Working with Employees
The most interesting aspect of being your own boss is that of dealing with people, but it can also be the most exasperating. In the real world, everyone answers to someone else — at least on some level. When you open your business, you'll find that all kinds of people expect you to answer to them. Should you decide to use employees such as other investigators, secretaries, or others, they will hold definite expectations of you.
They'll expect you to pay them as agreed.
They'll expect your trust and loyalty when they've earned it.
They'll expect you to provide appropriate training and guidelines within which to operate.
They'll expect you to be available to answer questions and put out fires which routinely ignite within normal business operations.
They'll expect you to keep them abreast of business developments that allow them to perform their job properly.
They'll expect you to provide appropriate materials with which to do their jobs.
They'll expect you to do what you say you'll do, to be a man or woman of your word. You can't retain respect by promising employees one thing, then doing another just because you're the boss.
Neither can you allow employees to believe that they call the shots. This is all a balancing act. Managing people is akin to riding a horse. Too heavy a hand on the reins and the horse will balk and rear up. With too light a hand, the horse becomes confused as to who's in control and will fight to get the bit in her mouth. Give the horse her head and you have no idea where you'll end up. However, with the right touch and the appropriate level of pressure on the reins, the horse goes where she's directed, doing what is required, and doing it with a proper respect for the person in the saddle.
Multiplying Yourself, Your Time, and Your Fees
Many PIs work alone. Some prefer it, and others don't have enough work to justify hiring employees. While it's not necessary to employ anyone at all, it helps. A private investigator can type his own reports or contract them out. He can hire an answering service or install a computer answering system. The downside is that he can only handle so many cases at once, and may find himself refusing cases or working cases poorly due to time constraints.
Therefore, if you want to multiply the hourly fee that you bring in by working alone, and you can endure not working each case yourself, you'll want to employ other investigators. For ease of demonstration, let's say you charge $100 an hour. You can easily pay an employee $25–$50 an hour, depending on her quality and experience, keeping the rest for yourself and for operating and advertising costs.
Don't think that headaches don't accompany the use of multiple investigators, or that there are no costs accompanying their use. However, if you can manage it, it's a lucrative business. Some investigator problems to guard against are:
Padding bills — charging more hours than actually worked or charging more gas than expended
Fantasy reports — PIs turning in fictitious reports on a target that has never been followed or records that were never searched — or worse, an investigation that was never worked at all
Switch-hitting — an investigator who offers evidence or a surveillance recording to the target for a higher price than the client pays, thus getting paid by both sides
Lazy surveillance experts — some PIs sleep, some run by the target's place then leave to do errands or other personal business on your time; many firms require the PI to film continuously to prevent this behavior
Make sure you put safeguards in place to make sure your business is fully legitimate and is doing everything to help the clients who are paying for your services.