#40: Free Private Investigation Websites: Good or Bad Idea?

A private investigation business owner recently contacted me through the contact page on the website. The business owner indicated he could not afford to have a paid website at the moment. He wanted to know my thoughts on free business websites. This is a great question for new business owner’s concerned about expenses.

Here’s the thing

My personal belief is that a website is one of the fist things that a potential client will see before picking up the phone and calling your business. I don’t believe you need some elaborate website but I do think that it should have a few pages of information and a contact page. The pages on your website can outline your services, who you are, and leave a impression of professionalism. Even though I believe a website can be the difference between getting a new customer and a potential customer moving on to the next business. What I have learned is that some customers don’t care about the website or never look at the website.

Example of a private investigation company using a free website

A former coworker of mine works for a company doing workers compensation surveillance and does domestic work under his own business. He told me he gets about 2 cases a month and makes between $500 and $700 working domestic surveillance cases.  This former coworker uses a one page free Yahoo website. To be truthful the website is unimpressive and unmemorable. The reason clients call him is because they find him on YellowPages.com and they call him after seeing his listing. My friend is a perfect example of someone who gets work without having a fancy website.
Building a private investigation website is not expensive

The second part of the answer to this website question is the misconception that a website is expensive to have. Before starting my business I had never made a website, had never purchased a domain name, and had no idea what I was going to write on my website. After doing some research I realized that having a website was not expensive at all. I purchased my domain name for approximately $12.00, purchased a theme for my website for approximately $40.00, and I host my website for about $70.00 a year. So for a little over $100.00 for the first year you can have a website. You will have to renew you your hosting each year but it is a worthwhile investment. My brother made my first Logo which you can tell is not fancy. Since then I made my own simple logo for the P.I. Advice website using a free program called GIMP and you can make your logo using the same program. I built my website and truthfully it is quite easy to do. Hopefully in the near future I can break down the steps to making a website.

What client are you trying to attract?

The type of clients that find you is something else to consider. If your clients are calling you about a cheating spouse surveillance then to be truthful your website may be insignificant as these clients might not return after you have completed your assignment. If your client is an attorney, TPA or an insurance company, they may frequent you website and have reason to do so. If this is the case, then a free one page website may be something to worry about.

My personal recommendation would be to put up a free website until you are ready to make a more elaborate one. It will give a location for potential customers to go to learn more about you and your company. At the very least you can give some information about your company and the services you provide and you can also say the website is under construction until you are ready to go bigger. When It’s all said and done the decision is yours not mine. You will inevitably be judged on how you conduct an investigation, you customer service and your final product.

I am sure I will write more about this topic in the future. Until then make sure to check out the P.I. Advice Podcast, watch some of the P.I. Advice Videos and say hi on the Facebook page.

Thanks again,