People choosing PI services will have a number of questions about privacy, experience, specific skills, and much more. However, one thing they will want made very clear is your fee structure, and how much they can expect to pay for specific services or ongoing jobs.
Private investigators should always try to state this information as clearly as possible on their websites and, if appropriate, marketing materials. Of course, pricing can vary depending on the PI and the job in question: We have several tips on creating this pricing content to help clarify things for customers while still allowing flexibility in how you charge fees.
Offer Flat Rates for Basic Services
A flat rate for simple services is an ideal pricing model for many PI companies, and are particularly easy for people to understand when they are looking up a specific task. You can devote a section of your site to these flat rate services with minimal effort and choose your fees according to the local market. Common choices for flat fees include:
- Background checks: A common task that many businesses will want performed quickly. Make it easy for them to compare costs.
- Vehicle registration searches: A similar service to background checks.
- Cell phone record investigations: Basic phone number searches are also a good option for a flat fee, although more complex phone investigations may require a different fee structure.
- Bug sweeps: Bug sweeps can be a flat fee option, but you may want to divide this into a couple different fees based on the size of the area that needs to be swept.
Specify Hourly Rates for More Complicated Services
Some services may not be a good fit for hourly rates, because they tend to last for an indeterminate amount of time, and may involve a variety of different skills or equipment. If someone needs a PI for investigating potential infidelity or insurance fraud, a flat fee isn’t suitable – the same is true of all in-depth surveillance jobs and missing persons cases. Here, the best option is to provide your hourly rate.
The exact hourly rate you choose will again vary on your location, your firm, and the types of clients you have. Many PI firms tend to settle around $50 to $100 per hour. In highly competitive areas, hourly prices may dip a bit lower, while particularly top tier PIs with corporate clients may charge several hundred dollars per hour. If you haven’t set clear hourly rates for your business yet, this is a great opportunity!
Since individual jobs can vary so much in how long they take to complete, you may want to avoid giving “average hour” information for a service, and instead encourage readers to contact your firm so they can get a more accurate quote or idea of how long their unique job could take.
Consider Tiered Hourly Pricing
In other cases, a single hourly rate isn’t very useful for a PI firm. Corporate rates may need to be different from rates for individual clients. Online searches could warrant a different hourly rate than street work – and so on. In these cases, consider creating a chart that explains tiered hourly pricing, where you charge different hourly rates for different services. Make sure that higher hourly rates are clearly associated with additional quality and guarantees – look at tiered pricing examples for common online services to see how this can be done.
Another advantage behind hourly pricing is that it creates an opportunity to offer discounts and lower prices for services that last a particularly long time. Consider this option to add more value to your pricing content!
Make Clear Additional Equipment or Travel Fees
For many services, additional equipment, rental, and travel fees could be involved. Make it clear that these additional costs exist and specify when possible what these fees may be (such as average expenses per mile, etc.). PIs may also charge for a retainer, which needs to be fully explained along with any other pricing content. If you always charge a retainer, put that information up top so everyone understands it’s part of the fee structure.
Assure any potential customers that you will contact them about any significant additional charges before you move ahead with an action, so that customers can understand the new fee and why it’s necessary before they sign off.
Make Payments as Easy as Possible
Remember, individual clients may want payments to be as effortless – and as private – as they can be. Attorneys may have their own preferred methods of payment via their firms, but they will also appreciate a streamlined process. When you list fee information online, always include the types of payments that you accept. Online payments are a popular and effective option for individual clients.
As always, your pricing content should be clear and easy to digest – even for people browsing on mobile devices. The goal is to equip potential customers with the tools they need to make good choices about hiring a private investigator. If your firm provides clear pricing information that competitors do not, this can give you an advantage in more competitive markets.
If you have any questions about how to display pricing information, we highly recommend taking a look at competitor websites and the pricing info on websites that you admire to see how it is displayed and explained. There are many good examples out there that you can use for inspiration! When in doubt, consulting with a web design expert about your unique fee structure is also a great way to learn more.