Concern
Some agencies won't post client testimonials. But Eagle P.I. think it important. They post letters from satisfied clients (with permission) on their website.
You Can Run But You Can't Hide
When times get tough, people get serious about collecting money that's owed to them. Often the person who owes the money tries to avoid the phone calls, or goes so far as to change their phone number entirely. The person owed the money realizes that they are now in a position where they CAN'T collect their money because they can't find the person they loaned it to. That's when P.I.s get a call. Eagle says they've seen these kinds of cases increase this year by about 30% over last year.
You've Been Served
When the debtor is found, if a reasonable payment resolution is not reached, then the person who is owed the money has no choice but to file suit. If the person who is owed the money and the debtor have been in constant contact, the debtor knows this is coming. When the sheriff knocks on the door, they know that all they have to do is avoid answering it, and the sheriff will go away. That's when private investigators get a call. Eagle have methods to make someone answer the door and get the papers served quickly. They can also lie in wait for the debtor and pounce with the papers once they see them. Eagle have seen an increase in this kind of business of about 25% over last year. And this was an area of business they previously avoided.
The Money Trail
Many times, the person owed money will want to know just what kind of financial footing the debtor has. This will determine whether or not it makes financial sense to go after the debtor. Eagle says they can can find real assets, bank accounts, run credit reports, and do quick surveillance to determine just what a debtor is up to so they can get a very good idea of just what the likelihood of collecting from a debtor might be. They've seen an increase of almost 50% in these kinds of cases this year alone.
The traditional collections industry is struggling right now. People either won't pay or can't pay their debts. Collection letters go straight into the trash and phone calls get ignored. The new laws pertaining to identification of caller numbers using accurate caller-id has meant that a debtor sees a collector coming a mile away.
Eagle P.I. has 15 licensed investigators, and an available worldwide network of sharp professionals all linked by 24" Intel Macs using iSight. They have the ability to simply "reach out and touch someone". No, not dragging them down a back-alley, but when a debtor can put a face and a name to a debt, it becomes far more real for them. It's now an issue they can't throw in the trash, and must address if they want the Collectors to go away.
Eagle P.I. Says -
"We're good at this. We got our techniques from a guy who used to collect overdue gas bills in Chicago many years ago. He knew every street and every nook and cranny in the city because he did his collections on foot. He knocked on doors and put a real live human face in the mix. It's effective and it gets you paid. We have some other tricks I won't share here to increase the collection's effectiveness but investigators who are not looking into this ever-expanding area of business are simply not going to survive."
Corporate Short Term Security
As a direct fallout of the recession, as companies downsize and let employees go, many of these employees are none to happy to walk out the door. They often try to take company secrets with them and sometimes they become violent. The presence of an armed burly investigator tends to cause an otherwise potential violent ex-employee to rethink their actions. Eagle P.I. says this area has increased for them by 75% over the last 8 months.
They say -
"There's a lot of angry workers out there. They go into work one morning and blam! - they're out the door. Made redundant. Prematurely retired. A lot of people don't take to kindly to being treated like that. A recently-fired employee's computer is a prime target for a computer forensics investigation into the employee's use of that computer prior to getting fired. At a very minimum, the computer hard drive should be imaged to protect it's evidence value should the employee try to sue the corporation later. "
Another reason some private investigators are starting to feel the economic pinch is because they stop or minimize their marketing. Eagle, on the other hand, say they've increased their expenditure on marketing. As well as using the latest Apple iMacs and iPhones.
"Because we know that now, we'll be the only ones marketing to our client base. The rest will have run for the hills with their tails between their legs. We've invested heavily in direct mail and it's paying off nicely. It's also further positioning us as a reliable, here-to-stay company."
"It puzzles me when I hear private investigators moaning about a lack of business in these economic times. They're either not open to seeing new opportunities or they're just too lazy to get up and make something happen. Private investigation is truly recession-proof, but only if you have structured your company, your marketing and your outlook to take advantage of the business opportunities available in good times and bad."
Eagle Investigative Services, Inc. based in Atlanta, Georgia, is owned and operated by James E. Carsten, who has served as Chief Protection Detail to the Secretary Of Defense, and has spent many years as an Army CID (criminal investigations) investigator, working on cases ranging from murder and South American drug trafficking to embezzlement.