According to IBISWorld, the bail bonds services industry generates more than two billion dollars a year. Are you trying to get a cut of that action?
Opening your own bondsman company is a fun, exciting, and risky pursuit that can be financially rewarding. But in order to be successful, you need to take cautious steps to ensure your business follows all legal statutes and use creative marketing strategies to gain a loyal clientele.
Are you ready to take the first steps? To learn how to start a bail bonds business, read on.
License and Registration
If you want to be a professional bondsman like this company, then you need to make sure you have all the proper paperwork in place. Every state has different laws that command how bail agents have to do business.
This goes for everything from how a bond is executed, to how a bail bondsman can interact with members of law enforcement, bail violators, and more.
In fact, some states don’t allow you to post a private bond at all. You will need to check with your state to be sure of its policies. Some states that don’t allow commercial bail are Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Oregon.
In addition, Massachusetts, Texas, and Georgia allow it but you will have very rigorous licensing standards.
In every state, to get a license, you will have to take classes and pass the national bail bond agent exam. The test is sixty questions that are multiple choice followed by ten survey questions. You are given an hour to take the exam and need to achieve at least a 70%.
In addition, you will need to complete a background check and have your fingerprints done before you will be able to obtain a surety bond that is required by state licensing boards.
You will also need insurance for your company. Start by finding an insurance company in your area that offers surety bonds.
You will need to put a certain amount of money into a collateral fund at a secure financial institution. The amount of this collateral depends upon your credit history, the state of your finances, and how much debt you have.
Gaining a Clientele
Many people who choose to open a bail bondsman business do so near a courthouse or the county jail. They put up neon signs and direct people in to secure bail for their loved ones.
But even if you have a great location, you should still participate in other forms of advertising.
One way to do this is to network with defense attorneys and members of law enforcement. If they have your information, they may feel the need to pass it along to people looking for help with their bail.
Know that when you open a bail bondsman business, you will be the new kid on the block and there is a lot of competition. Make sure you treat your clients well so that they want to come back to you again if they need help in the future.
Improper Methods of Securing Business
When you start your bail bondsman business, you may be tempted to head to the courts or jails to stumble across potential new clients. But, in most states, this is prohibited.
The only way most states allow bondsmen into these areas is if they are conducting business with an existing client. This is to prevent predatory practices through improper relationships with government employees.
Addressing Bail Runners
When you are a bail bondsman, you are putting your money on the line saying that someone will show up for court. This is a risky business.
If someone doesn’t come to their court date, then the money you posted for their bail will be forfeited. In that case, you will have to approach their family about retrieving the money you lost or collect the collateral that was given for the bail.
If one of your clients skips bail, you may need to hire a bond enforcer (bounty hunter) to retrieve them. But many times, loved ones of the missing clients will track them down themselves to prevent larger problems from occurring.
To prevent people from having the opportunity to run in the first place, many bondsmen require that their clients come into the office on a weekly basis before their trial. That way if they go missing, you will know their recent whereabouts and they will be easier to find.
That’s How to Start a Bail Bonds Business
Start by coming up with a name for your business, establishing a location, and securing a surety bond. Then, get licensed and registered with your local government.
Next, you will need to apply for an employer identification number from the IRS. This will go on all of your tax forms, on the paperwork for any business bank accounts you open, or applying for business loans.
Hire licensed bond agents so that your business can be open 24-hours if you want to be competitive. Make sure you pick a location near a jail or courthouse.
Begin to network with law enforcement and attorneys and create a website for your business. Make sure you place some radio or television ads to get the word out about your business.
Get More Helpful Advice
Now that you know how to start a bail bonds business, you’re ready to begin gaining a clientele and writing bonds for the members of your community.
For more helpful advice on opening a successful business, check out our blog!