Episode 01 - Michael Kern
Our guest today has been a Professional Process Server for over 30 years, Michael Kern has just been elected our 2017 President of the National Association of Professional Process Servers (www.napps.org) and is a proud and long time board member of the California Association of Legal Support Professionals (www.calspro.org) and since its inception, formally known as CAPPS, CALSPRO was founded on the simple principles of providing continuing education, membership, legislative protection and improving on the professionalism to the process serving the industry.
How did you get started in this industry?
Second generation Process Server, filing papers and working for Dad while in high school, Mike aspired to be a Police Officer and through some persuasive encouragement from his father he decided to become a Professional Process Server. Mike recounts the potential dangers that law enforcement encounter but admits that serving papers is not much better at times. CALSPRO has an official certification. CCPS - California Certified Process Server program to assist process servers in their efforts to become trained and therefore help them avoid situations they might otherwise encounter. Mike says, Good training and common sense will keep you from most hairy situations.
Tell me about your worst experience working in the field?
In 1988 Mike had to serve the ultimate Exterminator with divorce papers, This guy had the balls to accept the papers and come after Mike like he was taking out a cockroach, Hitting Mike in the back corner of his head he fell to the ground unconscious. A woman who witnessed the encounter saw something even stranger, The assailant/ servee then jumped into Mike’s running car and drove it down the street. After parking it just down the street he came back home and went inside. Luckily the fresh 19-year-old Michael Kern had this amazing bystander that called the police. The Sheriff's department arrived and took the man into custody for attempted murder. The man went to prison and Mike was able to collect from his homeowners insurance. Several years later Mike saw the man while out getting ice cream. The man recognized Mike but didn't say a word. Mike says “I learned not to turn my back on somebody.”
Tell me about your greatest experience working in the field?
An injunction to freeze assets needed to be served on a man who was taking advantage of a lady by stealing all of her money. Mike had personally devoted a lot of unpaid hours to making sure this guy got served. The woman was grateful and they were able to save the day. Mike has also served many celebrities such as Danny Davito and Rhea Perlman who once offered him cookies when he served them.. He recounted that many celebs are great but of course many others are exactly what you think they are. The Beverly Hills Police department protects the celebrities and are best to work with when you give them a call and let them know when you’re going to do a stakeout.
What are you working on right now that has you most fired up?
When many others stayed on the fence, Mike has taken his company https://directlegal.com/ to a whole new level by offering all options available for e-filing. If a client wants to enter the details and file things themselves, he lets them. One particular client liked to file themselves and after a series of filings kept being rejected, they learned that it was better to have Mike and his expert team of professionals handle the task on a regular basis. He says, “Sometimes you have to let the client fail to benefit.” There are now 29 courts involved in e-filing and anybody can get involved either as a strategic partner or as an electronic filing service provider (EFSP) http://www.odysseyefileca.com/ There are also companies that will “Co-brand” their website to look like your company and function for your clients.
What advice do you have for the new server out there?
1st - “Price does not always dictate service...You gotta charge a fair price, for a fair job done” If you say anything to get the client, they will expect the cheap rate even when the job calls for additional fees.
2nd - “Inspect what you expect” There are three kinds of clients, The first one only cares about Money, they want a cheap rate regardless of service level, You have clients that will pay whatever but want the best service (**Primo Client**), and the client that doesn’t care either way.
If you could recommend one app like Road Warrior, what would it be and why?
WAZE APP - Mike LOVES this app from warning you about Cops ahead to warning you about Photo lights. You can find places for lunch and even route your serves with it.
What case tracking software would you recommend as the best?
TRISTAR SOFTWARE - Process Serving, Court Filing, Levy Packets, E-Filing through the same customer portal.
What is your favorite skip trace tip or trick?
Facebook - Mike says that people are guilty of giving away too much information on social media. As a private investigator Mike uses Facebook for 30% of his collection searches. There are many databases to choose from for locating somebody but Mike likes to run multiple searches at the same time to cross reference information. TLO, Tracers and Microbuilt are his top three.
Facebook Search Site: https://searchisback.com/
TLO free trial offer: http://www.tlo.com/about-us
What is your favorite tool for defense?
Mike walks around LA with a 4 D-Cell mag light, He remembers a time when he was attacked by a Rottweiler once after serving a guy. The servee actually gave the command to attack and ultimately rip into Mike’s arm causing him to get 12 stitches, because it was daytime he did not have his maglight for protection. Mike owns a pomeranian and feels that even with training it wouldn’t be a threat. Mike suggests that many servers use mace for this type of defense.
As a process server that encounters dogs on almost every serve, I suggest getting a taser, https://www.amazon.com/VIPERTEK-VTS-989-Heavy-Rechargeable-Flashlight/dp/B01FHDZGGM
What book would you recommend?
Mike’s son had a problem with his phone, without GPS he needed to find his way. Mike told him to go buy a Thomas Mapbook and he said, “Whats that?” He proceeded to teach him how to use it. He swears by it and keeps it in all of his vehicles. When all else fails, you can still get where you need to go.
What is the greatest advice you've ever received?
“Never go in anybody’s house, NEVER GO IN THE HOUSE!” No matter if it’s an old lady at the screen door. Mike tells us a story from his younger years when he served a deranged man who jumped off his couch proclaiming, ‘“I’m going to get my gun!”’ Mike said that he couldn’t get out of the house fast enough and actually broke the screen door trying to open it. Looking back he saw the man standing in the door with his gun. (phew) Mike and I discuss the requirements for personal service of different documents and Mike reiterates the Principle, NEVER GO IN THE HOUSE. If they are disabled, ask that they bring them to the door. Back in the 1970’s there was only personal service, Now people serve doctors and other alike via subservice and it’s simply not valid service. With a little additional effort and tips that Mike gives us, you may just be able to get personal service.
What is the PAAPRS campaign?
What would you do if you woke up one day and had no clients, A smartphone, a car, and only $500 how would start over?
As President of his company Mike has mastered his marketing craft by building websites and social media. Mike owns 400+ domains and maintains 40+ websites. He strongly believes in going to godaddy and buying domain. Start with your company name as your domain and make sure to ditch the “Gmail” email. It’s all about organic ranking, content and blogs.
Find a domain:
The Ultimate List: 50 Online Local Business Directories: http://processserverdaily.com/blog/50-free-business-listings-for-seo.html
How can you connect with Mike?
Process Server Daily’s Favorite Michael Kern Quotes:
“Inspect what you expect”
“Never stand in front of the door, you never know what's on the other side of the door”
“Know where you should be, at what hours, Maximize your efforts.”
“I learned not to ever turn my back on somebody.”
“Sometimes you have to let the client fail for everyone to benefit.”
“Price does not always dictate service...You gotta charge a fair price, for a fair job done”
“Its unprofessional, VERY unprofessional when servers say whatever to get the client”
“how is anybody going to know who you are?, a website is the number one thing a process server has to have”