Flat Fee Pricing Investigation Model

February 1st, 2010 → 8:17 am @ // 34 Comments

One of the great competitive advantages we have competing against other Cincinnati private investigators is our flat fee pricing.  Most private investigators charge a retainer of at least $1,000 + expenses.  Then they charge against that retainer at an hourly rate sometimes as high as $100 per hour or more.  Once the first 10 hours are charged against the retainer, the cost to the client begins to skyrocket.  If the P.I. needs 15 total hours to complete the investigation, the final bill will be $1,500.00 plus expenses.  If the investigation takes less than 10 hours, the P.I. should refund any amount not charged against the retainer you paid.

We decided that one of the things clients disliked most about hiring an investigator was the open-ended aspect of the cost – you just never knew how much the final bill was going to be.  That’s why we developed our flat fee pricing guarantee.  The price we quote you is a guaranteed price for a complete investigation.

Our years of experience  in the field has given us a pretty good idea of how long it takes to conduct surveillance investigations.  We use that experience to project the total number of hours it will take us to complete an investigation.  If we go over that time, we eat those hours, but we guarantee we will complete the job.

Sometimes, we underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a job, but never by much.  More often than not, when we go over our planned time, it’s due to a mistake that we made as investigators (i.e. we temporarily lost contact with the target, etc.).  Other P.I.’s will charge you for those mistakes (and yes, despite what they may tell you, they sometimes lose targets, too).  We believe the guaranteed flat-fee pricing gives our clients peace of mind about their budget, and it gives our investigators an incentive to do a good job the first time around – because we know we’re not getting paid to do it twice, even though we are obligated to our clients to finish the job.

P.I. Blog &The P.I. Life

Five things to expect from your private investigator

January 10th, 20103:37 pm @ // 34 Comments

A lot of potential clients have never worked with a private investigator before.  All they know is what they’ve seen on TV or in the movies, and they are often surprised to learn that we don’t work in dark offices, wear trenchcoats and call women “dames.”  In fact, we’re just normal business people, with experience as former police officers or investigators and we know how to get answers to questions in a manner that is more efficient and effective than other people.

Hiring a private investigator is simple enough.  But knowing what to expect for the fee is just as important as knowing what you want the investigator to find out.  Here are the top five things every client should expect from a private investigator:

1. A firm contract

A professional investigator will execute a contract between the two of you.  And the contract will spell out exactly what to expect from the private investigator, and an explanation of what the investigators services will cost.  Because an investigation is a form of service, rather than a tangible product, it’s often difficult to quantify the exact nature of the services that will be delivered.  But a good investigator can give you a rough idea.

2. An estimated time table

One of the toughest things to predict in the PI business is how long an investigation will take.  Often, a client may have a better idea than the private investigator.  However, a good investigator will be able to ask the right questions in order to make a rough prediction about when to expect results.  In most cases, the timetable is almost entirely dependent on the subject of the investigation and a number other variables.

3. Ongoing communication

One of the most important aspects of any investigation is the dialogue between investigator and client.  The client almost always possesses critical information that the investigator can use to bring the case to a rapid close.  Whether it’s a business fraud investigation, or a cheating partner case, or anything in between, the client can act as a second investigator by reporting observations to the PI.  Likewise, feedback from the PI to the client can often trigger a breakthrough.

An experienced investigator will be able to advise the client on how to communicate privately and securely with the PI without compromising the investigation.

4. A complete and thorough investigation report

Professional PI’s will almost always provide the client with a detailed investigation report that the client can use as needed.  Reports will often include video, still photos and other evidence gathered in the course of the investigation.

Most reports will include an explanation of who, what, when, where and how.  The question of “why” is not always something an investigator can answer.

5. Advice on next steps

Often, clients take the investigator’s information and confront their cheating spouse with photos or other evidence.  This is almost always a mistake because the spouse can construct an explanation around the evidence.  Investigators with experience know that you never lay all the cards on the table when confronting someone who may be inclined to lie.

Investigators can and should offer guidance to their client on how best to use the information gathered – not legal advice – but advice on what to do next.  Often, the advice is limited to “hire a lawyer,” or “call the police.”  But the investigator’s experience usually allows him or her to provide insights to the client on how best to proceed.

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If you find yourself in need of answers to some tough questions, and you aren’t sure of how to proceed, drop me a line using my contact form.  I’m happy to answer your questions at no charge.

Family / Marital Investigations &P.I. Blog