Even if you try your hardest to stay out of trouble, and it’s not that uncommon run to issues with the law. In fact, there were over 10 million arrests during 2015 alone in the United States.
So, though, those looking to open up a bail bonds business will generally have work available. But, not everyone knows how to get it up and running.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s learn all about bail bonds and how to get your company off the ground.
Get Licensed As a Bondsman
Before you can start making moves in the bondsman business, you’re going to need to obtain your license.
The base requirements are simple:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must not have any felony convictions within the last 10 years.
With those criteria satisfied, you ready to move on.
Before you can take the exam to become a licensed bondsman in South Carolina, you need to enroll in educational courses. For professional bondsmen, this involves 20 hours of coursework.
For surety bondsmen, this involves 60 hours of coursework.
It’s important to note that this education can only be received from state-approved providers. You can visit the South Carolina Department of Insurance website to learn more.
Finally, you’ll need to take South Carolina’s licensing exam. With proper education, though, you shouldn’t have an issue passing with a high score.
Your aim shouldn’t be to simply pass, though. The more educated you are, the better you’ll perform when you start working in the industry.
Register Your Business
Getting started as a bail bondsman is no different than starting most other types of companies.
As with every other state, you’ll need to register your business with the state of South Carolina in order to operate legally. Keep in mind that you need to pay fees when doing so, as it isn’t free to start a business entity.
Afterward, you’ll need to get a business tax identification number from the IRS. Then, you’ll be set.
It’s recommended that you have proper business equipment ready to go or have the budget to acquire it. This includes things like:
- Phones/phone systems
- Fax machines
Additionally, ensure that calls to your office will forward to a cell phone number after your business hours so that you can be reached at night or early in the morning.
You’ll benefit from setting up your office near a courthouse, as it will save you time after you acquire work. Large, bright LED signs will also help your business stand out.
Set Your Rates
In order to stay competitive in your industry, you’re going to need to understand the current rates for bonds in South Carolina.
The maximum premium you’re able to charge is 15% of the total bond. For example, this means that for a $50,000 bond you could charge $7,500 for your services.
As a bondsman, you’ll work with a surety company that will provide you with the means to pay your client’s bonds. When you first start out, you may encounter difficulty in getting approved for high bonds.
But, as you gain experience in the industry and your relationship with your contracted surety company develops, you’ll have an easier time gaining approval. This will allow you to work with bonds of a higher amount (and potentially make more money).
Get Out There
Networking will likely take you a lot further than you may think in the bail bonds business.
Getting to know members of law enforcement and those who work as defense attorneys can benefit you in the long run, since you can provide contact information that they can pass along to those who need bail bond services.
Additionally, you’ll need to conduct a bit of marketing. Setting up a website, social media accounts, etc. is crucial during the early stages of your company.
You may also benefit from print ads and billboards as long as your budget allows for them. The more info you have out there, the more likely it is that someone will contact you.
What If Someone Doesn’t Go to Court?
Due to the inherent risk of this industry, there’s something that you need to keep in mind as you get started.
One of the most common obstacles that a bondsman will face is a client not showing up to court after you help pay the bond. As you may expect, this means that you forfeit that money. Too many of these occurrences could drastically impact your business.
From here, you have two options:
- Take the hit and attempt to recoup your losses through future work
- Locate the individual who didn’t show up to court
As long as you operate within the law, there’s nothing that can prevent you from finding the person who skipped out on bail. Oftentimes, that person’s family will help you find them since they don’t want any other legal issues to arise.
But, be sure not to put yourself in harm’s way while doing so. It’s not uncommon for people to flee to unsafe areas, and it’s not recommended that you try to follow them yourself in this scenario.
Learning All About Bail Bonds Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information in mind, you’ll be well on your way to understanding all about bail bonds and making the business move that’s right for you.
Want to learn more about getting your bail bonds license? This article has plenty of useful info.