Referrals from existing clients are important but sometimes they happen in an unplanned way, so you get a new client when you are already snowed under and sometimes the referred client isn’t really the sort you want.

These issues can be improved by developing a referral system in your firm.

Imagine if you had a tap that you could simply turn on when you needed new clients and your referrers would start referring ideal clients to you.

This is what I mean by a referral system and it really is possible as some firms are already doing it.

Do you really want client referrals from all of your clients?

If your clients are going to refer clients to you, wouldn’t it be great if they referred not just any old client, but instead ideal clients, of the sort that you really enjoyed working with?

The saying “birds of a feather flock together” is quite true in regard to your clients and invariably your existing “ideal” clients know other people who you would consider to be potential “ideal” clients also.

By contrast, clients that you really don’t enjoy working with will tend to know other people who you really wouldn’t want to work with either.

If you want to generate more ideal client referrals, I suggest to you that as a first step, only encourage existing clients that you currently consider ideal clients to refer.

This may initially involve a review of your client list to note the clients that you really enjoy working with and perhaps giving them an “A” rating, as in likely to refer “A” class referrals. Of course you can accept referrals from other clients, but the referrals from the “A”’s are who you really want.

Asking for referrals?

Something you often hear about, is a client of a firm who would have been happy to refer but never knew that the firm wanted or needed new clients and consequently never did refer.

This may be because the lawyer committed the cardinal sin of saying they were too busy (refer to: “Four Words to Avoid to Get More Referrals”) or more likely that they never asked for referrals.

If you want referrals from clients, your clients need to know that you want referrals and of course the easiest way is to ask for them.

Many professionals worry about asking for referrals for a range of reasons and consequently avoid doing so.

This prompts the question “How will the client ever know that you would welcome referrals”

One suggestion would be that someone else in the practice asks. Let me explain with an example from doctors. Doctors get uncomfortable talking to patients about money, so they don’t. But of course someone at the practice has to, so it tends to be the practice manager or even the receptionist.

This may be a solution for your practice. Get them to ask.

Another suggestion would be to include it in your initial client agreement that you use at the start of a matter. It would be a simple matter to include a statement such as “Our practice thrives on referrals from satisfied clients. If you are happy with our service, we would ask that you consider referring us to your family and friends”

Set targets for referrals from existing clients

In any other part of your practice, if you want to do better, you set up a system of measurement to see if you have improved.

Logically you will be comparing this result with either past results or some sort of target, otherwise how would you know if you have improved.

Referrals are no different.

If as part of your referral system you set a realistic target of how many referrals you want to get, you will automatically tend to work towards achieving that target.

If you are not getting the level of referrals you have targeted, or some lawyers are and others aren’t, you can review what is happening and make changes accordingly.

Conversely if you don’t set a target, then you simply drift along and hope. That is not a system.

If you don’t do so already, review how many referrals you have been getting and then set a target for how many you want to get. If you do it and refer to it regularly, you will be surprised at how much better you do.

ACTION STEPS

Do You Want to Generate More Client Referrals in an Organised and Predictable Way?

If putting in place a referral system to generate more ideal client referrals is of interest to you,  our referral program “ How to Generate More Referrals from Your Existing Clients” will help you to generate ideal client referrals in a predictable manner. This will not only generate more work now, but will add enormous value to your practice.

No only will this program explains how to develop a referral system for your practice, as a  bonus will give you 1.5 hours of CLE as well.