Cost Associated with Civil Process Service
Whether it comes in the form of a client audit, requests for increased security precautions, new technology requirements for your association or the need to adhere with new licensing laws, compliance can come at a cost to the process servers. Change can be challenging and disrupt workflow, and any advancement will have an effect on the process server. Understanding the reality of these effects and how to incorporate new requirements into your day-to-day operations without sacrificing quality is crucial.
One of the biggest effects on process servers is the cost of complying with new registration requirements, requests from clients, and software needs.
Before we delve into it, remember that there is a two-fold definition of cost:
- The amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something.
- The effort, loss, or sacrifice necessary to achieve or obtain something.
Here, we break down some of the costs, whether monetary, indirectly affecting the bottom line, or a non-financial sacrifice to achieve compliance. This will help you understand what to expect and how to manage the changing needs of your business.
Registration and licensing costs
Being compliant with registration and licensing requirements set by your state or regulating body is one of the most important aspects of staying up-to-date with requirements. The cost of compliance in this scenario can come in a variety of formats: licensing, registration, and application fees, bonds, software subscriptions.
Since California requires process servers to register with the county clerk, this means an expense of around $280 – $330 total. This is based on a:
- $142 registration fee
- $85 fee for fingerprinting
- Approximately $49 – $99 to obtain a $2,000 bond,
There are a few reasons process servers can encounter software costs associated with compliance. Your client may be asking for further transparency, which has slowed down your process and requires a lot of your time. You may have received a request from a client to use particular software, or, as part of your compliance, you need to spend less time on the phone with clients and managing your business.
Software can be the solution for myriad costs associated with compliance. Something as simple as using the right affidavit for the matter in line with the requirements of the court falls under the umbrella of compliance. Some clients may ask for GPS coordinates on service attempts or secure data backups. This, too, requires software.
There is a range of software available for process servers, depending on what is most important to you and your business. Many companies offer pricing by jobs with packages for low volume, high volume, and everything in between.
Expect to pay: $29-$219 and beyond
In tandem with security costs, transparency is another common request from clients. At last year’s National Association of Retail Collections Attorneys (NARCA) Conference, many of the speakers noted that they are asking their vendors for more transparency when it comes to status, process, and attempts. For those who don’t have software that sends automatic updates, this means more phone calls, more emails, and more time devoted to keeping in line with your clients’ requests.
But, if a client is asking for further transparency, no process server can afford to refuse. Once these requests start coming you’ll need to invest in software (or an admin) to handle this communication. Otherwise, this is going to be more of your time.
Expect to pay: $29, possible salary for a new admin, or 10 – 20 hours of your time each week
One of the key compliance issues we’ve heard about recently comes as a direct result of client audits: a request for more security. This often comes down to attorneys and businesses needing to ensure that their clients’ data is secure.
For process serving companies that house physical records on site, this can mean installing a security system limiting access to employees. A baseline key card access system can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars not including installation. Requests for secure online data storage can be accommodated by utilizing a secure software program. The need to repeatedly change passwords can be a cause to invest in password management programs, some of which are free or low cost.
Your company’s security must be tailored to the needs and requirements of your clients. Keep in mind that protecting this data is an important investment. A breach in data or finding that the wrong person has accessed your data can have tremendous negative effects on your business.
Expect to pay: at least $29 and as much as $2,000 depending on your specific needs.
Time costs are often the least acknowledged of all costs associated with compliance. The ways that compliance change the way you spend your day can vary depending on where in the country you are located. For process servers in California, time costs associated with compliance can include:
- Regularly changing passwords (as a security request from clients)
- Adhering to and adapting to new processes
- Providing more frequent updates to clients
- Logging more information at the time of the serve
- Completing registration with the county
This is just to name a few. Any time you need to adapt to a new process, learn a new software program, or even provide more updates than usual to a client can be a time cost associated with compliance. Even entering client data two or three times: once into your client relationship management system, once on the affidavit, and once on the invoice/billing can be considered a cost. Tracking your time, understanding where it is going and why, and understanding what software and changes can make you more efficient is key to managing your compliance costs. Though it may not be a particular amount tied to purchasing a software subscription or a license, every minute of your day is attached to the bottom line and affecting your profits. Keep this in mind as you work through other aspects of compliance.
Total cost of compliance
While the hard cost of registration and a secure entry system is unavoidable, luckily, most of the requirements process servers in California must meet in order to be compliant with client needs can be solved with software. A $29 to $219 or even a custom pricing package can mean secure data and backups, increased transparency, time savings, automatic updates, and even access to GPS tools.
Expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2,700, depending on your company’s needs.
Complying with regulatory standards, security needs of your clients, and the changing standard for what is expected of process servers in California does come at a cost. Although much of this is an unavoidable cost, consider it an investment in your business that will keep your company ahead of the curve.
By: Kimberly Faber, Content Manager – ServeNow