What are your peers’ biggest concerns in the new year? As part of their annual “Small Business Sentiment” Survey, the online marketing experts at Yodle.com polled over 300 small business owners nationwide across a large array of service industries, including law firms and CPA firms about their happiness, work life balance, and their concerns. Here at Protexure, we want to help you stay informed, and help you succeed in 2014. Here are some of the highlights from Yodle’s “Small Business Sentiment” Survey:
- Finding New Customers
Especially for new practices, finding new customers is the biggest issue for many small firms, and it comes as no surprise. Finding new clients is difficult and takes time. There is no magic way, or hidden secret to legal marketing. There are, however, several ways to market your firm. The first step that every solo or small-firm practitioner should take in building their client base is to get an online presence. This means registering for local bar attorney referral programs, gaining presence on your state bar’s website, building a website (go for basic and clean to start out), and creating pages on social media. This will give your firm a solid foundation to reference when you get into step two. Included in this most critical step are networking, word of mouth advertising, and new client meetings that build referrals. After step two comes the waiting game and tweaking your marketing tools all the while expanding it through direct mail and marketing research.
2. Affording Healthcare and other Employee Benefits
A relatively recent trend this year, and perhaps overtaking the typical tax concerns that pop up year after year in annual small business surveys, health care concerns loom large over many small businesses and small law firms alike. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains several benefits for small businesses, including price benefits. Although the law has not been fully implemented at this point in time, it contains language that reins in the cost for health care and health insurance for small businesses. Other employee benefits such as those that benefit work/life balance are tough. So many firms allow for flex-time and it can harm recruiting if your firm does not. It is something that is constrained to your budget, and sometimes you can’t offer it all to your employees, but that doesn’t mean you won’t someday get there.
3. Keeping Current Customers
Like we said before, it takes a lot of time and effort to gain new clients. But, what is the best way to keep them coming back? Again, there is no magic process! It takes perseverance and a little extra attention to detail to best retain customers. You must first have a great understanding of your client’s biggest needs, goals, and issues. You do not want to treat them as “any other client”, and the more interest you take in the client’s bottom line, the more likely your client will keep coming back. Try to provide added value to your clients by thinking outside the box. Sure, the scope of your relationship is attorney-client. But, something as simple as sharing an article that you thought they might be interested in, or sending a holiday email can further develop your relationship. Finally, remain diligent in handling business for the client. This is the most important task you have. There is nothing more valuable to a client than certainty, and if they know that you will stay on track with deadlines, and there are no surprises, it is likely that they will employ your services again.