Friday, January 22, 2010

The Importance of Role Models

I find it difficult to believe that it has been almost five years since the passing of Phil Konvitz. Mr. Phil, as many knew him, was the undisputed leader of the bail bond industry for over 50 years. Despite his physical absence from the scene, we feel his presence on a daily basis throughout AIA. Indeed, AIA stands as the legacy of Phil Konvitz.

I was very, very fortunate to have been able to spend time with Mr. Phil in the later years of his life. He taught me many things about this business, both through his words and through his example. He was the kind of leader that we should all strive to be, one who leads with his actions and not merely his words.

I have been lucky throughout my life to have many great role models who have helped me along the way. I learned very early on that it is very important to listen and learn from those who came before you. Too often it is easy to rush to judgment without the experience or knowledge necessary to achieve your success.

In addition to Mr. Phil, I have been very fortunate to have worked side by side with my father, Robert Nairin who has been a leader in the bail bond industry for nearly 50 years. My dad has proven to be an excellent role model for me as an intelligent, thoughtful and caring businessman who is always extremely committed to the success and well being of our agents. I am extremely lucky to continue to be able to work closely with him and, to this day continue to learn valuable lessons from him.

The lesson in all of this, as I reflect on these two great mentors, is the importance of learning from role models. I have learned a tremendous amount about both my profession and myself by just listening to men like Mr. Phil and my father. The impact these men have made on my life and on AIA is profound and continues even today in our dedication to providing the highest level of customer service and support. I am honored to have had these great industry leaders in my life. I believe that throughout a career, learning and education is something that never stops. I encourage all of you to pay attention to those around you who have been successful and listen carefully to the lessons they can provide through their actions and their words.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NPR - National Public Radio...or shall we say...National Pro-Government Radio

Earlier today I saw an email about an upcoming piece on National Public Radio (“NPR”) about the bail bond system in the United States. This piece, which appears to have been written by advocates of government sponsored pretrial release systems proclaims that the private bail surety system may be “costing taxpayers billions, while preventing more successful, less costly rehabilitation programs from gaining traction.” This proposition is completely ridiculous. On the contrary, the bail surety system saves taxpayer dollars by providing a private sector solution to defendants waiting resolution of their criminal cases. The services of the bail bond industry are provided without any taxpayer dollars funding our system. Moreover, bail agents throughout the country work very hard to accommodate as many people as they possibly can in a way that is highly responsible and it assures the appearance of the defendant back in court.

The representation that government sponsored release systems are “more successful” and “less costly rehabilitation programs” is similarly ludicrous. Many studies, including those conducted by the federal government’s bureau of justice statistics have shown that releasing defendants through government sponsored programs while they are awaiting trial is a highly ineffective method of assuring the defendants appearance back in court. Further, such government sponsored get out of jail free programs, are more likely to result in an escalation in crime while defendants are out awaiting disposition of their case. If you would like to receive a booklet on the failures of these types of government sponsored pretrial release programs, please visit sign up to receive a copy.

This piece to be aired on NPR January 21st and 22nd smacks of a pro-government piece that is not informed of all the facts involved in the criminal justice system, as it relates to release of defendants awaiting trial. I find it disappointing that NPR would make statements that are so negative to an industry that for many years has provided the most responsible safe and low cost method of releasing defendants awaiting trial. I cannot help but think that this type of reporting comports with the overall national agenda being pushed by bureaucrats in Washington to expand the role of government in our daily lives. This is a misguided policy with very negative long term consequences. History has shown that private enterprise can do a much better job providing goods and services then the federal government. We should ask ourselves who among us wants the federal government controlling health insurance or any other big business.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Changing Face of Technology in the Bail Industry

As we enter 2010, I can’t help but thinking about my family, and specifically my father Bob Nairin and his 47 years in the bail bond industry. In that time, we have seen this industry evolve and change in ways that only a few bail bond industry veterans have. In fact, just in the last 5 years, I personally have seen changes that have reshaped our company in ways I never could have imagined.

The most interesting thing about these changes is that while they seem small and insignificant while they are happening, when you look back at them they are like quantum leaps in time. There is no bigger leap than what has happened in the area of technology. Even just writing this bail bond industry blog last evening on my laptop while watching SportsCenter on ESPN still amazes me. Ten years ago, no one could have imagined the things we are doing today. From our bail agents reporting bonds electronically to collaboratively tracking forfeitures online, AIA is rapidly developing systems that will help our family of bail bond agents completely manage their bail bond business. Technology is opening a new door everyday in terms of what’s really possible…not only for AIA and its family of agents, but for the bail industry overall.

While it is easy to run and hide from these changes, I am proud to say that we have chosen to embrace them. In fact, I would say we have gone as far to challenge them and push them to the limit. Just this year, we have launched a new financial management system, installed a new phone system and developed a new version of our Agent Information Management System…and it is only January 15th. These technology changes demonstrate our commitment to growing our business and will create exponential efficiencies within our organization. Efficiencies that we can pass on to our agents in better service and support.

I would love to hear comments and stories back from bail agents across the country about how technology has changed your business. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Flushing our Tax Dollars Down Pretrial Release Agencies

As I read about state and local budget problems, I am angered by the idiocy of our elected leaders. It is completely unacceptable that the government budgets continue to fund unnecessary programs that lead to enormous budget gaps and increased taxes. Where I live in California, Governor Schwarzenegger, in his State of the State Speech, proposed a constitutional amendment that would prohibit spending more on prison operations than public schools in California. I simply do not understand how our priorities could have gotten so messed up.

In difficult economic time like these, where state and local budgets are hard hit by decreasing tax revenues, unnecessary government programs need to be summarily eliminated. One such program is pretrial release programs that provide irresponsible, unsecured OR releases. These programs cost millions of dollars per year and do nothing to promote public safety. They are of dubious value, even in good economic time. While the reduction of some government programs can be a difficult decision, the elimination of taxpayer sponsored get out of jail free programs (Pretrial Service Agencies) seems like an obvious choice.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Some Thoughts on Marketing...

While watching the endless stream of bowl games this season, I was struck by certain commercials where companies spend their advertising dollars focusing on a weakness or shortcoming of a certain competitor, rather than highlighting the virtues and core values of their own enterprise. At AIA, we have always focused on the things we bring to our family of bail bond agents. By clearly expressing our companies’ core values of innovation, agent support and service, plus integrity and financial stability we strive to help our public better understand the value of doing business with AIA, while positioning ourselves as the leading bail bond insurance company in the nation.

I believe this strategy can be effective for all businesses. Carefully consider your company’s core values and then figure out how to best communicate those values to the audience you are trying to reach. By doing so, you will increase your business by letting your customers know what is truly the essence of the valuable service you provide.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Well, we made it another year

Well, we made it another year. It was not easy for many people as the great recession impacted the lives of Americans throughout all industries. Here at AIA, we are constantly brainstorming ways to better serve our bail bond agents and help to grow their businesses. Every three to five years, we do a strategic plan to set a road map for our growth and success. During the next cycle of planning, I would love to use this bail bond industry blog as a platform to hear from our bail agents. Over the years, I have met with many of you to discuss issues and ideas to improve our industry in general and to consider ways that AIA could help grow the businesses of our family of bail bond agents. So, please use this venue to let us know, what services or support we can provide to help your bail bond business.

We are committed to investing in innovation and technology to assure our bail agents receive cutting edge solutions to manage their business. Please let us know your thoughts. We care deeply about the success of our family of bail agents. I wish you all the best in 2010, and I hope to meet with all of you at our first ever National Conference this upcoming June in Las Vegas.