Managing Your Availability – Part 1
20 Jan 2015
A fact of the matter is that to be successful in the bail industry, you must be available 24/7, regardless if you have help or not. You must be “on call” holidays, vacations and special events. I have been involved in negotiating bonds from Hawaii and fortunately had built relationships with other bail agents, so I could call them to handle the client and still receive a referral fee. You never want to lose business because you didn’t answer the phone. Ideally, you will get to a point where you can hire other licensed bail agents and have them taking calls, as well. But, when getting started it’s usually just you and you must be committed or you’ll be wasting your time and investment.
Early in my career, I would shut off my phone at 11 pm, but a colleague brought to my attention that someone could call at 11:01 pm and you will lose that premium income. I quickly learned that I must answer calls at all hours of the day and night to be a success. 20 years later, I can honestly say that it paid off.
The importance of answering your phone…
Answering the phone as quickly as possible can be the difference between making money and losing it. If you don’t take that call the first time around, that person will not be calling you back, or leaving a message. They will be moving on to the next bail agent’s number who will most likely answer his phone. You must keep in mind that potential clients are under stress knowing that their loved one is in jail. They want to get them out as soon as possible, so if you don’t answer your phone they will call someone else immediately. You don’t want to be in this position.
Converting a phone call into a client…
Engaging and negotiating are techniques that must be used to help you gain the prospect’s trust, as well as, providing the necessary information that will help you determine if this person is capable of paying the 10% premium needed to post a bail bond. What you also must understand is that the caller is emotionally stressed and only has one mission – to get their loved one out of jail as quickly as possible. So show some compassion and interest, or they will be calling another bail agent immediately after hanging up with you.
Typically, callers have three specific questions: “What does it cost?” Do I need collateral? “When can you get him out?” By telling the caller the premium cost and that they might need collateral, your caller will most likely end the call before they ask the third question. This is your chance to ask the questions to get the information you need to fully understand the situation and if you can write this bond. A smart bail agent will ask these questions: “Which jail is this person in?” “How much is the bail?” “Do you know what he was arrested for?”
This type of questioning is what I mean by “engaging the caller.” Callers will usually say something like, “He’s innocent. He didn’t do it.” And, this is when you take the conversation in a different direction and start asking more questions like; “Where did the arrest take place?” The caller will then ask if you could get more information, which is your cue to say, “I’ll call the jail and get the information you want and call you right back.” At this point, the client will give you their name and phone number and not call any other bail agent.
Most callers don’t know anything about how bail works, so take this opportunity to patiently explain the process and what you will do for them to get their loved one released from custody. This is your chance to gain their confidence and trust, and promise to do what you say you will do. Once you have finished, the caller will ask the last question, “So, where do we go from here?”
This is when you must gather any information you do not have yet and start the process, always keeping in mind that you MUST complete the due diligence process and refer to the checklist you’ve created to be sure you haven’t skipped anything.
Look for: Managing Your Availability – Part 2