Does it sound counterintuitive that you should be able to cut your advertising costs and yet get more attorney clients? It did to me, until I took to heart the concept that it costs five times as much to attract a new attorney client than to keep an existing one.
Before I really focused on client retention instead of client acquisition, I spent a lot of money on advertising. I bought full-page ads in directories of legal vendors. “Pat, I have a rare spot on the back cover to fill. I can offer you a deal.”
That seductive promise of exposure kept me buying page after page, spending thousands to dollars a year.
The sales rep who sold me ads had me on speed dial for each new directory she planned.
The problem was that one day I totaled up what I was spending to get new attorney clients, and how much new business they brought. Was I getting my money’s worth? Should I cut my advertising costs?
At $5000 in ad costs per year, I needed 40 hours of billable work to cover the ads’ costs – and the ads were not bringing in that volume of cases.
What if I took that $5000 and used it to buy gifts for my current clients? That decision resulted in a large increase in repeat work (and a very unhappy sales rep).
The Trouble With the Continual Quest for New Clients and Advertising Costs
- Some LNCs build their businesses around having a continual flow of one-time clients. They are caught on a hamster wheel of continually marketing and networking to meet new clients. Boy, that is tiring (and expensive in advertising costs).
- Some LNCs constantly seek new clients because they love the hunt. Old clients are boring. New ones are exciting to them. But the loyalty of the old clients creates a sustainable business without the advertising costs.
Tips for Creating Loyalty and Repeat Business
1. Take a careful look at every aspect of your business operations. Is there any part that generates complaints? Are the complaints legitimate? For example, I found that attorneys are usually not reluctant to complain if they thought they were billed too many hours for work on their file.
Sometimes those hours were extensive because of a lack of clarification about what the attorney needed. That leads me into point 2.
2. Are you asking the right questions to determine the attorney’s expectations and needs? (You’ve got this phrase memorized: the goal of customer service is to meet or exceed expectations.) I recall a battle over an invoice for a chronology. The attorney asked for a detailed chronology and then protested when he got the $3000 invoice. “I expected only 5 or 6 pages”, he explained.
3. What are you doing to make your clients feel special, and not just at the holidays but all year round? Do you know their assistant’s name, hobbies, birthdays, spouse’s names, and interests?
4. Are you effectively using subcontractors to handle an influx of cases rather than making the attorney wait until you are available? I found that most wanted a turnaround within 2-3 weeks.
5. Would your clients find it helpful if you stopped by their office (if they are local) on a regular basis to work on files, meet with clients, organize records, train the staff, do lunch and learns or just simply do lunch? Face to face contact solidifies relationships. I was often delighted by what I learned when I went to see clients. It gave me greater insight into how a law firm functions.
6. Are you consistently asking your clients “what else” questions? “What else can I do for you?” What other cases do you have in your practice that would benefit from my services?“ Asking the attorney that question often leads to additional work.
7. Look for one stop shopping opportunities. Listen to what your clients are asking: “Can you obtain medical records for me? Can you organize medical records? Do you do life care plans? Can you do a cost projection?” They’ll tell you what they need and want and if you are doing a great job for them, they’ll want to stay with your LNC business.
- Reward clients so they keep coming back
- Discover ways to make your clients feel so special they will never go elsewhere
- Figure out how attorneys think so that you can speak to their values
- and much more