Estate Planning Attorneys Commonly Give Away Value for Free
And expect to get paid handsomely for what clients don’t value!
I once had a client worth $30 million wave his hand at my $15,000 engagement agreement for the first stage of investigating and illustrating which advanced planning strategies might be appropriate for him, proclaiming, “those strategies are all boilerplate anyway! My CPA told me to implement the plan should run HALF that!” I decided he’s a D+ client despite his net worth and no longer refer business to that CPA.
Bottom line: clients consider our document (and even our strategies) to be a commodity, and in many cases, so do their advisors!
Recall from your economics classes that the only distinguishing feature of a commodity is price. And your documents are probably more expensive than the attorney down the street or those from online preparation.
Obviously, our documents are not forms. To take our practices to the next level, however, we must begin to approach everything not from our own perspective, but from that of our clients’.
The trick is how to accomplish that.
One common method attorneys use is to show off our knowledge during the initial meeting, before we are paid. As an example: Clients often fail to understand the scope and complexity of the legal and tax issues they face. As a result, estate planning attorneys will “spill the candy in the lobby” to demonstrate our knowledge and value. We launch into a detailed description of our client’s issues and strategies before the client signs an engagement and writes a check.
Then we expect to be paid handsomely for what they perceive to be a commodity!
So what is it that our clients truly value? They’re here in our office for some reason. Here’s what they seek: our knowledge, wisdom, and experience.
But what was it that we attempted to package and sell? What did we give away for free?
I was guilty of this as anyone. Not anymore.
What to do about it?
You start by creating an estate planning process that from the onset satisfies your client’s concerns without giving away your value for free before you get engaged. Believe me when I tell you that the result of that process will be a happy client eager to post a 5-star review of your firm.
Don’t believe that a process will work? Take a gander at the Google reviews of The Sheppard Law Firm, Fort Myers, Florida.
It works because you are giving the clients what they want and need, in a systemic process that they can understand and appreciate. For more on this please listen to the accompanying podcast episode.
To your bigger future,
Craig R. Hersch
Florida Bar Board Certified Wills, Trusts & Estates Attorney
Senior Partner, The Sheppard Law Firm
Founder, The Freedom Practice®
PS – Calendar our virtual Practice Xcelerator™ preview event at noon ET on September 17th. No cost to you other than an hour of your time. I promise to reveal an effective strategy that will increase your client’s value of your services, and therefore increase your average fee by thirty percent. No joke.
PPS – At our Practice Xcelerator Event October 27-28 we have some fun in store in addition to all the learning! We’re going to enjoy a cruise to Cabbage Key for dinner, where Jimmy Buffet allegedly wrote “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” Not only will you enjoy dinner on us, you’ll see the framed dollar bill with Buffet’s signature on it behind the bar. Remind me to point it out to you as you’re signing your own dollar and posting it on the wall.