Who fills out the paperwork in your office?


In my practice, when I had a new client in the office I didn’t have them fill out any forms or paperwork in the waiting room and I didn’t have my staff do the initial intake–I filled out the paperwork myself.

One reason was that I wanted to talk to them about their case, get all the details, and ask follow-up questions my staff might not ask. I was able to do a better job for them as a result.

Another reason was that I didn’t want them fussing with paperwork when what they really wanted was to unburden their troubles on me and let me fix them. I thought they appreciated my making it easier for them to do that.

I could have had someone else do the initial information gathering before I saw them, and if I was pressed for time I sometimes did that. But I preferred to fill out the forms myself because it gave me an opportunity to spend a few more minutes with the client and get to know them.

I could ask about their kids, their job or business, and where they were going on vacation. I might tell them about a case I had that was similar to theirs. I could have some fun with them and lighten their load.

I often saw my clients only two times: at the first appointment and at the final appointment when I presented a settlement check and final paperwork. Those two visits were an opportunity to bond with them and I didn’t want anything to take away from that.

When clients like you, and think you like them, they come back to you and refer their friends.

So who fills out the paperwork in your office? You? The client? Staff? Do you send them a form to fill out before they come in for their first appointment? Or do you use a combination of the above?

Every practice is different, of course, so I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I’ve told you what I did, and why, but you need to decide what’s best for your practice.

What I can tell you is that while this may be a “little thing,” you should spend time thinking about it because when it comes to building relationships, and building a successful practice, little things mean a lot.

Do it right and your clients will send you more referrals


How to use your new client intake sheet to get more referrals


There’s a very simple way to get more referrals from your clients. It will also help you build your newsletter list and meet more referral sources.

All you have to do is add two things to your client intake sheet.

The first addition is a prompt for the client to list people they know who might like to receive your newsletter, special report, video series, or anything else you offer, such as a free consultation.

You or your staff point out this section to them and explain how this helps their friends solve a problem or understand their options. Tell them there is no cost or obligation or pressure of any kind.

Also tell them what you will do if they provide names, i.e., send these people a letter and mention the client’s name (or omit it if they prefer). If they don’t want to give you names, you will instead give them copies of your report or a certificate they can give to their friends to redeem for a free consultation, report, etc.

The client gives you names and you contact those people, or you give the client something to give to those people and let them take the next step. Either way works.

Even if the client does nothing on day one, you will have planted a seed that may eventually result in referrals and subscribers. You can prompt them again by sending them a letter with a blank form they can fill out, or a link to secure web page form. As the case progresses, they may be more comfortable opening up their address book.

The second addition to your intake sheet are prompts to supply the names of other professionals they know. Who are their insurance agents? Do they have a CPA or tax preparer? Do they know any other lawyers? Do they have a financial planner, stock broker, or real estate broker?

Explain to the client that you will introduce yourself to these other professionals. If there is a logical connection with the work you’re doing for the client, explain this. For example, if you’re an estate planner, it makes sense to coordinate with their financial planner or tax professional.

If not, tell the client that you do this for marketing purposes. By meeting other professionals your clients know and recommend, it helps your practice grow. It also helps you meet other good professionals you can recommend to your clients, so it helps these other professionals, too.

Provide a check box for the client to indicate it’s okay for you to mention their name, or not.

Contact these other professionals, tell them you have a mutual client, and you’d like to find out more about what they do and see how you might be able to work together.

Clients will send you referrals without being asked, but if you ask, they’ll send you more.

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