This is part 2 of a series on building a successful legal nurse consulting practice. Read part 1 here.
I taught a program at the National Nurses in Business Association on the factors that lead to a successful business. Here are some strategies you can implement for building a successful legal nurse consulting practice.
1. Pay attention to relationships. Your clients want to work with LNCs they know, like and trust. There is a lot at stake in a lawsuit- a lot of time, money, and effort. Look for ways to build strong relationships with your clients so that they would not dream of working with another independent LNC firm. Advise them when you come across a case like theirs that has been settled or tried, and share the result. Be flexible when possible with payment plans. One client of ours was frank with us years ago that his client was responsible for the fees and could not pay the bill, nor could the attorney. Our client told us, “Be flexible with me and I’ll make it up to you.” He has a loyal client for more than a decade and he has paid his bills.
2. Use honest and ethical business practices. Return unused portions of retainers, keep detailed billing records, and always check for a conflict of interest before accepting a case. A legal vendor I know told me that she only returns unused portions of a retainer if the client asks for them. That strikes me as dishonest. You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of your ethics.
3. Avoid borrowing money if you can. Use your revenues, not loans, to invest in your business such as upgrading your computer equipment. When my husband started his welding business in 1980, we borrowed a million dollars and signed personal guarantees for the amount. When his business failed two years later, we were on the hook for a million that we did not have. I was pregnant with our second child when the man came to evaluate our house to determine if it was worthwhile taking to satisfy some of the debt. My husband’s keen negotiating skills kept us from having to declare bankruptcy. Med League has never taken a loan since its inception because of our brush with bankruptcy.
4. Charge reasonable fees that the market will bear. Do not join the rush to the bottom to undercut your competitors. You will destroy your business by performing work at the lowest rate on the market, find it impossible to raise fees, and run out of money. One man called me a few years ago to ask if I wanted to bid on doing medical summaries. He quoted a price he had heard from other companies, which was half of our hourly rate, and asked if I could do better. I wanted to ask him, “Do better for ourselves or for you?” I explained we could not do the work for that rate. Another firm asked us to work on pharmaceutical product liability cases, and wait until the cases settled to get paid. I explained we could not ask our subcontractors to wait to get paid; I was unwilling to go into debt to pay them before we got paid. Think through the financial consequences of taking these kinds of arrangements.
5. Charge rush fees. Determine what will constitute a rush rate, with a specific time frame, and adhere to that rate. We charge our clients and pay our nursing expert witnesses a rush rate when they are expected to produce work on a short turn around. I resisted rush rates for years, fearing it would cause us to lose business. I found attorneys expected it, and even volunteered at times, “If you have to, charge me more to get this done.”
6. Consider the multiple ways you can reach your market: a website, a blog, tweets, Facebook, ezines, emails, videos, and video testimonials. Use these methods to remind your client base of your existence. Use principles of crafting effective marketing messages and consistently implement them.
You are an angel to share this information with me and a very intelligent angel at that.
Vicki Lipps RN
Patricia Iyer MSN RN LNCC established Med League Support Services, Inc. in 1987 and successfully sold it in 2015. Since then, she has provided coaching to other LNCs to help them skyrocket their businesses. See www.LNCAcademy.com to learn how you can benefit from Pat’s expertise. She taught LNCs how to write compelling copy in her webinar, Cash Copy: How to Supercharge Your Marketing Materials. Watch the replay. Pat also provides individual consulting for LNCs.