Every business inevitably encounters periods where new client acquisition becomes challenging, and there may be temporary halts in jobs. This can be more common during colder winter months, or it could be a sign of new competition or other changes in the local industry. And while more marketing can help, not every PI has the advertising dollars to spend on a new campaign.
So, what do you do during slow times and with a limited budget? Some PIs may do investigative work as a side job, and can focus more on their other job during this “off season.” However many prefer their investigative work to be a full-time commitment or at least more reliable — if possible. If that’s your perspective, here are some tried-and-true tips to amp your PI business back up again.
Run Through All Your Business Listings
Now is the perfect time to review and update all your business listings. Online listings are always changing, and you have a chance to catch up on best practices – while spotting some of the mistakes you may have made.
PIs often have listings on important platforms like LinkedIn, Google Business Profile, Yelp, the online Yellow Pages, and local sites. They may have social media business pages as well. If you don’t have listings on sites like this, consider adding them to expand your reach online. Many people use organic searches (Google, Bing, etc.) to find PIs near them, so filling out these listings is very important. If you have time, consider creating a simple WordPress or Wix website that you can link to the listing. Having your own site allows you to provide in-depth information, info about fees, and testimonials, so we consider it a must-have in this age of PI marketing.
If you already have listings in these places, review them. Make sure they have accurate descriptions that include information about the services you offer and the types of cases you take. Every listing should have at least a photo or two, either of you or your physical office building. Check that your address, phone number, and email are still correct.
Expand Your Targeted Client Base
As we’ve discussed before, there are many different fields that PIs can practice in. If you have a few years of experience in PI work, now is an excellent time to branch out and start specializing in additional types of jobs. Some new fields to enter can include:
- Commercial investigations for employers that want to focus on issues like theft, embezzlement, moonlighting employees, and other cases.
- Legal cases: Local attorneys typically partner with reliable PI services to uncover information, and they may be looking for a new partner, especially one with experience in the legal system or with similar cases to those the firm works on.
- Political organizations looking for specific kinds of information. Demand for political investigations has never been higher, from clearing potential candidate’s history to digging up dirt on opponents and everything in between.
- Insurance companies that need to investigate fraud in the area and can’t find a reliable national PI service that works nearby.
- Retail companies: Retail companies face challenges including theft, security, and misbehaving employees. More than ever, they may want a PI to investigate when something is going wrong at a specific location.
When branching out into fields like this, it’s a very good idea to create a section on your website or listings that specifically calls out these services. For example: “If you’re a regional manager that’s worried about employee-related theft, leave it in my professional hands. I have more than five years’ experience working with employers for specific surveillance needs.”
Subcontract Your Services
If you have a specialty you’re very proud of, like digging through social media info (legally, of course) or finding hidden bank accounts, consider subcontracting. Larger investigative and security firms often subcontract PIs to handle specific jobs they’re very good at.
When it comes to national PI firms, they’ll often subcontract local investigators for all kinds of work under their general brand name. If you don’t already have one of these larger subcontracting positions, partnering with a major national firm is an excellent way to grow your business quickly. Bring experience and your PI license, and many will be willing to work with you.
Continuing education is particularly valuable for private investigators, and during slow work periods, you may have the time to finally earn a certification or skillset. These additional skills look great on your business listings and can open to the door to a whole new line of work. Forensic accounting is an excellent example. If you learn skills to analyze financial statements, study assets, and understand the ways that people hide financial information, you can apply that to all kinds of casework.
You don’t always have to pay for these classes. Some are available for free online, and some offer affordable certifications that you can deduct from your taxes, so there may be room in even small budgets.
Positioning Yourself for Success
You don’t have to run a full-time blog or attend every local business meeting to get more PI work. If you’re experiencing a slowdown in cases, our tips above are not only straightforward but can help you find long-term partners or valuable experience for the years ahead. Position yourself for success, and never stop putting your investigative firm out there as a solution for anyone from busy retailers to national firms looking for a local representative.
Regardless of what type of work a PI does, one thing that is true across the board is that Private Investigators often need higher levels of insurance protection. El Dorado can provide premium protection at an affordable price. Give El Dorado Insurance a call today to make sure you are fully covered or find out what kind of insurance needs a Private Investigator might have.