"Kissing a Better Class of Frogs
By Pat Yevics
It's that time a year again when we all think
about what resolutions to make for the coming year. If you have been a reader
of this column for any length of time, you know that I believe in making
resolutions or goals. I believe that if you do not plan you will never get
to where you want to be in either your professional or personal lives.
For 2006, I think we should focus on new (and
improved) clients. I think that we have more control over the type of client
we get than we think. The key to getting the type of client we want (as opposed
to whoever walks in the door) is planning.
However, we can plan for the future without reviewing
the past. Here is some information that you need before you can decide how
to proceed in 2006.
Questions You Must Be Able to Answer
You should be able to answer the following questions
about your practice regardless of what size firm you have or your years in
practice. If you cannot answer these questions, resolve to begin monitoring
this information in 2006.
1. How many completely new clients did you get
2. Where did each of these clients come from?
You should be asking each new client why they chose your firm (or who referred
them). There should be a place on your new client or matter form for this
information, and this information should be kept in some type of database.
3. Where are your client development dollars
being spent? These dollars would be membership dues in associations, lunches
with clients and potential clients, gifts for clients, holiday cards, ads
in any type of publication and any other money spent to get new clients or
serve current clients. Your chart of accounts should be able to tell you
exactly where money was spent in 2005.
4. Do you know how much business these dollars
are actually producing? (If you joined the Rotary Club to get business, have
you gotten business from it?) Resolve to review each of these efforts.
Determine which produced business, how much and whether or not to continue
with the effort. Keep in mind that there will always be activities in which
you choose to participate that may never produce business. There is nothing
wrong with this. All we are trying to do is determine how money is being
spent and how it is being produced.
5. How many actual hours did you spend "marketing" and
what percentage of your gross revenues was spent on marketing efforts? You
should be recording this time in your time and billing system. Your goal
is to use your time more wisely.
6. How many new matters did you get from existing
clients? Since most of your work will be from clients, who is using your
services again and again? This may not be an issue for those attorneys who
only practice one type of law and will not have recurring matters. However,
it will be of great importance to solos or small firms who have a "general" practice.
Very often, a client is not even aware of the different types of law that
you practice. If you are in a general practice or if you practice in more
than one area resolve to inform your clients of all the services you
7. Where did your other referrals come from?
Did the lawyers or other business people to whom you referred work also refer
work to you? Not only is it necessary to keep track of where your business
came from, it is important to know where you referred business.
Another item you want to track is which clients
are referred to you by which source. You want to determine who is referring
you the best work. If you find out that you are getting some of your most
difficult or least profitable cases from the same referral source, stop taking
referrals from that person. The reverse is also true. Find out who is referring
you your best clients. Make an effort to get more referrals from this source.
8. Did you solicit input from your clients regarding
their satisfaction with the service they received? If you answered yes, did
you share the information with everyone in your office?
If any suggestions were made by clients, did
you implement them? If you implemented any suggested changes, did you inform
your clients? If you have never surveyed your clients or have not done so
in the past five years, resolve to send a simple survey to at least
some of your clients. [If you would like examples of some surveys, please
call me at (410) 685-7878 or (800) 492-1964, ext. 3039, or you can e-mail
me your name and mailing address to email@example.com.]
9. How many clients did you lose in 2005? If
you lost any clients, did you ask them why? If they left for what seemed
to be legitimate reasons, have you instituted changes in your practice to
make certain other clients do not leave for similar reasons?
10. Are there any clients you took this year
that you regret taking? If yes, list all of the reasons why and resolve to
be more careful in screening clients to avoid the problem in the future.
||If you decide to
make resolutions, put them in writing, share them with everyone in your
office and put them in place so that you can see them every day. You
might even decide to give copies to everyone in your office so that they
can also assist you in achieving success.
||Resolve to attend
a luncheon or breakfast meeting of a local community or business association
such as a chamber of commerce at least once (preferably twice) a month.
It is critical that you participate in business meetings in order to
widen your referral network. Go where people who will refer business
to you go.
||Resolve to have
lunch with a client, prospect or any other individual who is in the position
to refer you business at least once every other week.
||Resolve to laugh
at least five times each day, every day. Nothing will make you feel better
than laughter, and if you feel better, you will work better. Clients
and referral sources want to be around happy people.
Please have a wonderful and happy new year.