What is investigative innovation when it comes to developing a competitive edge? It's the ability to see beyond the now to develop a business plan. It's a method of thinking you can use to develop an edge in your investigative practice and even develop a new booming trend. In order to understand what this type of approach to your business is and how to develop it, let me give you some real life hardcore examples.
Buying A Polygraph Business With No Future
Turning A Negtative Into A Postive!
In the mid 1990's a fellow down in Houston Texas by the name of Ed Pankau called me and told me he had just purchased a polygraph company for a bargain. On the surface, this seemed like an unlikely move since the federal government was ready to pass a bill outlawing the use of polygraph for pre-employment which was the major mainstay base of this type of business. In fact, many might have thought the move was insane. Not Pankau! He turned the client base into pre-employment investigation services and made a small fortune. This is a good example of turning what appears to be a negative impact on our profession into a positive case- getting task. Mr. Pankau definately has that innovative thinking ability! He always has! If you have the opportunity to hear Mr. Pankau speak at many of the investigative seminars he gives, be sure to attend! I guarantee you are going to learn something! To see his innoviative digital thinking first hand, check out his web site.
Also note that Mr. Pankau writes for PI Magazine. So, if you miss one of his seminar appointments, be sure to read his words filled with gold. It's also worth mentioning that his book, How To Make $100,000 Per Year As A PI is a runaway best seller. There's good reason for that! It's simply the investigative agency marketing manual of the decade. g
Recently, a Florida based investigator was having noise problems in his neighborhood. He called the police several times on some unruly neighbors who liked to party late during the week. This innovative thinker purchased a decimal meter to record the noise level and checked the local ordinances on such things. He also checked the local laws and found several of his neighbors were in violation and took them to court and won. Today, he offers this service as part of his agency and gets several profitable cases per month. He has become a decimal detective. Now, this might seem silly but think about it. How many people do you know that have nose problems in their homes and apartments. It's a growing trend. Not only that, no one ever heard of a decimal detective. Now there is one!
Where can you get more information on developing as a decimal
The internet of course (which is thinking digital)
In a matter of a few seconds, I found a huge web site called:
This place is a site maintained by the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse with megabites of information on the subject. You'll find state and local laws as well as places to obtain decimal meters.
Backwards Skip Tracing
A smart auto repossession service with several agents out in the field every day developed a way to develop new business. He noted that these agents were often out scouting for missing vehicles and ran across other vehicles that often looked out of place. Late model vehicles with out of town tags were often observed in low rent areas. The owner started running title searches on these vehicles and learned that a huge percentage of them were missing vehicles assigned for repossession. This agency invented what has been coined the backwards trace. Instead of getting assigned to a repo and then looking for the vehicle, he increased his business by finding vehicles that appeared to be likely repo assignments and then found the lien holder.
Creating A New Major Investigative Specialization
Kelly Riddle, of San Antonio, Texas recently developed a booming investigative specialization by watching major trends. He noted that there was a drastic increase in the number of people going into an under-regulated industry, nursing homes. At the same time, he found a few law firms that specialized in nursing home abuse litigation and offered investigation into these cases. Today, he has become one of the nation's leading investigative authorities on the subject and has written a manual on conducting these types of cases simply called Nursing Home Abuse Investigations. Mr. Riddle reports that of every case he does for a law firm, they usually end of finding several other litigation cases in the same nursing home as a result of his investigations. Morerover, these cases are worth an average of ten thousand dollars or more in investigative fees.
To Lean More About Nuring Home Abuse Investigation, read the following article
Is Nursing Home Abuse Investigation
If you want to check out the innoviative dynamics of Mr. Riddle in digital form, go to his web site:
Marketing With A New Twist
A legal investigator in California started monitoring civil county courthouse files for a six month period. In that length of time, he developed almost every major attorney in his county who filed litigation cases in the court that would likely need investigative services. He doubled his client base within a year using this simple research method.
For more information on marketing techniques with a new twist, see this section on the internet:
Your Private Investigative Practice
Creating A Sub-Specialization
A New England investigator who operated in an extremely wealthy area noticed that his local newspaper frequently ran ads for housekeepers and nanny services. He started running small ads to conduct background investigations on domestic employees and developed a thriving specialized practice.
An investigator in a high crime area noted that there was a huge demand for non-lethal self-defense products such as pepper spray and stun guns. He established himself as a retailer and wholesaler of such products before most people ever heard of these types of products. Today, he's a major importer and wholesaler of such equipment.
Inventing The Information Provider Business
Many moons ago, a fellow got an idea that the top portion of credit bureau files could and should be deregulated by the FCC under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. He petitioned the FCC on this topic and they approved it. Because of his innovative thinking, he invented the Social Security trace. His name is Jack Reid. Because of this one simple idea, he invented a whole new industry. His information service is usually way out front in products and services because he was first. You can see his web site @
Because of the digital revolution, I started thinking about distribution of investigative manuals in a digital form instead of a printed form. There are many issues involved in such a project. For example, what digital media and format would be used. At first, we thought that the answer to this was to place downloadable files on the internet. After all, everyone was already on the net. Research in 1998 and 1999 revealed that almost every computer sold had a CD-Rom drive and almost every one comes with some sort of web browser. The answer came in distribution of our books and manuals with Internet links to web pages in the form of CD-Rom and in an HTML format that could be opened in a web browser. These CDs don't have the information friction with them associated with printed material and they are beneficial to the user in many ways. First, you can add links to any web page right from the material. Secondly, the CD's can hold a massive amount of information. Thirdly, people who want paper to read can simply print out the material on their own computer and then read it. So, I'm happy to report that we have converted our first seven investigative manuals to a CD-Rom digital delivery method and they are doing quite well.
review these CD-Roms, go to:
Another example of thinking digital is the NAIS (National Association Of Investigative Specialists) totally digital approach to investigative networking and association manangement. The membership directory is now digital, the newsletter is now digital and there is an interactive networking ability giving all NAIS members instant interactive access to case referrals and other networking with other NAIS members through the medium of a digital email list. All information friction has been eliminated through the use of digital technology! Although the NAIS membership directory has been digital and accessable on the web for almost five years, we have always mailed a hardcopy edition of it to each member. This year, that's changing into a CD-Rom based product that will be mailed to all members. It's the last printed materials product involved in NAIS to switch over to a digital form. To find out more about NAIS, the totally digital investigative network, go to:
Association Of Investigative Specialists, Inc.
The main idea I am attempting to get across to you is that anyone can use this type of innovative thinking to develop new products and new services. How do you do it and what processes are involved?
First, I think it's important for you to understand what the word first means. No, I'm not trying to act like Bill Clinton in an attempt to define what the word is, is! Being first at something is important. However, being first at something usually merely involves adding a simple idea to an already pre-existing concept. Let me give you a couple of basic examples using books, computers and hamburgers.
Look at Amazon.com. Go there on the net
What do you see? Another book store of course. But Amazon added a new twist to selling books. The most successful book seller in the world, it started with a simple idea. That idea was to convert a directory called Books In Print to a searchable database on the web and sell every book in print. It became the mainstay success example of the world of e-trade. A book store without walls. A book store that sold every book in print from every publisher. No physical book store could do that. However, every major book store attempted to copy this concept. But Amazon.com was first and remains light years ahead of the competition.
Another example of this sort of thing is McDonald's which I have certainly expounded on before. Does McDonald's sell more hamburgers than anyone in the world because they make the best burger in the world? Nope! I don't think so. It's my personal opinion that there are tons of other places that have a better tasting hamburger than McDonald's. Why are they so successful? Because they were first at the fast food chain concept and remain light years ahead of everyone else. The point is, at the time McDonald's started out, there were thousands of restaurants selling hamburgers. But McDonald's invented the fast food concept and the franchise concept.
They continue to innovate today. Check out their web site at: <mcdonalds.com> Can you sell hamburgers over the internet? Well, study their web site to understand how they are doing just that!
Can You Sell Hamburgers On The Net?
Check out this web site:
Before I move on, let me give you one more example of being first. Dell Computer started putting computers together in his college dorm but had a concept no one else was doing. He built custom computers and sold them directly to the end user. At the time, the only other way to get a computer was to go to a computer retailer who purchased computers from a few computer manufacturers. Dell had a better idea. He wanted to do two things that bucked the mainstream computer business concept.
1) Cut out the middle man and sell directly to the consumer.
2) Offer a highly customized product with only the features the consumer wanted.
By using this concept, Dell offered a cheaper computer to the public with only the configurations the consumer wanted. He was able to start a business without any massive inventory since the computers were custom built for each client. He was able to sell computers cheaper than any other computer store because he cut out the middle-man markup and passed the saving on to the end user. What was the result? Explosive growth and the development of the fastest growing computer company in the world.
Want to See The Computer Selling Concept Everyone Is Copying? Get on the net and go to:
I think it's important to point out that two major US company actions of last year will point you in the right direction. Both Barns And Noble (the largest book store chain) and Compaq Computer (the largest US computer manufacturer) both fired their CEO last year! Why? Well, the board of directors of both companies wanted profitable web based businesses. Compaq wanted to know why Dell Computer could sell massive amounts of computers over the internet and they didn't have the same volume. Barnes and Noble wanted to know why Amazon was doing so well on the Internet and their own sales weren't matched by that volume. These two CEO's couldn't answer those questions. Other CEO's were found who could! The moral to the story should be @ digital thinking as the center of the universe.
So, in your approach to innovative thinking, try and center it around these two words:
Think Digital And Be First
Remember, being first is only a matter of taking something that already exists and adding a new twist to it. Amazon did it with books. McDonalds did it with hamburgers. Dell did it with computers. Jack Reid did it with credit bureau searches. Ed Panku did it by turning a negative into a positive.
Digital has to do with converting something into a digital form or using computer technology to do something better, cheaper and faster.
With that said, here's some basic approaches you can use to trigger your own innovative thinking.
Stop Trying To Make A Living And Start Thinking
This is thinking that is kind of like not being able to see the trees because of the forest is in your way. Stop thinking about making a living and start thinking about the types of services and types of needs clients want.
Be A Trend Watcher
By watching trends and relating it to your practice, it will trigger specialized services no one has thought of yet.
Read newspapers and scan headlines in them.
Watch Changing Technology
Watch computer magazines and business magazines.
Try To Expand Your Thinking
Forget the forest, look at the trees.
Get On The Internet And Spend At Least Two Hours A Week Looking
It's the world's largest library full of innovative ideas.
Go to the book store. Look at the new titles. Buy something that looks interesting and new. Go home and read it.
Zeros and ones! It seems the focus of the whole world is how to get everything in a computer readable format.
USE ONES AND ZEROS TO BECOME NUMBER ONE!
Snail Mail @
P O Box 33244, Austin, Texas 78764