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.
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!)
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.
If you like this real-world information, then don’t miss 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…
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.