Stasia’s Support Services began as a part time subcontractor for a legal document delivery service. The business does process serving for legal firms and other clients. A business plan was never developed. In early 2015, she lost a major client when she took a part time job and was not available as much of her time for the major client. Now she needs help with marketing. She needs to find a way to reach her target market and expand her business.
Description of the Industry
A process service works in the legal field. Their jobs involve serving summons and informing citizens that they have been summoned to appear in court. They are different from a messenger service in many ways. The first is that the server must only deliver to the person legally listed on the documents. This service used to be taken care of by county Sheriffs, but as populations increased, they were unable to perform this job because they had to attend more urgent needs (ServeNow.com Staff, 2011). Process servers took on the duty of delivering the required due process notifications in a timely manner those being served. This is the basis of the industry (ServeNow.com Staff, 2011). They might also file court papers, and retrieve other documents as well. They must carry out the service in the correct manner and file proof that the service was properly performed (ServeNow.com Staff, 2011). Process servers are an important part of the legal system. They must perform their jobs properly, or cases can get thrown out due to lack of due process of the law.
Many process servers are self-employed or work for small companies (Torpey, 2012). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not keep track of specific data on process servers, but it is estimated that there are about 15,000 to 20,000 of them working full and part time (Torpey, 2012). Salaries are variable, as the process servers can choose to take fewer jobs. In addition, the growth rate varies significantly by state and by geographic location. The BLS does not closely track this industry. The NAICS code for a process server is 541199 (All Other Legal Services).
The industry does not actually have a life cycle. The industry is now facing competition as the ability to serve electronically becomes more widely used by court systems (ServeNow.com Staff, 2012). The process serving industry is facing several challenges. The first is competition by electronic service. The second is major regulatory and legal changes that effect process servers. The challenges process servers face differs from state to state. Some of these new regulatory requirements include GPS, filing affidavits and recording service attempts (ServeNow.com Staff, 2012). There ae also a growing number of assault cases involving process servers (ServeNow.com Staff, 2012). Many states have now made assaulting a process server a felony. This has caused many law enforcement agencies to resume process serving, rather than using outside contractors.
There is currently a “no serve, no fee” structure that is beginning to catch on as a marketing tactic. There are now a few no fee regulations beginning to appear (ServeNow.com Staff, 2012). This means the server will be volunteering their services for free if they are unable to complete a service. There is also concern over hiring freelancers as subcontractors, as opposed employees. It is feared that freelancers are less regulated than employees and might do something unethical just to collect the fee. There are concerns over industry regulation concerning process servers (ServeNow.com Staff, 2012).
The industry as a whole is facing many challenges that might effect industry growth in the future. There is significant risk of bodily injury in some cases. The most attractive cases involve those that have the ability to be served the fastest and that have low risk for the person becoming violent. The industry does not have clearly defined segments, as each process server decides which services to take and which ones to avoid. The type of case could be considered a certain market segment, but there is no data to track this factor.
Key Success Factors
The most important success factor in this industry is the ability to complete services and to complete them in a timely manner. A background in law or law enforcement helps to understand the legal ramifications of the industry. One of the most difficult aspects of the job is the time management factor. It is possible that one can drive all the way across the state and then have to wait until the person gets home. The more time it takes to deliver paper work; the less money the person makes.
Stasia’s Support Services has the competitive advantage of being certified in several states. The main problem now is that Stasia needs more employees to increase her volume, but she wants the clients before she takes on more staff. She also has concerns about staff motivation and the number of services they can process in one day. The question is how to increase the number of clients, while not expanding beyond the capacities of the company to serve.
In an industry that is faced with the potential for shrinkage due to being replaced by electronic service and the job reverting back to law enforcement, diversification is the best strategy. However, the first step that needs to be taken is to develop a business plan. Stasia needs to know where she is headed before she can begin to get there. Diversification of services might be the key to success. For instance, the business might add doing services for landlords and property management groups. They might focus only on divorce lawyers due to the low risk involved. These cases have a lower chance of violence or evasion than criminal cases. The person typically already knows that it is coming. There is also the potential to gain business through professional websites and through networking with other process servers in other areas.
There is room for expansion through diversification. Of course, expansion means the need for more staff. The problem faced by Stasia is that she feels that she needs to have the work in place before she can hire more staff. The solution to this is to hire more contract workers so that she can use only what she needs. Diversification and the ability to expand the current work volume are the keys to growth and success for the company.
Stasia needs to develop a unified brand marketing strategy. The first thing she needs to do is to define her brand, once she has clearly defined the services that she offers. She needs to develop professional marketing material that defines what makes her different and the advantages of using her service. She then needs to distribute these materials let these new client categories, such as divorce attorneys, landlords, and property management groups, know about her services. She needs to expand her social media presence, but to so in a way that attracts and reaches her target audience. She might need to define her geographic reach to cut down on expenses associated with driving and time spent on each delivery.
Stasia needs to clearly define where she wants to go, both in her business goals and in her marketing plan. The industry could be heading for trouble due to regulatory changes and due to competition from other way to perform service delivery. Stasia can offset the effects of these changes through forethought and planning. Her best strategy is to diversify the services that she offers through expanding into potential new client areas. She also needs to hire more contractors so that she can take on the “big fish” in terms of clientele. She needs a larger client base so that the loss of a single client will not be disastrous. These strategies will help Stasia to achieve the stability and growth that she seeks.
- Morgan, S. (2016). How Much Money Can Private Process Servers Earn? Chron. Retrieved from http://work.chron.com/much-money-can-private-process-servers-earn-20599.html
- ServeNow.com Staff (2011). What is a Process Server? Serve Now. Retrieved from http://www.serve-now.com/articles/130/what-is-a-process-server
- ServeNow.com Staff (2012). 7 Major Challenges Process Servers Are Facing. Retrieved from http://www.serve-now.com/articles/1189/major-challenges-process-servers
- Torpey, E. (2012). You’re a what? Process Server. Occupational Outlook Quarterly: 46-47. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2012/spring/yawhat.pdf