Running a successful Life Care Planning business, or a legal nurse consulting business requires skills in 5 areas: expertise, marketing (which I covered in part 1), client management, finances and business development. In this post I share tips about the last 3 pillars.
Maintaining sound relationships with clients is the third pillar of a sound business. It costs five times more to market to a new prospect than it does to retain satisfied clients (Saleh, n.d.). Your reputation and ability to establish strong relationships with attorneys will make or break your business.
In general, attorneys are quick, intelligent, and great negotiators. They are trained to win. They need your help to do so. They like stability. When they find a great Life Care Planner, they prefer to stay with that person.
Encourage client loyalty by taking a hard look at how you care for customers.
Everyone is increasingly aware of the power of social media to spread both complaints and compliments about your services. Attorneys are networked in ways that may be invisible to you. They participate on list servs and share recommendations with each other.
Look at each step of your process of handling your clients. What can you do to make them feel even more cared for, respected, and valued (Sandler, 2015)? Do you acknowledge receipt of records? Do you ask for feedback on your Life Care Plan? Do you ask your clients what you should stop doing, start doing, or continue doing? We are often surprised by the answers we get when we ask our clients these questions.
You’ve heard that 80% of your work comes from 20% of your clients. Who are your best clients? What do you do to make them feel even more special? People love to be appreciated and acknowledged. How often do you connect with them or send them a small gift to show appreciation?
Finance in a Successful Life Care Planning Business
Creation of Life Care Plans can consume dozens of hours of your time; some attorneys are surprised by the size of the invoice. Head off collection problems by following some best practices. First, set the expectations at the beginning of the case regarding the sizes of invoices. Although it is never possible to make precise predictions of how many hours it will take to prepare your plan, you should, with experience, be able to give a range of hours.
Secondly, obtain a retainer. Require at least 10 hours. You can double that amount for most involved Life Care Plans. I also recommend you ask the attorney to replenish the retainer before you exhaust it. Asking for another retainer when you have used 75% of the existing one is a great plan that keeps cash flowing.
A practice of asking for replenishing retainers demands that you keep on top of the total number of hours you have spent on the case and anticipate when you will be depleting the retainer. You have the option of stopping work while waiting for the new retainer. Being proactive in requesting additional money is essential when the client is new or has an uneven payment history.
There are several opportunities in the life of a case when you can use leverage. You have leverage when the attorney needs the report submitted by a certain date or when you are noticed about a deposition or asked to analyze opposing counsel’s Life Care Plan or to appear at trial. Use leverage to obtain payment.
If you are not working from retainer to retainer, don’t allow large numbers of hours to accumulate without payment. And don’t avoid or delay collection efforts. Sometimes it is easy to put off collection efforts in the hopes the check will appear in the mail or because you are distracted by cases.
Your bills won’t wait. The most important financial best practice is to know your profit and loss, your expenses, and your accounts receivable. Know your numbers.
Business development is the last pillar. It encompasses examining your operations and looking for opportunities to add new services or improve your efficiency.
- Are there aspects of your business that pose roadblocks?
Are there services your clients are asking for that you should add?
Are you listening to what your clients are saying and open to ways to expand?
Some Life Care Planners grow by adding research assistants, who may be effective in collecting the data you need for the plan, and thus improve your efficiency. Subcontractors expand your capability to respond to new cases.
Although there is a degree of training and supervision needed to work with another person, the rewards are great. Subcontractors enable you to accept the case you might have had to turn away because you were already committed to another case. Without subcontractors, your ability to generate income is limited to the number of hours you can work.
Conclusions about a succesful life care planning business
The five pillars work together to grow your business. You show your expertise in your work product and use it to attract clients and cases. You manage your clients to satisfy their requirements and generate repeat business. You handle your invoicing and retainer requirements so that you maintain a healthy cash flow. And you use business practices that enable you to leverage your time and expand your capabilities.
This article originally appeared in the Journal of Life Care Planning in the Summer of 2017.
Saleh, K. (n.d.). Customer acquisition vs. retention costs – statistics and trends. [Blog post] Retrieved from http://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/
Sandler, D. (2015). Nice guys finish first. Melbourne, FL: Motivational Press