Never say no to a prospective client

Alan Weiss, The Million Dollar Consultant® asked the following questions:  “What do you do when you have a great deal of work and still more requests? In other words, what do you do with an embarrassment of riches to ensure that you retain as much business as possible?”

I’ve said on many occasions that I never want to say “no” to a prospective client who requests my assistance in an area of my competence. If you are not competent, pass. Or, rather than “passing,” refer the matter to another lawyer with the requisite skills. The client is happy and the referred attorney is happy (and obliged to repay the favor in some fashion at some point in the future).

Assuming your competence, what can you do?  Here are some suggestions I’ve made over the years that you might consider:

1.    Increase your fee for this matter/client. If the client accepts, you’re well rewarded
    a.    You receive an added benefit by learning that the market will accept a fee increase from you.
2.    Engage a contract lawyer to help you in this and other open matters in your office.
    a.    This is a great way to begin growing your practice.
    b.    By doing this, you can have both a “volume” practice as well as a sophisticated practice
3.    Delegate less sophisticated work that is now on your desk to others in your office.
    a.    Build your team so that you can take on challenging, sophisticated, higher value (revenue) matters
    b.    … And build your team so that you can accept “lesser” matters that will teach your team to be better …
    c.    Delegation and leverage also enable you to be more profitable.
4.    Use technology to make you more efficient.
    a.    Increase your technological utilization to enable you to be ever more efficient.
5.    Review your calendar to determine whether you have court priorities that are ahead of this matter … or whether creative scheduling will enable you to meet your commitments and take on the new matter as well.
    a.    Most clients will accept a schedule that might include a “delay” from your perspective but still be timely from your client’s perspective.
    b.    There is no need to promise delivery of work product sooner than the client needs it or that you can produce it.
6.    Have the client be part of the “team” approach to addressing his/her matter and have the client do the next task in the matter; in other words, have the client do some of the work which will also delay your direct involvement for a bit more time.

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