Episode 07 - Stephen Snyder
Stephen Snyder tells us his simple yet effective approach to growing your business!
Show Notes Below:
Our guest is an expert in servicing process, performing bank levies, wage garnishments, and skip trace investigations for California, Idaho, Hawaii, and Utah. He owns findmylegal.com, a legal professional directory, Stephen Snyder, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
How did you get started in this industry?
Back in 1991 I was at church with a friend of mine. He was a process server. I didn't know that's what he did for a living. But, he and I were just talking one day in nursery because I was the person in charge of the nursery and his kid was in there, so we were just chit chatting and I said, "I've been kind of looking for a part-time job, something on the side to make some extra money."
And he says, "Well, I know something that you might be interested in and that's processoring." And I'm like, "What is processoring?" I'd never heard of it before. Anyways, he was working for a company in San Jose, California with a company called TMB legal, which was owned by Tom Bowman. Now his new company is called Sterling Massive.
His company hired my friend, and my friend was quitting because his job promoted him, and he didn't need to work extra hours anymore. So, I said, "Okay, let me go talk to Tom and see if we can work out something." I did and he hired me and I started working in south San Jose in the Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister area. Then I just got to thinking, "I bet there's other companies that need someone in this area too," because I was the only one. Pretty soon it just blossomed and I had bunch of companies sending me work. I was kind of like an independent contractor for them. I didn't do any work for attorneys or paralegals directly. I was just working for other companies. That's kind of how I started.
You have a lot going on right now and you're full of great experiences. But first, tell me about your worst experience working the field.
I have been assaulted once. I think it was probably mid-nineties. I was trying to serve some small claims paper to an individual that owed some money to a jeweler. He bought a ring or something and didn't pay for it. Well, I knocked on the door and I spoke to the guy's son, and I told him what I was there for and I asked him where's his father to serve him. He said, "His dad wasn't there." And I said, "Well, according to California civil procedure I can serve the documents to you." He got pretty irate about it and ended up doing a drop serve on him and just saying, "You're being served. It's not really a choice that you have. You're being served."
So I dropped them and I started walking away, and I had this feeling to turn around. As I turned around, this guy was coming at me with a beer bottle. It hit me. So I'm a fairly a big guy and this guy was a smaller guy, and I just kind of blocked him. I ended up calling the police, they came out and cited him. I went to the court hearing for his plea, how he's gonna plea. Well, he didn't show up. The judge issued a bench warrant for $20,000. I immediately went back to my office, prepared a small claims document, filed it with the court and we served him in small claims. He showed up to that. And then, we just kind of talked and found out that he, cost him a lot more than what the jeweler bail was, just to try to defend himself. He learned something the hard way. I let him off, except for $150.
That's crazy. So you let him off with a $150?
Well, he was quite remorseful at this point. I think he learned his lesson.
I guess so, yeah.
He had a misdemeanor on his record.
As a server, when you're knocking on the door and you're going to walk away from the door, always be aware of what's behind you and what's coming at you.
Yes, especially when you're dealing with someone like I was dealing with, became very irate and he was young. Kind of wanna keep your eyes on the back of your head a little bit.
What would you have Server Nation take from your story the most?
Just be aware of your surroundings. Be smart.
Steve, tell me about your greatest experience about working in the field.
I think that the greatest experience is when I'm able to deal with persons directly. What we call In Pro Per. Someone that's representing themselves, and we're able to be successful in helping them get something that they're owed. For example, I had a plaintiff come to me with a $30,000 judgment and he didn't know how to collect from this guy. We did a few things, including recording the judgment, and it attached to the fellows to the defendant's property, so that when he refinanced or sold, it would force him into paying the judgment. It was just a matter of preparing the abstract of judgment, recording it, and then within a few months, this guy ended up refinancing his home and my client got $3,000 judgment.
Oh wow. I've been able to take people to the point of judgment very successfully like getting them and their papers filed, getting them served, getting a judgment, and then kind of, other than evictions, obviously, getting a red and lock out. But other than that its been pretty, I don't know, you got to find their bank accounts. For servers like me, how I've been in the past, would you be a good contact then to say, hey I know this guy, go ahead and contact this guy. He will be able to find their bank.
Well we actually, I do have a service for finding bank accounts. I work with a private investigator out of Montana. They got some kind of software that they've developed and they can find bank accounts.
Then once we find out what that bank account is, then as the registered processor in California, I can prepare notice of levies and get documents ready for doing a bank levies.
That's right. That's why its so important, I think, to collaborate and communicate with other servers in the industry. Yes, sometimes we might be direct competition with each other, but more often than not, we end up helping each other in this grand scheme that's processed.
Yah definitely networking with other legal professionals is the way to go.
That's an awesome story, Steve. Tell me about what you're working on right now that has you most fired up.
I have been in the business since 1991. I've learned how to build a business, and I own several of them. Hawaii process servers, Utah process servers, Idaho precess servers, I could go on and on and just keep extending my business. Personally, I don't have the time to manage them all. So what I have been excited about doing is finding young process servers that are not found on the web. They need help to build their business. So, I work in conjunction with my company findmylegal.com in helping new process servers build their business and get noticed on the internet, because that is pretty much key. People, when they do a search, they go under Google and they look up the city, the state, and then the word process server. If your website is ranked on Google, they will find you, and we help the young process server build their new business.
Well, Steve, you guys are being excited about, what did you say it was? Findmylegal.com?
Findmylegal.com. So, Server Nation, you're a new server out there, go to findmylegal.com and roughly what does it cost, Steve?
Well to list your company in the entire state, $6.99 per month. If you want us to help build a website, between $100.00-$200.00 depending on how many cities you want to advertise your company in.
That's very inexpensive. That's possible for pretty much any server to be able to afford. There are other directories, I know, out there that charge just for one county, you know $20.00 and such. So, Steve, what advice would you give for the struggling server out there right now?
What I would do, is I would Google Legal Professional Directory, and get your name on as many free websites as possible. There are others you can pay for, which rank very high on Google. If budget is an issue, the first thing to do is to get hooked up with some legal professional directories. They have a link directly from their website to yours, which assumes that you have one. So, that would be one thing that you would want to do, is make sure to get yourself a website. I use GoDaddy.com. They're great. They help solve all my websites, and they have a pretty cool program in there that helps you create the website. If you don't want to do that, findmylegal.com can help you do that. I usually just buy them and build a website on them, search engine, optimize them, and off and running.
So Server Nation, Steve has been dropping some major value bombs on us today, but prepare yourself because we're headed into the rapid fire round after a word from our sponsors.
Server Nation, I know you're with the times and you want to do whatever you can to have all the resources for your client. That is why I created 123efile.com as a process server, attorney, or even an in pro per. You can visit the website and file your documents in any of the pylor courts in California. With its easy to use one page operation, you can have your e-filing done in a matter of minutes and get back to working matters. If your time is important to you 123efile.com.
Okay. Welcome back to the show. Steve are you ready for the rapid fire round?
Excited about it.
If you could recommend one app, what would it be and why?
You know I'm a pretty simple guy. I just use Goggle maps and it just tells me where to go. After I finish a serve, I put in the next address and it tells me where to go.
You know what they say, keep it super simple, Kiss. Right?
That's awesome. So, what case tracking software would you recommend as the best?
For many years, I used QuickBooks. It just kept track of how much people owed me. That's primarily because I worked for other processor companies. As my business developed, where I was working for attorneys directly, I needed to keep track of information specifically on them, and the jobs, and the proofs of service. I investigated several companies, worked with one I didn't care for, but I fund the best one that works for me is sermanager.com. I definitely recommend them. One thing that it helps me to do is to manage all the different companies that I have. So, I can create a job, make a server, the other company, if I want to.some of my customers are here in Utah, and they have a job in California. So, I will receive the job in Utah process service, then I'll assign it to California company, which is Hollister process service, and then my secretary there will assign it to a process server. So, you can kid of keep track of that chain of how the job is hiring out.
So, you're using also internally and not just like me getting a job, sending it out. This case tracking software not only tracks the serve to send it to people, but you're also, with all of these softwares, you're able to create a proof of service, which for many servers is some of the biggest challenges. They're trying to find what documents are put their proof of service on.
Yes, the servemanager.com has a bunch of different proof of service a lot in California. For someone's complaints, small claims, a proof of service, you can prepare all those proofs of service within the serve manager program and then save them. As the company that's prepared it, I can then email it to my server for them to print out or electronically sign directly within the software. Then I can forward that proof of service directly to the customer.
It's been a great resource for us here at find process servers. What is your favorite skip trace tip or trick?
I use a company called IRB Search. Usually check someone out there first. If the information on their is not really clear, they'll need something deeper, like maybe going to the post office to verify some address with the postal verification form.
Yah, I also check Facebook. Check out to see where people might be working, because they're always real proud of where they work and they put down where it is. So, then you can link to it.
Yah, another great Facebook tip or trick that I found is, if you feel like their super secretive but they usually will have their relationship status and they'll say married to Jane or whoever. You can go into Jane's and a lot of the time Jane isn't a secret and you can then go to their profile and then you find out actually what street they live on based on photographs. I feel like as servers, sometimes we become professional stalkers, and we can find anybody. That's kind of the goal, is to find them, just to give them the papers and that's it but you still fund them.
Yah. Any little bit of information that you can get will start to pin point where this person is and that's the whole idea of skip tracing.
That's right. You know I feel like I made the theme of this episode is going to be keep it super simple and keep it back to the basics, because it's so important to at least know what you need to do. IRV is a great resource. It's one of my skip tracing softwares that I use as well. What is your favorite tool for defense?
I would say common sense.
That's a good idea. The common sense thing isn't too common anymore. What book would you recommend?
That's a good question. I think any kind of book that's can help you to focus on the days activities, if that's the Bible or the book of Mormon or whatever you like to read. Just to send some time in the morning, before you go out, and take some time on reading something that's going to be uplifting to you. So you can clear your mind and so that you can be aware of your surroundings during the day.
There are many different books that help you become a better person. I feel like as a server and just having a well-balanced life is really important. As a process server, we spend a lot of time on the road and the car, maybe sometimes a lot of times away from our family, and I think starting your day off right, whether it's reading scriptures, or meditating, those different types of things to help zero yourself. Give yourself a foundation to build on is very important. Thank you for that, Steve. Would you say that you have a mentor?
Well, I always try to, if I have a question about something, I'll usually go back to my source company. If I have a question about something I will go to another process server that I respect. I have used Tom Bowman's office, and I've used attorney Silverson, they're pretty experienced too. I will usually bounce some ideas off of other process servers that have been in the business awhile.
As far as process serving, I went to California to get my CCPS license when I first started out. The speaker there said that after you serve someone, get in the car and drive away. Don't try to do your notes right there. I think there's wisdom in that, because if this guy figures out what yo just did to them, you just served them papers, he might become upset and try to give them back to you. If you're gone down the street, it's going to be harder for him to get to you. I always try to drive 100 a couple 100 yards down the road and then write my notes.
Yah. That's been a good one. That's something that I learned as well. That's really a great tip, a great thing that every server needs to learn. You don't spend time sitting in front of the house. You don't spend time in a place that you may be in danger. If you're looking down at your notes, you're not really watching the house or watching the person that you just served. Just turn around the corner. I have a two corner policy. When I leave the house, I go one corner another corner and then I can pull over. I'm going until I can pull down a side street somewhere, because safety is number one. Safety is the most important thing.
Jim Rones said that we're the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I'm really happy to hear that you have mentors. I know that I have certainly had mentors in different process serving companies and things. Like I said before you would consider competition, but they actually end up being some of your greatest resources. Steve, this next question is one of our last questions, is a doozie. What would you do if you woke up today, had all the same skills and knowledge, had no clients, a smartphone, a car, and only $100.00, what would you do in the next 7 days?
As far as process serving goes, I would first get myself a website. You can do that for under $100.00. If I was a brand new server, that's what I would do, is get myself a website and then develop it and help me move forward in starting process server company. Myself during my 25 plus years, I have been diversified into other types of businesses. I'm also a tax preparer, I've driven Uber, sometimes your business is a little slow at sometimes, and so you want to make sure that you're diversified so that if your company does tank, you have something else to fall back on.
Steve, what I take most from your story, is the idea that as a process server, you can't completely depend solely on getting a job every day, that you're going to go out and serve. It might be good to go out and get another job. I know when I first started I went and got my notary, license. It wasn't a whole lot but if it gave me three or four extra jobs a week, then it was worth it. So that's great. Preparing taxes, it doesn't necessarily correlate, but what's interesting is, I bought a domain name on www,efiletoday.com. I'm just going to run with this e-file thing and then I started realizing that e-file is almost more recognizable to the tax file industry then it is for the legal industry.
The knowledge that I've gained from all the different employment has just been beneficial. There are things that I have learned with being tax prepared that have helped me with being a process server and vice versa. Whatever you can do to gain knowledge, that's important.
That's great, Steve. You have been dropping some awesome, major value bombs on us today. Teaching us that keeping it simple is the most important, building a foundation for each day, finding ways to market yourself to other process serving companies, and then feeding off of each other, building a network, being able to get your name out there is really important. Steve, what is the best way that we can connect with you? And then we can say goodbye.
Depending on which company you want to hire. You can go onto the web and look us up. My company in California is Hollister Process Service. You can phone me on my cell phone, I'll give that to yah, 808-557-5615. If you have any questions about wanting some help building your new process service company, I'd be glad to sit down and talk to you, no charge. We can go over what your goals are. Then I can make some suggestions on what you can do, and if you want to use my services to help build your website, I would be glad to help you out.
Wow. Server Nation, if you heard that, you just heard Mr. Snyder is willing to personally help you build your business.
Steve I want to personally thank you for being on the show. I have been impressed with your story and I'm excited to share it with the world through Social Media @podcastserver and on iTunes, Stitcher, Iheart, Sound Cloud and Pandora! And as always.. you can reach us on the web at www.processserverdaily.com
I'm glad that you had me on. It was an awesome experience.
Guest: Stephen Snyder