5 Private Investigator Business Mistakes I made my first year and 1 Thing I Did Right!

5 Private Investigator Business Mistakes

My first year as a private investigator I opened my own detective agency and immediately made five big business mistakes.

1. I quit my day job too soon.

2. I bought too much stuff.

I mean, call it gear or equipment or whatever. But the toys… er… I mean “gear”… doesn’t make you a good private detective. Knowing how to do the job is what you need to know!

3. I didn’t seek law firms as potential clients.

4. I didn’t take criminal defense cases.

You can work these cases and still be a good human being and good investigator. There is no moral compromise in working criminal defense cases.

5. I didn’t have enough capital.


What I did right… I “marketed” my business well.

I sought clients everyday. Everyday!

I highly encourage you to watch my video on Private Investigator Business Mistakes to learn exactly what to avoid and how to market well.

Just some things to think about as you build and grow your detective agency.

If you like that helpful tip, then don’t miss out on my free special report If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

* indicates required

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

Verify or Suffer. Lessons from a Failed Police Raid.

A major metropolitan police department is being sued in Federal Court over a drug raid on a home where the family inside says they got the wrong house!

Did the police fail to verify the address before rushing in with guns drawn, shouting expletives and ruining a 4 year old’s birthday party?

I originally taught this lesson three years ago.

The way the family’s lawyer tells the story it seems like they don’t even know the suspect. It seems like he was a tenant who moved out long before they moved in.

But, what if…

What if the man the police were trying to arrest was the father of the birthday child?

And what if he recently listed the address as his residence when he renewed his driver’s license?

What if he “stays” there occasionally on the weekends, but the family doesn’t consider him to “live there”?

The reality is, while the police maybe should have verified he was in the house before the raid, I suspect they had valid reasons to believe this was a good address.

This could easily be a case of the suspect putting his family at risk so he can avoid arrest.

If this is true, does it change the way you feel about what the police did?

All experienced investigators knows, there are at least two sides to every story. Be a professional. Do the work. Investigate. Seek the truth.

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye,
Private Investigator

Pro Tip: Put the actual work into finding the truth. Don’t just blurt out some social media response filled with your self-righteous indignation.

That means… Do the right thing even if it is the hard thing.

If you like these helpful tips and sources, then don’t miss out on my free special report If You Want To Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

* indicates required

UPDATE: August 14, 2019

Just in case you think the Feds would never raid the wrong house…

An 18 year old allegedly made online threats including a call to shoot federal agents.

The New York Times reported:

On Aug. 7, agents swarmed (the suspect’s) mother’s house, but learned that he’d recently moved to live with his father. Later that day, they found (the suspect) and arrested him. He soon admitted to making the posts, the FBI says, but claimed the comments were all in jest.

Larry’s note: Did this guy need to be arrested? In my view, yes. But that doesn’t matter… the point here is VERIFY!

Photos and videos in court and Private Investigator testimony.

When, as a Private Investigator, you’re called upon to testify in court about photos or videos you’ve taken on surveillance or an accident investigation (or any investigation), you will be asked if the evidence you’ve collected is a “fair and accurate representation of the scene at the time”.

Be prepared for this. Don’t let it throw you.

Just answer truthfully with the shortest answer possible. Usually that means just saying, “Yes”.

The attorney on your side will have prepared you for your testimony including what opposing council might ask you. So you don’t have anything to worry about. Just be truthful.

This is easy to do if you understand this before you start your investigation! If you’ve already decided to conduct your investigation legally and ethically, then you’ll be in good shape when you go to testify. Piece of cake!

I do have an excellent training video on must know tips for testifying in count. I hope you watch it and learn form it.

In the meantime, remember do the right thing even if it’s the hard thing.

Committed to your success and safety,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

P.S. – Don’t miss my special report titled… If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…

Get Instant Access to Your FREE Private Investigator Report!

* indicates required

What is Substituted Service of Process?

If you’re serving process, you need to know, what is substitute service? Or sometimes you’ll hear it called substituted service.

I’m going to tell you three things today about substitute service, two of which are commonly shared. But… number 3 is a bit controversial.

What is Substituted Service?

Substituted (or substitute) service is when you’re hired as a process server to serve court papers to someone personally, but you’re also authorized to serve somebody else as their substitute.

This is common when the person who needs to be served is refusing service of process.

The Three Ways

There’s three different ways I’m going to share with you for when you can serve somebody using substituted service.

1. When the court says you can.

The papers you receive from the court appointing you as process server for the case may say specifically who you can serve in the primary persons place.

It might say right on the paperwork that you’re going to serve John Doe. But it might also say that you can serve his wife, some other member of the household, or even the receptionist at work! It may say, right there on the court order, who you can serve in a substituted matter.

2. When it’s in statute / state law.

The second place to look to see if you can serve substitute service on somebody, is in statute, in state law.

Your state law may spell out specifically that you can serve someone else who lives at that residence who’s of of legal age. Or it might say someone who lives at that house who’s of “reasonable age”. (I cover that in The Investigator’s Ultimate Guide to Process Serving.) OR state law may say you can serve the registered agent of a corporation or his/her designated representative. You’ll find that in statute.

These first two things are very clear cut. Either the court has specifically named someone else you can serve for substituted service, or it’s in statute. These are two no-brainers. You can read these and figure these out. Here’s the third one. Prepare for the controversy…

3. Your attorney-client will tell you who else you can serve.


Is that a real thing?

Can the attorney your serving papers for really have that kind of authority? To say, “Even though it’s not in state law and even though the Judge hasn’t approved it, I would be satisfied if your just able to serve so-and-so.”?!?


The attorney you’re working for will tell you if there’s someone else they would be satisfied that you served.

Now, does this legally hold up if the person says, “I wasn’t served. No one in my residence was served. Nobody else that was appointment was served.” Honestly, I don’t know, but your attorney-client knows what he or she is doing and if they are willing to roll the dice, then go ahead and serve the person (or substituted person) they name.

If the attorney you work for said, “Go ahead and give it to so and so. Or you can serve it to anybody at their home or at work”; if the attorney (that’s your client!) is satisfied with the person you served getting the papers, then you’re in good shape. You have to presume the attorney knows what she’s doing.

Your client is the one you have to satisfy. Your client, the attorney, should understand the law, procedures, and who the judge is. If the attorney (for whatever reason) thinks serving so-and-so will be good enough, then that’s good enough for me.

Look, sometimes when the court papers are given to the guy’s wife at their house, the attorney knows there’s a 99% chance the guy will show up in court. If not… the attorney has a plan and is prepared. But, it’s the attorney’s call.

So, if you have someone that you think might be a problem serving (or the attorney tells you they might be a problem), just ask them outright, “Is there anybody else that can take these papers that you’d be happy with?” That can save you a lot of heartache.

IMPORTANT: When you file the return of service, put down who you served. Tell the truth about who, when and where. Don’t try to be sneaky about this! There’s nothing underhanded going on. Ya gotta’ tell the truth on the Return of Service!

Straight Talk…

Look, this is just one of those things that you either pay to learn or an experienced process server passes along to you. So here you are. I’m passing it along to you.

This is something that’s worked great for me. Maybe it can save you a lot of heartache and time and make your job a little bit easier.

If you like this tip, if you say, “Wow, that makes a lot of sense. That’s something I really hadn’t thought of on my own”, then consider checking out The Investigator’s Ultimate Guide to Process Serving. That’s my course. I just empty the bucket of knowledge. I tell you everything I know from A to Z, soup to nuts, on process serving based on my experience and knowledge. It’s not some pie in the sky theoretical thing. The things that I teach there, I’ve done. I am living proof that they work.

Of course, if you have any specific question about these types of things, talk to your client-attorney, or ask your personal attorney. I’m not an attorney. I’m not giving legal advice, I’m just telling you what’s worked out in the real world and what might make your life easier and satisfy your client.

Here we go…

I don’t know, maybe the comments on this will blow-up. Or maybe process servers will say, “Yeah, this is exactly what we do in the real world”. But knowing this one simple thing will save you a lot of time and aggravation as a process server.

In the meantime, remember: Do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing!

Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.


If you like this helpful tip, then don’t miss out on my new book 51 Weird Private Investigator Tricks That Actually Work: How to Trick, Track, Find and Follow Someone Like a Pro