Ask anyone who’s ever been involved with a business before, and they’ll tell you that marketing is the life’s blood of a successful business. It’s no less important with a judgment recovery business.
Initially, most of your new potential customers will be obtained by researching civil case files. Civil case files are public record and available from any courthouse. These files will show you who has been awarded a judgment, how much it was, and will also provide you the contact information you’ll need to reach the judgment owner. Many areas even offer free online access to these files (more on that later).
Once you’ve identified which judgment holders will benefit from your service you’ll send them a personalized letter that includes specific information about their judgment. This is a highly targeted way to market, and definitely not a ‘shotgun’ approach. My research shows that contacting a judgment holder directly by far generates the best response and marketing results.
You should typically plan on spending about 2-3 hours, once a week to conduct this type of research at the courthouse. This will also familiarze you with the contents of a case file, as well as what your state’s legal forms look like and what their functions are.
If you are fortunate enough to have access to civil case file information online, then time spent physically at the courthouse to research your judgment leads may be unnecessary, or at least limited. Some states offer online access statewide, while others only offer access in certain counties or cities.
Each state and/or county generally has a different set up for accessing these files. The quality of the information that you are able to obtain online will vary from site to site. Some sites only provide minimal information, while others go so far as to scan every document ever filed into the system for viewing. Most offer free access, while a handful may charge a nominal fee.
If you’re finding basic information about the cases online, but not getting enough information to send a letter (ie: no contact information), you’ll want to use the online database to at least narrow down your prospects. It will still save you time to go through the cases online and make a list of cases for the court clerk to pull for your review at the courthouse.
If there is no online access available in your immediate area, and weekly visits to the courthouse prove to be impossible, there is certainly no reason you couldn’t research judgments awarded in another area. SJR’s judgment recovery training program includes an Online Access Guide that will provide you with links to all of the courts that provide access to civil case file information online in each state.
You’ll find that most courts will accept mailed or FAX’ed filings. Additionally, if you needed to, you could get in touch with another judgment recovery company participating on the SJR National Member Network or the SJR Member Email Forum in that area if you needed help or assistance with something.
Marketing directly to businesses is another good way to go, and a fantastic way to cater to a specific ‘niche.’ These days, for me personally, nearly all of my current judgments are assigned from either businesses I’ve developed a relationship with, or referrals from attorneys and paralegals in my area.
Some of these businesses include property managers, used car lots, contractors, pawn shops, jewelers, furniture stores, check cashing or payday advance companies, etc. Use your imagination! These – and other – types of businesses tend to sue in court on a regular basis and have many judgments to assign. Since they are constantly taking debtors to court, the judgments keep flowing in.
Joining your local Chamber of Commerce and other community organizations will put you in direct contact with a surprising number of individuals and companies needing your services. By participating in these local meetings and functions, you’ll also go a long way toward establishing your credibility. Speaking of local exposure, most smaller local newspapers will often showcase new businesses or publish a press release about your judgment recovery business – especially since it’s not your typical run of the mill business.
I haven’t brought up traditional advertising, simply because most who are just getting started are looking to cut costs as much as possible. Advertisements can be effective, but if you plan to advertise I wouldn’t solely rely on it to bring you new customers. If you do decide to run a simple ad, it should be in an area of general readership because most judgment holders don’t even realize they have any options for collecting their judgment – so they’re not actively looking for you.
This, of course, is simply a general overview of the marketing methods we use to attract new customers. Marketing will be crucial your business… and having a variety of different ways to make your services known will keep your bottom line healthy and help your business to grow.
As always, I welcome your questions, comments, or suggestions for any topics you’d like to see discussed here.