JEL23652-Blackford, Sheila P3 (2)  by Sheila Blackford   ©2009   It is very important not to let your referral sources dry up. Referrals dry up when you lose contact, so you should stay in consistent contact. Put together a list of your referral sources and adopt of regular program of contact.

Do you have a written list of your referral sources? Do you categorize your referral sources? You might find it helpful to do so.

Here’s how you might do it:
1. You have your top very important sources of referrals – these are your A list. These are the people who can and do send you good clients.
2. You have other referral sources who only occasionally refer new business to you and these are your B list.
3. Then you have others who are potential sources of referrals but have not yet referred– these are your C list.

The idea is to definitely stay connected with your A list so they don’t drift away, and connected with your B list so they don’t drift away, and connected with your C list so even they don’t drift away. You might come to conclude that a C list person is an A list person your gradually lost contact with or a B list person you ignored. If you don’t stay in touch, your connection begins to weaken. “Where has the time gone?”

Why not call them every 30 days, mail to them every 60 days, and see them every 90 days? I usually encourage the lawyers I work with to do Marketing Breakfasts. Take a different referral source to breakfast once a week or even twice a week. Breakfast is incredibly affordable. Put it into your marketing budget. Best of all, people can usually find time in their week to meet for breakfast at 7 a.m. where trying to find a mutual lunch time free on the calendar can push contacts to back burners.

Collect names of good breakfast spots in the areas close to where your referral sources work or live. Notate some favorite spots on your referral source’s contact card in your Outlook or Rolodex. Lawyers who have adopted this idea tell me that these marketing breakfasts are looked forward to and appreciated by them and their breakfast guest.

Do your referral sources know all the services you provide and the various types of cases you can handle? Do they know you are open to take new clients? It’s nice to be known as busy; it’s nicer to be known as accepting new clients. Consider making a list of services and types of cases you can handle on your letterhead and mailing it with a cover letter that says you welcome new clients and are always grateful for their confidence in referring new clients to you.

Do you know all your referral sources? Some prospective clients let you know who referred them to you. Consider tracking where your new clients come from with a simple question on your new client intake form: “Why did you choose our office?” If you are in need of a new client intake form, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The PLF has a sample New Client Information form that can be downloaded — and customized– in Word or WordPerfect in the File Management – New Client Information category of Practice Aids and Forms. All the practice aids and forms can be found at the PLF website under Loss Prevention.

New Year’s Resolution: Don’t let your referral sources dry up.

Posted by SBlackford

Sheila Blackford is an Oregon attorney who has been a practice management advisor for the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund since 2005. She loves writing, riding her horse, and taking long walks with her husband and their dog.

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