Diane Crandall and her team of investigators know how to solve some of the most complex cases out there. That’s why Crandall, a 1-800Accountant client, decided to launch her own business in the private investigation field.
Based in Texas, she is the proud owner of Crandall Investigations Agency, LLC. The business established its formal footprint in February 2012.
Crandall’s agency handles a wide range of investigations and cases. The business works with corporations, insurance companies, attorneys, and private citizens. Some of the services they have provided to their clients include asset verifications, cell phone investigations, civil and criminal investigations, missing persons investigations, child custody investigations, and computer forensics, just to name a few. They have also handled cases involving insurance fraud, infidelity, background investigations, and witness locates. In addition, Crandall provides mobile notary services and is a licensed process server.
All business owners have some sort of motivation that drives them to start a brand new company in the first place. For Crandall, there was one particular devastating event that sparked her interest in becoming an investigator and helping others involved in life-changing circumstances.
“It was something very personal that happened in my life,” Crandall says. “My father was a victim in a homicide, and that was a life-changing event. The investigators involved in his case were very thorough and professional. Everything that went into my father’s investigation played an integral role in starting my own private investigations agency.”
Crandall is a licensed investigator (License #A17912) and a member of a number of professional associations, including the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators (TALI), the United States Association of Professional Investigators (USAPI), the National Association of Investigative Specialists (NAIS), the Investigative & Security Professionals for Legislative Action (ISPLA), the Process Server Review Board (License #SCH9618), and the American Association of Notaries (AAN).
Her previous work experiences include being part of a nonprofit organization that helps put underprivileged young women through college, technical writing, and financial project specialization.
In Crandall’s words, her client base has played the biggest role in making her business successful.
“I’ve had great clients,” she says. “I try to put myself in their shoes and do what is best for their case, and that’s why they continue using our services and recommending us to others.
“Every day is different, and every client is different,” she says. “It’s exciting work. Sometimes you’re in the office or a courthouse, and sometimes you’re out in the field.”
She adds that in this business, you really have to think on your feet and try to stay one step ahead of those you are investigating.
Crandall says the private investigation industry is a bit unique compared to other industries in which competition can be quite fierce.
“In this industry, everyone tries to help each other and work together. It is not uncommon for one agency to engage the assistance of another agency for geographical reasons or if a case requires specific expertise, which may also save the client money. Rates are typically consistent within the industry, and we always look to do what is best for our clients.”
Spreading The Word About Her Business
Crandall Investigations Agency’s marketing consists of a website – www.myciapi.com – sending out brochures about the company, and using word-of-mouth referrals to find clients.
“I’ve found that when our clients are happy, they’ve referred us to others,” she says.
Crandall also makes connections through her professional organizations.
“The organizations we belong to are very beneficial and help a great deal with networking opportunities.”
One of Crandall’s biggest challenges in getting her business to stand on its own has been the money involved in the startup process.
“It was a major financial investment. Some of the things we needed to start the business were to purchase equipment, software, and office furniture. There were also licensing fees, marketing expenses, and database resource fees.”
She has several tips for aspiring business owners who may be uncertain about diving into a new career adventure.
“You have to continually learn and keep abreast of any changes going on in your specific industry. Stay up-to-date with technology and always think of yourself as one of your clients and how you’d want to be treated. Reach out and network with other companies and join professional organizations related to your industry. Be fair and honest and operate your business with integrity.”
Based on Crandall’s own experience, there are both positives and negatives that come into play when operating one’s own company. The key is to focus on the pros rather than the cons, although the cons can be part of the learning experience, she says.
“There are times when you can’t set your own schedule because our caseloads may dictate this, but you can schedule your time and some activities more easily than you could working for someone else,” she says. “Part of the reward is that you’re personally responsible for the success of the company, and it’s nice to see yourself grow as a professional.
“A disadvantage is that you can have some very long days and work at odd hours. You have to make sure the investigators, vendors, and bills get paid. And you have to make sure you keep track of, prepare, and pay your taxes on time. That’s where 1-800Accountant has benefited us.”
As a client of 1-800Accountant, Crandall says she has received help from the national accounting and business-consulting firm that went above and beyond her expectations.
“The accounting representatives at 1-800Accountant are extremely helpful and answer questions using language I can understand. I would absolutely recommend 1-800Accountant to others, and I have.”
Photo credit: The photograph of Diane Crandall and the logo of Crandall Investigations Agency, LLC are provided by Crandall Investigations Agency, LLC and are used with permission.