Chris Brogan (a prolific blogger and business owner, in case you haven’t heard of him) wrote a piece a few weeks back about waiting seven minutes at a local restaurant without anyone bothering to acknowledge him.
What did he do? He walked out. And went to McDonald’s, which served him in less than the seven minutes he waited in the other place.
The point of his story was that being local doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. It just means it’s local.
Private investigators for years worked local. The work revolved around following disenchanted spouses, surveilling people collecting disability, conducting in-person interviews or visiting the scene of an accident.
Being local counted.
Much of that work still exists, but the game has changed.
Ultimately, what private investigators sell is information. While information is still obtained by following people, conducting interviews and visiting the scene, so much more information is available at our fingertips.
Investigators have access to hoards of information through investigative databases, public records, social networks and a network of other sources.
Interviews can be conducted by telephone or even via Skype.
You can find just about anyone from the comfort of your computer.
I personally conducted hundreds of interviews last year, none of which required me to leave my computer. In fact, many calls were made from thousands of miles away from my office.
I’ve identified hundreds of witnesses and long-lost family members with nothing more than a laptop, a telephone and a couple of investigative databases.
In fact, over the last several years, I have rarely had to leave my office to do my work, meet a client or interview someone.
Of course, being local still counts, but it counts less and less.
Most of our clients have never met us. Nor do they want or need to.
They have come from as far away as Australia and Pakistan and San Francisco seeking information from all over the United States and all over the world.
It didn’t matter that we weren’t local.
It mattered that we were good.