Statistically, there are no better clients, customers, or patients in business than those who are referred to you.
Referred clients come to you having been told by a third party that you are the person to contact. Essentially, the "selling" process has already been taken care of for you. The potential client is essentially looking for fulfillment on the promises made by the person who referred them. Your job is to live up to those expectations.
Another benefit of referrals is that they tend to be of higher average value than non-referred clients. There is less resistance to the prices you charge and more compliance with the process of handling the legal issue. This means more money and less stress for you.
It is obvious that more referrals for your practice is a good thing.
But there's a secret to getting referrals that is often hidden from attorneys. Most attorneys have been taught, "Just do good work and the cases with come." The idea is that you will get more cases over time as people refer more to you. That's a pretty slow-moving train of success.
Instead of waiting for referrals to trickle in, you should be creating a steady stream of referred cases. Here are three ways for you to start generating more referrals for your practice:
- Make Referrals Part of Your Culture - This isn't a wishy-washy, happy-go-lucky concept. The idea here is to integrate language encouraging referrals into everything you do. New clients should know that you love getting referrals. Stationary you use could have a brief statement about how to refer a case to your office in the footer. Whenever you talk with another attorney, don't forget to discuss referrals with them. Make referrals a highlighted part of your practice's general existence. The more importance you give to referrals, the more referrals you will get thanks to how many opportunities you are creating to draw in more referrals.
- Create an Email Specifically About Referrals - Try making contact with attorneys in your area to build referral relationships. Email is a quick and easy way to open the lines of communication with people about referrals. Send it out to a group of attorneys in your area (you can usually grab email addresses from their websites). Try sending 5-10 emails every week. If you give each one a custom feel by commenting on something you liked on the attorney's website, you'll score a few points as you try to establish the relationship. Make sure you follow up every few weeks until you start hearing back from your prospects.
- Turn Referrals into a "Program" - Develop a step-by-step process that you can show to other attorneys to really encourage referring clients to your practice. Include pieces such as how the referring attorney will be notified when you accept the case, how they will be updated, how you handle the ethics requirements, and how payment to the attorney will be handled if allowed in your state. Giving structure to what can often be a loose verbal agreement makes the referring attorney more confident in how you handle the process. Now you have your own "Program" for referrals at your office, which can be an impressive marketing tool.
The smartest choice you can make right now is to make the cultural shift. This shift will change the behavior of people in your office and will modify how others perceive you and your practice. You can move from occassional referrals to constant stream in short order just by being known as a practice that handles referrals professionally and responsibly.
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