We all want to be champions: the best of the best, a warrior who has defeated all challengers. But that’s not really possible. What we really need are people who will champion us to others.
I tend to champion businesses that have served me well or that have served my clients well. A couple of examples:
My Cleaning Service. Really, it’s just one person, Amy, and her kids. No website or advertising required. Hers is the best cleaning service I have ever had. I’ve used big services, mom & pops, you name it. But Amy is the best. I like her so much I hired her to clean my office as well as my house. I started telling other people about her, and it won’t be long before she has all the work she can handle.
My Collections Agent. Francine Mundy of FRM Commercial A/R Solutions has done more good work for my clients than any other single service provider I have ever recommended. My clients, all small business owners, report peace of mind, better customer relations, and great results from using Francine as their collections agent. Her services are a cost-effective alternative to hiring an attorney for small collections cases. Now I only deal with the tough, high-value cases that are worth my clients’ while to litigate. I hand out her business card like it’s candy.
My Massage Therapist. Cy Sugita-Jackson at Healing Revolutions is the best massage therapist in the world. I’m convinced of it. Unfortunately, all of his other clients and I have talked him up to the point you can’t get an appointment without a month’s notice.
But who is out there championing me and my law firm? Because that’s what I need. That’s what all solo and small firms need: one or two great clients and/or referral sources who tell everyone who will listen about us. After all, I kind of suck at tooting my own horn. I tend to be self-deprecating, and it feels, well, a little slimy to tell everyone that I’m the greatest thing to happen to small business since the iPad. So I need someone to do that for me.
Big Law has a marketing budget we can’t compete with, so our best advertising is free, word of mouth advertising. Because it’s better to have one David out there telling everyone how great you are than it is to be Goliath.
I have a few champions who are current and former clients. They value my services and tell others. And I have several referral sources in people who know, like and trust me but do not actually need my services themselves. They tell other people about me, saying, “She’s who I would call.” But the fact is, I could use a few more champions telling everyone how great I am. Couldn’t we all?
How do we get more champions? Well, first, get good at your job and very good at customer service. Every single client is your “boss” and every opportunity to refer you is an evaluation of your performance. If your clients are not championing you, it may be that you are not providing the service they expect. Or it could be that, for whatever reason, they do not feel comfortable referring people to you. You won’t know why unless you ask.
I send out a survey to my clients every year to find out what they think of me and my firm. When the survey results come in, I make myself read the answers without making excuses or getting upset. I asked – I have to accept their feedback for what it is. The first year I did this, I got a huge whack upside the head from clients who felt I did good work but that I was not as responsive to them as I needed to be. I’m constantly working on that, but the results from this year’s survey indicate that we have improved quite a bit. As a result, my firm has a couple more champions touting our services.
Some of my best champions are the people I have championed. Other lawyers I send business to work really hard to send business back to me. My collections agent, Francine, tells her clients to call me when their collections issues are too big for her to handle. I also keep a 3-ring binder full of business cards of service providers my clients are likely to need: CPAs, insurance agents, graphic designers, IT vendors, financial planners, payroll and staffing services. These business-to-business providers are great referral sources for my firm because I tell people about them. These are all businesses I feel good recommending, and if I hear bad things back from my clients, I stop referring people to them. I send them business because they help my clients, not because I expect referrals in return. But they return the favor when they can.
Who champions you and your law firm?
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.