What It Is-How To Do It To Grow Your Agency
And Ten Major Trends You Should Be Watching
By Ralph D. Thomas
Who are the movers and shakers in the investigative industry today and how did they get that way? That's a tuff question to answer but today's successful investigative agency did something you might not have considered doing yourself. It's called trend watching for investigative opportunity. By keeping your thumb on major trends developing in the United States and focusing in on these trends from a point of view that would involve a surge in demand for investigative services, many agencies have emerged as leading experts in these fields with thriving and well known investigative practices simply because they were in them early and were able to establish themselves as experts as the demand for the service started to swell. Trend shifts are important to our industry because they almost always involve the emergence of a new type of investigative service to offer to get involved in and sometimes involve the identification or resurrection of a type of investigation that will soon experience a surge in demand. To better illustrate what I am getting at with this type of technique, let me give you some successful examples from the recent past.
Lessons From The Recent Past
Examples of this type of thing from recent past history include: Video surveillance procurement and the use of digital technology in worker's compensation claims cases, online computer searching, predate checks and pre-employment screening services.
There was a time when video recording was so new that there was a question concerning rather video surveillance footage could be admitted into evidence in a court of law. However, investigative agencies such as Bill Zirorek's In-Photo Surveillance based in Naperville Illinois who was one of the first surveillance agencies to adopt video and digital technology into their agency became one of the leading and one of the largest such agencies in the world. Today, his agency controls a huge market share of insurance fraud surveillance assignments because he forged ahead and developed the latest and the best cutting edge techniques in investigating insurance fraud by use of high-tech surveillance methods.
In the 1980's those investigative agencies who recognized the fact that online computer searches was a major information gathering trend and got involved in the process early experienced mega growth. Today, some of these computer data searchers have developed into major online information services within the investigative community such as Jack Reid's IRSC. Others had, for several years, maintained a leading edge in the market place in information gathering simply because they recognized this trend to collect information faster and cheaper and their retention of clients and bottom lines reflect that strategy today.
When the use of the polygraph was outlawed for pre-employment screening, many investigative services saw a future trend in the demand for pre-employment screening the old fashioned way-simple background checks. Those who marketed such services to the businesses who had relied on the polygraph for pre-employment screening after the use of the polygraph for such procedures was outlawed by the federal government cleaned up in a big way for a long time.
In the late 1980's a trend occurred in investigative assignments that involved checking out potential dates and became known as premarital investigations. Again, a few investigative agencies in the United States saw the emerging trend early, offered and marketed the service and added zeros to the figures on their bottom line.
Many investigative agency start-ups today have a misconception on this whole idea. With proper research of the market, they run into the agencies who built their practice on a trend identified a few years ago and think that all they have to do is copy the specialization idea and forge ahead with a marketing program. Although many have become somewhat successful, most never experience the mega-growth of the original agency they copied simply because they are coming from behind and the original creator has already gobbled up a huge segment of the market and has already fine-tuned their operation and made it as flaw-free as it could be. The original one is simply light years ahead of them in the business game. From this respect, it's a good idea to develop your focus away from already successful investigative agencies based on trends of the 1980's and see if you can identify trends emerging today. That way, instead of attempting to develop a specialization everyone else is attempting to copy, you'll be developing into areas that are just now emerging as investigative trends and have a more wide-open field in the market place.
One of the best ways to identify trends in the market place is become a news hound. By scanning headlines of major newspapers and magazines in the United States, you'll be in a better position to ID new trends that can be converted into an investigative specialization. It's important to understand the difference between a trend and a fad. A trend has an everlasting effect. A fad does not. A fad is based on a want and demand that is very short lived. A trend is based on a shift in a process or a pattern of thinking. Process trends and thinking trends are very different. The use of PC's in today's world is a process trend. The country's belief that politicians can not be trusted to run the country is a thinking trend. Both can sometimes be used to develop your business.
Once you spot an emerging trend, you need to conduct further analysis of it. You'll want to answer questions based on what you came up with such as:
How old is this trend? Is it just emerging now? Is it really a trend or just a fad? How vast is the market place based on the trend? Can I identify a major segment of the population or a specific profession that can be easily reached to market this trend? Can I identify anyone already using this trend in marketing the service? If so, how long have they been engaged in it? What body of knowledge do I need to learn in order to enter this area of investigative specialization? What type of equipment do I need to become successful at performing the service?
These types of questions will help you analyze the trend to determine rather it could become a viable opportunity. This is a success secret you can use again and again. The idea is to jump into an area of service you see as a major trend now emerging and become the major force and expert for that area of specialization. Based on this concept of trend watching, I'd like to review some major trends that are now happening which could provide opportunity for you.


As the population of the United States gets older and older, more and more people end up in nursing homes. In fact, the population of the elderly in nursing homes is soaring. Although the abuse and mistreatment of elderly people in nursing homes is appalling, it does occure and litigation cases for this type of civil and criminal wrong are on the rise. Not only that, these cases are usually amounting to million dollar rewards in our court system.Kelly Riddle's new book, Nursing Home Abuse Investigtions, reveals how to go about conducting such investigations and a chance for you to learn about and develop a new area of private investigation that is definately on the rise from an expert.
There now seems to be more computers on the plant earth than there are people. Three emerging areas of investigative related specializations are developing because of it. Think digital and relate that to services you can offer and you'll quickly see opportunity. Here are some major subcatagories:
Computer Security: The business world and personal word has had a massive move from stored hardcopy files to digital files. Anybody who is anyone uses a personal computer today. People are just starting to find out that information on their personal computer is not secure. Services offering computer security are popping up all over the place and business is brisk. People want to know how to secure data on a computer in the form of encryption, password protection, anti-virus protection and online privacy protection. Security consulting services offering these services are cleaning up.
Investigators with computer skills are quickly learning that businesses and individuals will pay consulting fees to select and install the right kinds of computer programs that protect data on their computers.
Digital Data Recovery: For the same reasons secure digital security communications is booming, lawyers are finding that evidence that used to be in hardcopy files are now in digital forms. In civil and criminal cases, computer data information is becoming more and more important. Investigative services are starting to specialize in digital data recovery from hard drives and other computer storage.
There are several national investigative firms that have emerged in the United States that specialize in nothing but digital data recovery. What's really important about this sort of thing is data trashed from a hard drive is often times, still present. All the user has done is take off the part of the file that makes it show up on the desktop. With the proper diagnostic software tools, this data can be recovered.
Computer Crime: The computer has become the new high-tech tool for the modern criminal. Computer crimes have become the new form of victimization and the new tool for frauds and con artists. Investigators who have developed advanced computer skills are becoming cyber detectives in an assorted number of further narrowed specializations. Perhaps the most famous and successful of the cyber detectives of the end of this century is Joseph Seanor of CIBIR Corporation based in the Washington DC area. By combining a background with advanced computer knowledge and private investigation practice Mr. Seanor has emerged as one of the world's leading authorities in this area of specialization.
For More Resources, Stop In At The Investigator's Computer Resource Center
For Books And Manuals On Computer Investigations, Click Here
For Books On The Internet For Investigator's, Click Here
For Books And Manuals On Online Searching Click Here!
For The Famous Net Book By Joseph Seanor, Click Here
The world of TV entertainment has changed. Pay for view TV is on the rise. Millions of dollars are exchanging hands with sporting events. Many public places such as sports bars pay a fee to broadcast certain events in their business which draws in crowds. A new form of investigation has emerged conducting spot checks of public places making sure that these sports bars and other establishments who didn't pay to broadcast the important event are not showing it without paying the fee.
Most of these types of inspection services require networking with people throughout the country getting independent agents to check certain locations for contingency fees when violations occur. The emergence of networked investigative groups on the internet and email make this quite easy to do.
As the world sees a major trend shift occur in the areas of pay for TV instead of free channels, a new opportunity is emerging in the form of catching cheats who want to steal TV viewing instead of pay for it. It's quite a serious offense for a sports bar to refuse to pay to broadcast a pay-for-view sports event and then steal the signal and broadcast it publicly. They have violated the copyright laws of the United States. The Sports event and television providers are loosing millions of dollars from it. This new area of investigation and inspection service is making a huge inroad in the detection of and prevention of loss of income.
The age of human rights reform in the United States has now filtered down to the minor and the child. More attention is being paid to child neglect and child abuse. It's a trend that is apparent in domestic issues, state governmental agencies and both our civil and criminal court system. The federal government recently reported that child abuse and neglect is up twenty-seven percent. Investigative services are just now starting to list this as one of their specializations.
The investigation of child abuse and neglect is an emerging investigative specialization that crosses traditional specializations of criminal and civil investigations. Civil cases are found in domestic cases and criminal cases are found as more charges of child abuse and various forms of child neglect are being prosecuted. Opportunity for the private investigator as a specialization in this area is found in both plaintiff and defendant type cases.
It's apparent that the surge in child abuse and neglect is a symptom of the pressure-cooking society we seem to live in these days. In the average household, mom isn't home like she used to be. She's off working to hold up the middle class status and help bring in the bacon for the high house payments, car payments and outrageous income taxes and other taxes that seem to be embedded into every bill that comes into the modern household that must be paid every month. Who's watching the children? Part of the time, the overwhelming majority of children are being babysit by third parties that are in it as money making ventures. This, in and of itself, has created environments in which opportunity for child abuse and neglect occur. Moreover, when parents are unsuccessful and placed in financial pressure-cookers to keep the middle class status and things aren't going good, it's sometimes taken out on the children in the form of neglect and abuse.
For The Vary Latest Training Information On The Trend, Click Here
In the United States the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there is one automobile crash every five seconds, one property damage accident every eight seconds, one injury every ten seconds and one traffic fatality every 13 minutes. As the population and traffic congestion has surged, so has the number of serious accidents. With about 17,280 accidents a day in the United States, almost all of these end up as insurance claims and a large portion of them end up as litigation cases jamming our civil courts. Accident investigation is booming! It's become a rather technical area of investigative expertize but something that any investigative agency could easily jump into.
Accident investigation has become more sophisticated involving superior scene and vehicle photography, inspection and reconstruction. The use of formulas and proper equipment is a must. Accident investigators are turning into litigation consultants and reconstructionists with hourly rates moving into the $85.00 per hour to $100.00 per hour plus range. Many of these types of litigation cases are bringing in investigative fees of $3,000 to $5,000 or more per case assignment.
About gone are the days when an attorney or an insurance company would hand an investigator a case assignment merely asking for scene photos. Accident investigation has become very sophisticated involving the use of technical mathematical analysis and indepth reconstruction techniques as well as detailed analysis and legal photography of physical evidence. Technical expertize is needed and specialized equipment more advanced than ever before but those willing to master the body of knowledge needed will find no problem with case assignments considering there are about 17,280 accidents a day.
For The Vary Latest Training Information On The Trend, Click Here
For More Accident Investigation Resources, Click Here

With the emergence of the global economy, more and more people are engaged in travel outside of their own country. International terrorism and international crime is on the rise. Executive and bodyguard protection is experiencing an increase in demand because executives of all types are requiring more and more international travel. The entertainment industry also operates in the international market place more and more and celebrities are engaged in international travel more often. More and more executive protection specialists are needed and many investigative and security services that are meeting this brisk demand are experiencing mega-growth within their agency.
In the past, any huge person, usually a male, could be used as a bodyguard. The rules have changed. Self protection of executives and celebrities now rely on not only mere size but the use of specialized techniques and procedures. The protection specialist of today is more than just a bodyguard. His job has extended to that of personal security manager. Overall security procedures such as premises security techniques and information countermeasures techniques have become interwoven within this area of specialization. The professional bodyguard of today needs a body of knowledge encompassing a broad range of physical and technical security techniques and equipment. Benefits of the professional include high pay and free worldwide travel that often include the best of everything.

For The Vary Latest Training Information On The Trend, Click Here
The new federal law which makes it a crime to steal company trade secrets called the Economic Espionage Act is the tip of the iceberg on the demand for business investigations. The investigation of a business is very different from the investigation of an individual. In lots of ways, a business is more of an open book that an individual. However, the investigation of a business requires specialized sources of information and investigative techniques.
As the major shift from an economy driven by information instead of hard assets is taking hold, more and more businesses have determined it's vital for survival to know their markets, understand who the players in their markets are and know as much about the players in that market as they can. The small business has become the backbone of the nation. There are more independent business owners today than ever before. Their life has become interwoven with their business. A background check on small business owners will almost always require an investigation into the small business itself. All of this has jump started swelling case numbers of private investigations that include investigation of a business and skills on how to conduct the investigation of a business is a must have.
For The Vary Latest Training Information On The Trend, Click Here
You can talk with a cross-section of private investigators in the market place today and find many who attempted countermeasures services in the past only to come to a conclusion that there wasn't much of a market for it but the world has changed. The detection of bugs and wiretaps is surging again like it did in the 1970's. However, in the 1970's the demand for countermeasures services was based on a thinking shift of American business fueled by Watergate. It was more of a paranoia in the business world. Today, the trend is a process trend fueled by the fact that illegal bugging is cheap and easy to do and based on the shift in the driving force of the economy to information.
In the international market place of today, even the federal government is coming to the realization that military allies of the United States are many times our economic enemy. The protection of company information has become a matter of survival in the business world and the ever-increasing demand for information and countermeasures security services is now worldwide. It's now filtering down to small business and individuals simply because more businesses and more people are now information driven and they have learned they must protect both their information and their communication. NAIS member Larry Elem Of American Detectives based in Austin, Texas started offering countermeasures services several years ago and it's now accounting for a major chunk of his overall operation. Kelley Riddle of Kelmar And Associates based in San Antonio, Texas recently upgraded his countermeasures equipment and training because his firm, which specializes in insurance surveillance, is getting at last one assignment per week for countermeasures services and a recent one day job billing out at almost $2,000.
For The Very Latest Manual On Conducting Countermeasures, Click Here
For GREAT Resources On Countermeasures, Click Here!
The repossession market has always been a lucrative market with an active demand in most areas of the country. The emergence of Professional Repossessor, a national slick magazine for the professional recovery industry, is a good sign that the auto repossession industry is entering the modern age. As increases in the number of consumer loans of automobiles, boats, RVs and airplanes continues to climb as well as the prices on them, so does the increase in the number of defaulted loans and thus demand for repossession. There are more financed vehicles of all types on the roadways today than at any other time in the history of the United States and this has spurred more repossession assignments.
When you look at trends in the automobile industry, you'll find several interesting facts. In recent years, new vehicle prices have soared. Instead of typical three and four year notes on vehicles which was about all a lending institution would go, those loans have been extended to five and six years. Fewer people can pay cash for them, longer loans are given and the American public is about stuck with the fact that about the time a vehicle is paid off, it's time to get another. Thus, Americans have become accustomed to the idea of never having a paid for vehicle driving down the roadway. This has become a major trend. The load companies and banks love it and business for them is great. However, with the surge in almost all vehicles on the highways title-owned by the banks and lending institutions and not the drivers- it stands to reason that there are more and more defaulted loans because there are more of them given and, thus, more and more repossession assignments.
There's no dought about it, the demand for auto repossession services is up and those who are good at it are experiencing brisk business growth. Auto repossession assignments come from banks and lending institutions. Most agencies branch out into other areas of specializations such as the repossession of boats, semi-trucks and aircraft as well as credit cards mainly because their clients also have a need for these types of repossession services.

Click Here For A New Manual Just Released On How To Enter The Lucrative
Auto Repossession Business!
Talk with any investigator who used to conduct auto repossessions but now engage is bail enforcement recovery and they will tell you that they graduated from the repossession of vehicles to the repossession of people. The use of independent recovery agents in the private bail bond industry has taken another increasing turn. More and more investigative agencies are reporting that they are specializing in it. Bail bond agencies are finding that a good independent agent who knows what they are doing are helpful to their business leaving them to focus on screening and writing the bail bond. A recent study of what investigative agencies are specializing in in the United States shows that more and more are listing bail bond recovery as a major mainstay specialization.
The bail bond recovery business is quite unique and interesting. The bail bond agency makes it's income from writing bonds to let people out of jail. They make about ten percent of the face amount of the bond. However, if the bond skips, the bail bond company and the insurance company the bonding agency writes for is libel for the total face amount of the bond if the skip is not recovered. Without successful recovery efforts made, bail bond companies would soon be out of business overwhelmed by bills from the criminal courts for bail bond skips that did not appear at their hearings.
The number of people wanting to be in this business has surged spurred on by television programs about it. In Florida, the laws have changed authorizing only professionals who are licensed bail bond agents to be recovery agents. Many times, busy bail bond offices secure their bonds by getting relatives to give them mortgages to houses and liens on vehicles. Thus, many times, today's recovery agent is working for relatives of the skip.
Professional bail recovery agent business appears to be brisk. Many report that it's a very hard business to break into. However, those with established and superior skip trace skills will find no problem obtaining case assignments.
For The Vary Latest Training Manual On Bail Bond Recovery, Click Here!
For More Resources On Bail Bond Recovery, Click Here
Tracing missing heirs is a kind of hidden are of specialization that is often overlooked and misunderstood by most investigators. Probate records are researched for cases with no known heirs to the estate and the tracer's job then becomes one of locating heirs and proving that they are a legal heir to an estate. As the population swells and that population gets older and older, more deaths occur. That's exactly the situation in the United States today. When you couple that with other known general facts such as the emergence of affluence, you'll note more and more estate and probate cases with escalating amounts of funds.
Tracing missing heirs is so profitable, those who develop this as an investigative specialization have attempted to institute a kind of code of silence about it so other investigators would stay away from and misunderstand the opportunity. Small independent operators can sometimes take in well over $100,000 per year in this area. The missing heirs specialist usually works on a percentage of the estate which is usually around ten percent. When you start seeing estates worth tens of thousands of dollars, one can quickly see the profitability of this area of investigative specialization.
To Learn How To Develop More Knowledge On This Major Trend, Click Here!
AS a sidebar, I would like to add on overall trend for the investigative industry that's good in many respects and bad in other ways. It's my opinion as a trend watcher that the entire world seems to be focusing on appearance instead of actual substance. That is, the way things appear on the surface seems to have become the trend for the end of this century and supersede the real truth. As people are bombarded by information and most only have the time to see surface issues anyway, no one seems to be seeing or getting anything other than the way things appear. If you haven't noticed, from mainstream news to bills introduced in congress and just about everything else, it all appears to be more shallow that it once was. There's more news and more bills so quality is substituted for quantity. We humans, running around America with little time on our hands have become by-products of the fast food and soundbit news generation that's moving and changing so fast, almost everyone experiences futureshock which is the inability of one to keep up with the way things are. That's good for the overall investigative industry because it's our job to dig more deeply getting past the way things appear to be and report and sort out the way things actually are. It's bad from the standpoint that the movers and shakers who practice appearance instead of substance have caught on to the fact that it's the private investigators of the world who can dig deeper, report the real truth and make the cherished appearance-only surface issues so many today seem to reply on for their misguided success disappear. They simply don't want private investigators digging around for the real truth and under the pretext of privacy for Americans, are attempting to pass laws that would restrict the rights of Americans to obtain the real truth and restrict the private investigative effort to do it.
With that said, I hope you'll consider becoming a trend watcher yourself and hope you've obtained a better understanding of the way things work when it comes to choosing what types of investigation to specialize in. Of the major trends I have identified, you'll learn more about them from new books from Thomas Investigative Pubications, Inc. by various authors who are experts in these areas of specializations.
Ralph Thomas is founder and director of The National Association Of Investigative Specialists, Inc and president of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc. the world's leading publisher of professional books and manuals for private investigators. Many books and manuals deal with areas of investigation considered to be major trends in private investigation. To obtain your own copy of the Investigative Technology Catalog which reviews hundreds of such books and contains descriptions of equipment, badges and other related products for the professional investigator, send $5.00 refundable with first order to: Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc., P O Box 33244, Austin, Texas 78764. Phone 512-420-9292 Fax 512-420-9393