Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Private Investigator

How do I become a private investigator?

That's a complicated question with several parts that greatly depend upon in which state you plan on working. You have two options; You either work for a licensed private investigations agency or you go to work for yourself and obtain your own PI company license. Either way, you there are two considerations you must address at some point:

The first consideration is licensing; All but only a competent of states require a state-issued license to be a private investigator. Each state has different background, education and experience requirements that may vary from simply attending a state-approved training course to pre-licensing education, exams, years of work experience and obtaining a sizable professional liability insurance policy with "errors and omissions" coverage. To make matters just a little more confusing, there are some cities that require private investigators to either register or obtain a municipal license in states that do not otherwise require them.

The second consideration is training. Private investigation specific training is the most important investment you can make in yourself! Since most new PIs do not have the ability or are not ready to start up their own investigations company you will most likely be looking for employment with an established agency. As an owner of an established and well respected detective agency I get resumes all of the time; The first thing I look for before considering a candidate is to ask the question, "How has this person invested in themselves before asking me to invest in them?"

What if I Do not have the minimum experience required by the state to obtain my own company license? How will I ever break into the industry?

If your goal is to personally own your investigations agency, no problem … every state that requires experience also has a program in place to see that new investigators have access to eventually obtaining their own license. For example, in Texas where we hold an agency license those who are too new simply go to work for an established company until they have the required number of hours to be able apply for their own license. In Florida (where we also have an agency license) they specifically provide internship licenses. Again, every state is a little bit different but thousands of successful private investigators are working today and tens of thousands have come before us; We all had to get started someplace … you can too.

Also, consider your own background and employment related experience carefully some of it may apply. I have known loss prevention agents, security guards (in particular roles), accountants, firemen, bail bondsmen, alarm installers, teachers, and even a librarian use their previous employment experiences to apply for their own agency license.

What type of training should I be looking into?

Any amount of training is great though most PI companies do not place a whole lot of credibility with the courses from PCDI, Harcourt, and Thompson Direct. You could honestly do much better and at less cost.

Instead, look for academies or training programs that have been created by private investigators. Who knows better about what a new or an aspirating private detective needs to know than an investigator who has been in the field for a reasonable amount of time?

Also … look to see that the sponsoring company is active in the industry as well. Are they still providing regular private investigative services to a robust clientele? It's sad, but many PIs who wash out over a very short period of time in the business look to teaching. In reality, you will learn very little from those who could not make it themselves; Success breeds success!

Lastly, I have a little secret I would like to share with you …

Look over the education provider's entire website and see if you find boastful claims or where the company is bashing other educators. This is a very tight-knit industry and you will find that students who complete training programs from educators that spend time "bad mouthing the competition" have a terrible time getting a break simply because of the animosity created through their educator's use of negative advertising. I know that seems irrefutable but it is a reality in this business. This does not mean, however, that you should dismiss the negative press but the first thing an excellent private investigator learns is how to evaluate a claim, identify the source and make a judgment based on additional facts and research. Some statements will have merit while others will not; It's up to you to make that decision.

What is the difference between a private investigator and a private detective?

Nothing. The terms are used interchangeably but some states choose to use the term "detective" while most use the term "investigator."

I really just want to help my friends and family to find old friends or people who owe them money. Do I need a PI license?

That's a great question. Generally speaking, in those states where it is a requirement you will need to obtain a license if you hold yourself out for hire or accept payment from another person or business and participate in or provide the following services:

O Surveillance

O Obtaining or furnished information related to a crime or the identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, movement, location, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person, group or company.

O Securing evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or committee

O Locating or recovering lost or stolen property and unclaimed funds.

O Determining the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property.

Some states may specifically include such things as service of process, bail enforcement, personal protection and genealogical research under those activities that require a private investigator's license as well.

Do I have to have a degree in Criminal Justice from a college or university?

No, though some states may accept a degree in Criminal Justice, Administration of Justice or Police Sciences in lieu of the minimum experience requirements. One recent study conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Justice concluded that almost 57% of all private investigators do not have a college education.

If I do not have a college education do I have to have a background as a police officer or other law enforcement related profession?

No. Most private investigators do not have a law enforcement background before entering into this industry. It is true that many private investigators may have once had a career in criminal justice but the bottom-line is that private investigation and law enforcement is very different and my experience has been that very few who make the transition from law enforcement are prepared for this Type of work, either technically or creatively, on their own. Most of them recognize this and seek industry specific training as well.

What type of person makes a successful private investigator?

This business requires a rare blend of logic and creativity; It's rare because logical people tend to not be very creative and vice-versa.

I would say that any successful detective must first have the ability to communicate. This means that he or she must have the ability to connect with people of all walks of life, regardless of economic status, ethnicity or education. It also means that the investigator must have the ability to clearly present a simple fact or a complex inquiry in writing. The end result of an investigation is the investigative report, which is given to the client upon conclusion of the assignment; This is especially our work product. If you can not write reasonably well, your reputation will certainly suffer as a result.

Secondly, great investigators have a burning desire to answer any question that is put to them only after a careful and determined effort to identify the facts and circumstances that contribute to a complete and unbiased explanation. We are in the business to provide facts, not opinions; We let our clients draw their own conclusions from our report. Oftentimes in order to get to those facts, we must be relentless in our pursuit of information. This is where logic meets creativity. Dead-ends often only require a different approach!

Lastly, I believe that every investigator should possess a varied set of experiences and knowledge. One characterization of the private detective industry I can make is that by and large we represent a vastness of experience, skills, and trades. One of the most accomplished investigators I have ever metlisted "Mom" on her resume. When she decided to become a private investigator she had no appreciable skills that she could put in her resume but through her own experiences she had developed an intuition that was almost never wrong and she could simplify complex problems into there most basic parts. I have personally hired a plumber, building contractor, car salesman, and a host of other seemingly unrelated career types into my own company, CompassPoint Investigations, because they had certain intangibles that made them great in this business!

The bottom line is that anyone can train to become a wild successful private investigator, just like one can train to become a barber or an attorney, but an aspiring detective has to bring some things to the table that can not be easily taught: creativity, logic , The ability to communicate and an insatiable curiosity!

I have a criminal conviction in my background from many years ago. Will this affect my ability to become a private eye?

Every state that requires a license to be a PI also requires a background investigation as a part of the licensing process. I believe that a felony conviction will be an automatic disqualification in almost every instance (although I know a felon who has a PI license issued by the city of Columbus, MO.), While misdemeanors may be considered depending upon the crime, its seriousness and The amount of time that has passed since the conviction; Again this will vary by state.

Will my military discharge affect my ability to become a private investigator?

In some cases a discharge that is anything but honorable may prevent you from becoming a PI. Just as in the answer to the criminal conviction history above, some states require PI applicants be free from negative military discharge classifications- Bad Conduct Discharge, Less than Honorable or Other Than Honorable service characterizations are grounds for denial of a PI license in several states and Jurisdictions.

Perhaps the Florida Division of Licensing put it best: "Private investigators and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. Investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected. "

Can I just specialize in a particular type of investigation or will I have to do the surveillances and cheating spouse investigations too?

I absolutely recommend that investigators find their niche and specialize in only a few types of investigations! There are several important reasons for this, which I discuss in my training programs, but it can be summed up this way: when you are the most notable investigator in your region of the country for a specific type of investigation, you will find additional additional Opportunities to make a lot more money than if you advertise yourself as a "jack of all trades." This has been proven across the country time and time again and is a major topic of discussion in our coming private investigation marketing manual.

What types of assignments do private investigators typically take?

Wow, the options are endless and the subject really describes its own entity section! I have listed the most obvious types of private investigator assignments in an article you can find by going to my Articles Page. I will eventually briefly describe each type of investigation in the next couple of weeks. Continue to check in as we are constantly making additions.

What type of investigation or specialty assignment pays the most?

I do not know that anyone can answer that question definitively, but I will say that surveillance is typically the most lucrative type of assignment a private investigator can get because it is solid, billable, blocks of time. I am aware that there are particular types of investigations where investigators are making anywhere between $ 300 and $ 500 an hour for activities like forensic computer evaluation, security consulting, automobile repossession, and a few others specialties. I personally have made $ 10,000 in an hour on several occasions in 14 years doing bail fugitive recovery work, those types of paydays are few and far between. Overall I average almost $ 150 an hour while engaged in bail enforcement, not too bad by most people's standards, though many investigators just do not have the stomach for that type of work. It can be extremely dangerous, it is a very competitive field and you get paid only if you can complete the case.

Is private investigation dangerous work?

Obviously, there are some PI jobs that are more dangerous than others like contractual repossession or bounty hunting but, generally speaking, private investigation is not a dangerous job. We all have heard the stories of PIs getting spoken while on surveillance by an irate cheating husband or being chased out of a yard at the business end of a shotgun while serving a subpoena. Most episodes of Magnum PI had Tom Selleck dodging bullets, too. Certainly, scary things can and do happen on rare occasions but like all war stories, the ones that seem to get a lot of attention play out more like fiction than reality. Safety is always at the forefront of every trained investigator's mind.

What Is Digital Marketing?

In the last decade, the reliance on the Internet has certainly changed the way in which business is connected. It is clear to most business owners that without an online presence, your business is really missing out on a major of marketing, advertising, and success. Nowadays, anyone who is anyone keeps their own blog, social media platform, and of course a website. If you are a business owner and you do not have a website, you are neglecting to market yourself in the most effective way. That is why it is critical for every business to not only build a site for themselves, but also reinforce its presence through digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? And, how / why is this kind of advertising so important to a business? Let's consider these important elements of online strategizing:

What is digital marketing?

In its very essence, this kind of advertising conjoins the promotion and advertising in an online platform. The basic principles, values, ad tactics of traditional marketing are still at the core of this innovative phase, there is a seemingly more insightful guise into the consumer behavior and target demographic. This digital promotion possesses all kinds of internet marketing, however it focuses on digital media. SEO is only one kind of digital marketing tactic.

The way in which digital promotion is enforced is another interesting property. Various sources can be utilized to promote products and services of a business, including websites, mobile devices, instant messages, and SMS among many others. In addition, the digital nature of this kind of marketing is considered as one of the most cost effective means of advertising.

Two kinds:

Push digital marketing: Just as the name suggests, push marketing is directed to push the advertising information directly towards the target clientele. Often times, marketers will initiate the push marketing through email, RSS, or SMS, really targeting the receiver or clientele with a personalized message. This means is also powerful in that it is easy to track, monitor, and measure the relative efficiency of the marketing.

Pull digital marketing: The pull method of marketing is aimed at garnering customers to come to you. The marketing for this means will be communicated to compel the individual to make a call to action or come visit your business. The most obvious or pervasive example is a web page, website, or any other Internet based medium. While this means of digital advertising is not as easy to personalize or track, it is still effective and powerful nonetheless.

Title Companies Vs Real Estate Lawyers

Is a real estate lawyer a better choice than a title company when it comes to selling your home? You can choose any one of the two but you should first be aware of the difference between real estate lawyers and title companies. Here is some information about both the entities and whose services can benefit you most.

Real estate lawyers

Real estate lawyers specialize in laws relating to real estate and make sure that your interests as a seller are met in the transaction. These lawyers can act as escrow agents as they can hold your earnest money, down payments as well as help you with the requisite documentation. These attorneys can also help you understand the legalities involved in the sale transaction, the offer made by the buyer and your rights as a seller.

An attorney can also handle a closing in case the lender’s lawyer doesn’t do that. Every real estate lawyer has two most important responsibilities.

• To advise on the documentation process of the transaction

• To represent you at a closing

Besides these two important services, an attorney also negotiates any modifications in the purchase contract that the seller wants to incorporate. Preparing the seller’s deed, another crucial aspect, is also taken care of by the attorney. The attorney you hire will also accompany you on your meeting with the client/buyer at the time of settlement. He/she will also advise you on the tax implications involved in your home or property sale.

Title companies

Title companies are insurance agencies that represent title insurance companies. Such companies insure titles to lenders and buyers by ensuring that a title is free from any encumbrance that can cause financial loss.

The title company assures the buyer that he/she can get his/her title on the home or property with no liens against it. The availability of a title on the particular home/property is made clear and vouched for by a title company. In the process, such an entity protects the rights and interests of both parties in question.

Usually, most title companies insure a closing with the help of a lawyer to fulfill certain requirements. Closings also depend on the area you are living in. Toronto natives can hire the services of a real estate lawyer for sale closings.

Keep the following things in mind when you sell your property:

Title companies can hold the down payment and close your home without additional costs. Also, there is a possibility that title companies may give you a discount on your title insurance if you had previously used their services to either refinance or buy your home or property. Lawyers can also close your home/property sale and hold your down payment but may charge an additional fee.

A lawyer can charge a higher fee to write a contract. In cases of simple transactions, this can complicate negotiations. But in most other property sale transactions, the services of a real estate lawyer can prove invaluable.

10 Email Marketing Strategies to Dramatically Increase Your Sales

Email marketing is one of the most profitable strategies available to the online entrepreneur (and offline business owners, too).

Consider this: About 99% of your website visitors will leave without buying anything from you on their first visit. But by creating a great opt-in offer you can at least get their contact details — and then use email marketing to follow up, build relationships, and turn them into paying customers.

And email marketing is by far the BEST and CHEAPEST way to stay in touch with your customers and build rock-solid relationships with them — so they’ll buy from you again and again! (This is called the “lifetime value” of your customers, and it’s extremely profitable.)

Email marketing just plain works! Just take a look at these statistics from PostFuture:

  • There are now more than 1 BILLION Internet users worldwide — and 90% of them use email.
  • 70% of users receive opt-in email from online businesses.
  • 82% of online buyers have made at least one purchase in response to an email promotion.
  • 32% have made an immediate online purchase in response to an email.

With numbers like these, you can understand why I’m always stunned to hear about a business that STILL hasn’t started to take advantage of email marketing strategies.

If you’re stuck for ideas on how to use email marketing to ramp up your profits, here are 10 proven email marketing strategies to get you started…

Email marketing strategy #1: Develop relationships and establish credibility by offering free information

Sending your subscribers valuable, free information — such as an authoritative eBook — will help them get to know and trust you. Once you’ve established your credibility, you dramatically increase your chances of converting subscribers into lifelong customers.

You can offer anything from a free report to a free trial version of software… whatever you think your subscribers would like!

Email marketing strategy #2: Encourage repeat visits by announcing regular specials

Once you’ve started collecting email addresses, you can send your customers and subscribers regular updates letting them know what your specials are. Sending regular discount offers is a great way to get your customers familiar with you and your site — and turn them into regulars who will buy from you again and again.

Email marketing strategy #3: Host “Customer Only” events

Suppose you own a restaurant, and you’ve been collecting your customers’ email addresses. You could send each of them an email invitation to an exclusive wine-tasting evening for regular diners only. Rewards like this are one of the best ways to capitalize on the lifetime value of your customers.

If you own an online business, you can set up a special page on your site that is accessible only to customers — and then send them an email telling them how to take advantage of the specials you advertise on that page.

Email marketing strategy #4: Include promotions in appointment reminders

If you are running a service business, as opposed to a retail business, you can still capitalize on the power of email marketing by sending appointment reminders to your clients.

If you’re a karate teacher, for example, you could send your new clients an email three days before their first lesson, reminding them where you are located and when they need to arrive. In that same message, you could include a coupon that offers them 25% off their lessons if they bring a friend to enroll as well!

Email marketing strategy #5: Follow up with your hottest leads

You can use email to follow up with people you have spoken with personally, but who have not made a purchase. Offer to answer any additional questions they may have, and let them know that you are available to speak with them at their convenience. This can dramatically increase your chances of closing a sale by providing your leads with extra information they’re not expecting.

Email marketing strategy #6: Offer electronic “loyalty coupons”

This is a great way to get your existing customers to buy from you again and again. Simply send each of your customers a coupon that they can print and bring with them into your store or use on your website. It is always a good idea to make your coupons valid for a limited time only to motivate your customers to make a purchase from you as soon as possible.

Email marketing strategy #7: Send follow-up offers to your customers

Follow-up offers are one of the most powerful ways to build a profitable business. because they build on the trust you’ve established to close the initial sale — and turn first-time buyers into regular customers.

How profitable can follow-up email be? My team once sent our customers a follow-up email introducing them to a product that we thought they might like. The entire process of writing the email and sending it out took about 20 minutes — and the result was a direct profit of $74,000!

Email marketing strategy #8: Encourage “Send to a Friend” referrals

Email is a great way to encourage referrals because it’s easy for people to forward messages to their families, friends, and coworkers. Make sure every newsletter, offer, or eBook you send to your subscribers reminds them that they can forward your message to anyone they think might be interested.

You could even run a promotion that gives your existing customers something for free every time they personally refer a new customer to you.

Email marketing strategy #9: Deliver your product electronically

Suppose you’ve written a book and you’re currently selling paperback copies through your site for $29 each. By creating a digital version of your book — which is WAY easier than you’re probably thinking — you can simply email it to your customers.

And since you won’t have to worry about things like printing costs, warehousing, packaging, and delivery, you can DRAMATICALLY increase your profit margin!

Email marketing strategy #10: Use email to sell your knowledge and create recurring revenue

If you are an expert on a particular topic — and just about everyone is — then you’ve got a successful business based on a paid-subscription newsletter waiting to be born.

Of course there are tons of other email marketing strategies you can put to use. And once you realize just how easy it is to use it to drive sales, you’ll be thinking of all kinds of new strategies yourself!