Too much business, not enough revenue

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A lawyer tells me, “I have too much business and not enough revenue. I feel that I am working myself to death.”

Ah, yes. Overworked and underpaid. I haven’t talked to every lawyer in the world, so I can’t be sure, but I suspect this is a common problem. 

He continued:

“Everything I take on seems to expand in complexity and it is hard to get the work done. I have hired assistants in the past but they don’t seem to work out very well.”

Okay, class. What would you suggest to this fellow traveler?

Mike?

“He needs to keep hiring assistants until he finds someone who works out.”

Yes!

I know finding and training people can be a frustrating experience, but it’s not impossible. You have to keep looking.

Use an agency to screen people. Be willing to pay more to get top talent. Hire temps until you do.

You can’t do all the work yourself or you will always be overworked and underpaid.

However, before our friend does this, he needs to do something else. Anyone?

Mary: “He needs to increase his fees.”

Bingo! Gold star, Mary. We’ve got some very smart people in this class.

Increasing his fees will simultaneously increase his revenue and decrease his workload. That’s what they call a twofer. 

Unless. . . well, sometimes, when you charge more you get more work, not less. You get better clients who are willing to pay more and they give you lots of work.

How about we put that aside for now. Any other ideas?

Jerry?

“What kind of practice does he have? If he doesn’t specialize, he should. It will simplify his work and attract better-paying clients because clients prefer specialists.”

That’s right. Good advice.

Well, I see our time is up for today. Excellent ideas for our friend. I’ll pass them along.

Okay, no homework tonight, guys. See you tomorrow.

How to earn more without working more

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Spinning your wheels

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Did you ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere? You’re putting in time and effort but not making progress towards your goals?

Of course. We’ve all been there at some point in our life. Probably more than once.

What happened? What did you do to move forward?

Did you improve your knowledge or skills? Get some advice or help from someone with more experience? Work harder or invest more capital?

Maybe you did. Or maybe you just gave it more time and eventually figured things out.

Some would say that continuing to do the same things over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

I don’t buy it.

For one thing, the more you work–let’s say at your legal career–the more opportunities you have to “get lucky”.

To meet the one client or business connection that becomes a turning point for you. Or to win that one case that provides you with enough capital and confidence to take you to a higher level.

These things happen. Hang around long enough and they can happen for you.

But there’s something else going on.

As you continue to work, whether you see it happening or not, you continue to learn and improve your skills. Every time you do what you do you get feedback that allows you to make small changes.

Those changes might be as minuscule as using a few different words when meeting someone or changing the order in which you deliver a presentation or a closing argument.

Tiny things that don’t seem to matter. Tiny things you don’t know you’re doing.

Those tiny things combine with other tiny things, compound, and eventually change you. As you change, so do your results.

So, take some classes or get some help if you want to. Or, keep riding the painted pony and let those spinn‘ wheels spin.

Either way, you can get where you want to go.

How to get more referrals

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No ideas? No problem

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You want more business but you’re fresh out of ideas. You don’t know what to do. 

Don’t worry. The fact is, you don’t need any ideas.

Nothing original, anyway. Find something that’s working for someone else and copy it.

Ideas are free. And (usually) non-proprietary. Find a lawyer who is bringing in business and do what they’re doing.

Your best bet? Your direct competition. They’ve proven that what they’re doing is working for their (your) practice area and your market.

Second best, a lawyer in a similar practice area or market.

Original ideas are rare. And unnecessary. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel.

Find something someone else is doing that aligns with what you’re doing, or want to do, and feels like a good fit. Something that fits your personality, budget, and work style.

Don’t try to improve the idea, however. You might mess it up. Copy it exactly. Later, when it’s working for you, too, you can tinker with it and make it better.

Right now, go talk to some lawyers. Observe them. Study them. Read their blogs, their ads, their websites.

You don’t need ideas. Use theirs.

Just in case, here are some great ideas

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Give it away, give it away, give it away, now

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Some lawyers are concerned that if they give away too much information–through a blog or newsletter or other means–the people who consume that information won’t need to hire them.

“I’m paid for my knowledge and experience and I’m not going to give that away,” they say. “If they want information, they need to hire me.”

But here’s the thing.

It’s true that some people will take your information and never hire you. They’ll use that information and do the job themselves. But that’s a very small percentage of the whole and those people are unlikely to ever hire you anyway so you lose nothing.

Some people will do the job themselves, mess up–because they can’t do what you do even if you tell them how to do it, and hire you to fix their mess. You’ll get more business this way, not less.

And some people will see that it would be too difficult or time-consuming or risky to do the job themselves and hire you. They might not have done that had they not seen your information.

In other words, giving away information helps you get more clients because:

It educates prospective clients about the scope of their problem, the risks of ignoring it or trying to handle it themselves,

It demonstrates your knowledge, experience, and ability to help them solve their problem,

It distinguishes you from other lawyers who say, “If you want information, hire me,”

It attracts people who find your information through search or sharing, thus increasing the pool of prospective clients for your services, and

It sells them on choosing you because they get to hear your “voice” in that information and see what it would be like to have you represent them.

If you’re smart, and I know you are, you’ll give away lots of information, and let that information do most of your marketing for you.

What information you should put on your website

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This post may not be for you

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You don’t want everyone reading your newsletter, coming to your presentations, or watching your videos. You don’t want the complainers, the lookie-loos, or the ones who don’t “get” you.

You want the ones who like what they see and want more of it. Everyone else is expendable and you might as well eliminate them up front.

The other night I was watching a “reaction” video of a woman watching a singer I like and offering her comments. As the video begins, this message appears:

“If you dislike edited reactions and pausing this is not a channel for you :)”

Judging by comments I’ve seen on other “reaction” videos, some viewers prefer the singer’s video to be played all the way through, with the comments to follow. No pausing. It looks like this youtuber got complaints from viewers who don’t like the way she does it, so she tells you up front what to expect.

She’s a bit brusque. I think English is a second language. But she’s got the right idea.

No doubt, she loses some viewers. But the ones who stay know what to expect.

When I tell people up front that I email every weekday, I’m sure some don’t sign up. That’s okay. The ones who do sign up don’t complain about my emailing too often.

What could you do to “sort out” subscribers and followers and clients in advance? How could you tell them that your content or practice might not be a good fit for them?

Being up front like this can not only eliminate some of the wrong people, it is an effective way to appeal to more of the right ones.

Telling people you might not be what they’re looking for gives you posture. You’re not like other attorneys who offer everything to everybody, you know who you want to work with and who you don’t.

And that’s very attractive.

Tell your clients how to identify a good referral and you’ll get more of them

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Ask your clients this ‘million-dollar’ question

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Years ago, New York Mayor Ed Koch used to walk up to people on the street and ask, “How am I doing?”

Really.

He learned what his constituents thought about the job he was doing and was able to use some of that feedback to make improvements.

He also scored points for being open to feedback, something most politicians usually run from.

Anyway, you can do something similar in your practice, but instead of asking your clients, “How am I doing?” ask them this question:

“On a scale of zero to ten, what is the likelihood you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

You could ask this at the end of the case, before they leave your office. You could email a survey question. Or you could have someone call them on your behalf.

However you do it, follow up (by phone or email) and ask,  “Why did you give us that score?”

You’ll get some interesting feedback, I’m sure. You’ll also plant a seed in your client’s mind about recommending you. If they give you a high score, i.e., a high likelihood that they will recommend you, they will be psychologically more likely to do that.

Nice.

A simple, one-question survey (plus follow-up question) is easy to implement and could bring you a lot more business.

You could instead ask, “On a scale of zero to ten, how would you rate the quality of our legal services?” Or, “The next time you have a legal issue, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, what is the likelihood that you would choose us as your attorney?”

So tell me, on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the quality of this post?

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula.

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Three’s Company

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Last night I watched a “Where are they Now?” video about the old TV show, “Three’s Company”. It was good to see some familiar faces and how they looked today, and sad remembering how young John Ritter was when he left us.

In the comments, someone asked, “What was the name of the bar they always hung out at?”

Do you remember?

Jack and Janet and Chrissy went there a lot. They met up with Jack’s friend, Larry. Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Roper showed up. And Mr. Furley. (I loved Mr. Furley. I loved everything Don Knotts did.) 

I haven’t seen the show in decades but of course, I remembered the name of “The Regal Beagle”.

Anyway, it was good remembering a show that provided so many laughs and a simpler time. The beautiful women didn’t hurt.

Oh, do you remember the time Jack fell over the sofa. . .

Anyway, my point isn’t to confess that I spent too much time watching TV back then. It’s that if you have some of the same fond memories of Three’s Company, you and I have something in common and if we were having this conversation in person, we would bond over those memories.

When you meet someone for the first time, sharing a memory or a common interest can do wonders for getting everyone to relax and feel good about each other.

If I walk into your office for the first time and see you have a chess board on your credenza, you and I are going to have something to talk about. I like you already. Unfortunately, we may not get any work done.

Popular culture–TV, movies, books, sports, games, the news (be careful that one, however), are all fodder for finding common ground with people we meet.

They’re also good subjects to put in your blog or newsletter.

What’s on your blog?

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Don’t get your panties in a festival

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Life is short. And messy. It’s easy to get worked up about little things that don’t amount to a hill of beans. 

Most things don’t matter. As John C. Maxwell put it, “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

So my message to you (and myself) is to let it go. Whatever’s bothering you, put it in a helium balloon and let it float away.

(That’s the image I use sometimes. You’re welcome to use it.)

A few things do matter. Maybe 20%. Maybe less. Probably less. These few things, “the precious few,” account for most of your results and are worth most of your effort.

But they’re not worth any of your worry. Nothing is, because worry is a useless emotion. 

When you feel yourself starting to worry about a problem or poor results, use that feeling as a signal to review what you’re doing (or not doing) and make adjustments.

Ask yourself, “What can I do about this?” If there’s something you can do, do it. That’s your plan. If you don’t know what to do, your plan is to find out what you can do.

And if can’t do anything about the problem? Yep. Let it go.

Marketing made simple for attorneys

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What’s new, pussycat?

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When you’re fresh out of ideas for bringing in more clients, when you don’t have a clue about what to write in your newsletter, if you’re looking for a way to breathe life into your practice or personal life, I have a suggestion.

Stop what you’re doing and do something else.

Something different. Something new. Something you don’t usually do.

Go to a museum, a ball game, or a park you’ve never been to. Talk to people you don’t know. Read a book about a subject you know nothing about.

Change your routine and your atmosphere and watch what happens.

You may be out of ideas but the world isn’t. Ideas are everywhere–you just can’t see them at the moment because you’re caught up in the routine and minutiae of your day.

So, if you’re out of mental gas, especially if you’re feeling down about it, don’t worry. In a few hours or a few days, you can refill your tank and get back on the road.

More good news.

Sometimes, you can do the same thing in a few minutes.

When you’re in the middle of something and feeling stuck or tired or unmotivated, don’t just take a break, do something completely different.

If you’re writing an article, go play with your cat for a few minutes. If you’re reading and taking notes, take a quick trip to the store, walk around the block, or make a couple of calls.

It’s called “pattern interruption” and it can help you refocus, refresh, or find new ideas.

When I’m done sending this to you, I’m going to get another cup of coffee and start working on my next big idea.

When was the last time a client sent you a referral?

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What else can I get you today?

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One of the simplest ways to increase your revenue is to make sure your clients know about other services offered by you or your firm, aka “cross-selling”.

(What’s that? You don’t offer other services? Have a seat. I’ll get back to you in a minute.)

Cross-selling is good for the client who needs additional services and might not know you offer them, and it’s obviously good for you.

Cross-selling can add decimal points to your bottom line, even if only a small percentage of clients “buy” your other services.

Don’t let the “selling” throw you. Just let your clients (and prospects) know “what else” you do. 

On your website, you can highlight links to pages that describe the other services. You can talk about the services in your newsletter. You can mention other services to the client at the end of the case or engagement.

No pressure. Here’s something else we do, would you like to get some information?

Now, if you only offer one service or group of closely-related services, if you don’t have any other practice areas, if you don’t work in a firm, you’re not out of luck.

Find other lawyers you trust and are willing to recommend and cross-sell their services to your clients and prospects.

If they offer (and you can accept) referral fees, great. If not, see if they are willing to cross-sell your services to their clients.

Make sense? Dollars, too.

More ways to work with other lawyers

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