Many people have left posts on listserves that they are having slow periods and every year the slow periods appear to be between June/July/August. We have not had many slow periods and can have stayed busy. I’ve written other posts on marketing and this is about my third post on the topic. We’ve test marketed many ideas and this is what worked and what didn’t during our test:
Billboards don’t work…one guy commented that he received a “bunch of people phoning him but nobody that needed the services of an investigator.
Newspapers don’t work…we run a small ad that costs about $75 a month in the business section but that is about it, big display ads that we’ve tried didn’t work.
Mailing flyers and circulars…we’ve sent several flyers and circulars to attorneys, insurance companies, etc., and have not received one phone call from our efforts.
Yellow Pages…expect to pay big bucks and the results may not outweigh the costs. We questioned several people who advertised in the yellow pages and stated that they’ve had few results but not many compared to the costs.
What worked for us:
Pay-per-click on Yahoo, Google and Amazon has worked amazingly well and we’ve received several calls from individuals, groups, and companies that located us on the internet by performing keyword searches. We’ve set the lowest budget of $30 per month to test it and it worked and we’ve been receiving out of state clients requesting services in Louisiana.
Verizon, Super Yellow Pages (internet), and other business finder search engines have worked well for us. Again, received nationwide phone calls from attorneys and insurance companies needing services in Louisiana.
Our website has assisted us in gaining more clients. We have an individual that maintains our website and we are grateful for her efforts. It also helps when you use pay-per-click advertising to have a website that can describe your services when they click on the link.
Accept major credit cards. That has helped us. Many people don’t have cash or clients that are from out of state will call and instead of sending us a check through the mail will pay us via credit card by phone.
Register your business with Dun and Bradstreet. Dun and Bradstreet receives a lot of exposure from attorneys, insurance companies, court researchers, etc.,
Register your business in the Central Contractor Registry for the federal government. We are already on the State of Louisiana’s vendor’s list and now we are working toward obtaining federal contracts. We actually receive solicitations to bid on state and federal contracts and this is excellent exposure.
I’ve mentioned this once and I’ll mention it again…we still sub-contract at sub-contract rates for other investigative agencies and if one calls and needs an hour or two of research or someone located in our area or a house visit just to make sure that someone still resides at that address, we usually waive our fee and consider it a favor to the other investigative agency. This has shown that we are dedicated to the profession and willing to assist other investigators and we have received steady work and clients by helping out others in the industry.
Be honest and don’t overcharge your clients for work you did not perform. Treat your clients with respect and leave your door open for their comments, questions or concerns. Several times, we will waive mileage on a client if the assignment didn’t involve a lot of mileage and we don’t take a loss. Give your client something in return and state it on the invoice that the fee is waived. Believe me, they will appreciate it.
We’ve recently hired a quality assurance/quality control investigator that will review all videotapes and reports for accuracy and factual information before the work product is submitted to the client. Have a quality assurance method in place for the satisfaction of your client. She also sends the reports back to the investigator if the report and video do not match for correction. This quality assurance policy gives our clients peace of mind knowing that their assignments are handled with the utmost and professional care.
Perform quality work and look forward to repeat business. The agency holder is responsible for their investigators and the work they perform. You should settle for nothing less than the best quality work. Personally, aside from my personal life, when I make a purchase, I look for service after the sale. Give your clients service that they can depend on and they will refer you and use you again and again. We’ve seen it happen. Remember, service after the sale and look ahead to repeat business.
We are a diversified agency. When times are slow, our investigators are kept busy performing repossessions (voluntary), collections, service of process, computer forensics, safety audits and inspections, and judgment collections (place of employment and wage garnishments). We are not too proud to perform services that other investigative agencies don’t. Recently, we’ve started to perform a service that no other investigative service performs but is much needed and we’ve had much success. Seems like we’ve tapped into an untouched market. Due to confidentiality and trade secrets I can’t discuss it but it has kept us busy and we have very few slow periods.
Perform pro bono services when possible. We still accept select cases pro bono such as adoption, some child custody, abuse, a little criminal. It’s good public relations and it gets the word out about your agency. Believe me, the one’s you do it for will refer you to paying clients. We still receive calls from in-state and out of state attorneys and insurance companies and still don’t know how they found out about us but they assign us cases, we work them and send them an invoice and they are repeat clients.
I hope this has helped someone, even one person and then I believe that I have assisted those with ideas. I really appreciate the listserves that serve the industry and this is what the listserves are for. Good luck and stay strong!!