How to steal great clients from other lawyers

This lesson is applicable to ALL practice areas but ESPECIALLY for high-volume, low margin practices.  Pay attention because herein lays one of the ways we can so easily double, yes you read that right I said DOUBLE the revenues of most small law firms in 12 months or less. . .

“Hello, I’ve been doing business with your company for years.  I know you don’t make custom screen doors anymore.  Can you refer me to somewhere that does?”

“We sell screen doors”

“Yes, I know that.  But you don’t make custom screen doors anymore.  Can you please refer me to someone who does?”

(. . . pause. . . )

“We sell screen”

“Yes, I understand that.  But what I am looking for is a custom screen door to be built for me.  Can you please connect me to someone who might know more about that?”


(. . . connection. . .)


“Yes, hello I have been doing business with your company for many years and I understand you no longer custom fabricate screen doors.  Can you refer me to another company that does?”

“You’ll have to come in to show us what you want”

“So you DO custom fabricate screen doors?”

“No.  But it will be easier if you’re here than to try and talk about this by phone”

(Easier for who?)

“Can you tell me who else in town makes custom screen doors or not?”

“Hold on.”

(. . . Connection. . . )

“Custom orders”

“Yes, hello I have been doing business with your company for many years
and I understand you no longer custom fabricate screen doors.  Can you
refer me to another company that does?”


“O.K. thank you for your time.”

(Hang up!)

Of course what I really wanted to say is no-thank you for wasting my time and oh, by the way I will hold this against you in the future because that’s how it works when you waste a person’s valuable time. 

And I bet the owner has no idea that his staff just “converted” a long-time customer into one who is now ripe for the picking by the first competitor who comes along and offers me a comparable array of services, knows what they’re actually in the business of selling (hint: it’ not doors) and demonstrates respect for my time.

By the way, notice I never once asked about price?  That’s because when it comes to solving this particular problem I don’t really much care about the price.

  • Now why do you suppose this company which still has a custom fabrication department, has forfeited the custom screen door market?
  • Do you suppose it has anything to do with how profitable they found that work to be?
See the connection?

BONUS POINTS for anyone who can EITHER:

a.) Correctly identify the “problem” I am seeking to solve by the purchase of a custom screen door; or

b.) Suggests an appropriate question that would help you find out. 

Post your comments below. . .

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screen door is for the boat

Jim Montgomery

Hey, hey, who keeps the bugs out?
Sorry, just kidding.
I would think that they might just be able to charge extra for a custom screen door to keep those nasty bugs at bay.
I was also thinking that the line “I’ve been doing business with your company for some time” might also play into a way to meet the owner of a business. Once met, perhaps business?

Martin Poynter

Is the idea here to link yourself up with other attorneys who don’t practice in your niche area (because they don’t think it is profitable) and set up a referral network where they send referrals your way?

Martin Poynter

… and once the client is yours, they are yours for life if you do a great job for them.

Catherine Mulcahey

In a way this reminds me of the referral question I wrote you about earlier tonight. I don’t handle the problem, but I know someone who does and I’ll introduce him.
Did you find someone who makes custom screen doors? I like to get one with pet door in it for my screen porch.

Greg Wilson

What size door do you need?


OK here’s the answer to the first BONUS question above
“a.) Correctly identify the ‘problem’ I am seeking to solve by the purchase of a custom screen door”.
The thing to remember is that clients, customers & members buy products & services for THEIR reasons, not ours. So I know that some of the Members of my Gold Coaching Group are there for strictly utilitarian purposes and view it simply as an efficient way to access a body of knowledge that can help them with their law firm management & practice marketing challenges & opportunities.
But others are in the program for moral support; because there is no-one else in their business who “gets” what it’s like to be the lawyer with your name on the door; for a reality check by a group of like-minded entrepreneurial lawyers to encourage them and call them on their bullshit; to have a resource on standby; or even just to “graze” because they know that little hinges can swing big doors and so even just one idea they pick up can make a huge difference.
To the extent that you can permit clients to hire your law firm for THEIR reasons and not be put off if those reasons don’t happen to be the reasons you’d base your own decision you’ll be a much happier lawyer and you will earn alot more money.
So what “problem” does the screen door solve for me? It improves the relationship I have with my wife who has been asking me to get it replaced for several months. And with this in mind why couldn’t that can’t that company make a great living selling guys like me some marital bliss at a premium over what everyone else is charging for mere doors?
Any takers for BONUS POINTS for anyone who can:
b.) Suggest an appropriate question that would have helped you find out the correct answer to question a.) above?
MORE IMPORTANTLY… now that you know, how are you going to apply this lesson to your own law practice?

Paula deWitte

Each of the previous contributors suggested an office practice based on a goal of going green and eliminating paper. The suggestions included transferring client files to electronic files, sending bills by .pdfs, communicating with clients by e-mail, putting files on laptops, destroying client files by trash or shredding, and telecommuting.
Unfortunately, each suggestion is fraught with potential security vulnerabilities that would expose these lawyers to some significant liability. Almost every state has laws safeguarding sensitive personal information (SPI) requiring reasonable procedures to safeguard SPI and notification when SPI is reasonably believes to have been breached.
So, what are are in these electronic files? Enough client info to constitute SPI? Are the pdfs of the client’s bills password-protected? How strong is that password? Is the e-mail encrypted? When files are trashed or turned over to a company for disposal, are you sure they don’t end up in a landfill? Is the network for your virtual law office with telecommuters secure? What happens when one of your virtual employees sits in a coffee shop and exposes his electronic files to an unencrypted network? What happens to those CDs you’re burning? What happens when your laptop gets stolen in a smash and grab? Ok, you get my point — the list goes on and on. Here’s two BIG points — at any time if there is one link in the chain that is unencrypted, the rest doesn’t matter. Encryption is not a yes/no question — it’s a continuum, so having weak encryption is like having none at all.
What this article gave me was another idea for my practice of safeguarding businesses (including law firms) from inadvertently releasing SPI and potentially creating statutory, malpractice, or professional discipline claims. I’m going after those businesses who are committed to going green.
Don’t get me wrong, I like all the ideas — but they’re also opportunities for screw-ups, so be careful. And as for saving trees, like Homer Simpson said, they’re just standing there anyway. 🙂