This is the next post in my discussion on how attorneys can increase their revenue and their profit margins simultaneously. I’ve been writing on this topic due to the fact that, as of the last time I checked, it’s a good thing to have more of your money stay in your pocket at the end of the day. My last discussion looked at how smarter marketing increases lawyer profit margins. It’s important that you don’t simply focus on “getting more calls” without considering the methods by which you do so. Instead, you need to focus on increasing phone volume in ways which also are best for the bottom line. This article is going to focus on what is actually the best way for an attorney to make more of ‘da money – providing quality service to your clients.

Having served as a consultant for law firms since 2011 I have to say I’ve been surprised at how many firms think the first part of growing a practice is “getting more calls.” I’m sorry to break this to you; that approach is:

Wrong sign

Your time and energy should first be spent on providing the best experience possible to your existing clients (no matter how few you have). That will lead to more referrals (the most profitable types of cases), will make your firm more efficient (which makes each case you handle more profitable), and will keep you from being completely reliant on what I call “fresh business.” No business, including law firms, can survive if they rely completely on fresh business. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn. If you adopt this idea you’ll find yourself looking like this:

flexing money muscles

And you’ll avoid looking like this poor chap:

Two empty pockets

Let’s get to it.

Attorneys receive more referrals and good online reviews when they provide quality client service

The less resources and/or energy you expend to obtain a case then the more profitable that case will be. It’s simple math when you think about it. If you pay for advertising (whether it be pay-per-click, directories, the phone book, or putting your name on the side of a blimp) then there’s an acquisition cost associated with each case you bring in. Even if you do the right thing, and invest in marketing assets which provide a continuing return, there’s still a minimal acquisition cost. If you obtain clients by going to networking events, by generating your own content on a blog, or through some other activity which requires time, you still have an acquisition cost for clients who find you – that acquisition cost being time. These costs get shaved right off the top of any fee you charge and your firm needs to bring in more business just to cover those acquisition costs. A referral, by contrast, doesn’t come with these associated costs. This makes the referred client the most profitable client.

Attorneys who focus on providing quality service will see a growth to their practice which compounds over time. The reason for this is simple. People are more likely to refer their friend or colleague to you if they, themselves, had a good experience. Clients are also more likely to leave you a good review if they received quality service from your firm. In other words, if you do a good job for Client A then they will refer you Client B. If you turn around and provide quality service to Client B then they also become a referral source, meaning you now have two former clients ready to refer you people instead of one. The same concept goes for receiving online reviews; do a good job for Client A and he/she is more likely to leave you a good review. Client B then becomes more likely to hire you because you have a good review. Do a good job for B and then you receive yet another good review. These concepts allow your client base to snowball.

Providing quality client service makes an attorney’s practice more efficient

The more efficient your practice is then the more money you make. If you use a flat fee structure for charging clients then you are more profitable when a matter can be handled, and the same result obtained, in fewer hours. If you use an hourly billing structure, which many firms should avoid, then becoming more efficient allows you to reduce that life sucking, money draining, financial parasite profit reducing problem of administrative time. Unfortunately, many firms don’t realize that the best ways increase efficiency also improve the level of service provided to your clients. In other words, you can reduce the problem of administrative time and grow your referral base simultaneously.

I won’t go on, and on, and on about things I’ve previously discussed on this site. Here are articles on techniques which will make your firm more efficient while improving the client experience at the same time.

Implementing the tips from the above articles will go a long, long, long way towards making your firm more profitable and growing your referral base.

Providing quality client service keeps attorneys from being completely reliant on “fresh” or new business

I’ve spoken with many law firms over the last five years or so. I have to say I’ve been surprised at the number which are completely reliant on fresh or new business and don’t see a problem with being that way. There are three types of clients who may retain an attorney. The first is a repeat client whom the lawyer represented previously in another matter. The second is a client who was referred by another client or referral source. The third is a “new” client who found the attorney through some type of marketing. Many attorneys are overwhelmingly reliant on the last of these categories. This means that these attorneys are constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY, expending money and time trying to land new clients. And then, when they have no profits, they sit there scratching their heads like this ol’ boy:

Man scratching head

No business can survive if it is overly reliant on fresh business. If you run a law firm, and you fit this description, then it’s a direct reflection on your customer service polices and it’s one of the biggest reasons why you may very well find yourself flat ass broke. Want to get out of this trap? Implement the steps in the links above, to improve your the experience of your clients. Doing so will improve profits, make your practice more self-sustaining, and reduce your stress level. If your happy with the way things are goin’ then keep on a’ truckin’.