12 - Oregon Process Server takes on the Nation Armed with Superior Customer Service
Mighty Mike: Okay, Server Nation. We are joined by the owner of On Time Process Services, located in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He specializes in skip trace investigation and serving hard to find individuals. Gary Clayton, welcome to the show.
Gary Clayton: Thank you.
Mighty Mike: It's good to have you on. Gary, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in this industry.
Gary Clayton: So I started in 2014, as kind of a just a side gig as I worked for Sears for approximately 10 years. I went through a divorce myself and during the processes of the divorce, I had to hire a process server to serve my ex-wife. It took him about five minutes, cost $125 that was the moment that said I was in the wrong industry.
Mighty Mike: That's so funny, because that's exactly how I got started. Except for he got paid ... Actually, I'm the one who got served and he told me he got paid 50 bucks. How funny. It's crazy.
Gary Clayton: Yeah.
Mighty Mike: Some of the saddest moments in our lives end up giving us the greatest joys, so that's pretty cool. And so, how about now, you got a family?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, so I got five kids, a wife. Being in this industry and being a business owner, sometimes it's got its ups and its downs, and I like the idea of being able to make my own schedule to be with the kids more or with the wife more.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, family's definitely the most important and that's one of the reasons I started my own business because I didn't someone to tell me that my life would be turned upside down because I missed one day to go to my daughter's dance recital or something like that. I didn't want anyone to have that kind of control over me and so I'm with you there, brother.
Mighty Mike: So Gary, there's a reason why you're on this show, as I always say, you know everybody's got different things going on, but I noticed you over the last doing a lot of really cool things, and so sometimes in the most tragic things come out the greatest triumphs, and so what is your worst experience working the field?
Gary Clayton: So probably our worst experience was doing a serve for a divorce party kind of like that are what a majority of our serves are. And we were actually, there two of us servers out there, me and a colleague and we had actually gotten held at gunpoint by three individuals, two males and a female, for about two hours before we had actually gotten rescued.
Gary Clayton: That was probably our worst experience as far as serving goes.
Mighty Mike: Wow, so tell me more about that. And I don't wanna take you back to you know, much trauma, but take me back to the moment when they were ... did they just pull the gun out, you were at the door, knocking on the door? How did it happen?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, so we walked up, we knew it was gonna be a difficult serve, and we were warned that the defendant actually had firearms and was hostile. So we went in a team. We knocked on the door, as soon as we knocked on the door, the defendant opened the door and had had a pistol in his hand right, both me and my colleague.
Gary Clayton: We proceeded just to back out of the situation, but as soon as we backed out, two individuals come around the side of house, and both of them had pistols as well. So we were kinda trapped. I was able to reach down and hit real quick on my phone for dispatch, and I threw the phone into the bed of my truck and it took them a little while to get out there to us.
Gary Clayton: But we were pretty well trapped, they had us go around to the back of that house and we were stuck there.
Mighty Mike: Oh my gosh, what do you think they were gonna do? What were they saying?
Gary Clayton: Well there's so many things that go through your head at that time. We were both confident that we were gonna get out safe, but when you're in the moment, five minutes turns into five hours in a couple of seconds. You know it's just crazy how fast it goes.
Gary Clayton: When the sheriff's department pulled up there, and finally got us out of that situation, it felt like a ton of bricks off of your shoulders.
Mighty Mike: Wow, so tell me about when the sheriff arrived. I mean, they had to have came out guns blazing, right? I mean, hey, "Put your guns down," this type of thing, or?
Gary Clayton: Well, actually what happened was, because they didn't have any communication back and forth through the phone, it was just an open line, they didn't really know what was going on. So they came in being cautious, but they didn't bring nearly enough manpower with them. And so it was one officer that came out and once he kinda realized what was going on, he retreated back to his car and then that's when they just started coming in from every angle.
Gary Clayton: The defendant and his team, the two individuals that was with him, they came to their senses fairly quick, put their guns down, and surrendered.
Mighty Mike: Oh, okay, good. Yeah. That's a pretty ... man that's an intense situation. I've actually never had something that intense.
Mighty Mike: You know, I gotta tell you, being able to have ... in the pre-show, we had a little conversation about, you know, being connected to dispatch and stuff. You guys have that privilege I guess you could call it, to be able to speak directly to dispatch, right?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, so we all have radios here, where we had to go to actually a pretty extensive training class, each one of us, to be able to connect with dispatch. And when we're out in the areas where cell phones don't work, that's our only communication and so dispatch is pretty good at making sure we're checking in with them and they're checking in with us.
Gary Clayton: And if we need backup, depending on what it is, they'll send a sheriff out. We had the incident last week that you had seen online about me following an individual down into California. We had actually radioed to dispatch to see if they would assist us in stopping the vehicle and they were like, "Nope, it's civil, follow them until he stops or you run out of gas."
Mighty Mike: Wow, that's crazy. And then, in that story, you followed him down there and then the, what is it, CHP, the state police?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, we were originally at the individual, the defendant's house, and as soon as we'd seen him pull in, we pulled in behind him and he was able to wedge his self around my car. And so I pulled out, followed him through town, he jumped on Highway 97, which a highway here, and he started heading towards south.
Gary Clayton: A lot of the individuals here Klamath, since we're so close to California, they think that if they go into California, that they can't be served. So as soon as they get on 97 South, we automatically know that they're heading into California, so we contact the Department of Agriculture down there, 'cause they have the transfer station, the bus station we call 'em.
Gary Clayton: And they'll typically assist us in stopping 'em, however this day, there was a CHP officer that was actually passing through about ten minutes before we were coming through, and the transfer station supervisor actually stopped CHP and asked him if he would hang out to assist with that. And they did, they were really good at helping us with it.
Gary Clayton: However it ended up being a pretty serious situation, they did step in and help us.
Mighty Mike: So, a couple things I want to say about your worst experience. First of all, do everything you can to be prepared, because when you think, "Oh, it's probably just one guy, and we got this handled. You know, I got my gun, if he has a gun then we'll handle it," right?
Mighty Mike: I know that's a very simplified version, but you know, in this case there were multiple people and then if you did have a gun, now you're having a shootout with three guys. I mean, it's insane what can happen if you're trigger happy. That's one thing.
Mighty Mike: It's insane, I mean, did anyone end up getting shot that day?
Gary Clayton: No, there was no gunfire and actually we don't carry here. Each one of my process servers, I allow them to make the decision, however, I strongly discourage my individuals or my process servers from carrying, maybe keeping it in a vehicle or something like that.
Gary Clayton: We've seen in the past with open carry or concealed carry if the defendant or the individual we're serving sees it, it brings a higher threat. And so we were seeing a lot of pushback from it, so without having a firearm ...
Gary Clayton: And yeah, it's a dangerous industry, but we were able to eliminate a lot of problems just by taking the firearms out of the equation.
Mighty Mike: Yeah that's, I mean, each business has to make the decision based on their area, based on their ability to handle different situations and I think that's commendable that you made that decision.
Mighty Mike: I think maybe too, another way could be to have a concealed weapons permit so that ... I'm not familiar with Oregon's laws on that. Are you able to, is it a law where you can conceal carry?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, you can conceal carry. And my process servers, they do conceal carry. We just try to keep the intensity between a firearm and open carry at a bay.
Mighty Mike: Well what I get from your story most is be prepared, and be cool and calm and collected and then to be able to get your phone like that and hit it and throw it in the back of the truck the way that you did, I don't know that I could have or would've done, thought to do something like that. 'Cause had you not done that, you'd have been at their mercy for who knows how long.
Gary Clayton: Right yeah, and so the idea was that when we went into this group, we were prepared because we had gotten word beforehand that the individual may act like this. So before we'd even gotten to the house, we had already had 911 dialed into our phones. 'Cause we didn't know what we were walking into. And you never know what you're walking into. You can walk in and they can have a conversation with you for 20 minutes about their day, or you can walk into guns.
Mighty Mike: And sometimes you walk in to have a five-minute conversation, and then they find out you're there to serve them, and then they're pulling out guns. That can happen too.
Mighty Mike: Well, that's great. So Gary, what do you want Server Nation to get from your story, your worst experience?
Gary Clayton: Well, just to be safe and always be prepared. And the idea is to go home, if you have a family, to go home to your family every day, or if you don't have a family to go home alive every day. You know, stay safe and always be prepared for the worst.
Mighty Mike: So Gary, that's awesome. Tell me your greatest experience working in the field?
Gary Clayton: So this actually just happened not too long ago. We had a locate, a serve locate. It was kind of like a will, where an individual here in Klamath County was getting an inheritance from relatives out of Texas, and we were hired to do a locate and then to do the serve.
Gary Clayton: And when we did the locate and found that this individual who was inheriting a large amount of money had to be notified of it, we were kind of intrigued that most of the time we're bringing bad news to people and this instance, it wasn't bad news, it was kind of a cool story where this guy has been living a mediocre life working 9 to 5, and now he no longer has to.
Gary Clayton: So it was kind of a cool experience to have.
Mighty Mike: That's a really cool experience. How much money was it?
Gary Clayton: Oh, you know, I don't remember right off hand, but I think we're ... it was well over $2,000,000.
Mighty Mike: Oh man, how much did you make on that one?
Gary Clayton: Well, first we quoted it at 65 for this serve, and then at 65 an hour to do the locator, 125, whichever one we went to. Afterward we were like, wow, we don't think we charged enough for this one.
Mighty Mike: Exactly. You were more like private security for that delivery.
Gary Clayton: Yeah, you know the funny thing is, is that the individual when we were going to serve them, he avoided us. For several weeks he avoided us. We had a location form, we tried to explain to him what it was and he didn't believe it, he kinda blew us off. And then finally when we got him pinned down to actually get him served with the notice of what he needed to do next, it was ... he still didn't believe it. It took him several minutes to actually comprehend what was going on.
Mighty Mike: Wow. And so you just never know, that's one of the other cool things that I love about this industry, is you never know what you're gonna get. You know one day, you know ... I don't know. You get some of the same things over and over, and I look at it like those keep the lights on. And then other days you get things you're like, yeah, this is cool. And I get to serve a pro-NBA player, you know? Or you know, Fergie or you know you go serve some celebrity that's always fun.
Gary Clayton: And challenging.
Mighty Mike: And challenging. We're up here in the sticks, you're further up in the sticks, but I'm up in Chico and it's still pretty far up here, so the best we get is I guess, Tom Hanks. He lives in Redding.
Gary Clayton: That's always fun.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, good deal. So that's great, that's what I get from your story. What do you want Server Nation to get from your greatest experience?
Gary Clayton: Take everything positive. And enjoy what you're doing. If you don't enjoy what you're doing in a career, then you always should change things up. So even though we're typically, as I call doing this devil's work, or bearing bad news for people, you're just a messenger. It's all we are is we're messengers. We're just out here to do our job and be positive with it.
Gary Clayton: If you're ... Most of the time if you go out, and you're negative when you're going out to do these serves, you're gonna get a negative reaction. If you go out and you be positive with these individuals or these defendants, they're only defendants to somebody else, they're not a defendant to you. So being positive can take you a long way.
Mighty Mike: That's great. Gary, what are you working on right now that has you most excited?
Gary Clayton: So we're actually expanding. Our biggest thing right now is that we want to move from just Klamath County or Oregon, we serve all of Oregon, but we wanna take this nationwide with the approach that what On Time Process Services has been doing for multiple years. You can go to our Facebook page or our Google page, and you can see our reviews that we've even had positive reviews from individuals that we've served. And we wanna be able to take that across the nation and open it up across the nation and we're working, doing our due diligence to make everything work right.
Mighty Mike: What I take from what you're most excited about, you say you're growing nationwide. How does somebody even fathom that when they're just starting out. How do they go from just starting out to where you're at, where you're like, "Okay, we're getting ready to set off on a nationwide jaunt."?
Gary Clayton: So I would say, starting out, definitely get used to your area, the law, the restrictions, and the way service is done before you even approach going nationwide. If you can't make your local customers happy, the chances of you going nationwide and making customers all across the country happy is probably gonna be slim.
Gary Clayton: Know your area, know what you're doing, read, do a lot of research, reach out to mentors. NAPPS is a very good platform for new process servers to reach out to and get the education that they need.
Gary Clayton: Your local associations is also huge, you know reaching out to your local associations.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, Gary does Oregon have an association?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, Oregon has the Oregon Association of Process Servers. I think the people that's been sitting on the board has been doing it for quite a long time, and we're not too involved with the association, we're members of the association, but we're working on our business, our [inaudible 00:16:32], our PR, to work with that, to start moving that in the direction we want it to.
Mighty Mike: That's great, so if you're an Oregon process server, definitely go and check out the Oregon Association, the National Association of Process Servers.
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Mighty Mike: Okay, welcome back to the show. Gary, are you ready for the rapid fire round?
Gary Clayton: Absolutely.
Mighty Mike: Awesome. What is your favorite skip trace tactic?
Gary Clayton: I would definitely say that we use court records a lot. Most of the defendants that we're trying to locate at one point in time or another they've either had a traffic violation or some of type of a civil case.
Gary Clayton: And you can pull a lot of information just from your local court records. I know Oregon is huge, we're set up with tailor hosting, which we get to pull all the records for that. And then of course we run plates. DMV's really good here, we can link [inaudible 00:18:46], we can run names and first and last name with a possible date of birth, and they give us a lotta information from that as well too.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, California's got it pretty locked up unless you have a, I think there's maybe 500 certificates or something like that. It's very difficult to get that kind of information here. That's pretty cool that Oregon does that. Are you able to just be able to just search it right on the database or do you have to call 'em, or?
Gary Clayton: There are multiple platforms so you can, for DMV we can call in, so if we're in the field and we have an individual who believes is there, we have a car in the driveway, we'll run the plate right there and if it comes back to that individual, we'll go up and confront him that.
Gary Clayton: We can call in, we can fax it in, or they'll have an online access come 2020, they're gonna go online for DMV. Court documents, we can call or we can access it online for court documents.
Mighty Mike: Wow, that's really cool. So you're the first person who's come on this show and mentioned the court documents, so I wanna dig a little ... I know this is rapid fire round but I want people to learn from it as well.
Mighty Mike: So when it comes to a court document, do you go ... so you get Michael Reid, how do you use the court documents. Do you search for my name via the court record?
Gary Clayton: Yeah, so we can pull up records with just a name, first and last name, and then we can kinda plug and play to see where it's at. It's not just putting in somebody's name, and then you get just that individual, 'cause there's a lot of Gary Claytons and there's a lot of Michaels out there.
Gary Clayton: You have to pinpoint ... if we have a small claims document we're serving, we can see that they have this small claims, so we can link it to that individual and then we go back and ... We had a hard to find individual, the credit union, that we were looking for. They were trying to find this individual for almost a year, and then they contacted us.
Gary Clayton: We put him into the court records, and come to find out, he had a restraining order put on him a couple weeks ago and so we were able to link the address to where he was served by the sheriff's department to link right back to him. So it was a very good tactic to be able to use that and the credit union didn't have that information.
Mighty Mike: What is your favorite skip tracing tool?
Gary Clayton: Favorite tool ... I like Delvepoint, I think it is? Or IDI, I like both of those programs. I really use, I try to go for what is inexpensive first. There's actually a program out there called SpyFly.com and it's very inexpensive, and it gives you pretty good record information.
Gary Clayton: Sometimes you have to look through and go through different things, but SpyFly was our number one platform that we used for a long time.
Mighty Mike: What is your favorite tool for defense?
Gary Clayton: So, favorite tool for defense is for one, our dispatch. Being able to reach out to dispatch, that's huge for defense for us.
Gary Clayton: I use ... I don't carry a firearm, but I do carry a baton or ASP. I carry a bear mace just in case. And also, my flashlight. I have a high powered flashlight and if I'm serving at night, ain't nobody gonna see me once that goes into their eyes.
Mighty Mike: Is it like a spotlight?
Gary Clayton: It's not really a spotlight, it's Bushnell, it's just a high powered, high Lumens Flashlight.
Mighty Mike: What book would you recommend?
Gary Clayton: The NAPPS book, that's what I would recommend.
Mighty Mike: Yeah, that's a good one, no that's a good one. It's actually kind of shocking that those books are huge, and they ship 'em out to all the members.
Mighty Mike: What is the greatest advice you have ever received?
Gary Clayton: So, the greatest advice that I have ever received, I have a mentor that's been in the industry for about 35 years that retired out and I ended up purchasing his business from him just to basically let him out and take over the contracts that he had. And he said, "Always be pleasant. Always be pleasant to the person you're serving, don't ever come at 'em with judgment. If you're judging the individual, it's not your place to judge, whatever they're going through is their own deal, it's not your deal, so don't ever judge 'em."
Mighty Mike: Yeah Gary, that's perfect. Being able to go out and to be able to handle yourself well around people and not judging them. Okay, that's great advice.
Mighty Mike: Gary, what parting piece of advice do you have for the struggling server out there, where his business is circling the drain? What advice do you have for that server?
Gary Clayton: Always pay, if you're outsourcing serves, always pay your outsource companies in advance or fairly quickly. Customer service is huge. If you're making your customers or your clients happy, they're gonna come back and use you every time.
Gary Clayton: We're fairly expensive for our area, roughly $35 more than any other server in our area. So we have a majority of the business just because they can track our information online. We send them regularly updates, and they know that they can call and get one of us on the phone at any time of the day.
Gary Clayton: I'm not saying answer your phone at ten o'clock at night, but customer service is huge and it's key for this industry.
Mighty Mike: So Gary, what I take most from what you just said is that, 'cause you said to pay your servers on time and to pay them ahead of time, many times if you deal with these big process serving companies, many times how a lot of severs get started, right? They contact all these companies all over the country and say, "Hey, I can do your serves."
Mighty Mike: But even though they're doing serves so inexpensive, they end up still being owed, you know, five thousand, seven thousand, some outrageous amount by this huge company that should be able to pay them on time.
Gary Clayton: Yeah, definitely. You know, I have a philosophy about the big companies out there. It's different for different areas. My area is small, we don't have a lot of people, a lot of process servers to choose from here. But if you're in a secluded area where you don't have a lot of competition, if you are not using those big companies, then that serve's still gotta be done. And if they can't get that big company to do that serve, who are they gonna call? They're gonna call you, and you're gonna get that business, and you're not gonna be paying the middle person.
Gary Clayton: I started out doing serves for ABC and a lot of other pro reps and other big companies, and then I slowly kind of backed out because I was paying them for what I was gonna do anyway.
Mighty Mike: Hey brother, one man's failure is another man's success, you gotta capitalize on that stuff, so that's good Gary. I really feel Server Nation has gained a lot from this interview.
Mighty Mike: Gary, what is the best that we can connect with you? And then we can say goodbye.
Gary Clayton: You can go to www.ontimeproserv.com without the e at the end, or 541-810-3411. Look up process servers for Oregon, we come up typically #1. Or if you wanna get directly to me, call our office in Klamath Falls, 541-810-2172.
Gary Clayton: I'd be more than happy to, if anybody's out there that's wanting to get into process serving, or has questions about it, give me a call, I'll sit down. I'm all about working for yourself and mentoring with the information that I have.
Mighty Mike: Gary, I wanna personally thank you for being on the show today. I've been impressed with your story and I'm excited to share it with the world.
Gary Clayton: Thank you Michael for having me on the show. It was a pleasure.
Mighty Mike: Until next time Server Nation, you've been served up some awesomeness On Time Gary, and Mighty Mike, the Podcast Server.