Essential Tips for Anyone Just Getting Started in the Bail Bonding Industry
As a bail bondsman, you deal with people from all walks of life. The next phone call could be from a first timer who has never gotten a traffic ticket before. Or it could be from someone who knows the exact penal code for their charges and has ten friends’ numbers memorized from previous stints in jail.
Diversity comes with the territory — it’s the beauty of the industry.
What that means, however, is that you should prepare yourself to expect the unexpected. Unfortunately, in this line of work, many of us are on our own when it comes to learning the ropes. Too often, we have to figure things out as we go.
Below, you’ll find a few simple tips to help you anticipate situations nobody tells you about at the start of your bail bonds career, and to help you better serve your clients, your business, and your overall peace of mind from the beginning.
1. The Need to Get as Much Information as You Can from Clients
It’s not easy to step into the private lives of your clients, especially at such a difficult time for them. Normally, you would never pry into the life of someone you barely know. But as a bail bondsman, it’s your job to ask tough personal questions.
You’ll need to ask cosigners or arrestees for their (extremely) personal information. You may feel embarrassed or awkward about it. Do it anyway.
Keep in mind that you are basically giving a personal loan to a complete stranger. You are the financial guarantee that they will appear in court.
Fill out as much information as you can on the defendant and cosigner applications. If anyone hesitates at the seeming invasion of privacy, explain your reasoning. Chances are that they have not looked at it from your point of view. Clients are usually more forthcoming after they understand why you need the information.
To a degree, that data is your safeguard: if you cannot reach your client after a missed court date, you’ll have more informative “clues” about the defendant’s whereabouts.
You never want to think, “Wow, I really wish I had asked more questions.”
2. You Will Have Clients Who Are Not Nice: How to Deal with It
As a bail bondsman, you will definitely have lots of grateful clients. But you’ll also encounter plenty of hostility. Remember that a belligerent client may be terrified about their arrest. Maybe they’ve never been in jail before, or perhaps they’ve only heard bad things about bail bonds.
The best way to work with impolite people is to remain professional, patient, and knowledgeable. Some defendants and cosigners need a lot of reassurance through the process, while some just want the facts. Cater to each client.
You may need to show them the arrest information online, refer them to your website where they can see that you are a part of a great business, take the time to answer all of their questions without getting frustrated, and learn more about your industry to be able to answer questions. Know the basics, so you can confidently inform your client how long it takes for arrestees to get out of jail in your counties of business.
These gestures can not only defuse aggressive behavior, but will also make your customer’s experience better — by giving them peace of mind. Once they recognize that they are dealing with a supportive professional, they are more likely to treat you with the same respect you’ve shown them.
3. You Never Know Who You Are Going to Get
It’s easy to make generalizations about the people you meet in bail. You may find yourself assuming that everyone will be unpleasant to deal with. Or maybe you start to only see the good in people.
You’ll meet all types, but it’s best to approach each new client with a blank slate. You will have to do your due diligence for every person, no matter the charges or the story they tell you.
Sometimes, the seemingly too-good-to-be-true clients really are who they say they are on the phone. Maybe your guy really is a company CEO who got arrested after a shouting match with his spouse and can get bailed with just a signature. Or it could be that the “first-timer” who says she was caught with painkillers has been arrested five other times for an array of charges and may require more cosigners.
Remember the humanity of the industry that you are in. People make mistakes.
Remember the humanity of the industry that you are in. People make mistakes. The core of this job is to enable people to return to their homes, families, and jobs when possible. Use your experiences with bail to learn that each person is different and each situation calls for different actions. Don’t lose your sense of empathy.
In the bail bonds industry, you never know what to expect. Remember to ask the tough questions from the beginning, act professional in the face of hostility, and treat each person as an individual. Begin your bail bonds journey on the right foot, improve what you have already learned about the industry, and leave yourself, business, and especially clients, satisfied.
About the author:
Keila DuSold is a licensed bail bondsman and owner of 20 Something Bail Bonds, operating in Southern California. Find out how bail bonds work in California or send a business inquiry to the bail company that cares: firstname.lastname@example.org.