Cracking the Case - Strategies Used by Successful Private Investigators

The most effective strategy to increase private investigator business sales and profitability is to focus on customer retention. Studies show it costs up to five times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones.

The Cracking the Case System is a popular training tool among many top consulting firms, and it has also been adopted as an integral part of indoctrination and orientation for newcomers into Private Investigation agencies.


private investigator must be skilled at observing their surroundings and the people in them. This involves several techniques, such as locating a location and following the subject on foot or by car. It also requires avoiding eye contact, which could draw suspicion if done incorrectly.

Private Investigators also utilize cameras to capture evidence. These can be hidden within inconspicuous objects, such as pens or buttons, and help capture important details without raising suspicion. Likewise, audio recording devices capture conversations that may be relevant to the case.

These technologies, along with the long-standing technique of wiretapping (with consent), allow investigators to observe covertly and document subjects without attracting attention. Disguises and blending into environments are also essential tactics that investigators use to remain undetected.


 A personal investigator must always be able to gather solid evidence, as this proves their cases. With reliable proof, clients will get the justice they deserve.

Listening is crucial for cracking the case, one of the most essential skills in observing. Bolton describes the listening behavior as having a “skill cluster of attending” and that this non-verbal aspect includes posture, body position and movement, eye contact, and environment.

According to Goldsmith in What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, listening is the skill that separates the great from the near-great. This is especially true in military life, where leaders are taught to actively listen to discover the embedded meaning of a subordinate’s language. This is a crucial skill to practice when on surveillance, too.

Asking Questions

When interviewing a potential client, ask open-ended questions to initiate deeper dialogue. This allows you to explore various issues, form new hypotheses, and learn more about the person you’re talking to.

Identify the types of clients interested in your services and promote your business to them. These may include lawyers, insurance companies, and other firms that need investigative work done on their behalf.

Use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your website’s visibility online. This is a cost-effective way to reach your target market and drive qualified leads to your business. It costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one, so prioritize customer retention. This will help you to build brand loyalty and grow your revenue.

Taking Notes

When conducting surveillance, private investigators must be able to take notes about their observations and record the relevant facts. They use these notes to build a picture of the subject and their surroundings, which will help solve the case.

Taking notes is often a time-consuming process and should be done systematically. The charting method is particularly effective for lectures that cover a lot of information by dividing key topics into columns with related facts underneath. Reviewing these condensed notes later is easier and more efficient than re-reading longer lectures and articles.

PIs also rely on their ability to take notes at meetings, especially when interviewing witnesses or collaborating with law enforcement agencies. These notes must be accurate and thorough and arranged in chronological order.


A quality PI must have excellent writing skills to log information and evidence promptly. They must also write detailed reports that can be presented as evidence.

Creative thinking and problem-solving are essential attributes that help a private investigator find unique leads and ways to be more covert when pursuing their case. Developing new solutions quickly and thinking outside the box can speed up an investigation and increase the chances of finding solid proof for a client’s case.

A good PI also has various resources and connections within the investigative community. A good PI will subscribe to many different data resource companies and have a wide range of contacts they can contact for assistance with challenging cases.