How to bill your clients as a Private Investigator.

This week I answer a viewer email from a newly licensed PI about how to bill clients for skip tracing, surveillance and even process serving.

Background Checks

For background checks I offered different “standard” packages to Human Resources Departments or I would work with them to develop the specific/customized pre-employment screening they wanted.

Obviously, in certain cases or for other clients who just needed one background check, I did the specific in-depth checks they needed.

For these corporate clients, I sent a bill at the end of the month, due 30 days net.

Mobile Surveillance and Stake-Outs

On surveillance cases I charged by the hour with a three hour minimum. I charged a part or all of the cost as a non-refundable retainer. That held the time spot for the client and I would refuse any other work I was offered during that time. It was non-refundable so I kept the retainer even if the client changed their mind or backed out for other reasons.

I was always VERY clear with the client that no matter what (and I would give common examples) came up or changed, I would keep the retainer because I was turning down other work to keep that time open for the client.

For a normal 3 hour surveillance (the minimum time I worked), the retainer was the full three hours. So essentially the client paid up-front for the entire surveillance.

For longer surveillances (EG. 5 to 8 hours), I would usually charge half the total cost as a non-refundable retainer. This ensured I got paid something in case the client decided after the surveillance that they didn’t want to pay the balance. (I never got stiffed by a client on the bill, but maybe it was because I only worked for people who had enough money to pay the retainer up-front!)

Process Serving

For serving legal process, I charged by the service pack and billed these law firms at the end of each month, due in 30 days net.

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

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