Hey folks, this is Lance, your California private investigator, and process server. And I’m your host of the What is a Process Server Podcast. I have a good friend of mine, who is an entrepreneur, she knows what she’s doing. She can help you along the way in setting up and starting your process or a business. Her name is Angela Lofton Moore, and she is the business coach of all time. So we’re going to talk to her a little bit about setting up your process server business plan. Because if you just got started…and like I did, I just would go this direction, that direction, and didn’t have any clue on what to do. But having somebody help you and coach you through setting it up so you can have a focus. So how are you doing today Angela?
Angela Lofton Moore: I am doing great, thank you so much. Happy to be here.
Lance Casey: Okay. Can you give us a little bit about what you do, how you got started, what your focus is, and what you’re doing right now?
Angela Lofton Moore: Absolutely. So after about 29 years of being in the business of designing voice and data networks for government agencies, hospitals, and school districts, I walked away from my corporate job and started a graphic design business. I actually started it before I walked out, but went full-time with my graphic design business Info Princess Graphics. And that was in 2009, so it’s been 12 years, never have gone back to work for anybody else. “Yay!” So having your own business is definitely the way to go. Over the years, of course, I also started MoorePark Enterprises, my nonprofit beyond the village, and of late, I have stripped out my coaching business as a standalone. But basically all of my businesses are designed to do one thing, and they interlock with each other very well because they’re all designed to help small businesses.
So whether you need graphics, logos, websites, Info Princess Graphics. If you need to set up a business, LLC corporations, nonprofits, we do all that. If you’ve gone along a little bit and maybe things have stalled on you, or maybe you’re not sure if you’re doing everything, then we can also come in as your business coach. We can help you through whatever is going on with your business, and we’ll get back to that, but it’s usually the numbers, and then kind of walk you along. We can help you with social media content, we can help you with your pricing, your profit margins and all of that because a lot of times that’s the problem. And we can help you with branding and marketing, we can help you with the CEO mindset. Sometimes you really just need to get out of your own head about being in business. And if you’ve always been an employee, that tends to happen, but we also can help you with that. So we’re like a pro service shop for small business owners, right?
Lance Casey: I’m gonna tell you a little story about how we met. I was Facebook stalking because, you know, I have a bunch of friends on Facebook and I saw you were posting when you were getting ready to open up the Workflow Lounge. And I was like, what’s going on with this? And you kept posting these things about businesses being able to come in and interact with each other and network with each other. So I actually became down and became a client of Workflow Lounge because it was a place where I could come as a small business owner and have an office to use basically on a part-time as-needed basis.
So that’s how we met each other and then I just saw that you knew what you were doing. And I was like, you know what, let me interact a little more with this lady so we can work together. We actually did some things together. So I know Angela, I’ve sent her work, she sent me work, and we work great together. And I highly recommend if you’re looking for some information on the services that she offers, that you get a hold of her. So Angela, if a person wants to become a process server, and let’s just say I train them how to do the ins and outs of the job, but they need to learn how to structure the business, to put it on paper, in writing, to give them a focus. Tell me about a business plan for a process server?
Angela Lofton Moore: So a business plan for a process server is going to include a few things. Optional things like your vision statement and your mission statement. That’s not really the meat and potatoes for a process server, and so my recommendation is that you form an LLC for your process server business. And the reason for that is, and these are Angela’s rules, anytime you put something on a person’s body i.e. lotions, potions, or in a person’s bodies, you know, drinks and whatever, you deal with their parents. And you deal with their kids, or you deal with their comfort zone, which a process server can be dealing with comfort zone. You want to protect yourself and your personal assets behind an LLC. LLC gives you a veil of protection. And if you run your LLC “properly”, make sure it’s running properly, then if something happens, people are not going to be able to access your personal assets, they can only sue the LLC. And when I say run it properly, you should have your LLC. Make sure it’s compliant, you filed your statement of information, you have a registered agent for service, you have an EIN (number) and you want a separate bank account for that business.
Lance Casey: That’s a key right there.
Angela Lofton Moore: That’s the important part right there because if you’re mingling funds between your business and your personal life, and something happens, any attorney worth his salt is going to walk right through that corporate veil and say they’re co-mingling funds, this is not really a business. So those are the first things that you really want to take a look at. You want to take a look at how you’re marketing your business, how you’re branding your business, does your branding make sense?
Lance Casey: What is branding?
Angela Lofton Moore: Most people think it’s just the logo and it really isn’t. Branding is creating something that people will connect to you. Whether it’s a word, you see some of the brandings like Sony, all they have is their name, Nike just has the swoosh. And you know the golden arches, you know that’s always going to be McDonald’s. Some of them are logos, but you want to create something that in your client’s mind, immediately makes them think of you. And hopefully it was a good experience, or the testimonials are good so that they can start working with you as being a positive experience.
Lance Casey: Okay because I’m on a branding kick right now, I’m just blasting LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook with photos and videos of me. And sometimes not me, but it’s all around process serving, so that would be a brand for a processor, correct?
Angela Lofton Moore: It’s a brand for a process server and your brand actually believe it or not, a lot of people will say that your brand is your face because people start to recognize it. You have to have some of the most expressive pictures of yourself, so ‘Lance Casey process server’, I mean around here, that’s a staple, people understand what that’s all about. The other thing is that when you’re talking about marketing, people don’t understand the difference between selling and marketing. Selling is constantly having something in front of your prospects’ face saying “Here, buy this, buy this, go to my site, buy this. Here, I’m having a sale, buy this,” right? People will get exhausted and they will start to tune you out.
What you want to do is exactly what you’re doing, you want to show them what you do. You want to help them understand what you do without actually selling them anything. You’re just saying, “Hey, if you need to sue Walmart, well guess what? Come with me and I’ll show you exactly what has to happen if you have to serve papers on Walmart. And it’s not a sale, it’s a subject matter expert content which is the best thing in the world for marketing. You don’t want to be in their face trying to get them to buy something all the time, so you’re doing good.
So the structuring, again, we talked about having an LLC, you can make it a corporation, not really necessary for a process server, corporations are there if you want to sell stock in your business. But you do your branding, you do your marketing, you do your pricing and you do a budget. A business plan is a wonderful tool when you’re trying to create funding for your business. Let’s say you want to open an office, you need a copier, you need furniture and you need all this other stuff. You can use your business plan with a budget in it to go to places like SBA, SBDC, they will help you get a loan. By the way, just as a statement of fact, those people don’t loan you money, they back loans that you get from financial institutions.
So having a business plan that makes sense. In other words, having all of your expenses and as small business owners, for some reason, we never put our salary into a business plan. So salary has to be in there, all of your expenses, and that way you can figure out how many process server jobs you need in order to cover your expenses. And you may have different ones, we all have the smaller ones, the medium size ones, the ones you have to sit on for three days before you can serve anybody and those are all different prices. So you have to figure out how to go after them, and you need to figure out who you want to target. Targeting the general public might be a lot tougher than just maybe targeting attorneys in your area.
Paralegals, people who help people fill out paperwork for whatever their legal needs are, so you want to be able to do that. And you do want to put a pretty nice bio about yourself because if they’re going to lend you money, they’re going to want to know what kind of experience you have. And even if you don’t have experience, now you’re training them, you may be able to create a certificate program. I don’t know if you do certificates for people, but they could use that to put into their business plan to say “Hey, I took training from this guy, and this is his history.” I mean, you’ve got an impressive background, so that would go a long way towards helping them with their business plan too.
Lance Casey: Now let’s talk about the pricing because I get this question a lot from people that are just starting out as process servers, what do I charge? And so what I tell them, well, you have to look at what other people are charging in your area.
Angela Lofton Moore: That’s absolutely a good way to go. I tell people don’t charge by the hour, never ever charge by the hour. People will nitpick you and nickel and dime you and ask you where you are all 60 minutes of that hour. You want to have a flat-rate pricing for everything.
Lance Casey: Right, and I’ll tell you what I do, what I tell them is figure out what’s going on in an area and charge more. That’s what I do, charge a little bit more. Because when people call me, price isn’t the issue, it’s that they want a quality service and they’ve seen what I do and they get a quality service, so they’ll pay me a little bit more than everybody else.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yeah, absolutely, I do the same thing with my coaching. I am not the least expensive coach out there by far, but I have 12 years of entrepreneurial experience, and I know where all the pitfalls are, so I can keep you from falling into them. And I’m a charm to work with, so what’s not to love.
Lance Casey: Okay. And then one of the things we were talking about too that you just mentioned is who do you target? Because targeting the general public in process server, you’ve got a lot of competition if you’re just trying to just service everybody. And so what I like to do is niche it down to specifics and then just target that niche. And an example would be CSC lawyers incorporating service, they’re the registered agents. They get served hundreds of documents every day because that’s all that they do, so I target them specifically. And all these things that I’m doing on social media, it’s really specifically just for that location because it’s super simple to take 10 cases to CSE; a one-time drop it off, and I’m done.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yes, I absolutely agree. And you’ve done a great job with that because you have your ad saying “Do you need to sue DMV?” “Do you need to figure out how to serve DMV papers?” “Do you know how to serve the secretary of state papers?” And you have done a marvelous job with SEO on that because when you go to Google and they say ‘Hey, I need to serve papers to the secretary of state,’ chances are you’re going to be the number one spot in there.
Lance Casey: Number two, number three, number four, yeah, I want to take up the whole page. That’s the goal, take up the whole page. But that’s another course that I’m going to talk about in some future podcast on how to dominate your niche on searches. That’s the key, dominate your niche on searches.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yes. And charging a little bit more, there’s a couple of things with that. It’s a little bit psychological because they feel like they’re hiring the best because it costs a little bit more, so there’s nothing wrong with that. And I’m not saying charge three or four times more than everybody else, that’s probably not going to fly. Right. But if everybody else is charging a hundred, you might be able to do 125 or 150 and get away with it, and it comes down to quality. So make sure you say what you’re going to do, do what you said you were going to do, and ask people for referrals. Ask them to write you a review, ask them to write you something that says you did a good job and put that on your website. People will look at the reviews. I’m sorry, I’m not a Yelp fan, I would never go to Yelp to get a review on anything because they have told me that they took my five-star reviews down for restaurants because I don’t do enough reviews. Not because I’m bad, but because I don’t do enough according to their schedule, so they’re a little bit suspect to me. But if you put that stuff on your website, and let’s say you do a Facebook live and you talk about what you do, have a page on your website that has all of your reviews and send people there. You know, record stuff like Lance and I are doing here, and put those live recordings onto your website because testimonials are gold.
Lance Casey: They are, literally, they are. And I’m going to tell you, this is my secret of what I do. Every time I send somebody an invoice through QuickBooks payments, as soon as they pay, their name and email get automatically populated to my contact management software. And then I prefilled it with letters or emails that say “Hey, thank you for your business, I’ll be getting on it as soon as possible.” That’s like the first day or two later. “Hey, guess what? If you need to serve documents nationwide, we can help you with that, and there are several of them, but I actually asked for reviews and referrals in those emails. And it’s crazy because as soon as I set it up two or three weeks later, people are like yeah, such and such referred me. Or repeat customers will come back because it keeps me in front of them so they know that I’m the one that needs to serve their documents, and I’m getting served in other areas in my own because of that.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yeah absolutely, I do pretty much the same thing. I have QuickBooks. I have the people that I’ve done business with and I have it go to my MailChimp. And I actually did a Black Friday email blast, I did a Cyber Monday email blast for coaching clients, and it worked out really well because these are people that already know the company’s name. I didn’t have any one person opting out. They know MoorePark Enterprises. So you really want to make sure that you do a couple of things, you want to make sure you stay compliant, having an LLC, your compliance is every other year. You have to file a statement of information and it costs you 20 bucks online. Don’t let that drop. Make sure you’re registered with the Franchise Tax Board. The Franchise Tax Board in California does charge you $800 a year, minimum tax.
Lance Casey: Booo!
Angela Lofton Moore: It’s the price of living in California.
Lance Casey: I know, that’s California. Booo, but okay.
Angela Lofton Moore: But you know what? If they do it this month, they don’t have to pay. I mean this year alone, if you do an LLC in California, you can skip the first year of $800 so they waived that for the first year for any LLC that’s created in 2021. I don’t know that that’ll carry over to 2022, they haven’t said anything, but you can save yourself $800 on having an LLC in California because you filed it in 2021. And if you need help with that, guess what? I’m here to help you. MoorePark Enterprises, this is what we do, and we’re only charging $325 for the rest of the year for LLCs. So we’re carrying our Black Friday discount all the way through the end of the year.
Lance Casey: So do you include being a registered agent?
Angela Lofton Moore: We do.
Lance Casey: Oh so I come serve you.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yes, we do provide the registered agent service. We also, if you need a virtual office address, you can use Workflow Lounges’ address as your business address. So you’re a single mom, you’re a process server, which is kind of a risky business, you don’t want people to know where you live necessarily. And you have to have a street address in order to start your LLC. So our virtual office address and the registered agent is included in the price for one year. So you don’t have to do anything for the first year, everything will be completely done. You should, of course, get a business license, get business insurance, and just make sure you’re compliant and you’re running that business like a business.
Lance Casey: That makes sense. Now, in reference to that virtual office, this is kind of a kicker about that because I’m always into marketing stuff. In order to get on the Google maps listing, so if somebody types in process server Sacramento, you want to be one of the top three that show up on the Google lists. That’s your Google listing, and in order to get that you need an address. You don’t want to use your home, you want to use a business location. So they literally could use your office address, which in essence is theirs too because it’s virtual, and now you can get in that Google My Business listing. Because I’ve done it several times through their office there, and it works. Here’s one right here, Google My Business, they give you a code, you type this into the code and that’s how you register your Google My business listing.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yes, and you want to do that right up front, where you want to get everything online as much as possible. You want to get your name recognition, so your business name recognition, which is part of your branding process. Has nothing to do necessarily with logos and anything like that, but branding your name so that when people hear it, they know what it is.
Lance Casey: And what I say about the process server name, to me, the business name should contain what you do and the area that you serve. Now you may be different, but that’s the way I like it.
Angela Lofton Moore: No, it’s right, we just didn’t do that with ours. We just have ‘We serve for you’. We don’t have it specialized to an area, but it is what it is, so there’s no mistaking what we do. When you look on our website, you know exactly what we do.
Lance Casey: Yeah, but I go like process server Sacramento county is one of my business names. Everybody knows where it is, it shows up locally. Or best Sacramento process server, that’s one of my business names. So those are little tricks of the trade that I will talk a little bit about more in a future podcast on how to get your Google My Business listing. And choosing the right name so that you can get your website to show up and your Google listings to show up at the top of the search results because that’s how people find you. If they don’t know you, they’re searching Google or one of these search engines, and then you want to show up on the top.
Angela Lofton Moore: Yeah, and you want to be able to use that information in your business plan too. You can put in there, like I marked it, I’m listed on Google, I’m listed here, I’m listed here. So people know that you’ve done some actual work to be in this business. You just didn’t decide one morning, oh I’m going to be a process server, and now I’m looking for money. You can actually show that you have put some effort into it, and you’ve put some thought into it. Which goes a long way towards people actually giving you money, so make that part of your plan.
Lance Casey: Anything else you’d like to add about the business plan start before we wrap this up a little bit?
Angela Lofton Moore: No, I mean, you can do a very basic business plan that has just the things that we talked about, or you can even go a little bit more like what area are you covering? Who’s your competition in those areas? How do your prices compare to the competition? Why should people pay more to use you? You have an opportunity to showcase what you want to do with that business. And that’s not normally required, especially for us for a startup, but it’s very impressive when it’s in the marketing plan. Because again, it shows initiative, and it shows that you’ve put work into it.
Lance Casey: Okay, well check this out, how do people get a hold of you? What do they have to do to find you? Because you know what you’re doing, you got this down, especially if you’re trying to save this $800 that you have to pay the state, how do they get a hold of you to set it up? What do they do?
Angela Lofton Moore: So they call, my office hours are 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM because I can, because I’m in business for myself.
Lance Casey: Exactly, I love it!
Angela Lofton Moore: So 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM and you can reach me at 866-887-3737, and we’ll schedule a time to talk for a few minutes. And if you decide you want to do this, which I can’t imagine at this point, you know, if you’re really serious about getting into business. By the way, we do LLCs in any state. We give a $25 discount for every place, but all the rates are different. Some of them are more expensive, some of them are cheaper in other states. So in California, it happens to be that we’re charging $325 for the rest of this year, just through the end of December, and includes everything we talked about. And again, the number is 866-887-3737, my name is Angela Lofton Moore, and I’d love to help you out.
Lance Casey: Well great Angela, I’m going to put your contact information in the description of this video and the podcast, and they’ll have links to your website also. So if somebody wants to get ahold of you, they’ll be able to find you easily. So I really appreciate you coming on with us on this podcast titled What is a Process Server. Because that’s what I do, that’s how I make a living, and I’m trying to help as many people as I can get away from having a job and doing stuff for themselves. I remember when I was a police officer, if I wanted time off, I had to go “Can I have a day off please?” And turn the request in, “Nope, we’re too short-staffed.” Now, you know what? I just ain’t doing nothing because it’s my business. I love this.
Angela Lofton Moore: All of a sudden there’s a video of Lance fishing.
Lance Casey: Exactly. And guess what? I’m going to film it and put some texts on it about process serving and upload it to everything. And it’s like oh well he does have a life besides just serving people, to show that interaction. But hey, we’re going to go now, I held you up long enough, so thank you for being on.
Angela Lofton Moore: You’re quite welcome, thanks for having me.
Lance Casey: Hey, this is Lance, thanks for listening to my pocket. I hope you gathered the information that you were looking for, and I would leave a positive review and subscribe to be notified when I upload additional podcasts. And also, if you’re looking for training on how to become a process server, training, or how to market your existing process server business, click one of the links below to receive additional information.
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