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The Friday Five

Five Simple Tips for Increasing Referrals

Implementing most of these tactics will take you less than an hour.

By Mike Margol

Referrals are a critical component of a healthy law practice. Not only are they built on the goodwill of past clients, but referrals are more likely to hire you than other leads, they require little or no upfront marketing capital to acquire, and they frequently refer others to your practice once their matters are closed. 

You might think generating referrals would be a primary goal of any law firm. But, for a variety of reasons, this aspect of business development is often overlooked. It can seem a daunting task, one that requires months of planning, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five basic, low-tech methods for increasing your referral flow that you can implement in 60 minutes or less.

1. Recognize Your Existing Referral Sources

The family members, friends, business associates and past clients sending you referral business should always receive recognition for the role they play in improving your bottom line. 

A thank-you card is a great, easy place to begin honoring those contacts. Every time you receive a referral, send the referrer a handwritten note thanking them. The note should always be written out by hand. This provides a personal touch and lets the referrer know that you spent your valuable time in recognition of their help. Frequent referrers should receive a personalized gift.

Related: “Handwritten Notes Help Build Real Relationships”

Another way to thank your referral sources is by featuring them in an email blast or newsletter article. You should already be reaching out to past, present and potential clients via email — why not add a “Referrers of the Month” section to those messages? It costs next to nothing, takes little time to implement, and will make your referrers feel special.

Related: “Rewarding Your Referral Sources”

2. Speak Up!

If you don’t remind your clients that you value referrals, many of them may assume you are too busy for referral business. Don’t be shy. Happy clients want to show their gratitude by becoming referrers, but you need to explicitly tell them that referrals are the highest compliment you can receive.

During the early portions of your representation, a simple mention that you are never too busy to help a client’s friends or family members will go a long way toward building your credibility. Lawyers are often mysterious to the layperson, so don’t be afraid to pull back the curtain a bit and show that you would love to help those in need. 

Related: “Get More Referrals From Your LinkedIn Network”

3. End of the Road, Not the Relationship

Similarly, the end of each matter is a prime time to express your desire for referrals. Thank your client for choosing you as their attorney and again emphasize that you would be honored to assist their circle of friends, family and colleagues with relevant legal matters. Offering some educational materials that clients can share will bolster this effort. 

If you regularly send review requests or post-matter surveys to past clients (and you definitely should), you can include a brief note letting recipients know you are available to assist with valuable legal representation. As an added benefit, this may also improve past clients’ perception of your firm before they begin writing an online review.

Related: “Ethical Considerations in Boosting Online Reviews”

4. Sticker, Stamp and Signature

Your firm probably generates a lot of correspondence, both physical and electronic. Your office might send hundreds of emails each day, and perhaps you supplement this by mailing holiday or birthday cards, newsletters or other hard-copy items. Why not use these preexisting communication avenues to your advantage? 

Adding a basic message such as “We appreciate referrals” to the email signatures of everyone at your firm will make both clients and colleagues aware that you desire such business. Highlighting this message in a bright color will draw more eyes and keep your willingness to accept referrals top of mind. 

You can also purchase custom “We appreciate referrals” stickers or a rubber stamp online via a quick Google search. Affix the stickers or stamp to every piece of outgoing mail to ensure that your referral message is clear, consistent and constantly received. 

5. Go “Old School” to Promote Yourself

Consider creating a simple one-page flyer with your photo, contact information, bio, and any other pertinent information that might be helpful to a potential referral source. You can give the flyer to lawyers in your referral network, professional partners in associated industries and past clients. 

You want to make it easy for your referrers to advertise on your behalf. This type of promotion is inexpensive and essentially evergreen. To go the extra mile, hire a graphic designer to make your flyer stand out from the crowd. Appearance counts. 

There’s No Time Like the Present

These tips are simple, effective and take little time to implement. Spending just 15 minutes on each today can help move you along the path toward a bigger, better, referral-driven practice. Why wait?

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Mike Margol Mike Margol

Mike Margol is the Vice President of James Publishing, a publisher of practical, affordable legal texts for nearly four decades. Recently, James launched a done-for-you legal referral system designed to help firms of all sizes increase their referral flow, convert prospects to clients, keep new clients engaged, and handle past-client communication. Mike works with attorneys on a daily basis and leads the James Referral System’s customer success team. Follow him @jamespublishing.

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