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The Single Most Important Decision Facing a CRA That Wants to Remain Competitive in 2021


As a CRA trying to grow your business in today’s competitive landscape, the single most important decision you must make is your choice of a background screening data provider. To understand why, it helps to put yourself in an end-user’s shoes.

The past year has been rough for business, but things are starting to turn around. End-users are looking to rebound strongly, and to do that, they need people in their seats being productive for their organizations. End-users also need to avoid any complications that might slow their companies down, such as compliance issues, lawsuits, or public relations disasters.

Essentially, as end-users rehire and rev up to rebuild their business, they need things to go smoothly.

The last thing end-users need is a criminal background screening vendor that misses its timeline estimates, produces error-riddled reports, becomes uncommunicative, or fails to follow specific instructions.

End-users Have the Upper Hand

At last count, there were nearly 2,500 consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) in the United States offering background checks.

Demand for background check services is expected to climb as the post-COVID economy recovery progresses and unemployment drops. Longer-term employment trends, such as the evolving relationship between employers and employees, will regain strength. Competition among background screening companies will remain as fierce as ever.

If you’re an end-user, and your CRA lets you down, you’ll simply move onto the next one. What do end-users expect from a CRA? We covered the five main KPIs and capabilities in our last article:

  • Accuracy (no errors)
  • Turnaround time (including reliable estimates)
  • Customization
  • Transparency
  • Cost-effectiveness

Today, we want to discuss how to improve your background screening company’s performance in each of these five areas. It all hinges on a pivotal decision: your choice of background screening data provider.

It All Comes Down to the Data

Unless you have the resources to send researchers to every single county court in the U.S. (and no CRA does), or you plan to manage a network of hundreds of vendors (which would be impractical), your company must partner with a third-party background screening data provider.

This is perhaps the single most crucial decision facing your CRA. You are investing an enormous amount of trust in your data provider.

If your data provider fails to be responsive, you will fail to be responsive to your end-users. If your data provider falls behind schedule, you will fall behind schedule. If your data provider makes mistakes, it will appear as if your company made mistakes.

Where Criminal Background Data Providers Get Their Data (and Why It Matters)

Something to keep in mind about data providers is that, frequently, your third-party partner is not the final link on the chain that connects your end-users to the direct sources of criminal records.

Often, court research and data companies outsource to other third-parties. These are the people who actually visit the courthouses and do the research.

These third-parties often have a long list of customers; there’s no guarantee that they will prioritize your searches. If a third-party gets bogged down with someone else’s work, you typically have no choice other than to wait your turn.

Any additional layers that separate you from the direct information sources are additional opportunities for mistakes to occur. As the criminal information passes from hand to hand, names might get transposed, findings might be entered into incorrect fields, and reports might be transmitted to the wrong people.

The solution, then, is to choose a background screening data provider that minimizes layers. Your data provider should get you as close to the data as possible. They can do this by:

  • Automating criminal records searches whenever and wherever it's technologically feasible. Automated searches are much faster and less error-prone than manual research.
  • Maintaining a proprietary network of highly-trained researchers, all fully-dedicated to a single data provider.
  • Covering remote, less-populated areas by establishing relationships with the best, most qualified local research firms in the business.

At SJV Data Solutions, we use all three approaches to get our CRA customers closer to the data than any other court research and data company. In fact, 93% of our data is direct source.

For a detailed explanation of our three-tiered criminal background research system, get your free copy of our ebook, “How SJV Improves Turnaround Time and Accuracy by Getting CRAs Closer to the Data.”


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