Are you getting all of the gold out of your marketing? The answer is probably a resounding NO!
When I consult for firms, no matter what the initial purpose of the consultation, I usually find that they are not maximizing the results of their marketing. Most are not as egregious as that of a client that I recently helped. This attorney was concerned that he was not getting enough clients from his new television ads in spite of some kick-ass commercials. I can complement the commercials since I wrote them.
I had the firm record every call that came in from the ads. The problems were incredible.
- Problem one:The firm policy was to have a person who was at best moderately trained screen the call to determine if they wanted to represent the caller
- If the caller was approved by that screener they would be called back by an attorney.
- In the two hours I sat in the call center cases that were going to be rejected ultimately settled for $84,000.
- The next problem was that 25% of the prospects were not there when called back by an attorney or intake specialist.
- Problem two: One of the screeners sounded as if the people were lucky to have someone to talk to.
- She acted too busy to spend much time talking with them.
- She sounded as if every caller was lying and she was going to catch them.
- Problem three: Anywhere from 40% to 70% of the calls went to voice mail.
- 80% of them hung up.
- When the hang-ups were called back they were not interested or had already found an attorney.
The next issue is firm owners who trust non-attorneys or associates to determine who the firm will not represent. This may be a good policy but not without occasionally calling some of the people who were rejected to determine if the correct decision was made, that they were spoken to with respect and were satisfied with the reasons given for not being represented. If intake calls are recorded it is incumbent upon the firm owner to listen to some of the calls by each of the people doing intake. Determine the quality of work being done by the people making the first impression on prospective clients.
The people answering your phones and screening the new clients are the face of your firm. When they reject callers with good cases it is your wallet that is thinner. When they do not treat the caller with the proper kindness and respect, that person my find a different attorney and you miss out on a client with a good case.
Intake is huge. You have three seconds to make a good first impression. All but one firm I have consulted for. For various reasons, has let good clients slip away. Look at your procedures carefully to make sure your firm signs up the clients you want.
The major area where firms are losing money is failing to screen for mass torts. I recently taught an estate planning firm to look for drug cases and they have gotten one women into the Lipitor class and two men into the testosterone class. It’s a simple process but you are losing a lot of money if you don’t pay attention to the mass tort potential of the people who call your firm for representation. They may not have a case you can handle but they still may be eligible for one of the mass tort classes.
Every person who calls about any case in any area of law should be screened for mass tort potential. This is gold on your shelf that you are just letting slip away. When new class actions are filed you can send a letter or email to every current and former client to see if they or anyone they know has ever used that drug.
A client of mine with a social security practice found 861 children who had used Risperdal. He didn’t have the staff to call them all but hired two college students to do the screening. Sixteen of his former clients got into the class action lawsuit. That will be a huge co-counsel fee for him someday because of that records search.
Teach your intake specialists to take the extra few minutes and ask the questions necessary of your prospects and clients to determine their potential to join a class action case. If they had a hip replacement, ask what kind of hip it was. If they used a medication for erectile dysfunction find out if they have had a melanoma.
How do you make sure your intake personnel do this? My recommendation is that you give a $25 bonus for each person they screen who is accepted into a class. Money talks and this little bonus will do wonders for getting your people to respond properly to your new intake procedures.
The difference might be hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to your firm in co-counsel fees. That’s definitely worth an extra few minutes with each prospective client who calls your firm.
Should you diversify your practice? With a stroke of a pen the legislature can wipe out your practice. I advise every firm I consult for to have at least two areas of specialty.
In some states caps have been put on malpractice claims that have virtually destroyed that area of practice. In others the caps on pain and suffering have greatly reduced the value of many accident practices. What if Congress decided that fees could no longer be withheld in Social Security practices? Representatives would then have to collect the fees from their clients.
What areas of law compliment what you are already doing? Add these areas to the mix of your practice; increase your income and protect your practice from the whim of a legislative onslaught.
If you are doing workers’ compensation think about adding Social Security or Veteran’s Disability. If you are doing one of those areas, add the other. Very few firms practice Federal Worker’s Compensation but those that do are very successful.
Your imagination and creativity are the only limits you have in what you can do to enhance your practice. That is the only protection you and your clients have in these times from a legislature that may not care about you or your clients.
Don’t be caught unprepared. Open your eyes now to the possibility that your area of practice could be wiped out and be ready to change. It is your future that you must protect!