Raise your hand if you’re interested in making more money. Now that you’re sitting there all by yourself, in front of a computer screen with your hand up in the air, let’s talk about to actually go about making more money. We’ll start by looking at the biggest mistake made by law firms who wish to grow the bottom line. Then we’ll look at four things you should be doing, right now, that will get you on the right track. Interested in prosperity? Then read on! Not interested in prosperity? Well, if that’s the case then I’m not sure whey you’re reading this blog in the first place.
Lawyers, for obvious reasons, want to grow their income. The problem is that most attorneys usually have a singular focus on how to do so. The typical attorney will tell you that the way to grow the bottom line is to “get more phone calls.” While this is a necessary part of the solution it is, by a large margin, not the only part of the equation. If you want to grow your income then you need to 1) make sure you’re going about “getting more calls” the right way, and 2) you need to focus on keeping your overhead low. While attorneys often agree with these ideas, in theory, the practical application tends to miss the mark. Let’s look at four things you can start doing today to grow your income and get you sitting on a pile of money just like this guy:
Of course you can ignore the following four steps. Doing so, however, will leave you counting your pennies just like this guy:
I’m assuming you’d rather be the former and not the latter. Let’s look at what you need to do.
Lawyers must understand that answering the phones is a “sales” job
Let’s get one thing out of the way. People who call your office, in need of a lawyer, are not obligated to hire you. It is not their privilege or honor to retain your legal services and pay you money. Consumers are armed with more information and choice than at any time in history. Information, after all, is a Google search away and the current surplus of lawyers in the U.S. gives them plenty of options to choose from. It’s up to the person answering your phone to handle the call appropriately and get people in the door. Another word for this is – “sales.” In other words, when you look at the person answering your phones, their number one job is sales. Their number two jobs is also sales. Unfortunately, many law firms fail to understand the sales function of the front desk/receptionist.
I’ve spoken with many attorneys who say that their receptionist does a good job because they are “pleasant” on the phone. “Pleasant” is just another way of saying that they’re not rude. Well if the bar for the person answering your phones is “not rude” then you’ve set the standard so low that it might as well be buried in the sand. To make matters worse, I’ve spoken with lawyers who will openly admit that the person answering the phone is “rough” with people and the attorneys honestly didn’t see a problem with it. It’s important that the person answering the phones be trained to get people into the office. Now I’m not suggesting that you have a sleazy sales pitch. There is a big difference, however, between having a good pitch and being pleasant. The moral of the story is to do a better job of converting the calls your already getting. Here are a few articles I’ve previously written, with specifics, on how to do so:
Attorneys need to consider return on investment when choosing options to “make their phone ring”
I regularly talk with attorneys and law firms who miss the point of return on investment. I’m often told that some new marketing option “only costs a few hundred a month.” I’m also told that “even if I just get one case a month it’s worth it.” Well……ok. The problem with this is that law firms don’t have a limitless stack of Benjamins to try on new marketing. In spite of this, attorneys miss the point that they need to say “I have a few hundred extra to spend. I can put it into [A] or I can put it into [B]. Let me honestly figure out which one will give the greatest return and go from there.” Want to get ahead in your practice? You need to consider ROI – it’s that simple.
The hard and fast rule that I preach, regarding ROI, is that attorneys need to invest in their firm rather then spending money on it. In other words, spend your money on marketing assets, such as web content and video, which you will own and control and stop using your money to rent the marketing assets of third party companies. I previously discussed investing, rather then spending, as part of our discussion on how to build a better law firm.
Lawyers need to leverage their website’s analytics
Think about the point just made above. Lawyers regularly pay for something without being sure of what they’re going to get out of it. I have a name for that – gambling. It’s a big mistake to approach your business with an attitude of “I’ll pay a few hundred for this; if I get a client it’s worth it.” Instead, you should be making educated guesses on what will, and what will not, bring in more business. One of the best ways to do this is to leverage your site’s analytics. You’ll find that a small portion of your blog posts will be responsible for a disproportionately high share of your traffic. Once you identify those posts then it’s time to write more material on those same topics. Instead of saying “I’ll pay for something and hope it gives a return” you’ll be saying “I’m going to invest in a particular type of web content because it has been proven to give a return.” I discussed leveraging your analytics when I looked at three ways for attorneys to get more clients without advertising.
Law firms need to consolidate their vendors and service providers as much as possible
Many law firms seem to function under the idea of “why have one vendor when I can have two at twice the hassle and expense.” Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s a great approach. Ask yourself the following – do you have software programs which are capable of more than the purpose that you’re using them for? Are you then paying for a second program to accomplish a task that can be completed by the first? Most attorneys are a) guilty of this and they know it or b) are guilty of this and they don’t know it. Having extra software providers means that you’re paying extra money and losing efficiency because dealing with two applications takes more time than dealing with one. These same mistakes are common with other types of vendors as well. Want to make more money? Then deal with as few vendors as possible.
Following the four steps above will help you get your firm growing in a way that quickly grows your net income. Again, whether you follow these steps are entirely up to you.