Personal note from Larry: I didn’t realize when I was putting together this week’s video and blog post that this would be, maybe, my favorite post I’ve created yet! Please, take it in as a genuinely heartfelt message from me to you.
I remember a time when I was working as a security guard and I was escorting a female employee from a building to a parking garage. Along the way there were two crackhead panhandlers at a bus stop hitting people up for money and being way too aggressive about it.
As we walked by, one of the crackheads went back into an alley that had a rear entrance to the building she had just come out of and I, without thinking about it, I keyed the radio and advised the control room we had this suspicious person, this drug user, going into one of the alleys just so they could get “eyes on” with a camera.
I didn’t think anything else about it. But a few steps later, the woman I was escorting to the parking garage turned to me and said, “We have people in that building, should we warn them?!?”
And I laughed.
I didn’t laugh a lot, but I definitely kind of snorted and said, “About that guy?!?”
You see, in our world, private investigations, process serving, my brothers and sisters in security we do some things so commonly we forget how extraordinary they are to outsiders.
The woman I was escorting safely to the parking garage will probably go home and when asked about her day will say, “Oh, where there were these two crack heads out and security had to walk me past them!”
Not a big deal to me. Big deal to her.
Next summer she might be talking to people as they’re sitting at a picnic table eating and something about crime or drugs will come up and she’ll say, “Oh, we had this one guy, this one time…”
You see this all the time with people outside our profession.
If you talk to people who aren’t in our industry, they’ll tell you the story about the time they were in the store that got robbed or about the guy who threatened them or whatever. They have that one story that one time, and I don’t blame them. I get it. It was a bad thing or an unusual thing and they remember it.
In our industry, we deal with stuff all the time.
We do things everyday that are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for other people and I want you to know about that and think about it and don’t lose that perspective.
Crack Deal Video Surveillance
I remember one time while training a new, we were recording a drug deal and after the dealer counted crack rocks from his hand into the buyer’s hand, he turned his hand sideways to kind of let the last crack debris fall into the buyer’s hand, I made the comment, “Be sure to dust it off, don’t miss any crumbs.”
At that exact moment, just in half a second later, the dealer brought up his other hand and dusted the crack-rock crumbs into the buyer’s hand.
The guy I was training thought I was psychic! He thought I was reading lips or something. But it was far simpler than that. I had just seen this so many times before, I knew what was coming next.
It’s because it’s so common when you see people handling rocks that way, it’s just an everyday occurrence. And I just said it half-jokingly. But it surprised my trainee. I forgot in the moment this is not an everyday thing to other people. I mean, how often do you sit around and watch somebody deal crack? Probably not that often.
Why even mention this?
I bring this up for two reasons one, I want you to be gentle with other people.
Remember, your likely dealing with clients and / or victims and they’re just in a different world than us.
When they come to you with a problem, be sympathetic. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t say, “Well, did you file a report with the police? Why didn’t you file a report? Why didn’t you call the police?”
Look, they’re a victim. Give them a break. There’s nobody that comes to us because they’re having a good day.
There’s nobody that comes to us because they’ve got their life in order. They’re frequently having problems. Maybe it’s a spouse cheating on them. Maybe they own a company paying workers’ compensation to a guy who’s cheating them. You know, the types of cases we take. It’s a big deal to them. They’re likely a victim. Treat them with compassion. Don’t judge them. Help them as much as you can.
Also, the people you’re interacting with on a case. Maybe you’re interviewing people. It isn’t always clergy, businessmen and upright citizens that are around when crimes happen. A lot of times you’re talking to a bad guy maybe you’re talking to the bad guy. You’re trying to get him to tell you things so you’ll know what the testimony is going to be when it goes to court, but be as compassionate as you can. Certainly be respectful as you can to them.
My brothers and sisters in security, everyday duties you perform like running off pan handlers, crack heads and trespassers from your property. Be as gentle with them as they will allow you to be.
My brothers and sisters in loss prevention or asset protection, yeah, you’re making apprehensions, you’re catching thieves and a lot of times it’s going to be felony-level stuff, of course be safe, but don’t be a jerk. That thief is a human being. He’s got a mom somewhere. Be as gentle as you can be with them.
This May Be the Hardest Thing
The last point I want to make, and this is the easiest one to forget… Be gentle with yourself.
This was written down by St. Francis de Sales hundreds of years ago: “Have patience with everyone, but chiefly with yourself…” (From Thy Will Be Done page 51.)
Be gentle with yourself and especially, in this case, I’m talking about the first time you have to deal with a problem, whatever the problem is, no matter how much training you’ve got, it’s not the same as experience.
Training can move you way forward. It can be the big difference between success and failure, but the first time you have to deal with something it can be rough. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Robbery in Progress
If you witness a robbery in progress and you say, “They took off northbound” and five minutes later you realize – after all the police are looking up north – you realize… it was actually southbound. Ouch. Don’t be too hard on yourself. These things happen. Cops mix up direction of travel sometimes.
Firefighting is one of those things. The first time you find yourself face to face with a real, honest to goodness fire and have to put it out… you grab the extinguisher, you point it at the fire and you squeeze. And you squeeze. And you squeeze and nothing happens.
You forgot to pull the pin. You’re trained to pull the pin. You know to pull the pin. There’s even a little cartoon on a fire extinguisher that shows a guy pulling a pin. But you forget. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You’ll do better next time.
And in our world, there’s gonna to be a next time. There’s gonna be a next time.
As you gain experience, as you do this more and more, you’re going to get more comfortable with it, more loose with it.
Stay safe and use good sound judgment, but remember (and this is a very critical point right here)…
You do not rise to the level of the threat. You default to the level of your training.
I’ve got to say it again…
You do not rise to the level of the threat. You default to the level of your training.
You’re not going to figure out some things “on the fly” or on the go. You’re just not going to.
But, if you trained for it, there’s a very good chance, you’ll know what to do and you’ll do it.
If there’s a fire alarm, and you trained for it, you’ll grab a fire extinguisher and go to the scene. If you didn’t train for it, you’ll show up at the scene and you realize, “Oh crap. It’s bigger than I thought.” You weren’t thinking ahead. You didn’t grab an extinguisher. Now I’ve got to go get an extinguisher, but it’s too late. You’ve just got to get out of the building. You see what I’m saying?
If you train with every single fire alarm: grab the extinguisher, go to the scene (if that’s your policies and procedure) then you will likely show up with the gear you need.
Obviously for most people getting out of the building is going to be the primary thing, but professionally, those of us in the security and investigations world, well… you might have to go to the scene! When you do, don’t show up empty-handed.
Enjoy the ride.
This is a great line of work to be in. You will develop over the years dozens, maybe hundreds of stories that are once-in-a-lifetime experiences for everybody else. So just enjoy the industry a little bit.
And remember… do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.
Committed to your success,
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
Beware of being the “low-price private investigator” because you will not make the money you need to stay in business and even if you achieve a six-figure business, meaning you make $100,000 a year or more, it’s not really as much as you think!
I know… I’ve been-there-done-that! I’ve created a 6-figure business!
I say that NOT to impress you, but to impress upon you the value of what I’m sharing this week.
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.
Private Investigator and Best Selling Author
P.S. – Please, don’t miss my special report, If You Want to Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless you Do These Three Things. You can get it for free right here…
When social media skip tracing, online OSINT and Internet background check tools fail you (and they eventually will), can you go out into the real world and conduct interviews like a real Private Investigator?
The willingness to get out of your office and interview, witnesses, victims and even perpetrators will set you apart from other investigators, give you success when they fail and bring you the extra (and bigger!) paydays they simply cannot earn.
You see, when it comes to neighborhood crime like who robbed that corner store, who shot up that house or who’s selling drugs… well, plenty of people know who did it! You job is to find out what they know. And that frequently comes down to interviewing people.
I know the crime scene shows on TV love to solve crime with amazing forensics, but, in the real world, it frequently comes down to “human intelligence” (HUMINT) or in more basic terms your interview skills will answer more questions for you clients that forensics ever will!
Does snail mail really work for marketing your private investigator or process server business?
Look, “snail mail” direct marketing works.
It doesn’t seem like it would work. It seems expensive, bulky, and old. I mean it’s called “junk mail”!
Everything in your gut tells you that it shouldn’t work. That it doesn’t work. And maybe that’s been your experience. We all have that experience of separating our mail over the trash can! Everything that’s advertising goes into the trash. We don’t even open it!
A True Story…
I was explaining direct mail marketing to a buddy and fellow business owner. And he said, “I don’t even open my mail. If it’s ad it goes straight into the trash. I don’t even open it!”
An I had to agree with him! I do exactly the same thing! Except… we do open our mail. And you do too.
What do I mean?
We open birthday cards. And wedding invitations. We open letters from grandma. There’s plenty of mail we do open!
What if this happens?
You get a letter with…
1. A return address from a person (not a company).
2. Addressed to you. (Maybe even hand addressed – not typed out.)
3. With a first class stamp on it. (Not metered or bulk.)
4. No writing on the envelope. (IE. “Your survey is enclosed!”)
Would you open that letter?
Of course you would! Duh!
We open letters from people!
If you open the envelope and see a LARGE headline that makes a BIG promise to you, then you will read the sub-head bellow it.
And if you like what the sub-head says, you read the next line (an so on).
You read at least part of the letter (advertisement) including the signature and the P.S.
Pro Tip: Hand sign each of you mailings to potential clients with a thick, blue felt tip pen. This lets them know you’re a real person who took at least a bit of time out of your life to send them this letter. That means it’s at least a bit of a personal letter and not some automated advertising,
It ain’t just me saying this!
I got a letter the other day from PayPal.
An actual letter in the mail from PayPal addressed to me.
While I do have a Paypal account, I don’t recommend them. I’m not a big fan. They’re better than they were ten years ago, but there are other online processors you can use. But, I happen to have a PayPal account.
They see me every time I log in. They have a little pop-up ad I hate. As a matter of fact, it’s a game for me. I know it’s coming; how quickly can I click to shut it down.
They have my email address and send me emails. Which I ignore.
It doesn’t cost them a dime extra to do any of that, yet they still paid money to send me a letter in “snail mail”! WHY?!?! Because they know it works!
They have all that access to me and then they send me a letter in the mail. What in the world could they be sending me a letter about? Well, they want me to get a charge card with them.
They try to tell me that in the pop-up ads, which I ignore. They try to tell me that in emails, which I don’t even open. So they’re sending me snail mail as well.
Google does it too!
Have you gotten snail mail from Google? If you own a business, it’s likely you have!
But, think about it for a moment. Google knows everything about you down to the day and hour you were potty trained. They can target you with ads. They control the search results that come up when you look for things. They have so much online control and power, and yet millions of people receive letters in the mail from Google offering them ten dollars off if they’ll open a Google AdWords account (or whatever they’re calling AdWords these days).
If Google (Google!) finds snail mail profitable, if PayPal finds snail mail profitable, don’t you think maybe you and I should wonder why these big online companies with all this presence are able to turn a profit using snail mail? It’s because it works. Because…
It makes them money!
In fact, the rest of the world is catching up with this concept that I’ve been teaching for years.
I promise you, snail mail kept me in business. Snail mail is a wonderful thing for getting clients.
Of “The Big Three”, the market is the most important.
Why this works.
If Google was just sending mail to random people, maybe it’s not going to be profitable.
But that’s not what they’re doing! They’re sending mail (advertisements/offers) to people that own businesses! To a specific target market of people!
If PayPal was sending out random mail asking people to open credit card accounts with them, they would lose money! But that’s not what they’re doing.
They have “the list”.
They know I’m already one of their customers. They know I make money. They know I pay my bills. I’m their ideal customer! So yeah. They’re going to put fifty cents into printing a letter, dropping it into the mail, and sending it to me!
They know if they do that for a thousand people (their ideal customers), they’re going to get “X” number of positive responses. That’s going to be more than enough to turn a profit! And that’s where you need to be as well.
The business world finally listens to Larry!
I’ve preached this for years. I won’t let go of it. I’m like a dog with a bone.
So I’m pleased the rest of the world is finally catching up with me on this.
As a matter of fact, a new company has opened offering to do exactly this for online companies.
The Washington Post reports about a company that’s working with all sorts of leading brands and are sending hundreds of thousands of mailers a year based on who visited their website. (Notice they are mailing to a specific “market” or very targeted list of potential customers – NOT to random people.)
What this new company does is capture the information of people who visit their websites, run it through databases trying to identify the visitor (even when the visitor give NO INFORMATION about themselves and this company has about a 70% success rate of identifying the visitor and getting a physical address for the visitor.
Personal Note from Larry: You should find it super-scary that simply visiting a website allows the site a 7 out of 10 chance of knowing who you are and where you live!
Then this company prints up a postcard based on what the visitor to the website does and they snail mail it that person.
Why do they go through all this trouble? Why do companies pay for this?
Because it works! It makes them way more money that it cost them!
Website visitors may “blank out” or ignore banner ads. (We’ve all become blind to them.)
Website visitors try to click pop-up ads before they even load.
But now, the ads follow people home! Because THAT works!
They’re receiving a postcard in the mail. And even if they want to throw it away, think about it… they’ve already looked at the postcard!
And when it’s for the boots, shoes, power tool or whatever they were looking at online they’re going to take a second look, especially if it has the elements that I teach in my new book, ‘How to Make Money as a Private Investigator’. (IE. A strong headline, a good offer, etc.)
Note well… they’re not mailing randomly into the world. They’re targeting their most relevant customers.
Again, this is something I teach. Don’t just send out a thousand letters. (Or a hundred letters. Or ten letter.) Start with whatever number you can afford to send, but don’t just send them to ten people up and down Main Street!
Target your letters to your most likely clients, especially ones that you most want to work for!
In most cases, for us private investigators or process servers, that’s going to be law firms.
You don’t have to send out ten thousand mailings in your community, hoping that you hit a lawyer. There are lists online all over the place. Send them a mailing. You can send out a hundred letters and know that every one of them is landing at a law firm. They’re landing at a potential client.
The Math. (This is actually good news!)
If you mail 1,000 good letters (ads) to the clients you want (IE. law firms), it will cost you about $500 (about 50 cents a letter) and you only get one new client, but you serve ten process server packs for them the fist 60 days… then you’re even. You made back your $500 expense. More importantly everything after that is (mostly) profit!
I cover all this in my book, but here’s a list of common direct mail mistakes I see people make…
1. Not sending enough letters.
If you only sent 100 letters, you ‘ll get no response and you’ll think this doesn’t work.
2. Sending to the wrong “list” / market / group.
Specifically choose the potential clients most likely to hire you (and that you want to work for).
3. Sending a bad letter.
There is an art / science to creating a good marketing letter. Learn it.
4. Mailing only once to a potential client.
They will need to get many letters from you before they truly “see” your message. Mail at least once a month or so. Repeat mailing works.