Episode 15 - Valerie McGilvrey
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Mighty Mike: What's up guys, Server Nation! This is Mighty Mike, the Podcast Server and you are listening to ProcessServerDaily.com. Guys, I'm super excited about today's episode and if you have a story that you want to tell that you are excited about, maybe a dog chased you, maybe a guy tried to shoot you with his gun. Maybe you had a heartwarming story where you helped somebody in need. Guys, I want to hear your story on this story. Go to ProcessServerDaily.com/beaguest. For the studio time, go to www.ProcessServerDaily.com/beaguest. I look forward to speaking to you and hearing your story. Let's get to the show. Server nation, welcome back to the show. Our guest today is the author of Skip Trace Secrets, Background Check and The Pretext Playbook under the pen name James O'Reilly. She is the skip trace goddess and is gracing is with her presence today. Valerie McGilvrey, welcome to the show.
Valerie: Hi, thanks for having me.
Mighty Mike: Awesome, Valerie. It's so cool to have you on. It's so cool to be associated with you and all the awesome things that you're doing. Valerie, take a minute and tell us how did you get started in this industry?
Valerie: I was introduced to skip tracing when I bought a very low volume bar and grill in The woodlands, Texas. It was a biker bar and it had no business at all. It was worse than the owner had presented it to be, so I called a bunch of my friends and I said, "Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?" So I had the idea from a former bar owner to go to all my competitors and write down license plates for Monday night football, gold tournament, start tournaments, whatever other special function, and when I had that I would mail out hundreds of postcards to all of the people who had ... I had run their license plate, right, and got their information off of the registration. It worked. The whole goal was to turn my day sales into something that supported the entire bar and that the nighttime business was actually profit and it did work that way.
Valerie: But I was chased out of a few parking lots. I started bar wars because I did that and my old boss told me that he took all of his uncles' license plates out of his Chinese food restaurant and sent them all a coupon for a free egg roll and stole all their business. So finding the database to do that was really difficult. I ended up with public data.com on a recommendation of someone unrelated to the industry and sat for hours and just reversed or busted license plates or searched the license plates and got the information, had to hand write it out. I mean, I didn't have any extravagant computer skills back then, the late '90s or the mid-'90s. So I sat at Kinko's and did it. Hand wrote some of the postcards that I had printed for free Monday night football buffet. Anyway, so it worked well.
Mighty Mike: So you found a database that you could skip trace plate searches?
Valerie: Yes.
Mighty Mike: They told you the address so that you could mail them a coupon?
Valerie: Yeah. They gave me the registration address on the vehicles and it was pretty current. So I mailed them postcards like all the Monday night football people that went to all my competitors. It was Papa's Ice House, the Fortune Club, all these little bars around me. Got them all. I would go out every three hours and go check for different cars to come and go because people like the happy hour crowd leaves and then the nighttime crowd comes in so you have to go back so you can finish getting all the people who were ... Got money to spend on Monday night football.
Mighty Mike: Wow.
Valerie: The list grew to be like some 5,000 different vehicles and I regularly mailed, back then a postcard stamp was like 20 cents. It was very affordable to do and I printed them myself and it worked.
Mighty Mike: I to tell you like I joke about ninja tricks and being able to do different things to grow your business. Like you took up the ability to do like the searching and skip tracing that we're trying to do for this service that we do for other people. This whole idea, right? That is kind of foreign to so many people and you thought, "Okay." You weren't even in the industry. Is that fair to say you weren't in the industry, you were in the bar industry?
Valerie: That's right. Bar restaurant.
Mighty Mike: Oh my Gosh.
Valerie: So yeah. I mean the whole goal was targeted marketing. I bought radio commercials and I printed T-shirts and gave them away. I did all of the bar restaurant marketing tricks that I've known all the years that I was in the bar business. But targeted marketing, I wanted that person in that bar, sitting on that bar stool to come to my bar and I hired all the employees that were fired from other bars and I paid a dollar more an hour and I mean, I did everything cutthroat that you could ever think about doing.
Mighty Mike: Well, you sound like you were and still are a great entrepreneur.
Valerie: Well thank you.
Mighty Mike: That's what that sounds like. You're doing whatever it takes to make it happen and that's what it means to be an entrepreneur. Creating something out of nothing. Taking what other people don't see and making it something unique.
Valerie: Without spending a fortune.
Mighty Mike: That's right. So Valerie, tell me what is your worst experience working in the field?
Valerie: So I had a repossession for a guy. His mother had passed away and I couldn't find this guy and it was an old Honda civic, ugly, worn out junker, jalopy. I'm real surprised that the lien holder wanted it back. But just on principle alone, they want all their cars back. So I had found by spewing the keyword or GOogle alerts on the name that his mother had passed away, found the obituary. So I skip traced the mom and went over and sure enough the car was parked there and it was packed full of her stuff and he was loading up her van with her stuff, cliening her apartment out, and I got in it. I had a key and I drove away and I was driving in an area where there are no white. I was raised in Houston where my neighborhood was mostly Hispanic. All 100% Mexican. Had the greatest neighbors. Was not ever afraid to go into a black area.
Valerie: Had shopped in the area, go in and out. It wasn't that far away from where I grew up. I have the window rolled down. His air conditioner doesn't work. All the sudden I hear this booming voice right next to me, this guy screaming, there's a white lady stealing my car. I'm a white lady in a black neighborhood. So maybe I ought pull over and just talk to him, right? So he gets out of his car, I never get out of the repo. Gets in the front passenger seat and he looks at me. We discussed his lien holder, "Sorry, dude, but you haven't paid for your car in like a year and I'm not getting out of the car and you can follow me over there." He looked at me and said, "What if I don't get out?" I said, "Well, I guess we're going to go to your lien holder." But I had a Palm Treo one, of the first fat ones, with the ... It looked like a BlackBerry.
Mighty Mike: Yeah.
Valerie: I had flipped the camera side over. So he had the impression that I might be recording and he got a bit nervous and he changed his tune. So in the next 10 minutes of defiant conversation, he ended up getting out of the car and following me back over to his lien holder. But it was a scary moment because I was out of place and if he had buddies in the area, I mean I was by myself. I left my car back over at his mama's apartment. It all could have gone wrong. So probably within the next three months, I completely quit working in the field, actually repossessing cars like getting in a car and driving away or operating a tow truck, which was not my favorite thing to do.
Mighty Mike: Wow. So I've always known you as like the skip trace gal. That's your niche. You're saying that there was a time where you were actually hopping in cars and driving away.
Valerie: Oh yeah. I mean, that adrenaline rush is so addictive. Once you start doing that and you really learn or you already have a basic knowledge of psychology on how to do the job and deal with difficult people. So for me that was the bar business, dealing with very difficult people having to cut drunks off and quash fights and altercations that lasts forever. Stop them and get people out, even though I was just really a bartender, it's a teamwork situation in bar restaurant. So, you have the same dynamic of anger and high emotion except they're not drunk. So if you want to be able to get in and get out super fast, I mean, I've gotten in plenty of cars where the seat was all the way up and I'm like, I'm 5"9'. I had to do a little bit contortion adjustment so I can get the seat back and get out of the driveway at the same time that I didn't get busted, but once you make that corner and you realize I just drove a $550 paycheck out of somebody's driveway and so you want to keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it because money's amazing. The adrenaline is the addiction.
Mighty Mike: Wow. So they give you keys so you don't have to try to like do anything. You just get the key and go after it.
Valerie: Yeah.
Mighty Mike: Valerie, what do you want Server nation to take away from your worst experience in the field?
Valerie: Don't freak out. Even if you're on pins and needles and somebody is screaming in your face, don't be aggressive back because that's not going to deescalate any situation and your safety is on the line.
Mighty Mike: That's good. Deescalate it. Don't escalate. Don't be an agitator. When someone's upset being upset back at them, what has it ever gotten back? It just escalates it even more and getting out of the situation and getting to safety is the most important. So that's awesome. That's good stuff. So now we get to go to the more positive side of the show. What is your greatest experience working in the field?
Valerie: Any repo that a debtor didn't catch me.
Mighty Mike: No, it's got to be one. One experience. The best one.
Valerie: I used to set debtors up for dates and all kinds of crazy things, but of course, a lot of people still do that, but in the repossession industry, we're no longer allowed to use pretexting, but I still hold onto it for other things that I do. So when we were allowed to do it, one of the greatest experiences that I had was a barber who had a beautiful-
Valerie: Experiences that I had was a barber who had a beautiful mustang with custom polished aluminum wheels. He pulled it up behind his barber shop with the back door open so we could see his car at all times and nobody could repossess it. So, I was doing my typical skip trace work and I saw that his barber shop was actually up for sale. So, I called another shop in the strip center to ask for the management company for that center. It's usually either a private owner managing their own strip center, or it's a management company. So I actually called a real estate company and the woman who answered the phone said, "Yeah, the shop's for sale and we have the listing. Let me give you the guy's cellphone number." I'm like oh yeah, definitely.
Valerie: So I called the guy and I said so, "Hey, my name is Valerie and my little sister is a screw up, and my dad is going to give her the money to open up her own salon, and this is the last ditch effort to save this girl's life. She's just like oh my God, she's got no direction but she does hair. So, because it's a barbershop, it has all the chairs, it's already equipped, it's already plumbed. It's go in and paint the walls pink and then hang a shingle and you're a beauty salon." So, he's like, "Yeah, yeah, sure, no problem. Let's meet." I said, "Okay, sure. But you got to give me an inventory list first." Not only is the key element to doing, buying, or selling any business, the inventory list it gave me pretext realism. So he didn't suspect me because he's really protecting this beautiful $30,000 black mustang.
Valerie: So, he starts to flirt with me on the phone and I'm not really flirting back, and I told him yeah I'm going to be in the area tomorrow or day after tomorrow, I'll meet you at Pour House, which was a bar restaurant right around the corner from where his barbershop was and it has these two huge sets of heavy, heavy wooden double doors. So, after you with all your might get through the first set you've got to go through a second set. That gives me time to get him inside the restaurant so that the tow truck can get his car and get out of the parking lot, because by the time he gets back through the double doors and he figures out I'm not there and his car's gone, even if it was on the hook it would be okay. So, this happened. Tow truck calls me and says, "Valerie, he's here. The car's here, but he's not getting out of the car." I'm like oh, great.
Valerie: And there's two tow trucks hidden in the parking lot. They're telling me I have to call him back to make another date because he won't get out of the car. And I said no way man, this was too much work. I call the guy, call the skit, and I tell him, "Okay listen, would you just order me an iced tea and a hamburger? I'm five minutes away, and I'm starving, and they take forever to cook a burger, and I'll be right there." And he's like, "Well, I'm waiting for you in my car." I said, "Oh my God, it's 102 degrees outside," and it was, "you better get out of that heat." And so after I got off the phone the tow truck told me he got out of the car, he took his apron off, he polished his rims, he checked his teeth, he put something in the trunk, and then he walked inside. And when the second double door opened the first double door was closing and they could see him going through the door. They got the mustang and they got out of the parking lot and the guy never called me again ever. Not even to cuss me out and I was waiting for it.
Mighty Mike: Oh my gosh, this is such an awesome story.
Valerie: Thank you. I mean, so I'm just doing stuff like that.
Mighty Mike: I love how you have this nonchalant I just do stuff like that every day, it's no big deal.
Valerie: We can't do pre texting for repossessions anymore. It's not allowed for the purpose of collecting a debt. We have to be straight forward. And so, the golden rule for me now for debt collection and skip tracing for repossessions is no contact. I just quietly stalk them behind the scenes and then when I predict where they're going to be or I figure it out then I send the tow truck.
Mighty Mike: So Valerie, that was such a cool story. I'm so excited to be able to ... I mean, it's just crazy the guy, you got his car like that. And it's crazy how he polished the wheels right before he went it, and that's insane. So, what I want to know now is what are you working on right now that has you most fired up, most excited?
Valerie: Well, I'm almost finished with my next book, which is called Skip Trace Wiki: I Shouldn't Be Telling You This, and I'm hoping to have that all the way published in the next month. And I know that a lot of people have been waiting for it. It was pushed back because of Hurricane Harvey, and then other crazy things happened to me.
Mighty Mike: Valerie, is that the book where you're putting all of the stuff that you've been holding back on? Because you were telling me before you could teach me but you weren't willing to teach me everything you know. Is this book going to have that stuff?
Valerie: Yes, it is. There's a lot of things that I didn't want to put in print, and I was okay with talking about it in an open class. But, I have had so much feedback from other things that I've done. People need more information, you have to tell the complete story, and I'm not going to waste anybody's time or disappoint anyone. I promise it will be the information overload of your lifetime.
Mighty Mike: So you guys will be able to get that book, there will be a link on the show notes page when the book comes out at processserverdaily.com/Valerie. Okay Valerie. So, I'm super excited for that to come out because I don't read a whole lot, but I have read a few books in my life. One was Thinking Girl Rich, one was How To Win Friends and Influence People, and one was Skip Trace Secrets. Those are the three books I read and they were all three on a treadmill by the way. So, server nation, Valerie 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: Valerie, are you ready for the rapid fire round?
Valerie: No.
Mighty Mike: HAHA! What is your favorite skip trace tactic?
Valerie: My carfax.com, and you can take a vin number of a vehicle, vin only, and enter it in a dashboard up to eight vehicles and see all of the service history for any of the garages or mechanic shops that give information to Car Fax. So, it tells me where somebody was, where they're most likely going to go back to, and a lot of details that you would want from a Car Fax report that would cost your $40 bucks you get free.
Mighty Mike: Wow, that's really cool. So, for a process server who's trying to serve somebody now is there any information as far as addresses on there? Probably not huh?
Valerie: So no. There's no personal details on mycarfax.com, but what you'll get is where they've been and you'll go directly to the shop or have the attorney to send a subpoena there to get the information that they gave, which would be a phone number and or an address, how they paid, debit card or credit card information, check, or what have you. And, sometimes people at those shops even know the person that you're looking for and can give you-
Mighty Mike: That is awesome skip trace tactic. What is your favorite tool for defense? I know you're not jumping into cars anymore, but what were you using for defense tool?
Valerie: There wasn't one. I was rolling fearless and unarmed.
Mighty Mike: I venture to say that it was your beauty, how about that?
Valerie: Oh thank you.
Mighty Mike: What book other than yours, okay, what book would you recommend?
Valerie: The book that I have had, actually I've had it for a few years on my Kindle, there's an updated version, it's Michael Bazzell's Hiding From the Internet. Now Cynthia Hetherington also does a talk on getting all your information off the internet. So, if you can ever get Cynthia Hetherington's class do it, she's amazing. I know she doesn't like me because I drink box wine, but she is absolutely, simply amazing. So, but the book does go through, and Cynthia also ... All of the details on how to get the communication to the databases, what information they're going to keep whether you like it or not, which would be I think criminal, all of the other databases on the internet like Zaba Search, Been Verified, and all of those as well as the simple freebie databases like Reverse Genie, or thatsthem.com, you really just need to start at the beginning and work your way through all of these databases and get your information out. You don't want to be the victim of retaliation. And in our industries it could happen.
Mighty Mike: Now Valerie, are you talking about like social security ... I know you probably mean everything, but what is the main information that could be damaging? I know social security number, are you talking about address because they can come and retaliate physically?
Valerie: Absolutely. Come and retaliate physically. A lot of people know someone who works for a debt collection company or another business that would have access to a professional database that has your information in it. So, just because the databases vet their subscribers doesn't mean that you're protected. You can still be a victim of someone who has just the ability to access. All it takes is some motivation and retaliation is always a big motivator. So definitely. And it's a lengthy process too. So, spending like at least an hour a week on getting letters out, and getting everything done, and following up and making sure that your information comes out. But again, it's not just your social security number, not everyone can see a social security number when they search for you in a database. There are some that don't have the privilege of seeing a social security number. So, that's not the thing. It's your phone number, and or your home address, your family's information too.
Mighty Mike: That's true. That's true. A lot of times when I can't find somebody I will go on to their ... I'll skip trace them and it will show me the different people that also lived in that address. And if they shared the same name I would turn around and skip trace the family member's names and I would come up with a more current address. So that's-
Mighty Mike: Their family members' names and I come up with a more current address. So that's true. Those are some awesome tips. I'm going to have to get that book. That sounds ... I think actually you told me about that book a long time ago. So what is the greatest advice you've ever received?
Valerie: Bide your time. Don't rush. And that's about right.
Mighty Mike: Now is that in relation to business?
Valerie: I think that you can apply that to any aspect of your life, but especially business, doing things right the first time makes you look good, reputable, trustworthy, and then it's easier to not have to go back and redo, or cover up a mistake, or a pay homage, or payback or financially come out of your pocket. But yeah, bide your time for me was fatherly advice I got when I was 12 and I was like, oh my God, I'm ready to move out of this house, please. I want to be 30 tomorrow. And my dad said, "bide your time the bills are waiting for you".
Mighty Mike: Isn't that true?
Valerie: Yeah. And if I jump into a big project and I don't even know where to start, there's no beginning when you have this grand idea and you're trying to put it altogether in the blackboard in your mind, and you might jump the gun and say something to someone, and they steal your idea or whatever. So, bide your time. Study your thing. Don't make sudden moves without thinking it through.
Mighty Mike: That's amazing advice that I'm going to take myself. Valerie, this next question trips up most of my guests, and people who have listened to the show quite a bit are always still stumped when they come on here. So this will be fun. And actually I kind of already know what you might say, because it's how you got started in the industry. I don't know if you'd be able to do it the way you got started in the industry before. So this will be interesting. What would you do if you woke up tomorrow with all of the same skills and knowledge, but you didn't know anybody, and only had $100, a smartphone, and a car. How would you regrow your business?
Valerie: I would do the same thing that I did 20 years ago. And I got in my car with my smartphone and drove down I-45 in Houston, Texas. And every note lot that I passed had their phone number, car tote your note lot on their sign above their car lot. I called them and said, "hey, I'm at your neighbor's car lot, and I'm a skip tracer, I'm contingent. I want to ask you if you have any repossessions that nobody else can find? It's like having a free investigator". And I went on through the spiel, and they would all say, sure we've got 20. Come over here and I'll make photocopies right now. And that's one side of the freeway one day, the other side of the freeway going back up the next day. I know I covered probably 20 car lots, and I had over 100 skip assignments.
Mighty Mike: Wow.
Valerie: And I got almost all of those cars picked up within the next 60 days.
Mighty Mike: Wow. So this is something a lot of people might not know about, Valerie. So when you're out there serving papers, someone else started the case, someone else filed it, someone else sent it to you most likely, and now you're going out and delivering that paper. And we do have some listeners that are private investigators in some different industries, but what you're doing is like a whole ... It's like a super niche, right? You're the person that is going to maybe the banks, sometimes you call them, what? Contingent clubs?
Valerie: Contingent on either getting the debtor to pay, or getting the vehicle repossessed, or getting them to drop it off, whatever the result would be. A positive result that satisfied the lien holder.
Mighty Mike: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. And how do you get these lien holders? Do you say you just go to these specific lots?
Valerie: Yeah, pretty much. Any note lot is going to have repossessions that no one else can find. And that's what you say. I find people that no one else can, and it's free to try me. And if I get your car, or run it into pay because you're a skip tracer. So you can't just do it on the car only, because then you'd be working for free, and we just don't do that.
Mighty Mike: Well that's really cool. I mean, it's something that's totally different and right now we're all trying to find people to get them served, or we're trying to get them to take them to jail, or depending on what your industry is and everything legal. And so your industry ties into all of those industries. That's what's really cool about what you're doing. So what is your parting piece of advice for any entrepreneur out there that is trying to grow their business, or just whatever it is. What is your parting piece of advice for my audience?
Valerie: If your skip tracing, it would be, whenever you do a database search, print it, and then compare your results, and take the newest address and look for that address on the other printouts. And if you don't find it on another printout, then it's probably good, but you should check it anyway because people do move home.
Mighty Mike: Well that is an awesome piece of advice, because I got to tell you, every time you do a skip trace and I can't find someone, I look and see what the longest address they lived at, and I go there.
Valerie: Actually I don't print mine anymore. What I do is the Ctrl F feature on my computer keyboard to do the find box on this computer screen, and I type in 2018. And then I'd just go next, next, next, next, next. And if I get one with no history, then I know I've got a new address.
Mighty Mike: Oh, that's good.
Valerie: And then also no dates are important. If you find a record that has no date, that's also not on another database, it's most likely going to be coming from a source that's recent. And it's probably going to be the United States Postal Service mail forwarding database.
Mighty Mike: Oh.
Valerie: So I found a guy on one of those addresses, I searched him, got an address, no date, called the repo guy. "Brad, you really need to get over there. Trust me. I think that's it. So just go." And so he's like, "okay, it's 20 miles away. You sure?" Yeah, yeah, you gotta go try. We don't know until you go. He goes, and he pulls in the driveway and the van, the repo is sitting there. And the guy comes out, the debtor, and says, "how did you find me? I haven't even moved in yet. The lights aren't even on." And I thought, he put a mail forwarding in, that's where that came from, and that's why there's no date. So don't ignore the no dates on database.
Mighty Mike: Well, that is awesome advice, Valerie, and this has been such a cool interview. What is the best way that we can connect with you? And then we can say goodbye.
Valerie: You can go to thedailyskip.com/contact and fill out the contact form there. And I will get back with you, same day.
Mighty Mike: Well, Valerie, I wanna to personally thank you for coming on the show. This has been such a treat for my guests and I know for myself I've learned so much. And I continue to learn more from you. That's what I follow you on all the social medias. Until next time, Server Nation, you've been served up some awesomeness by the skip trace goddess and Mighty Mike, the podcast server. Server Nation, I want to personally thank you for listening to today's episode and ask you a question. Do you or your staff need additional training? Can you handle more clients but not sure where to get them? I developed a solution. Psvuniversity.com offers a step by step online training by the top leader support professionals in the industry. Visit: www.psduniversity.com
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