Our guest today was a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and served for a brief time in law enforcement. She gained a bachelor's degree in business while working the private sector as a private investigator and process server. Amanda Curran, welcome to the show.
Amanda Curran: Hello, how are you Michael?
Mighty Mike: I'm doing good. I'm doing good. Amanda, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in this industry.
Amanda Curran: Well, I mean you pretty much hit the nail on the head there. I got into it actually as a private investigator and I was serving papers for the private investigator I worked for on the side. And then I decided, just due to some circumstances. I have utmost respect for the person I worked for in giving me the opportunity, but I needed to branch off on my own. So Apex Legal Support Services was born.
Mighty Mike: That's excellent. Amanda, there's a reason why you're on the show. You're full of great experiences, but first tell me a little bit about your family.
Amanda Curran: My family is awesome. My family is everything to me. My two kids, I have a six year old daughter named Cassandra, and a four year old boy named William, and they are my world. They actually were a big influence in me opening my own business too. I just wanted to be able to pass something on to them, for their future and secure their future a little bit more than working for somebody, and have the flexibility to be able to work for myself.
Amanda Curran: We are a family-owned business. So all my employees, if that's what you want to call them, I prefer colleagues or associates, are family members. We are as thick as thieves. Our blood runs strong. It's a great experience. It's a challenging experience at times, but it's awesome.
Mighty Mike: That is awesome, being able to run your own schedule and to own your own business is something that they say that entrepreneurs were the only ones crazy enough to work 80 hours a week for ourselves to avoid 40 hours a week for somebody else.
Amanda Curran: It's absolutely the truth.
Mighty Mike: So we're not all about negativity here, but we do like to start it off with your worst experience. Tell us about your worst experience working in the field.
Amanda Curran: So I think any time I have to serve somebody that is either handicapped or an elderly person, I have a personal, moral problem with it. You know, I mean I still do it and obviously it's part of the justice system, it has to be done. But I would say the worst specific experience would be actually recently.
Amanda Curran: I served a foreclosure notice on some body's home. He was handicapped and his wife was handicapped, and it was just ... You know I think a lot of people move down here to live the dream, the retirement life, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina specifically. I just felt bad about the whole thing, and he was not happy about it. So he was threatening me. It was just a very ...
Amanda Curran: It had gone through, I think the sheriff. It had gone through two other processors and it was one of those ones where I pulled up, he came home from work. I was conducting surveillance down the street, so I obviously knew what he drove. He pulled in his driveway. I pulled in behind him. I said, "Here you go. I have some legal papers for you." And he tried to deny who he was. Obviously I had a picture of him and everything else, so there was no denying it.
Amanda Curran: He said, "Well I'm not taking your papers." And I said, "Okay. Well in South Carolina, you know about the drop serve, you can drop it at their feet and be done with it." So that's what I did. And after he realized he was getting served without having to actually take the papers he went off. "Well I have a gun in my back pocket and I'm going to take it out and shoot you." And I was like, "Listen dude. That is not in your best interest right now." He kept on with it. He followed me back to my car.
Amanda Curran: We try to remain professional obviously at all times. So I had to convince him it wasn't in his best interest to do anything and he just needed to go inside, which he eventually did. But I just, some people you can do that and walk away from it and feel okay about it, but with that one, it was just the circumstances and the fact that they were older and handicapped and disabled. It was just, left a bad taste in my mouth. But it's take the good with the bad in this profession for sure.
Mighty Mike: So Amanda, what I take from your story the most is, we're all people and when you get out there, it's amazing whether it's a single mom getting evicted, or whether it's a guy with schizophrenia getting a restraining order. As a processor, you literally get everything. You get the grandma and grandpa that are so sweet, they just baked cookies and want to invite you in.
Amanda Curran: Right.
Mighty Mike: You get it all. And in this situation, it sounds like you sympathize like I do, for a lot of these people. You sympathize for their situation, but at the same time, you have a job to do. So it sounds like you were able to do it.
Amanda Curran: Exactly. And you know, the next time we went out there, I had our local police department come out there with us and I wasn't the one to serve him, it was somebody who worked with me to serve him. I just wanted to. We left off on a bad note. So and it went much better the second time.
Amanda Curran: You know, it was just, I like to leave everyone with a good feeling. I don't like to leave off on a bad note. And that one, there was just no reasoning with him. So you get the job done and you walk away from it and let it be, I guess.
Mighty Mike: What do you want Server Nation to take from your story, your bad experience? What do you want them to learn from that?
Amanda Curran: I would say the best thing that you could possibly do in a situation where the person that you are serving is utterly unreasonable is to remain calm. Because nothing good is going to come out of you escalating your attitude to match theirs. It's going to end badly. The best thing you can do is remain calm and sometimes just not say anything.
Amanda Curran: Sometimes you just get in your car and you leave and you write on your affidavit exactly what happened. If need be, if you have to serve them again, like we did, you call your local police department or your sheriff's department and have them go out there with you.
Mighty Mike: That's perfect. Amanda, tell me about your greatest experience working in the field.
Amanda Curran: I always love the hard to serve people that can't be found. So any of those are good. I would say my greatest feel good experience is we served a individual who owed, I think it was 10, it was almost a decade, 9 or 10 years of child support.
Amanda Curran: The reason why the woman wasn't receiving the child support is because he had a job, I think it was in a prison or somewhere where he worked an odd schedule. This specific attorney kept hiring the sheriff to go out there. They don't work, they won't sit like we do. They work very few hours during the day, and if they don't get them it's just a non-service, that's it.
Amanda Curran: So for years this was going on, and every year she would hire an attorney and they would always hire the sheriff's department and they could never serve the individual. So finally, they hired us and we ended up getting him served and she was able to get back all that child support. So it was, I don't know how much money it was, but like I said, it was about a decade. So it was a large lump sum.
Mighty Mike: What a cool experience. Amanda, what are you working on right now that you're most excited about?
Amanda Curran: Well personally, in our company we are being certified right now through SLED, to be a licensed PI firm, so that'll be coming within the next couple months. Like I said, I come from a PI background, so it was just a natural next step.
Amanda Curran: But I would say as far as process serving goes, I'm really excited about all the social media groups that have sprouted up. I think social media is a great way to network, number one it's free. Number two, it connects you to people that you would obviously otherwise not be connected to. So I'm really excited about all the groups that are popping up, just as far as information sharing and networking goes.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, social media is the new marketing. A lot of people say, "Oh I'm not really into social media." Or, "What's Snapchat? I don't need Snapchat." Maybe Snapchat isn't essential for you right now, but the social media that teenagers are using right now is Snapchat. Just like the social media that we were using when we were teenagers, or just after was Facebook, right?
Amanda Curran: Right, exactly.
Mighty Mike: And if you talk to a young person right now, they'll tell you, "Oh, Facebook is for old people." I'm like, "What are you talking about?"
Amanda Curran: But it's true. I had to go to my younger brother to learn about Instagram. I didn't have a clue.
Mighty Mike: Yep. Yeah, exactly Instagram is a-
Amanda Curran: He's got like 3,000 followers on there for posting Trump pictures. I'm like, "Well you need to teach me." So he mentored me in Instagram.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, and let me tell you, Instagram is an amazing tool to be able to gain followers and to gain an audience. A specific audience that you're after.
Amanda Curran: Absolutely.
Mighty Mike: So that's awesome. So you guys are going to be a private investigation firm, so you can hire employees to work under you that aren't necessarily private investigators that are learning, right?
Amanda Curran: Yes. And like I said, we are a family run business, so we keep it in the family for the most part. I would say that would be a good five year goal for us to hire outsiders, if you will.
Mighty Mike: Right. And that's how you can build your revenue. 'Cause you're basically duplicating-
Amanda Curran: [crosstalk 00:09:37] exactly, the grandchild, right. For sure.
Mighty Mike: That's awesome. So Server Nation, Amanda has been dropping some major value bombs on us today. But prepare yourself because we're headed into the rapid fire round right after a word from our sponsors.
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Mighty Mike: Server Nation welcome back to the show. Amanda, are you ready for the rapid fire round?
Amanda Curran: I hope so.
Mighty Mike: If you could recommend one app, what would it be and why?
Amanda Curran: I'm a big fan of the timestamp camera on my phone. Just because I don't have to hook up a body-cam, it's simple. I can snap a picture. There's a timestamp and a lot of them have GPS now, and they're free.
Mighty Mike: So what's the name of that one? Is it just Timestamp?
Amanda Curran: I just use, I think it's called Free Timestamp Camera. And it's for Android. I think there's an iPhone version as well.
Mighty Mike: I use the app called APD Timestamp. The Tri-Star mobile software that I use has the date and time and GPS stamped in it. But for situations where my phone is about to die, I just want to take one photo, I use the APD Timestamp, it works really well for Android. Amanda, what case tracking software would you recommend as the best?
Amanda Curran: Serve Manager, absolutely, hands down.
Mighty Mike: A lot of people love Serve Manager. What's your favorite thing about it?
Amanda Curran: Customer service. I can literally call and they're actually in a different time zone. I think they're in Mountain time zone over there. I have it timed, they're two hours behind me. But I will call at their 8 o'clock in the morning, somebody picks up and my problem is solved by 8:10.
Mighty Mike: That's awesome. Amanda, what is your favorite skip trace tip or trick?
Amanda Curran: Yeah, and it sounds kind of cliché, but social media it's my always go-to. And then obviously I have my databases, I use Delvepoint and Tracers. But social media is priceless, it really is, and it's free.
Mighty Mike: Social media is kind of the link, yeah. So you said Delvepoint and Tracers?
Amanda Curran: Yeah, Delvepoint, I use and Tracers. Tracers is really good for obscure information, such as cell phone numbers. You can even put in a cell phone search on there and get who owns that cell phone or who's using that cell phone. They have a couple things that the other databases don't offer.
Mighty Mike: That's awesome. So what is your favorite tool for defense?
Amanda Curran: Well my wonderful personality would be first. But as a last resort, we have our concealed carries and I use my Smith & Wesson Shield .40 would be my favorite.
Mighty Mike: Oh watch out.
Amanda Curran: Yep.
Mighty Mike: Okay, so what book would you recommend?
Amanda Curran: Actually, I haven't found an actual process serving book that I actually like that's worth the money, to be honest. I think experience would be the best teacher in that aspect.
Amanda Curran: But as far as business goes, my favorite book actually is not related to process serving at all, it's called The Power of Broke, by Daymond John. I don't know if you watch Shark Tank at all, but he's the shark on there. That book is absolutely awesome. I think I've read it a couple times. I have it on audible. I listen to it all the time. It's just a very inspirational motivational book.
Mighty Mike: Well I'll tell you, Shark Tank, I'm either watching Dog the Bounty Hunter, or I'm watching Shark Tank, those are my two shows.
Amanda Curran: That's a good one too, yeah. I love Shark Tank. So Daymond's book, if you haven't read it, you have to read it. It's awesome.
Mighty Mike: And I love Daymond. He's such a cool guy. He's the guy who a lot of times doesn't step out and actually invest and the all of a sudden when nobody else wants to invest, he's like, "I'll invest." It's something that he sees the difference.
Amanda Curran: Yeah, and in his book he talks about that and he says that he's been labeled the people shark and it's absolutely true.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, that's good. What is the greatest advice you've ever received?
Amanda Curran: The greatest advice I ever received was from an attorney who I never got business from, because it's just not really, he's a criminal defense attorney, but whatever. We have a good relationship. But his advice was, "Your goal for the first year is to keep your doors open. If you can do that, everything else is easy." And he was absolutely right.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, and every year after that. Amanda, what would you do if you woke up today, had all the same skills and knowledge, had no clients, a smart phone, a car, and only $100, what would you do in the next week?
Amanda Curran: This question actually cracks me up and I'm going to tell you why. I think I started my business with less than $100. In that exact situation. I had a car. I had a smart phone. I knew nobody. I had no friends, no clients, and I was actually homeless at the time. I was sleeping on my father's floor of his mobile home.
Amanda Curran: So the first thing I did, personally going back to that area in my life that wasn't so great, I signed up for Uber with the understanding that obviously I was not going to be an Uber driver forever. But as I was going and introducing myself to attorneys, I was getting paid to do it.
Amanda Curran: So anytime I Ubered, I would look up and see where I stopped and see where the nearest attorney's office was, and I would go in there and I would introduce myself, with obviously the $100 would be towards my business cards and a website, absolutely vital things that you have to have for anyone to take you seriously. If you don't have a website, you're not getting business, good luck. It's just not even worth it. And business cards, obviously it makes you look professional. But yeah, that's what I did.
Amanda Curran: It was $20 for the Uber inspection, they call it, to inspect your car and make sure it's suitable to drive. I Ubered my way around the Myrtle Beach area and introduced myself and I got, I built my business primarily off that. Once we became more established, I had other things obviously to help enhance my website and make us up on Google listings, that sort of thing.
Amanda Curran: But there's a lot of stuff you can do for free that doesn't cost money, social media. If you're willing to do it and you're willing to put in the hours and put yourself out on the line, get out of your comfort zone, you don't need a lot of money to start off.
Mighty Mike: That's great Amanda. I tell you what, first of all, you're cruising around Myrtle Beach, it could be worse.
Amanda Curran: Which is awesome, exactly. And that's always how I looked at it.
Mighty Mike: Right yeah, and second of all you get to drive around. I don't know about you, but I'm the type of person when I'm driving, I got my music on, I'm in heaven. I could drive all day.
Amanda Curran: Exactly. And I've gotten clients that, okay, I don't want to call anyone out. But attorneys that I picked up from the bar or whatever and brought them home and they get to talking and they're attorneys, "Well here's my card." They have called me. One of my best clients I met in my Uber. It's a good way to connect with people and you get paid to do it. So I'm going to get paid for my marketing one way or another.
Mighty Mike: As a process server you're out there serving papers and eventually you probably hear people talking about, "Oh, I had too many serves." And, "Oh, I have this 30 serves." This and that. That's a great problem to have.
Amanda Curran: Exactly.
Mighty Mike: But if you don't have that problem, think outside the box. Being an Uber driver, a Lyft driver. Did you ever go to Lyft?
Amanda Curran: Oh yeah. I did both of them. Yep, absolutely. I had both apps on at the same time. And like I said, anytime I stopped anywhere I would just Google attorneys near me, and Google has that nice little thing where it pulls up on the map by distance and I would just walk myself in there and introduce myself and hand them my card, and that's literally how I built my business.
Mighty Mike: That's so funny. In the Facebook group, one of the people, I don't remember who it was, but they said that they were staking out this bar and then someone wanted an Uber ride, so he said, "Okay, I'll just do the Uber." So he pulls up and the person gets in the car, and it's the person he was trying to serve.
Amanda Curran: That's awesome. And you know, it's great to get into gated communities. Do you know how many times I've tried to get into a gated community and they just wave me along because I have an Uber sticker? It's a good cover.
Mighty Mike: It's a good cover and you get a little extra cash for doing what you're already doing.
Amanda Curran: Right.
Mighty Mike: So that's good.
Amanda Curran: Exactly.
Mighty Mike: Good stuff Amanda. That's awesome. So what I take most from your story is think outside the box. Guys go out there and tackle it any way that you can. Amanda, what is your final parting piece of advice for the struggling server out there?
Amanda Curran: I would say, in this industry, especially in the beginning, it is very apparent that it is feast or famine. So you are going to have very high highs and very low lows. And I think the most important thing you can take from that is during the low lows to understand that it can't be like that forever and it's going to turn around. So just hang on, don't give up. Keep pushing and it will get better.
Mighty Mike: Amanda, what is the best way that we can connect with you? And then we'll say goodbye.
Amanda Curran: Sure. All my information is on our website, it's www.apex.lss and that's Lima, sierra, sierra.com
Mighty Mike: That is excellent. Amanda, I want to personally thank you for coming on the show. And I've been impressed with your story and I'm excited to share it with the world. Until next time Server Nation, you've been served up some awesomeness by Amanda, the Myrtle Beach Uber driver.
Amanda Curran: Love it, love it.
And Mighty Mike, the Podcast Server.