New Law Journal | 18 May 2012 | www.newlawjournal.co.uk MARKETING Profession 683
Adam Caplan continues his Thinking Big series on how to a grow a law firm with my New Law Journal Article 2, part one. If you click on the link above it will open up my second ‘Thinking Big’ article written for The New Law Journal.
In part one of this series I introduced the concept of key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you find out what makes your business tick. We looked at initial KPIs such as: number of clients, number of active hours billed, average hourly rates, and average hours per client. This tells you where your business is currently. This is known as “Where you are now” (see NLJ, 6 & 13 April 2012, p 506)
We now need to set some goals for the coming year based on the results of your KPIs. Examples of goals could be:
(i) increase the number of clients on my books by 10%;
(ii) increase my active existing client base by 15%;
- increase my annual billing hours by 10%;
- (iv) increase my average hourly billing rate by 10%; and
- improve my hours per client billed by 10%.
How will you achieve these goals?
First, you must ensure that having worked out your KPIs for the previous 12 months, you can look at the monthly figures you achieved in each month over the past year. This will give you a really good guide to what you traditionally achieve month by month throughout the year. You can then set goals for each corresponding month throughout the year and monitor your progress so you can see how you’re improving and by how much. I have a range of different spreadsheets that I can send to help you to do this.
Why is this important? Well, firstly, if you know what you’ve achieved month by month you will also be able to calculate what you will need to achieve in order to hit your new sales targets. Your business may be seasonal, you may have busier periods, depending on your practice. If you know your past figures accurately, you’ll be in a much better position to grow your business in the future. Once you have set your goals you will be at the “Where you want to go” stage.
Once you know “Where you want to go”, your next stage is to concoct a sales and marketing plan. This is known as the “How will I get there?” stage, which I will be covering later in this article.
During my research for these articles, I interviewed a number of solicitors from firms of all shapes and sizes, as well as some in-house practitioners. The one thing that I found was that many of these firms hadn’t really grasped what selling was all about. Many hadn’t really considered their unique selling point (USP). The USP is what differentiates your practice from the multitude. With alternative business structures adding to the competitiveness of the marketplace, this is becoming increasingly important for all practitioners. I’m not a solicitor, however, I do understand the benefits of using a solicitor.
If you were to ask yourself the question: “Why do my clients use my practice?”, you would be half way to finding out what your particular USP is. If you ask your clients why, you may get another answer. Why not ask them why these like using you? The answer may surprise you. Understanding why your customers use you will be an important step forward to make your practice “sales ready”.
For my sales training consultancy, the USP is the fact that my clients see an average of 300% growth on their sales and that they trust me to do what’s right for them. I help them make money, give them peace of mind for the future and make their lives considerably easier. What is your USP? Why do your clients “buy” from you? To find out why your clients use you can be an excellent marketing tool to help you “re-connect” with your existing clients. Your existing customers are the key. If you have existing clients, you have everything you need to grow your business by at least 25% in the coming year, if you access them in the correct manner. These existing customers are going to be an integral part of your sales and marketing campaign (see box overleaf). Establishing what your clients think of your practice will help you define your USP as a legal firm and give you an idea of why your clients use your firm. This is extremely important as it will form the basis for the “customer communications” that we will create and send to your customer database.
Let’s use an example here to help illustrate how we will create your “marketing message”. Your clients have told you that the reason they work with you is that you make them feel at ease, you take their problems away and you are knowledgeable in law which gives them peace of mind when working with you. Your business might be a general practice offering wills, probate, powers of attorney, civil litigation, employment and family law along side such fee-based services such as conveyancing, etc. Whatever your practice offers, your existing clients can provide you two superb opportunities to generate income and clients for your practice.
A call to action
The first is ensuring that your clients are aware of everything that you can do to help them. Many practices are reactive to clients and will consider that they can only aid clients when the client has a problem. However, as I am sure you know, there are many services that you might be able to offer the client that they could take advantage of at any time, not just when there is a pressing problem. Wills and trusts are a great example of this.
Ensuring that your clients are aware of everything you offer might increase your revenue over time, however, if you don’t offer them a “call to action” it’s unlikely that any marketing campaign will be hugely effective. So, consider this, unless you are “fully booked”, any billing solicitor will have an element of their week where they are not billing. Wouldn’t it be better for your business if you could be billing in this “down” time, even if you’re billing a bit less per hour than you might ordinarily charge?
If this is the case, what about considering a “limited time special offer” for existing clients. You might offer your existing clients a reduced fee or fixed-fee will-writing offer. If your clients haven’t drawn up their wills (as I am sure many haven’t yet) this offer might prompt them to come and see you. Some of your clients, depending on the nature of your clients database, might also be prompted to instruct you on other fee paying activities when they are with you to draw up their will. It will generate income and activity for your practice and have the added bonus of ensuring your clients stay happy with you (since you’ve provided such a good value offer). This really is a win-win situation.
The second is where you will ask your existing clients to refer you to people they know. This referral system is the most potent and effective sales and marketing technique there is.
If you’re like most solicitors I have helped grow their business, it is unlikely that you have been doing this correctly. Now, consider how much some solicitors are paying for advertising, how much it costs for “leads” and how much it can cost to join solicitor “networks”, you can clearly see how much practices are willing to spend on client generation. The crazy thing is that this is entirely unnecessary because, as I mentioned before, you have the most important collateral already—your existing clients.
We will look at how you contact them, what you say and how much this is all going to cost you in the next issue. I advise my clients to follow a particular procedure and use a particular service that offers terrific results with a low outlay. For now, you need to decide what your “special/introductory offer” is going to be.
For example, if you offer fixed prices already for wills, company set-up, trust formation, etc, you might consider a limited time 50% off for existing clients. If you don’t offer fixed-price services, you might want your message to introduce the offer with an additional 50% discount as an introductory offer. You’ll also have to consider what your offer is for referred clients. You might give them a free consultation as well as the opportunity to access the existing client offer.
Finally, you must consider if you can legitimately reward your existing clients for providing the referral. It may be as simple as offering a £25 M&S voucher for every new client recommended to you. You have to hurry though, ABSs are already looking at these “cash cows” and your clients are the target market.
In the next article we will be looking at how you’ll stay in contact with your clients on a regular basis through e-mail. There are a host of dos and don’ts with this, it can be a quagmire. However, I’ll show you how to use this medium to keep your business in the forefront of your client’s minds.
Adam Caplan, specialist sales trainer & motivational speaker
www.adamcaplan.co.uk & www.cellularatttitude.co.uk