Eliminate Cancellations and Take Back Your Time


Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

Imagine this: you wake up excited to get into your office because you have three appointments with potential clients booked on your calendar. You are counting on the revenue that will come from those new clients to meet payroll obligations, pay for marketing, and cover the miscellaneous expenses of your practice.

Then, you show up in your office only to find out all three appointments have canceled!

Maybe this has happened to you. It happened to me and I knew I could not continue to run my business like that. Appointment cancellations were ruining my business. When I could not count on people to keep their appointments, I had no consistency, no predictability and ultimately no profitability.

I had to do something about it. After quite a bit of trial and error, here are a few strategies that helped me eliminate cancellations and take back my time for good:

  1. Convert your free initial consultations into a meeting that has a name, a value and a purpose.You can still give them away for free, but this simple change will get your prospects to value your time.
  2. Require the use of a credit card number to hold appointment slots.
  3. Give prospects homework to do before coming in to meet with you. The more you can get them working before they see you, the more likely they are to show up for the meeting.
  4. Implement a follow-up campaign that runs immediately after the appointment is set. This should include a pre-meeting package, follow up emails, a reminder note, and a phone call.

If you have been experiencing cancellations, take these four steps and watch your cancellations disappear. Once you begin valuing your time, your prospects will, too.

(photo: the|G|™)


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  • Sam did an interesting experiment on Lawyerist regarding free vs. paid consultations.

    The results of that experiment led him to almost always require prepayment of a consultation fee (by PayPal) before scheduling an initial client meeting. Most people make their meetings with him now.

  • We have moderated our policy a bit at Randall’s urging. He believes our new offices are impressive enough that they will help us convince people to hire us. This can be true. Sometimes you need to get people in the door to make the “sale.”

    Still, in many cases, it makes sense to get potential clients committed by paying before they schedule an appointment. For us, it depends on the type of case. For example, most landlord-tenant callers just need some good advice. They have to pay for that. Potential FDCPA clients have contingent-fee cases, and we do not make them pay for a consultation.

    We do have very few no-shows.

  • Harold Goldner

    We do not offer free consultations on the bulk of our practice, employment law matters. (We do offer free consults on personal injury matters, and generally on them only because they are usually referrals from existing clients).

    We charge a flat fee which is discussed when the potential client first calls the office, and we call to confirm a day in advance. In addition, we always forward a client questionnaire with the confirmation email or letter and we do “assign homework.”

    We encounter very few cancellations, and when we do, we usually hear from the client ahead of time (as opposed to a no-show).

    BTW, I can’t imagine doing three new client intakes in one day. I never do more than two, and usually only one.