How to recognize bad clients before they make you miserable

Bear with me because instead of just "telling" you how to recognize bad clients I thought it would be More Effective To DEMONSTRATE It For You In Action. . . 

First I sent the following article to all of my ezine subscribers (if you've already read it, scroll down to see a response I received shortly thereafter)

From:
RJON ROBINS
<RJon@HowToManageASmallLawFirm.com>

Date:
Tue, 8 Dec
2009 21:20:31 -0500 (EST)

To:
<dxxxxxxxh@yahoo.com>

Subject:
Office Depot
& Law Firm Marketing: How an expensive marketing idea keeps back-firing.

Dxxxxxxx,

So I thought you might be
able to apply the following lesson to help you get more prospective
clients to make the decision to hire your firm & at premium-profitable
fees
.

It's a pretty simple lesson
really.  Unfortunately though, it's one that our friends at Office Depot
can't seem to learn.  And
so it keeps back-firing on them.

But
you are a subscriber to this ezine so you don't have to make the same
mistake.  Let me explain. . .

 

30 Seconds of
Context

I've been wanting to buy an
extra wireless scanner/printer to keep downstairs in my home.  So that
when I emerge from The Cave with laptop in-hand and decide to work downstairs
for a change I can more easily scan/print etc. from wherever I decide to
set-up "Down There Where The Cats Dwell". (MiniDog comes up here
with me but the cats never do).

So I keep going to Office
Depot to pick up a wireless scanner/printer to set up in an empty cabinet
down there BUT THEY KEEP CONVINCING ME NOT TO MAKE THE PURCHASE!!!

So not only does Office
Depot lose my business, but I lose the convenience of having an extra
scanner/printer downstairs because my soon-to-be-former Preferred Vendor
keeps causing me doubt.  Here's what I mean. . .

Office Depot has a
"Rewards Program".  And like so many other large national
retailers, theirs seems to have been designed by imbiciles. I've share
several other examples with you over the years including the CVS video. 

The way Office Depot's
program works, is that you earn reward dollars for every purchase you
make. 

So far, so good right? But
the only way to redeem your reward dollars is by bringing-in the coupon they
send to you in the mail each month.

Wait a second!

We already know your
computer system is connected to your cash register or else you wouldn't be
able to track my credits going in.  So why can't the register speak to
the computer to give me my credits automatically, like a pleasant surprise, going the other-way-around and delight me with an unexpected bonus when
I'm standing there at the cash register?

Of course I never remember
to bring the damn coupons with me.  Office Depot is a "Convenience
Vendor" for me.  Because if I was really shopping on price I'd buy
online from somewhere else.  So I'm willing to pay extra for the convenience
of being able to buy on near-impulse. 

However the fact that they
keep shoving it in my face everytime I'm at the register that I could be
saving enough to buy lunch, I keep postponing the new scanner/printer
acquisition thinking to myself that maybe next time I'll remember to bring
the coupons with me.

And besides maybe between
now & then I'll find something better.

Or maybe I should re-think
this whole idea of having a scanner/printer in every room of the house
anyway.  I mean we are supposed to be in some kind of a recession aren't
we? 😉

So in Office Depot's
attempt to be sure that I don't actually take advantage of their
rewards program (or maybe they're just lazy, or stupid) what they have really accomplished is putting me
"Off" of a sale.
  A sale that could have put hundreds
of dollars of extra cash-flow in their hands weeks ago.

 

OK RJon, So
Where's The Law Firm Marketing Lesson
?

The lesson in this for YOU is to be sure you're not talking
yourself out of a "sale" in a mis-guided attempt to protect
yourself from any downside. 

Just recently I showed a
Member how to DRAMATICALLY increase his revenues in 2010.  We're talking
about adding an "extra" hundred thousand dollars of almost pure
profit to his bottom line. 

All by taking a realistic
view of his downside potential and NOT putting that between himself and his
clients. 

More specifically, I showed
him how to offer and earn ALOT of extra profit by offering his clients the
same 100% "You
Will Be Happy" money-back guarantee
that I do.  And
how by offering anything less in a mis-guided attempt to protect himself from
downside, he is actually "costing" himself alot of  money and
unecessary aggravation.

 

Be Better Than
Office Depot

Be better than Office Depot
in your small law firm.  Look at the "transaction" from the
perspective of your prospective clients.  Look at every element of risk
and do whatever you can to move it to the
appropriate side of the ledger
. If for example you are supposed to be
some kind of expert who has "been around this block" enough times
to warrant a premium fee, find a way to mitigate or better yet eliminate the
client's risk altogether.

Focus first on how to make
the offer of your services as irresistible to your clients as possible. 
Pump UP the value & Dial DOWN the risk to them.  This is possible,
by the way in EVERY practice area, bar-none (yes even criminal defense &
family law).

OK, gotta take MiniDog for
a walk.  If you haven't done so already be sure to sign-up for Thursday's f&ee teleseminar entitled

"The 12 Things You Have To Do To Predictably Grow Your Law
Firm By AT LEAST 25% in 2010, Not Just Despite The Economy, But Actually
BECAUSE OF IT All While Enjoying More Control, More Time Off, And More
Bottom-Line Net Profits!"

~ RJON

 

p.s. Next time you're in
Office Depot tell me if this doesn't cause you to think twice about spending
as much money there as you were otherwise prepared to give them!

http://howtomanageasmalllawfirm.com/12-10-09freelivetalk.html

 

 THIS IS THE EMAIL I RECEIVED BACK FROM "D":

From: dxxxxxxxh@yahoo.com [mailto:dxxxxxxxh@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2009 10:05 PM
To: RJON ROBINS
Subject: Re: Office Depot & Law Firm Marketing: How an expensive
marketing ideakeeps back-firing.

 

Can
I ask why you don't ever give one piece of actually useful advise. If you did I
would actually sign up for you service and pay.

Dxx Xxxxh

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

And Here Was My Reply.  I should point out that were I not using this as a "teaching exercise" for YOUR BENEFIT I would normally have simply ignored the question and politely declined any future applications from this candidate.  Because one of the benefits of knowing how to market a small law practice is the ability to pick & choose who you get to work with and for.  And smart-asses who blatantly miss not just one but 14 points in a single article certainly aren't my idea of a good time.


Hello Dxxx,

You askedCan I ask why you don't ever
give one piece of actually useful advise.” 
 
Actually Dxxx, in that
last email I offered no fewer than 14 pieces of useful advice relating to law
firm marketing, management, client service, client selection, career
satisfaction and cash-flow.  Here I’ve
itemized them for you:


1. So
not only does Office Depot lose my business, but I lose the convenience of
having an extra scanner/printer downstairs because my soon-to-be-former
Preferred Vendor keeps causing me doubt. In other words, when you give your clients doubts about
hiring you, it’s not just you who loses, but also prospective client whose life
could presumably be improved if they actually hired you.

2. delight me with an unexpected bonus  In other words, you should delight your
clients with unexpected bonuses.

3. Office
Depot is a "Convenience Vendor" for me.  Because if I was really
shopping on price I'd buy online from somewhere else.  So I'm willing to
pay extra for the convenience  In other words, there’s a lot of
premium legal fees to be earned by being a “convenience law firm”

4. So
I'm willing to pay extra for the convenience of being able to buy on
near-impulse. In other
words, there are a lot of people like me who have extra disposable income and
we’re willing to pay extra to vendors who make things easy for us so we can
operate on “impulse” for small things in life that aren’t going to make or
break us.

5.   
the
fact that they keep shoving it in my face everytime I'm at the register that I
could be saving enough to buy lunch, I keep postponing the new scanner/printer
acquisition  In other words, too many lawyers shove all the downside
into prospective clients’ faces right at the moment of truth and then wonder
why they can’t get enough business.  Or
wonder why “their” clients go out and hire other lawyers instead.  Often less qualified lawyers but who know how
to make the client feel more comfortable about their decision.

6.   
what they have really accomplished is putting me
"Off" of a sale.
 
A sale that could have put hundreds of dollars of extra cash-flow in their
hands weeks ago.  In other words, there is a direct connection between
being able to convert prospective clients into paying clients, and a lawyer’s
cash-flow.  There is more value in converting
a client today vs. converting the same client for the same fees tomorrow.

7.      The
lesson in this for YOU
is to be sure you're not talking yourself out of
a "sale" in a mis-guided attempt to protect yourself from any
downside.  I thought this
one was pretty obvious.  Too many lawyers
attempt to protect THEMSELVES from any possible downside.  This is misguided and results in fewer
clients hiring those lawyers.

8.      Just recently I showed a Member how to
DRAMATICALLY increase his revenues in 2010.  We're talking about adding an
"extra" hundred thousand dollars of almost pure profit to his bottom
line.  All by taking a realistic view of his downside potential and NOT
putting that between himself and his clients. In other words, one of my Members is going to earn a lot more
money in 2010 than he did in 2009 as a direct result of putting the above
lessons to practice by taking a more realistic view of his downside potential
in most of his engagements. This is a common mistake I see many lawyers
make.  Since the fixed overhead of his
law firm is already covered by existing fees these “extra” projected fees will
be almost all profit which makes them even better than the first couple hundred
thousand he’ll earn which are split between overhead & profit.  This is actually a separate point implied
within the first so I’m going to call it 8b.

9.      More specifically, I showed him how to
offer and earn ALOT of extra profit by offering his clients the same 100% "You Will Be Happy"
money-back guarantee
that I do. In other words, you should offer your clients the same
100% “You Will Be Happy” money-back guarantee that I do.

10.  And how by offering anything less in a
mis-guided attempt to protect himself from downside, he is actually
"costing" himself alot of  money and unecessary aggravation. In other words, if you are offering your
clients anything less than the same 100% “You Will Be Happy” money-back
guarantee that I do you are probably “costing” yourself a lot of lost revenue
and unnecessary aggravation.  Which if
you connect up item # 10 to item # 6 I think is an even more compelling reason
to offer your clients the same 100% “You Will Be Happy” money-back guarantee
that I do.

 

11.  Look at the "transaction"
from the perspective of your prospective clients.  Because too many lawyers get stuck in the myopic
habit of only looking at the “transaction” from their own perspective.  And I put “transaction” in quotation marks to
draw attention to the fact that too many lawyers consider it to be just that, a
transaction.

12.  Look at every element of risk and do
whatever you can to move it to the appropriate
side of the ledger
. If for example you are supposed to be some kind of
expert who has "been around this block" enough times to warrant a
premium fee, find a way to mitigate or better yet eliminate the client's risk
altogether. In other words,
what you should be doing is looking at every element of risk in an engagement
and do whatever you can to move each such element to the appropriate side of
the ledger.  So your clients should
undertake the risk flowing from their own decisions.  But if you expect to be respected as a “professional”
whose services should warrant a premium fee you should be prepared to undertake
some of the risk too.  Ideally, if you
can eliminate all risk from your client’s side of the ledger you can earn the
highest premium fees.  Now connect this
point back to Item # 10 above & consider what you could be earning if you
could figure out a way to offer the same kind of 100% “You Will Be Happy”
money-back guarantee that I do.

13.  Focus first on how to make the offer
of your services as irresistible to your clients as possible.  Pump UP the
value & Dial DOWN the risk to them.  The way you achieve item # 12 (being worthy of premium
fees) is by figuring out how to make the offer of your services as irresistible
to your clients as possible.  You do this
by pumping up the value and dialing down the risk to them.

14.  This is possible, by the way in EVERY
practice area, bar-none (yes even criminal defense & family law). This piece of advice is to encourage
every lawyer who read that article to have confidence that this is possible in
every practice area so that no-one would dismiss it as being impossible in his
or her own area of practice.

Dxxx, you also stated in your email to me
that
If
you did [give one piece of actually useful advise] (sic).  I would actually sign up for your service and
pay”. 

Now
that I have demonstrated that I DID give you not just one but fourteen pieces
of “actually useful advice” I must now broach the subject of your payment for
my services.  When, by what means and in what
amount shall I expect to receive it?

RJON

Note: I admit I myself was being a smart-ass here too.  But that's another one of the many benefits of knowing how to market a small law firm.  You don't have to take nearly as much shit from people ;-)