By: Jack Murray CLI,CFE,CCDI

Executive Director International Council of Accident Investigators and Reconstrucionists



The Monarch butterfly with itís dazzling colors and intricate patterns is truly one of natures most magnificent creatures. The frail little creature, with wings as soft and pliable as silk, is born in a tree in Brazil and every year migrates over 4500 miles to Nova Scotia with stops along the way and then after doing whatever butterflies do in their spare time in Nova Scotia, not only returns to Brazil, but finds the very same tree again.

What makes this even more remarkable is that the brain of a Monarch butterfly is not much larger than the head of a pin.


Whatís all this got to do with being a private investigator?


Well, for one thing we have a brain considerably larger than the butterfly and we certainly are physically better constructed than the Monarch. So why canít we do things of that magnitude.


Part of the problem is that no one has ever told the butterfly they cantí do it. Too many times we have been told, or even worse have told ourselves we canít do this or that. In the State of Texas only about 23% of all PI Licenses are renewed after the second year. Iím sure there are a lot of reasons for this.


Some folks just didnít know what they were getting into, some couldnít stand the financial strain of starting a business, some didnít want the headaches of running their own business and went to work for someone else. But, a large number just gave up. I talked with one such person the other day, he is a retired police officer who was really hot to get into the private sector and I had occasion to use him a few times for small jobs, he is a good investigator.


The frustration level was very high with this person, he knew how to do the job, but he didnít know how to get the business. My favorite saying is that ìhalf the business is getting the business.î


Are you getting the business you want right now? Are you making the kind of living you want for you and yours? Sitting on the pit pot and saying ìoh woe is meî wonít solve the problem.


Start by analyzing just how good a job you are doing for your existing clients, are there little extra things you could be doing on cases that would impress the client?Ý Are your reports carefully prepared and professional in their appearance?


Are you following up on cases and seeing if thereís anything that you might do after your initial assignment is over? Do you suggest these things to your clients when you write your final report?


Do you call clients that you havenít heard from in a long time, and just ask how theyíre doing? Not necessarily selling them, just inquiring as to their health and welfare? Do you have a direct mail campaign for your existing clients to keep your name in front of them?


Do you allocate a specific amount of time each week or each month to just marketing? Even four hours a month might produce an extra case a month and over they year twelve more cases would certainly improve the profit margin!


Are you improving your investigative skills by reading books and articles, and attending seminars, by networking with other professionals through your state or local organizations?


Over the years I have attended and/or been a speaker at over 50 investigative seminars and never once have I failed to learn at least one thing that would make me a better investigator and/or run a better business operation.


None of these things require great expenditures of time or money, but all can help you to do a better job and build a stronger business.


Bottom line, are you doing the best youíre capable of?


Maybe you need to put a screen saver on with a picture of a butterfly on it, as a constant reminder of what you are capable of doing.