The Three Tools Small Law Firms Need to Survive and Thrive
March 1, 2018
Small law firms don’t exactly have it easy.
Staying on top of cases, growing the business, and getting paid can become overwhelming. Here are three of the most important tools you need to run an efficient law practice, and continue to grow in a competitive market.
Every person you meet, greet or correspond with should be in your email list. If you are not collecting email addresses, phone numbers, and how people found your firm you are throwing your hard earned money away. The time when law firms could rely on repeat or referral business is over. Now you have to earn it, with your reputation and savvy marketing.
Sending a once per month email newsletter, blog digest or frequently asked question can be the difference between the client choosing you… or the law firm across the street.
The average return on email marketing is $7.50 for every dollar spent. Or a 4 to 1 return, depending on your area of law, fee schedule and contact list size. The larger the list, the more potential you have for success. However, it is important to know that for lawyers, the point of email marketing is not to sell services through email, but instead keep your law firm at top of mind.
Sharing informative free guides, eBooks, motivational messages, or answers to frequently asked questions are the most common topics found in Attorney Email Marketing. Riding the coattails of celebrity news such as Estate Planning commentary following incidents like the death of Michael Jackson, or Kim Kardashian’s Divorce proceedings. (All couched with the proper disclaimers of course.)
Consumers thrive on pop culture content. Sharing your opinion, focusing on the value of working with an experienced attorney keeps the conversation about your services, and why you are the right person to deliver them. When a legal need arises, creative communication and timing that work in your favor. Be the attorney that people remember, recommend, and refer… instead of forget.
Credit Card & ACH Payment Processing
When is the last time you saw someone pull out their checkbook at the grocery store? If it was recently, you should have also noticed the entire line cringe and sigh as it happened. The fact of the matter is that we’ve been trained to click, swipe, or tap to pay. The thought of paper payment is intimidating, frightening and seems like a bother. When a client retains you, what is the expected process for payments? Do you have one, or is it, I’ll send you an invoice?
Mail. What comes in the mail? Bills, statements, and junk that creates more work in my day. If we’ve learned anything from the technology revolution that’s happened in the last 10 years, is that as a business owner the smartest thing you can do it remove every obstacle to paying you for your services.
Still want to issue invoices? No problem. Need to take an IOLTA payment and separate bank or credit card processing fees? Need to split payment between IOLTA & Operating. Yep, all doable.
The technology available to attorneys is light years ahead of where it used to be, and even comes with Bar Association approvals so you don’t have to worry about the IOLTA Police calling your office.
If you haven’t investigated digital online payments, credit card processing, or electronic check / ACH payments, you need to, like yesterday. Don’t be the last person in line buying orange juice with a check, please.
Document Automation Tools
Unfortunately, fee increases are not in our future. Many small law firms feel pressured to match or beat the fees of their competitors. Clients are self-educating on Google, or comparing the costs of legal kits on sites like Rocket Lawyer or Legal Zoom. So how do you compete, without losing money?
Become more efficient, period.
You can’t raise your fees, so where does that leave you? You have to find ways to eliminate errors, reduce preparation time, and ensure that each of your staff is following the same procedure for each task or document type. Most law firms use the same documents, or template starting points for a majority of their transactional work. So instead of using ‘Search & Replace’ as your pseudo-paralegal, invest in a solution that can execute the first bit of work for you.
Let’s be honest, no one loves formatting documents in Word, or fighting with line numbering on a court form. Nor is it an efficient use of your time. Turn your most commonly used documents, agreements, letters, work product, and emails into templates, then auto-fill them with every detail of client information you possibly can. Turn hours of document prep time, formatting and fussing into seconds of pure seamless execution. Allowing you to focus less on the process, and more on the content.
Why? Because time is money, and the more of it you spend on tasks that technology can do for you… the less ends up in your bank account.
Whether you adopt one or more of the solutions listed above, please keep this in mind. The longer you wait, the more firms move ahead around you. Implementing a solution today, means better returns and security tomorrow. So no matter what you do, just start. Even if it’s one small step at a time.
Learn more about Smokeball document management for law firms
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