What is the first thing you do every morning when you arrive at your office?
My first task each day is to review my key figures. I don’t just want to know whether I’m in the black or the red; I also want to know whether we’re expanding or shrinking.
There’s a simple metric law firm owners can use to understand how their practice is performing. If you’re closing more cases than you’re opening then your firm is shrinking. On the other hand, if you’re opening more cases than you’re closing, then your firm is growing.
Once I understand which direction the firm is headed, then I look at how we’re progressing with the cases in hand.
As the owner of a business, I know that handling the current caseload is not enough. I need to know that the next batch of cases will come through. And the ugly truth is we’ve got plenty to keep us busy this month, but what about the month after?
Of course we need to ensure that we’re delivering our promised level of service to each of our existing clients. However that doesn’t mean it should be our only focus. Some attention needs to be given to consistently marketing the firm in order to provide a steady stream of cases.
As the President of PILMMA, I’m fortunate to be able to see how many firms, across this great land, are run. I’m often asked to consult by law firm owners who want their practices to be more successful. I see a wide spectrum of owners, from those who are getting just about everything wrong, through to successful firms whose owners who want to achieve even greater success.
All the successful firms have something in common: they have systems in place for their marketing and management.
What this means in practice is that successful law firms have cracked the code for getting a steady stream of clients each month.
Well-Oiled Machine Generates Cases
Like a well-oiled machine, through the combination of all their activities, new clients are signed like clockwork, ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the firm. If you didn’t know what went on behind the scenes, you might think it just happened all by itself. Like magic.
The truth is that the new cases do NOT arrive like magic. It does not happen all by itself.
What you may see is the intake team pulling their weight, answering the phone and signing up clients. What you don’t see is everything behind the scenes that made the phone ring in the first place.
Marketing doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be planned. Until you get serious about your marketing, you’ll never have the confidence of just knowing that you’ll open your target number of new cases each month.
There is an exception to this rule, but it’s still nuanced: plumbers.
The best plumbers don’t need to advertise. They don’t need referral schemes. They don’t need to chase testimonials. The best plumbers don’t need to worry about social media.
Because the best plumbers have 30+ years experience and when you need an expert plumber, friends and family just know immediately who to recommend.
Because the best plumbers are experts at what they do – plumbing. They’ve never really got to grips with “marketing”, however their track record and word-of-mouth recommendations bring them all the business they need.
Law firms can’t afford to wait around for 30 years for their expertise to generate spontaneous word-of-mouth referrals. If you want your firm to grow then you need to steadily open more cases than you’re closing. You need to make payroll for the employees handling those cases.
So it shouldn’t surprise you that some law firm owners who ask me for help are panicked by the fear that a bad month could force them to close down the business. They fret about making payroll and paying the rent.
What they’re NOT doing is investing in marketing.
If you don’t want sleepless nights at the end of each month, worrying about making payroll, it’s up to you to do something about it. Just as I advise those stressed-out law firm owners, it may be time to assess whether your firm really has any systems in place to deliver your desired caseload.
As a starting point for what you should be doing to fix the situation, I recommend getting a free copy of my book, “7 Secrets to Getting More Clients For Your Law Firm.” You can receive your free copy instantly by signing up at the bottom of this blog post.
If your flow of new cases is haphazard, if you feel like you have to hustle to sign a new client, then it’s time to start some regular and consistent marketing activities.
Starting small is better than not starting at all.
Are you so busy with cases that you don’t have time to write a single blog post each week?
Are you so overloaded that you can’t record a 3-minute video?
If you’ve never really involved yourself with marketing before then getting started can be daunting. That’s all the more reason to just jump in and do something. You’ll only get better with practise.
At my Raleigh, NC, law firm, we had an incredible referral rate. At its peak, around a quarter of our new cases would come from client referrals.
This is another strategy that didn’t just happen all by itself. We encouraged referrals. We thanked clients in writing for referring their friends or family to us. We ensured clients knew referrals were important and we showed them our appreciation.
Marketing is all about getting the right message, using the appropriate medium, to the right audience. Whatever you’ve done has been effective in getting you the clients you already have. They’re clients who can be impressed by the way you handle their cases and the level of service you provide.
You already have the attention of your existing clients.
So what can you do to get them referring new clients to your firm?
Implementing a referral system is one of the easiest and lowest cost ways to generate new cases. And there are a whole bunch of tactics you can use.
In my next blog post, I’ll explain how you can start building a referral network out of existing clients.