What do 945 bankruptcy attorneys have in common?

In 2013, I attended a NACBA conference in San Diego, CA. The weather was amazing, and the people were great.  I even took my 14 year old son Michael to his first show so he could see what Dad does every day. I could also monitor how he would hold up during the 12-hour days.

He was awesome!  Michael never once grew tired or stopped talking, and the attorneys he visited with were truly drawn to his visceral belief in what his Dad stood for.  It was a weekend filled with pride for me.

During the show, I had strategy sessions scheduled for 34 attorneys. There was also a waiting list of attorneys who wanted to invest some time with me but we simply ran out of minutes. I held three sessions each day and at each session, a few attorneys attended. In addition, we surveyed about 110 attorneys who stopped by our booth asking each the same questions to determine their marketing process.

Not surprisingly, the net results of all the surveys and conversations told us most bankruptcy attorneys are suffering in the same manner.  We learned their business was down from the previous year, they didn’t know where to turn to make the phone ring, they didn’t price their services correctly. Consequently, there was not enough profit to grow the practice. Finally, they didn’t have a follow-up system in place to communicate with unconverted leads: those leads who did not set an appointment, did not show to their appointment and did not hire during the initial consultation.

These facts were true for nearly every bankruptcy attorney we spoke with.  It wasn’t true 100% of the time, however.  There WERE those attorneys whose practices were doing better this year than last. These attorneys were charging the right fee, had multiple streams of lead flow and communicated with their unconverted leads until they bought, died or unsubscribed.

What’s different about the ones who are thriving and the ones who are suffering?  While I was at the show I ran into an former client from California.  When I originally started working with him his practice was basically broken.  He had no systems, no clear understanding of what worked and what didn’t, and he was frustrated that the tail wagged the dog in his business.  We worked together for only a very short time as we were connected through a third party.  But when I saw him today, he told me about his practice.  He’s now filing more than 300 cases a month, he knows his business math cold and he has an airtight system for following up with each and every lead–each and every time.

What happened?  He happened!  It was his willingness to change, to adapt and more importantly to admit that what he was doing wasn’t working and to accept a new normal.  His practice changed BECAUSE he was willing to make these decisions. I’m so happy for him, his staff and his clients.  He has a successful practice today, one that will last for many years to come, because of his decisions.

The problem with the majority is they aren’t willing to change. Many of them admit there’s a problem but when they learn the answer they need to make a difference, they stop short of taking action often stating some industry norms as the reason they can’t act.  The reality is the majority is wrong, most of the time.  This is why 98% of the wealth is controlled by 2% of the people.  The few who are willing to traverse down the road less traveled are the ones who win in the end.

What industry norms are you holding onto?  Who do you know in your industry who is successful, and what are they doing differently?  Take some time and dig in and be honest with yourself; I think you’ll be surprised at what you find.  Finally, find someone you trust who can guide you through the forest.  The road map has been provided; all you need to do is follow it.

Building a better business, one decision to change at a time…

Building Better Business Systems For Law Firm Owners