How to Build a Client Referral Program for a BiLingual Practice (Or Any Practice)

happy clientThe best lead generation tool is a happy client.

You can transform your struggling law practice into a successful business by creating a good Client Referral Program. The first step is to offer a good service so you have happy clients. But to turn your practice from good to great you will need a good client referral program. Building a good referral network will ensure you will have a consistent flow of new clients.

You Won’t Have to Worry About Where Your Next Client Is Coming From

There is one aspect of having a law practice that no lawyer talks about but that all lawyers think about: Where is your next client coming from? When you have a new client? One of the most important advantages of having a referral network is that you will have a constant workflow because people looking for your services will know who you are. Do you know that lawyer whose office is always full with clients? You can become one of those lawyers if you establish a good referral program and don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth referrals.

Some other advantages of having a great referral network include:

  • Being able to reduce your sales and marketing budget by focusing only on those potential clients who are interested in the services you offer (less expenses = more profit);
  • Establishing a good reputation by working with people who appreciate your services (more positive reviews); and
  • People tend to be less critical with the professionals that they heard good things about (less negative reviews).

If you choose to ignore the potential of referral programs, you are putting a barrier between yourself and potential clients. It will be harder for you to earn a potential client’s trust, and there’s the possibility the potential client will choose another lawyer since they weren’t referred to you and don’t know you from Adam. However, having an existing client refer you to a family member or friend will solve these problems.

How to Create a Client Referral Program

Step 1: Come up with a plan. You have to talk to your current clients and ask them for referrals. You shouldn’t make it sound like a sales pitch. If you’ve done a good job, you won’t need to “sell” yourself. You should win the trust of the potential client before you even mention the referral network. A good time to ask for referrals is at the end of your initial meeting with your new client. Another great opportunity to ask for referrals is when you have completed your client’s work.

Step 2: What does the client have to gain? Let’s face it, the referral system requires a kind of service from the client’s part, and they should be rewarded for it. Being a lawyer doesn’t offer you a great choice of incentives because of fee splitting issues or providing something of ‘value’, but as an example, you could offer discounts on further services, extra services or something else your client would value. Although you might think of it as a small detail, never forget to thank your clients for each referral and to follow up with them; you can be sure that this will mean a lot to them.

Step 3: Get potential clients to call you. As a lawyer it’s not enough to get a phone number and a name. Try to find out as much information about the potential client as you can to determine whether they are your ideal client. You shouldn’t be calling your client’s friends and asking, “Do you need a lawyer?”  It is best for the client to facilitate a meeting with potential clients. It can be as simple as, “Hey! You should call my lawyer. I told her about you and she’s expecting your call.” When the potential client does call you, make sure to mention their friend or family member and how much you enjoy working with them. This will just reinforce that you are to be trusted.

Step 4: Be consistent. When trying to get referrals, you shouldn’t only focus on your clients who know the most people, you should ask all your clients for referrals. You never know who they know that would benefit from your services. It may seem like a lot of work, but in the long run it will all be worth it. The more clients you are asking for referrals, the more people they will tell about your services and the higher your chances will be of finding new clients.

Step 5: Don’t just ask clients for referrals. There are a lot of organizations serving people who would need a bilingual lawyer or that facilitate finding one. You could get in touch with such organizations and offer to have a seminar or workshop for their constituency. At the end of the workshop, make sure to hand out referral cards. As an added bonus, you will improve your professional image as well.

Step 6: Keep in touch. It’s not enough for you to get referrals; it is also important for you to keep them. Don’t let people forget about you. As an example, you could send newsletters containing information that people might be interested in, such as changes in the law rephrased so it will be easier for them to understand. For more on setting up an e-mail newsletter, you should read, The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Newsletter and Email List.

Learn more about Customer Referral Programs

There is a lot to know about building referrals and engaging people. To learn more about building a customer referral program, you may be interested in reading “Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling”, “The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself” and “Endless Referrals, Third Edition.”

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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®.

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2 comments on “How to Build a Client Referral Program for a BiLingual Practice (Or Any Practice)

  • I agree with Paul that happy clients can be your best source for new clients. I recommend reviewing your state’s ethical rules and perhaps contacting your state bar association or other authority before implementing #2 above, however. In some states, offering anything of value in return for referrals can be a violation of the ethical rules.

    If you can’t do the things Paul suggested in #2, what can you do? Clients who feel appreciative for the service you have rendered them may enjoy the good feeling from being able to help you out, too. Studies show that most people have an instinct to reciprocate a favor or a kindness. Let them know how important referrals are to your practice and how much you appreciate them. And, of course, your clients will appreciate referrals to their businesses as well, if you are in a position to do that.

    • Thank you for the comment and suggestion. I’ve also found my clients are more willing to help out when I ask them to help me instead of just asking for a referral.

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