It might seem like an odd investment, but owning and operating a bail bonds agency can be lucrative and exciting. Like all business investments, it carries a degree of risk. Here’s what you need to know about setting up an agency.
What You’ll Need to Know
Many bail bonds agents come from a law enforcement background, but that’s not always the case. Some have no training when they decide to enter this field, but everyone needs to become qualified. However, if you’re going to own the agency, it’s important that you’re extremely familiar with the legal processes. Some degree of legal training is advisable, and if you already have law enforcement training, that’s an excellent place to start.
If you don’t have these qualifications, it doesn’t mean that you can’t operate an agency, but it is important that you obtain a solid understanding of the way court procedures work.
You’ll need to take exams to obtain a bail bond license, as well as meeting all the state’s requirements for bail bonds agencies. These can be found on your state government’s website and generally include specifications like being free of criminal convictions for a certain number of years, as well as being free of felonies of a certain nature.
One of the most important aspects of the bail bonds business is insurance. It’s a lucrative business, but you need cover because there’s a large sum of money involved and if one of your bonds skips town, you’re liable to pay. Insurance agencies do provide cover to licensed bond agencies, but as with most insurance companies, every time you make a claim they will be less willing to cover you again. Your premium may also go up each time you make a claim. This means you need to select your clients carefully to minimise the risk of them leaving town.
You’ll also need the cash to pay bail bonds enforcement agents, or bounty hunters, to find and retrieve fugitives if they do leave.
Where to Set Up
Go where the business is. Bail bonds agencies tend to do well in heavily populated areas where there is a lot of crime and large courthouses. This provides the greatest market for your product, and generally means you’ll have to be willing to operate from a large city.
You’ll need to come up with a marketing plan for your business so that people are aware of the services you offer. Make sure you create a website so that people can find you, and consider advertising in the phone book or on outdoor structures, as well as investing in online advertising. Word-of-mouth advertising can be particularly helpful here, so it would be a good idea to meet some of the people who work within the legal system so they can recommend you. If you’re new to town, it’s also a good way to get an understanding of who not to offer your services to as well.
Kate Lee is a business professional who has worked with many start-ups. She writes articles on a diverse range of topics, including bail bonds and law enforcement.