Bail Bond Confessions Blog

4 in 3

September 11, 2010
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So what does that title mean, eh?

It means in the past three months, I have lost four very solid potential clients. These are clients who hired attorneys, had the resources to pay my fee, and were motivated to show up to court. How did I lose them? The judges.

Lately, more and more often our local judges seem to be invoking a rare used option when setting bail:  The 10% option. The story goes that the judge sets the bail and then tacks on the 10% option and explains it that if the family posts 10% of the bond amount in either cash or property, than the defendant is let free and at the end of their case, the court returns the cash or property.

So yeah, now the courts are muscling into the bond business and cutting the bondsman out. This means that there is no collateral to secure the bond nor is there a motivated party out there keeping watch on the defendant and maintaining control over the situation. Furthermore, the courts get to earn interest on the money posted and that does not get returned to the family. In many cases, if there are penalties, court costs, or any other charges, it gets deducted from the posted amount. Oh and that goes for attorney’s fees too.

It’s damn hard to compete against the government.  I’m still trying to do this for a living, but between that and the general slowness of my current business model (only deal with attorney referrals), I’m keeping my eyes open for other business opportunities.

Who knows, I may have to change the title of this blog!

-bbc

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Crap day

March 12, 2010
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I got a call from the big dog attorney.  He has a client in need and the money for the fee is in escrow held by the attorney. The bond hearing is in a few hours. I go out to the jail and catch not the big dog attorney, but one that is there in his place. The bond hearing just ended and the potential client was given a $35,000 bond.  Cash, Surety, or 10%.  Great. So much for that. The big dog attorney and I both agree there is no point in using a bondsman if they can post 10% of the bond with the county and in theory get that money back at the end of the case.

So then I drove 100 miles to a small town to serve a single paper. Got to the house without problem, but it was half abandoned. Waited for 3 hours and was told by a neighbor that they moved a bunch of stuff this morning and told him they would be back tomorrow for the last of it and to say good bye. I got on the road right at dinner time and fought some really bad thunderstorms to get home. Took 3 hours to drive 100 miles back!

I get to drop the kid at the parents tomorrow morning and do the drive all over again.

-bbc


Week in Review

December 17, 2009
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So I haven’t had any real business since the last time I posted. Yesterday, I turned down a transfer bond because it would have netted me $25 after expenses, not including 100 miles or so of round trip driving.

Today, the situation was a little different and I was happy to do a different transfer bond.  I basically made $1/mi. and it took most of my afternoon dealing with a screwed up bureaucracy, but I had the law on my side and prevailed.

I don’t want to go into too many details, but essentially this small town in the middle of nowhere wanted me to pay for a business license before they would let me bond the guy out.  It took a while and I had to cite a court case, but the city admin relented and allowed me to go ahead and post the bond.  But she “threatened” that I would have to pay a penalty if I wanted to come back and post a 2nd bond.  That penalty would include me getting a license (which I readily agreed would be required by law as I am no longer just doing a “one-off”) and paying a 5% penalty retroactive to today’s date.

As I was leaving her office, I asked her if the business licenses run annually there as in most places.  She said “Yes”.  So then I clarified…we’re talking Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, right?  She said “Yes”.

So…as long as I don’t have to post any more bonds in her town between now and the end of the year, I’ll avoid the penalty. Next year, I would contend that it resets.

-bbc


Ronnie’s story

September 20, 2009
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This afternoon I was out at the park with friends.  We were having a good time and planning on going to get lunch when I received a call from Ronnie at the detention center.  Now, I’m not at PC and have no way of verifying his story, but he says he was picked up for DUI and it is his first offense.  He is in his 40’s and owns his own home, worked for the same company for over 20 years, and needs help with his $997 bond.  I told him that if his story checks out, I would let him out for $100.  I was able to verify his story when someone at home looked him up on the computer for me.  I connected him with a friend who was able to run to the bank and pick up the fee for me and then the friend met me in the park where I took the fee and gave him a receipt.  I skipped lunch and went home to get cleaned up and then on to the jail.  Approximately 2 hrs later, Ronnie was a free man again and very grateful.  He had spent about 12 hours in jail, but never moved past the intake part.  Unfortunately, his car was in impound and it was too late to pick it up.  I gave him a ride home and called it a day.

It was truly a win-win situation and I’m happy to have posted my first bond. After the BUF fund contribution and Insurance commission are taken out of the amount, I get to keep around $80.  When I got home, I logged into my PAY-TEL account and saw that the balance was $99. I’m still in the negatives, but I have great feelings about this week!

-bbc


Quiet Day

September 16, 2009
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Today was quiet, which I suppose is a good thing.  Yesterday, I drove out to my county jail and met with an administrator there to ensure that they actually post my info.  While waiting to meet her, a group of 57 5th graders showed up for a field trip. Seems like an odd place to take a field trip.  My meeting went quickly and smoothly.  While I waited to leave (all 57 kids were piling in single file), there was an attractive young woman waiting behind me to exit also.  We walked out together when the path was clear and I made small talk to the parking lot. Turns out that she is an attorney and was meeting with a client. I offered her some business cards, hopefully it will turn into something.

Then I got on the highway to go out to that far away county from last week that gave me so much trouble with my license. Seeing as how it was Tuesday and the timing was right, I figured I should go down in person.  10 minutes into the trip, a lady from the far away clerk of court’s office called and said she needed more proof of collateral/net worth from me. I turned right around and headed back to my local county clerk of court. They basically typed up the same letter that I previously submitted, but they signed it this time and included a photocopy of the appropriate legal code.  I got verbal acknowledgement from the obstinate county that this would be acceptable and then headed out there.  I dropped off the paperwork and ensured my license was accepted.  Then I headed out to the detention center. I dropped off copies of the paperwork and my contact info, but I’m not sure if they will post it.  I’ll follow up next week.

Got home and started tying up some loose ends.  I’ve applied for an account with a background search company.  Everything looked OK, but they require original copies (oxymoron) of my articles of incorporation.  I sent them what I have, but it was all done online and they didn’t seem pleased with what I sent them. I pointed out that those documents are public and it seems rather silly that they would require me to provide them with information that they should have access to.  Not only should they have access to it, but that is the kind of stuff they sell. Thats like the movie theater asking you to send them the script before they let you buy a ticket.  Makes no sense.

Finally, there is a huge money making racket going on in our prison systems. Prisoners are only allowed to make collect phone calls and the prisons have contracted out to 3rd party telephone companies that specialize in providing a high cost (automated) service and they use monopolistic practices to maintain the ability to charge inflated rates.  I realized that I needed to set up accounts with these companies so I can start accepting calls from the jails. Well…I guess one of them is going through a significant shake up or acquisition because although its website says they have 24/7 customer service, you can e-mail them at any time, or you can use the instant chat method, none of these generated expected responses.  I called the customer service number nearly a half dozen times throughout the day and each time it resulted in me navigating the automated system to the option for speaking with a live person, only to be transferred to a message saying they were all busy and to call back.  Then it hung up on me.  Using the IM route, I’m told immediately that no one is available and to try back later.  I did send an e-mail, but it took over 24 hours before I even received an automated response.  Wonderful.

Before the day ended, I wrote a Thank You note to the bitchy clerk in that far away county.  It never hurts to butter them up for next time.  I also wrote a lengthy letter of commendation to my local clerk of court expressing my gratitude for all that they have done to help me get started.  Sure, I complain all the time, but it is nice to be able to write a non-complaint letter every now and again.  Especially when someone deserves it and this staff definitely deserve it.

At least I get to look forward to an ultrasound appointment for the baby on Friday.

-bbc


Two steps forward, and a little back

July 23, 2009
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I’ve been sitting on a bunch of paperwork to file.  I finally got started on it today and am pleased with the results.  After that, I stopped at the bank to follow up on my credit card application and checks.  They told me I was denied for the credit card.  I know we are in a tight  credit market, but this was a little unreasonable.  I have 5 figures sitting in their bank and was ready to personally cosign the application (I have excellent credit).  All I was asking for was a $500 limit on the card.  I pointed this out to the bank guy and more than hinted that I was looking for a bank that would offer me solutions to problems, not cause me problems.  I told him I was more than willing to look elsewhere for my banking solutions if they couldn’t even manage this small issuance of credit.  That worked because he called me back an hour later and told me that they will re-submit my application and then automatically approve it manually.

No such luck with the City zoning department.  It has been over a week since I applied for approval from them to open a home office.  However, the guy that can make the decision is now on vacation as of today and won’t be back until Monday.  He choose not to address my issue earlier this week when I sent him voicemail and e-mails.  I need them to give approval so I can pay for my city business license.

I’m going on vacation for two weeks, but if this isn’t resolved by the time I return, I’m going to have to meet with the mayor.

-bbc


Things to do and things done

July 18, 2009
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I spent a good portion of yesterday picking up my 1st run of business cards and doing research in the law library at our local university.  I found a book that attorneys pay to be in that lists their information.  It’s like Who’s Who of attorneys and it is organized by state/city!  This was an awesome find for me and I was able to compile a list of about two dozen attorneys and build brief profiles of each of them.  I’m going to take this information and use it for sales leads.

At the same time, however, I decided to hold off on the campaign until I have professional stationary, thank you cards, letterhead, etc printed up.  If I’m going to differentiate myself on the basis of professionalism, it doesn’t make sense to have the hodge-podge off-the-shelf stuff.  So right now I’m targeting the first week of November as the start of my campaign.  That will give me time to ease into the business and learn my way around the paperwork and courthouses.

I’m looking forward to the PBUS convention so I can check out various software packages and credit card processors.  I need to have a decent database management system and the ability to accept credit cards, right from the start.

-bbc


Kinko’s FTW!

July 17, 2009
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So I’m lying in bed about to fall asleep when I realize the PBUS convention is in just a few days and I don’t have business cards. I haven’t gotten all of the information gathered that I want printed on the cards, so I sort of procrastinated.  Anyway, I called my local Kinko’s and they told me that they can have a small run of basic business cards using my artwork printed and ready by Noon.  This is good.  I know the cards are going to be kind of cheap quality, but again, something is better than nothing.  Once I have my license # and my 800 number, I’ll get final artwork and spend the big bucks for a nice card stock and large run of cards.  For now, 100-500 cards on basic card stock for $25 or less rocks!

-bbc


Paperwork sucks

July 16, 2009
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Paperwork is just a necessity of this business, I guess.  Anyway, there was a little hiccup in the form of a typo on my LLC paperwork and it all trickled down into the bank accounts too.  I spent all day getting it all corrected and cross your fingers, I think its fixed.

I also wrote a couple of thank you notes, but I only have some cheap cards right now.  Once I start getting some decent income, I’m going to invest in letterhead and branded thank you cards.  Its embarrassing to to be sending stuff out like this, but something is better than nothing.  Right now it is critical to keep my overhead low, which makes typo mistakes that cost $110 to repair very very annoying.

In other news, my license application is completed and ready for mailing. Again, cross your fingers and lets hope everything goes smoothly there.  I have approximately 3 more weeks before I open the doors on my business. Those would be virtual doors.  I’m still fighting the good fight with the City over getting a zoning variance so I can pay my business license fee.  Never have I had to struggle so hard for so long to give people money!

-bbc


Paperwork

July 14, 2009
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I’ve got a contract to sign, applications to fill out, and receipts to file.  It seems like the paperwork is never ending and I haven’t even written a bond yet.  They Surety company seems very eager to bring me on, so at least that is reassuring. I went to my local city HQ and started the process of applying for a business license.  Unfortunately, zoning seems to have a problem with me working from my home.  There issue is that traditionally bail bonds agencies generate levels of traffic above what is normal for residential areas.  I wrote them a letter explaining how this will be a virtual office and how I have absolutely no intention of bringing clients into my home.  I pointed out that my home is only big enough for my family, not my family and additional employees and that if I grew the business, I would be forced to seek out commercial office space.  I hope to hear a positive response in a few days.

Hopefully I can knock the majority of this paperwork out in the next day or two and take a break before attending the PBUS convention in Savannah next week.  After that, it is time to tie up some loose ends and then I am taking a 2 week vacation (before I even open my doors) and when I return, it is game ON!

-bbc


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