Magic Words That Will Slash Your Appointment No-Show Rate (Plus, a Crazy Story)
Dear Colleague and Friend,
It goes something like this:
Client makes appointment.
You get excited.
Client is a no-show.
You go ballistic. (OK – maybe not ballistic, but you get the idea.)
Some people DO go ballistic though. Case in point:
A former partner of one of my subscribers once got so furious at a no-show that he tracked him down… at the racetrack! I kid you not. He tore into him about his lack of common courtesy and the blatant disregard for his time, etc. I believe he even threatened him with physical violence. It was NOT a pretty sight. The no-show was so stunned, he just stood there silently. The lawyer threw in a few parting comments and then stormed away. It did not come to blows though. Thankfully.
But what’s even funnier — or crazier — is that the no-show ended up becoming the ballistic lawyer’s client! He said that if the lawyer fought this hard to make him a client, then he would surely fight just as hard to defend his case.
Whaaaaat?!! Yes, I know… crazy, but true.
So, the moral of the story…
Never Go to the Track Without Your Retainer Agreement Handy
No!!! Of course that’s not the moral of the story!! lol. There is no “moral” to this crazy story! Whatever you do, don’t chase a client down. In almost all cases, it won’t end well.
Anyway, back to business. Seriously, no-shows and cancelled appointments consume your firm’s time and resources. They’re awful. Not to mention that they suck potential revenue out of your firm. Therefore, you have to do everything in your power to curb no-shows.
There could be a myriad of reasons why a client flakes out on you. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out, sometimes it’s glaringly obvious. The good news is, in many cases, your client no-show/cancellation rate can be significantly reduced with the proper strategies:
1. INCOMING/ INQUIRY CALL
Client calls your office… wants to know if you can help… wants to know how much it will cost him, etc. (I’ll address the “how much will it cost me?” question in a future newsletter. How you handle it is hugely important.) Most firms make the vital mistake of establishing a protocol that emphasizes the screening process as opposed to the selling process. While the former may result in a gorgeously pre-screened and pre-qualified client, it’s not worth a hill of beans if the client never shows to the appointment, right?
While some qualifying questions over the phone are certainly in order, make sure your administrator/assistant is not oblivious to the sales process. Yes, I said “sales.” Like it or not, that’s exactly what you’re doing — selling your services.
Therefore, have them focus on conveying to the prospect the immense value of your services: what makes you unique, your record of achievement, any media/publicity you’ve received, any special certifications, etc. More importantly, they need to know how to skillfully tie-in all of the above with the specific facts and information the prospect is providing about their case.
Let them know that being represented by your law firm is unlike any other law firm experience. (Of course, you must eventually deliver on this promise.)
Sound like a lot to do? Maybe it is. But this is the ONE shot you have to get that person through your doors. If you don’t hit it out of the park, you’ll probably strike out. That’s usually how it is. There’s no in-between.
Prepare a script if necessary (actually, I work with my coaching clients on this very thing) so that your administrator hits all the main points.
2. CONFIRMING THE APPOINTMENT
After the prospect makes an appointment (in your appointment setting, always try to get them in as quickly as possible) make sure you confirm the appointment by phone one day prior and also on the day of the appointment, if possible. You do this not only to remind them of the meeting but also to “re-sell” them on your firm.
When you re-sell a prospect, the goal is to remind them that you have handled their type of case many times before with high client satisfaction (assuming that’s true) and that you will explain the whole process to them once they come in.
But Here’s Where the Magic Happens…
In many ways, the appointment confirmation is just as important as the initial phone call into your office. Why? Because it’s usually the last thing a prospect will think about in deciding whether to show up or not. It’s often make or break.
Most administrators will spend about 30 hurried seconds over the phone confirming an appointment. That’s if the firm even has a policy of confirming appointments.
That’s a big mistake.
Instead, during the confirmation call, you should take about 10 minutes to re-sell and re-emphasize. It may sound like a lot of time but it’s well worth it. In the end, this extra time can translate into thousands… or even tens of thousands of dollars… OR MORE… in added revenue. Isn’t it worth it? You bet it is!
There are 5 key things to say when confirming an initial consultation. It works like magic! I’ll pick up here next time with these 5 magic phrases, and I’ll also recap what we talked about today. I’m sorry — I don’t mean to tease you but I’m still feeling the residual effects of my “sugarpalooza.” You see, I’ve been unapologetically consuming an inordinate amount of the Werther’s Creamy Caramel Filled candy… and I think it’s turned my hypothalamus into a gelatinous blob. So worth it though. Best. Candy. Ever.
Will meet you here next time, ready and roaring to go!
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