- Business Name and what it does
The Smith Investigation Agency Inc. is a nationally known and trusted private investigative agency operating across Canada. We provide surveillance, investigative research, T.S.C.M. (bug-sweeps), cyber investigations and training. The Smith Investigation Agency is the largest female owned private investigative agency in Canada operating from coast to coast.
- Founder’s/Owner’s story and what motivated them to start the business
It’s no coincidence that Whitney Joy Smith founded The Smith Investigation Agency Inc. After all, owning a business runs in her family!
Everyone from her grandparents, parents, siblings as well as aunts and uncles own a business. It’s a family mentality, something Smith was simply born into, which meant she knew she was destined to one day start her own.
Smith got her start in the private investigation and security industry working as a contract private investigator. During this time, she discovered a passion for helping clients resolve problems that impacted their day-to-day lives.
While working on these contracts Smith also discovered many of the companies, she worked with contributed to the negative stereotypes the public has about private investigators. Many would appeal to the emotions of the client, only to charge high fees, and produce inconsistent results.
This didn’t sit well with Smith. She wanted to raise the bar and prove that private investigation isn’t just about the money. It’s about finding answers and solving the unknown to deliver quality, concrete results for clients. The results they deserve!
In 2014, Smith founded The Smith Investigation Agency. Since then, she has handpicked a team of highly trained private investigators and has grown her business to help clients across Canada.
Today, Smith continues to prove that quality private investigation work generates superior results. She strives toward setting new standards for private investigators everywhere.
- The challenges the business/market is facing
In the past two years, the pandemic severely impacted businesses across all markets. Within the private investigation industry, it was surveillance services that took a direct hit.
Due to restrictions and lockdowns, private investigators could not conduct successful surveillance, especially for the insurance industry.
In general, when someone is injured on the job, an insurance company might request surveillance on that individual. It’s important to note that this doesn’t happen in all insurance cases, just the ones where fraud is suspected.
Prior to the pandemic, a private investigator would run surveillance and monitor the individual’s activities. However, during the pandemic, it simply became impossible to determine an individual’s true activities and intentions when no one left their house due to lockdowns.
This challenge negatively impacted a significant number of private investigation businesses. Many agencies only provided surveillance services. As a result, these types of businesses couldn’t pivot quickly enough to meet the rapid changes in the industry.
Unfortunately, many of these businesses lost their clients and had no choice but to close their doors.
- The opportunities the business/market is facing
Despite the challenge of such a rapid shift in the market, the private investigation and security industry saw several business opportunities during the pandemic.
Two of the major business opportunities currently found in the private investigation and security market include,
- Online Private Investigation and Security Guard Training
In the last few years, online training has become one of the dominant ways in which new private investigators and security guards have graduated and entered the workforce.
One of the reasons for this shift is largely due to the pandemic. Before March 2020, most students wished to learn in class, while some preferred the online training route. However, this changed when in-class learning ground to a halt.
Today, students preparing to enter the field of private investigation and security predominantly sign up for online learning. In addition, the market’s seen a significant increase in the number of students signing up for training courses.
Wanting to start a new career, or change career paths, many people sought (and continue to seek) out different job opportunities. While not without its own challenges, private investigation offers a line of work that isn’t the regular 9 to 5. Many people find this appealing, especially when they discover they can earn their license online.
Overall, the ability to offer training courses online is a significant business opportunity that benefits both the business and the students. It’s a win-win.
- Increase in Demand for Locate Services
During the pandemic, many people experienced prolonged periods of social distancing and isolation. It provided ample time to think about and re-evaluate several aspects of life including, relationships.
The result of this re-evaluation created an influx of locate service requests within the private investigation industry.
People suddenly wanted to find their long-lost grandparent, parent, brother, or sister. They wanted to find their birth parents. They wanted to know what had happened to their best friend from elementary school who they had lost contact with.
The benefit to this business opportunity is that it helped to fill the gap that surveillance work once filled.
On a personal level, an added benefit to providing locate services was seeing the restoration of relationships during challenging times. It made the opportunity to provide quality private investigation services much more fulfilling and meaningful.
- Advice to others about business
There are four pieces of advice to consider when starting a business in the private investigation and security industry.
- Look Out for Your Mental Health
Self-care is a very real thing in this business. Leaders in the private investigation and security industry work long hours and understand that the business is all about relationships.
It’s impossible to succeed when you’re cranky, frantic, or stressed. So, make time and take space to look out for your mental health.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to help:
- Go outside. Being in nature is a proven way to boost your mental health.
- Talk to someone. This could be a good friend or a professional. It helps to talk through how you’re feeling every once in a while.
- Take a quiet moment. The silence helps you to check in with yourself and to still your mind.
- Find a Hobby
Part of looking out for your mental health includes holding interests outside of the business. Finding a hobby that you enjoy will take your mind off running a business. It will also help to decrease stress so that you can increase productivity when you return to the office.
You can pick any hobby. It doesn’t have to be anything incredibly expensive or challenging. You might like to do puzzles, go hiking, knit, or play soccer in the evening. I love boating, flying and riding my motorcycle.
It doesn’t matter which hobby you choose, as long as it brings you comfort, joy, and a brief respite from running your successful business.
- Set Realistic Business Goals
Ensure you, as a business owner, have goals for your business. You also need to set goals for your staff. Goals can include the long and short-term and should focus on what the business can realistically achieve.
The important part to remember is that you must clearly communicate these goals. Write them down and share them with your team.
For example, should the business need to pivot and offer new services, you need to communicate these new goals to your staff. You also need to think about how your staff can achieve these new goals to improve and increase business.
The bottom line? When your staff reaches their goals, they in turn help you to reach your business goals.
Set realistic business goals, communicate these goals clearly with your staff, and work together to ensure those goals continue to align with the growth and success of your business.
- Take Care of Your People
It’s no secret that the people who work for you can make or break a business. This is why you need to make the effort to take care of your team.
Without your staff, it’s extremely difficult to run a successful business. So, when you hire the right people, it becomes your responsibility to make sure that each team member thrives in their role.
To do this you must check in with your people on a regular basis. Find out how they’re doing and make appropriate changes when and where needed.
For example, does one of your especially hard workers need a day off? Would your team work more effectively with more paid vacation time? Is it time for a raise? What about a bonus for a job well done?
At the end of the day, running a business isn’t just about profit. It’s about people and the positive relationships you cultivate. Remember: when you take the time to make sure your employees are happy, your customers benefit, and your business benefits too.