If your practice is struggling with cash flow, it is very hard to turn away any prospective clients who knock on your door. But you are never going to have that lifestyle law firm you want if you keep taking on the wrong types of clients.
Here are six simple steps that will help you attract your ideal clients — which in turn will help you build the kind of law firm you want :
- Pick profitable people. Sounds simple, yes? But you’d be amazed how many attorneys fail to keep the profit picture in mind when chasing new sources of revenue. You do not want to be the lawyer who signs everyone who calls. Look at your most profitable clients and create a profile of your ideal clients, then qualify your leads to see who fits.
- Communicate clearly. Nothing will send a profitable client packing faster than poor communication. It’s a bad habit and one you can break, even if you’re a busy solo or small firm. Put a communications process in place to fill in for the shortfalls you’ve created. When you are communicating with clients, be sure to keep the conversation on their comprehension level and you’ll alleviate the opportunities for miscommunication.
- Set some expectations. Unmet expectations are another big reason clients leave the fold. From day one of your new relationship with a client, you need to be sure they have realistic expectations of the services you can provide and the outcome they can expect.
- Be really responsive. The most successful firms I know have a process for returning calls and emails — usually within an hour of receiving them. If you’re going to be in court all day, have your email and phone messages monitored by someone in the office and task them with replying (but not with giving legal advice, unless they are also an attorney). Even if it’s to say you are currently unavailable, this at least lets clients know you are aware they need you and will get back to them as soon as you can. Then do it.
- Lend an ear. Sometimes clients just want a sounding board. You may have heard the problem a thousand times before, but it’s fresh to them — and important. Give the courtesy of being a good listener. Clients want your empathy, not the bum’s rush.
- Maintain visibility. Don’t just make an appearance when there’s money on the table. Even if you have tasked associates with the work, make sure you maintain some visibility with the client throughout the duration of the case to create client loyalty.