How to Improve Your Legal Intake and Get Better Cases

How to Improve Your Legal Intake and Get Better Cases

Is your legal intake process working in your favor, or against it? 

If you don’t have the processes in place to streamline your legal intake, you may be missing out on valuable cases. In this legal marketing webinar, Crisp Video Group CEO Michael Mogill and the Director of Sales of Captorra, Denny Newberry, discuss the importance of legal intake to a law firm and how best to improve in order to capitalize on marketing efforts.

This webinar will cover:

  • How to identify process roadblocks that are causing you to lose cases
  • How to engage prospective clients after they have inquired about your services
  • How best to implement dedicated intake staff and a dedicated CRM solution for your practice

Grab Captorra’s exclusive eBook, “10 Steps to Improve Your Legal Intake” for free here!

Check out the full transcription below:

Michael: All right. Well, thank you guys for joining us today. We’re going to talk about how to improve your legal intake and get better cases.

We talk so often about marketing when it comes to advertising your law firm, but you can drive a ton of leads and you can drive a ton of traffic, but if you can’t actually convert those leads and if the phones aren’t being answered properly and if there’s not a good system in place to actually handle those inbound leads then it’s just going to be a ton of wasted opportunity.

I’ve got Denny Newberry from Captorra with us today. I’m actually really excited to have Denny because not only is Denny the director of sales and a partner at Captorra, which does actually an intake software, but he has a tremendous amount of experience with intake overall.

Denny Newberry: Intake has been my life for the last five years, not just software but just intake in general. I think a lot of times when firms contact our company, they’re looking for help just with their intake process and how best to implement that as much as they are just a software application. That’s certainly been my focus for a while now, even before Captorra.

I spent seven years with a case management company, and my time there gave me a lot of insight into the evolution of marketing for law firms and just how competitive this marketplace has gotten and the mindset that consumers have.

When I was with the case management side, I noticed there was this huge hole, not just from a software aspect but just the way firms look at intake, the way they look at why we come to them, the way they evaluate how to qualify those leads, and that was a big hole. We felt there was a need. My business partners and I thought felt there was a need for that. Again, I’m really excited about this and appreciate the invite, Michael.

Michael: Yes. Well, it’s our pleasure. I guess before we get ahead of ourselves, how would you define intake? What is Intake?

Denny: Yes.

Intake is very, very simply is the qualification of a potential client for your firm to make a decision on whether or not you want to retain them as a client and then the process of going about doing that.

Now, firms within different practice areas handle intake differently but just at a very high level, intake is the process of all the way through marketing for a client, retaining that lead, qualifying it to be a case that you actually want and then the process of signing that client would be the A to Z of intake.

Michael: I’m sure every firm handles intake a little bit differently. Some have a more formalized process. Some use case management software, others do not. Some will use spreadsheets. Some write leads down on Post It notes, so what would you say in terms of that? Are there different solutions for different sized firms?

Denny: I think from a solution standpoint, sure. There are different systems out there. An Excel sheet could be perfectly fine for a firm who doesn’t have a lot of volume per se. I think the bigger piece to discuss is that doesn’t mean that the way you think about intake and how important it is to your firm needs to be different.

How you go about utilizing a solution to manage that could be different based on your needs.

I think for smaller law firms it’s critical to really have a good process, good staff, and a good solution in place to be able to capitalize on every case because that one potential case maybe that kick.

I think anytime you’re dropping the ball in any aspect of the intake process is a big detriment to your firm especially if you’re a smaller practice. I think it needs to be a heavy focus for small firms.

Michael: What kind of impact does a formalized intake process have?

Denny: I think it’s extremely needed and valuable but I will say that a lot of firms continue to put more and more money in the marketing. They say, “Okay, I want to grow my business.”

Then, a lot of firms call us and say, “Hey, we need to do something yesterday,” and the reason they say that is because they opened up the sales funnel too early.

They weren’t really prepared. They didn’t have the right staff in place, the right process and I think it’s an area that not enough firms look at to improve. It’s just more of a focus on your own practice, looking at it as your own personal investment and your intake is your sell staff.

Law firms are no different than other industries. That’s your sales department. That’s the perception that a potential client has of your firm whether you’re taking the call for intake or a paralegal or you have a dedicated intake staff.

I think that intake is an area that firms can look at to improve without really having to spend extra money. Once you have an intake system in place, then you can look to go open up the funnel and really have those leads coming in.

Until then, it just may be a waste. You’re letting things fall through the cracks.

Grab Captorra’s exclusive eBook, “10 Steps to Improve Your Legal Intake” for free here!

One of the biggest aspects of where I see firms fail at intake is that very initial part of it. If it’s coming in through electronically, outbound follow-up needs to be made. For example, if someone contacts you through your website, you have to follow up with them.

I’m always intrigued by how quickly and how often law firms follow up electronically. I’ve been inside of 200 consumer-focused practices to look at intake. It’s not only a broad aspect of how they handle it, but also how that answer comes in versus what is actually going on.

I think that’s an important factor to really know and understand: how your firm is handling outbound follow-up. That’s what I see as the biggest pitfall – the initial follow up call.

I don’t think that firms are treating those initial electronic leads with enough urgency to make that initial call. Research indicates that if you haven’t called a lead within the first five minutes of them submitting an online contact form, your conversion for contact and conversion for case drops by 72%.  

Grab Captorra's exclusive eBook, "10 Steps to Improve Your Legal Intake" for free here!

Michael: I read that study and I loved it actually. Would you care to share what happens in an hour vs. 24 hours?

Denny: Yes. I think they went all the way from 15 minute response time to an hour. I think a lot of firms even will wait 24 hours to respond.

At that point, it’s just a drastic decline. Many firms think that because the claimant has contacted you through your website that they want your services and your services only. I think a lot of firms won’t admit that but in the back of their minds, it’s what they’re thinking. They say, “I can get through this whenever I need to even if it’s 7:00 PM at night.”

Well, if that person contacted you at 7:00 PM at night, that’s when they’re thinking about the fact that they want to pursue a case and that’s when they want to talk about it.

It’s important to have process them a place to be able to handle that. If you don’t have resources internally to make that call at 7:00 PM at night, find someone who can, who at least can get a hold of that client and let them know, “Hey, we have gotten your information, this is important to us and we want to talk with you about it. Let’s schedule a time.” In the very least that needs to be jumped on in five minutes.

Something we haven’t talked about yet but I do think for this frame of the subject Michael is the sister company that we have is ICE. The only reason I bring it up is that it is an intake call center, not only on the software side, but the actual intake process.

We live and breathe it every day. We see it work and how it doesn’t work. We just signed up someone yesterday after the 43rd attempt that we made to get a hold of this person. They had a mass tort case, they’re qualified and then the firm was excited.

Now, that’s a pretty extreme example. I think seven attempts should be your minimum.

After seven attempts, your conversion rates start to plateau.

I think your best practice goal should be at least seven. We have a lot of clients that make 10 – 14 attempts and you can change it based on the value of the case.

If you’re not making seven attempts to reach out to a person who has expressed interest in your service, it doesn’t mean that they’re not a serious client or that they don’t really want your services any longer, they’re busy.

If you’re in the personal injury space these people have a lot going on. They’ve been in an accident and at the time they thought to call you they thought to call you but 10 minutes later they got a call from a doctor, from a family member, they have to handle certain things. It doesn’t mean that on the fifth or sixth, seventh attempt that they’re not just as good of a client or just too serious about their case.

That’s just standard. Within five minutes that first attempt should be made and before you give up you should make seven attempts on such a client.

Michael: All right, Denny. I’m sure a lot of people are thinking, “Seven attempts that’s nice, within five minutes that’s great. When am I going to follow up with all these leads seven times and 12 times?” They’ve got a practice to run. You know what I mean? Having that level of responsiveness, to be able to respond within five minutes. I would say that this could mostly be true with the small firms but it could also apply to larger firms. What would be the solution for that?

Denny: Yes. That’s a good question. It comes up all the time. When we’re going to be unrealistic about their ability to handle things, it’s when we really have that conversation, and that’s a good thing. That’s when the dedicated staff comes into play and it doesn’t have to be a dedicated person that is on the phone all day every day.

If your phone’s not ringing off the hook, I get it, you don’t have the overhead to support an intake staff, so to speak. I also think that a lot of times we’re talking to attorneys and I don’t disagree with them but they’re coming to me saying, “Well, nobody’s going to be able to talk to that claimant like I can, I know what they’re asking of me to handle the case.”

I get that. At the same time, you’re not going to talk to the claimant at all if you didn’t call them in time and they contacted another attorney. It’s that initial contact the firms drop the ball on.

Most firms, once they’re on the phone with the claimant they can handle the questions that are needed to go through a case. That’s not what firms drop the ball on, it’s not getting a hold of an attorney to get just a few moments of phone time with the client. It’s the initial contact with the client, the perception to work with the firm, the ability to get them bought on your services. That’s where training a person to be able to do that specific role is important.

Again, you can’t litigate or settle a case you don’t have.

Whenever I hear the argument of, “No one else can handle it as good as me,” I think, “First off, I don’t necessarily think that’s true for all attorneys. Second off, I think that none of that really matters if you didn’t have the time and the resources available to really jump on that lead immediately.”

Michael: This will be painful, this webinar and the information here, things that we’ll discuss, I only say this is because years ago, I’d hear people talking about this kind of stuff but then I wasn’t auditing our own calls. I wouldn’t call into our own office and figure out how the phones being answered.

By the way, if you’re watching this webinar, you have not called into your own office, just ghost call to see how your phones are being answered, do it. It might surprise you, it might make your blood boil.

Now, then the question is, when someone submits a contact form, does it make sense to encourage website visitors to provide their information as opposed to just trying to get them to call into the office even if it’s during business hours? How important is it to respond to electronic leads or contact form submissions overnight?

Denny: We did an insight seminar a little over a year ago in New York with 50 law firms.  

We called into every single one of those firms and we submitted a contact form to every single one of those firms.

The results were alarming. Some of the calls that went through went unanswered or went to a general voicemail. That’s completely unacceptable. You have to have some way of answering that call even if it’s an outsourced service.

Once your phone rings three or four times and nobody’s answering, you just have to ask someone answer that call.

If people are leaving you a voicemail, they’re calling another firm, that’s one thing.

When submitting online forms, to give you real numbers, out of 50 firms we had 13 of them contact us in the first day. I’m not talking about within five minutes, but within one day. 13 out of 50 contacted us in the first day.

We know what a real case is, we submitted real information that looked like a real case to the firm.

Again, even if you think you have a good idea what’s going on in your practice, do it, it’s worth the time. Call your firm, submit a fake web inquiry, just see what happens.

Grab Captorra’s exclusive eBook, “10 Steps to Improve Your Legal Intake” for free here!

Michael: One other question was how important is it to encourage them to provide their information as opposed to encouraging a call into the office. Then also how important is it to respond to those leads when they come in overnight?

Denny: I really believe you have to allow a claimant to be able to fill out a web form. I certainly understand the idea, and I think in a perfect world it’s best to have them call into your firm to be able to really discuss their case. However, what we find a lot of times across our clients is, the web inquiry form submissions aren’t always the bottom of the barrel so to speak.

It’s not just the people who don’t have a case or the ones who are just too lazy to pursue a case, sometimes it’s a more savvy consumer, because where do people find your website? They find you off Google, they find you off searches they run.

A lot of times those are the more savvy consumers, they’re doing actual, real research on your web pages, they’re doing Google reviews. I do believe that it’s important to allow for that.

For someone who just wants to be able to do some research and enter their information to your site, you need to allow for that. Then when they do it, treat those firm submissions just as you would a phone call. With respect to responding after hours, I think a very easy thing to do is to have an automated response going that says, “Hey, we received your information, your case is important to us. We promise to respond to you first thing in the morning if this is after business hours.”

If possible I would have resources available to contact those people. If you have everybody going home at 5:30 or 6:00 PM, have different hours. On the call center side, we’ve had success making calls at 7:00 PM, 7:30 PM or when we’re making calls on Saturday and Sundays, because that’s when people are available – they’re not at work, they’re available to discuss their case. If you have that capability I would have someone reach out then, even if it’s you.

Michael: One thing that we’ve seen come up a lot, and I think all firms deal with this to an extent, but how much of this is reality versus just assumption? When we hear about junk leads, where somebody submits a form and somebody looks at that form and says, “Oh, this is a junk lead”, someone could assume there’s not really a good case there. Now, what has been your experience?

Denny: Yes, I mean depending on how much people are advertising, there certainly is a chance that people are calling in that aren’t a good fit.

I will tell you that two big mistakes I see a lot of firms make is that they rely on that assumption. You can get two or three bad leads in a row.

If there are a series of leads coming in that just aren’t working out, it doesn’t mean that the next one is not going to either. Having the right mindset is important.

I also think that creating a revenue stream off referrals is another thing. I think a lot of people think about referrals as the intake process but it very well it could be just because it’s your family law firm and for whatever reason, you get a personal injury call a couple times in a monitor or just a random mass tort call.

Though you don’t take those cases, there are hundreds of firms out there that do and that’s a revenue stream for your firm.

Firms are more than happy to have a split in that. You’re spending the marketing dollars, you’re spending the money to build up your referral network and just because it’s a case that you may not take doesn’t mean it’s a case someone else won’t take.

Michael: That’s right, I agree completely. We’ve got an interesting referral program going on. While you don’t have to give away a Tesla, those referral relationships are very, very important.

I still want to touch on the so-called junk lead. If someone comes in with this assumption that whichever lead came in was a junk lead and they don’t follow up with that person for two or three days, they finally reach out and they’re not able to reach them.

Then they say, “Well, would have never worked out anyway,” or, “They wouldn’t have been able to afford our services anyway.”

Would you attribute this more to the lead themselves, the actual prospective client or the way in which the intake and sales process was handled?

Denny: It is 100% the way it was handled during the intake process. I think a lot of times when we’re digging into data, we find that so often there are so many intakes that were created based on an automated post or another source. If people don’t include any information in those forms, a lot of times people decide not to follow up.

But the thing is that they may know exactly what to type in that it makes it sound like they have a case. Some people just have no idea what to tell you to evaluate what might be a case.

I think if they came to your firm they came to you for a reason and you should exhaust all efforts in making sure that’s a case that you should or should not accept.

Everyone has that one story about a person who called their firm and in the first conversation with them they were just a mess- they didn’t know what was going on, they don’t have any details on their case and they weren’t necessarily ready to pursue.

Then, six months later it was one of their top five cases of the year. It’s definitely worth the effort to exhaust all efforts into evaluating follow-up connections and making sure that you’re qualifying that case.

The other thing I’ll tell you there is that you need to arm your staff with the ability and your criteria to be able to quickly evaluate whether or not that’s a case or not.

The next step of the intake process is the qualification procedures. If you have the follow-up process nailed down but you don’t have a process in place to have your staff qualify whether or not there’s a case, it’s a loss.

The potential client needs to understand that you’re a firm that’s easy to work with. If you have 53 questions in your intake questionnaire then they’re on the phone with you for an hour and a half.

I understand that may be important to use to see how valuable that case is, how difficult it may be to litigate or settle but that doesn’t need to be gathered the very first time you talk to that client.

All they need to understand is if you’re an attorney that can help them, if you’re interested in helping, and should they choose your service. That’s what needs to take place on that initial contact with the potential client and the rest of stuff can come later. Make it easy for your staff to be able to qualify, make it easy on the client within the intake process to decide whether or not they want to use your service as a lawyer.

Michael: What is the best way to track how potential clients found your firm? Because we all hear Google. Google is not very helpful, if it was online they’ll say Google but what’s the best way to actually track where that lead came from if it was something on the internet or if it was tied to something offline?

Denny: There are two responses here. There is the technical response of finding a solution that’s able to tie into these things and identify those sources. If that’s something that’s important to you and you’re advertising in different places, I would recommend finding an application that has the ability to tie into the different types of advertising you’re doing like call tracking metrics and your social media advertising.

When that lead comes into the system, whether it’s a phone call or electronically, make sure the platform has the ability to track that.

You need to be aware of how important tracking is to your firm.

What I see a lot of firms do is they get bad calls and understandably don’t want to spend 30 minutes on the phone with this person.

I’ll go and let them know, “Hey, I’m sorry this is not the case we can help you with. Here’s a local number we can give you,” without ever asking them how they heard about the firm.

You need to also ask, “By the way, how’d you hear about me?”

I think that part of your intake process should be on the very front end, get their name, their number in case you get disconnected, and then get the reason why they contacted your firm.

Whether you’re doing it in our software or you’re doing it in Excel always have a secondary field for that.

Captorra includes a marketing source, it’s the initial response of how the person heard about your firm. But if they say, “I googled you.” Okay, great, you happen to remember what you typed there? Just let them know why it’s important.

Also, make sure your staff is aware of how important that data is to the lifeblood of your firm. They need to put those questions as far up front on your intake process as possible as opposed to where I see a lot of firms that include the questions on the back end or not at all, to be honest.

Grab Captorra’s exclusive eBook, “10 Steps to Improve Your Legal Intake” for free here!

Michael: I guess the opposing argument would be that they don’t want to inconvenience clients. They don’t want to make it all about them, it needs to be about the client so asking them like, “How did you hear about us?” and really digging in you don’t want it to be uncomfortable. Let’s say, someone gets into a tractor-trailer accident then someone picks up the phone and says, “Well, how did you hear about us? And what did you search and what did you type and what search engine did you use?”

What are your thoughts on that?

Denny: It’s a valid point. This is where you get into hiring the right staff at your firm. You have to be able to gauge the person. If it is a high-value case and the person is really hurting and they want to tell their story, let them tell their story. You don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable but your staff needs to be very much aware that this is still a critical piece of information that we need to gather.

If you have a caller that calls in and they’re more the silent type and you’re directing the call, knock it out, get it out of the way. If you ask to go right into what happened and they just need it to get it off their chest, let them get it off their chest. Before you let them off the call, it should be very possible to find out that information.

Gauge the caller, understand where they’re at within the evaluation of the case or process but it’s critical information because again, it’s how you run your business, where you should spend your money. Even if the person isn’t necessarily up for telling you that information right away, it’s important to gather that at some point during the intake process.

Michael: Okay. What are some of your recommendations as far as optimizing legal intake? Let’s say a firm’s got a limited budget.

Denny: I’m sure my business partners love when I say this but I’ve told may firms, “Hey, Captorra may not be the first thing you need to do,” and it’s true.

Application isn’t always the first answer. A software solution doesn’t just solve all of your intake problems you have to have a process in place and there’s applications out there to help facilitate that.

I would tell you that one thing we haven’t talked about is eSign. I think traditionally, firms completely drop the ball on leveraging electronic signature. Whenever I say eSign to a firm who’s never used it or has used it but it wasn’t successful, it’s normally because of one or two things. They look at it as an all or nothing tool.

A lot of firms have these big packets of 20 pages that people have to sign. When you have a qualified claimant on the phone, being able to send them an eSign packet while you have them on the phone and have them review it with them and sign it, it’s incredibly competitive. On the very first time you talk to him, you’ve qualified him, signed, and then you’ve got a case.

From a budget standpoint, eSign is not expensive. I think that’s an out of the box solution that gives you leverage and makes the process easier on your clients.

Then accountability is a big factor, too. I think being accountable with yourself and your staff in tracking metrics to be able to know where you need to improve upon is critical.

I think a lot of firms, when you talk about conversion rate you’re talking about, “Okay, I got 100 leads from this social media campaign. I signed up 20 cases my conversion rate is 20%”.

But that doesn’t let you know how well your firm is at qualifying and signing up cases. What we do is we look at the wanted conversion rate report so we say, “Okay, how many of those 100 leads did you schedule a consultation with or send out an eSign packet on or qualify but they ended up telling you they signed another attorney?”

Out of those, let’s say that’s 40, how many of those did you sign? Then that number is 20 so your wanted conversion rate is actually 50%, which sounds better than 20, but it’s not good.

You need to know out of the leads you’ve gotten off of a certain campaign, how many cases did you want out of that and how many are you able to sign up? That gives you a lot of insight on areas you need to improve upon.

Michael: All right. As a follow up to this question, in terms of optimizing, I know you’ve mentioned being able to get them an eSign right up when you’re on the phone with them but do you put together like a briefing doc that basically says, “I’m investigating but not necessarily taking your case right now.” How would you recommend approaching that?

Denny: 100% yes, that’s a good point. It depends on practice areas. A lot of times when you see in the single event personal injury space, they’re perfectly fine sending them a retainer because inside a retainer it states that we need to investigate your injuries, your medical and things like that.

If that’s not something within your field or even something you’re comfortable with that’s fine. The whole point is to have the client obligated to retain your services even if that’s going to take a little time to investigate.

Make the document say what it needs to say but let the client know that you’re very serious about pursuing their case. We want to go ahead and commit to you that we’re going to schedule a consultation or we’re going to start investigating your damages, your medical history and if it’s something they’re signing, then they have an obligation to pursue that.

Me, personally, if I signed it, I’m pretty committed to pursuing that until the end. Do whatever your practice area allows you to do. Whatever the culture of your firm and whatever your goals are. Whatever that looks like for you, it’s still very critical to leverage that type of service in today’s market and allow them to be able to review something that states that you have an obligation as a firm to do X. Do whatever that next step is and get a signature from them and then pursue that case given your need as a practice.

Michael: Right. I think when we talked about optimization, it’s helping to reduce and eliminate as many friction points as possible because I’ve seen instances where they’ve got a great client that’s on the phone with them. They got a great case, they want to move forward then they send him a 50-page agreement. They’ll fax it to them or they’ll mail it to them.

Expect the client to freak out when they see those types of things. Now, first, this was an emotional conversation. Now, they’ve got to read through all this stuff and they got to go through all the liability and everything like that, it’s almost like a salesman. What are your recommendations for that?

Denny: I would definitely streamline as much as possible. I think this goes to the subject of intake and sign up versus litigation or settlement process. I’m not talking about software. I’m not necessarily saying that intake software versus case management software. I’m just talking about the processes. The process and mentality are completely different and they should be different. Your ability to make it as easy as possible on the client within your legal need should absolutely be your goal.

Whatever the limited information is that you need to gather to say, “You know what, this is the case. This is the case that we want.” It needs to be honestly a four, five-page document so they can quickly review and sign and that’s it.

Grab Captorra’s exclusive eBook, “10 Steps to Improve Your Legal Intake” for free here!

If there’s other information you need for filing at later dates, hold off. It may take a little bit of extra work on your side to follow up and get that but it’s a lot better than just freaking out the potential client and losing them because another firm sent them a four-page document so they can fill out within five minutes as opposed to spending three hours on.

With eSign, we ran some numbers on that with two firms. One here in Atlanta, one in Vegas. Both of them had 13, we’ll call them investigators, people that went out and met with clients prior to utilizing was our solution but also eSign as well. Their average turnaround per sign up was 3.2 days. 3.2 days was their average case acquisition timeframe and their average overhead per sign base was $167.

Once we implemented the eSign piece their average turnaround time was 2.7 hours for a signed case. Under three hours versus almost four days.

Michael: It’s just game-changing. These small optimizations, eSign what is that? 20 bucks a month? It’s an absolute no-brainer.

Denny: Yes. It doesn’t have to be the end of bill. When it does work use it and that’s going to be of enormous value to you.

Michael: Yes, and you could you still do telegraph from what I hear, right? You could still, the service is available somewhere.

Denny: You can fax that document if you want to, even.

Michael: Yes, fax is still available.

Denny: eSign should be your first level of solution and if a person is uncomfortable and doesn’t have the technology or the ability to do it, fine. Go to the old school method and you set the proper procedure for that.

I think this should be something you could all implement tomorrow within whatever practice.

Michael: I don’t know if you’ve seen any stats on this percentage. You’re talking about eSign, but one of the things that we’ve found as more users are using mobile phones, mobile devices and accessing the web as opposed to desktop computers is where some eSign agreements you can actually text to them. They could pull it up on their phone and send it on their phone.

Denny: Yes. I don’t know if that was meant to be a plug or not Michael but I appreciate it. That is absolutely what we do and I’m sure there’s others as well.

Michael: I didn’t know you do that.

Denny: Yes. [laughs] Yes, texting eSign, is one of our claims to fame. If the average text message is read within seven seconds, 50% of the emails aren’t even opened. Texting eSign agreements is a definite bonus.

Michael: Yes. We’ll jump into the next question but if anyone’s wondering what the average open rate is on a text message, it’s 100%.

When you say to formalize intake staff, how do you motivate employees to pursue leads? What have you seen as one of the best practices here to push employees to care about this and ensure that actually follow up and actually pursue them?

Denny: Yes, it’s a good question. It’s a little bit different if you have a dedicated sales staff versus personal legal staff that are doing it. But at the end of the day, I can’t speak for every single one out there. I do know that it’s pretty difficult to commission staff.

In the legal industry, that’s probably not the most healthy way to handle it. However, you do need to value your staff that are handling that intake process. Honestly, as high as you value anyone else in your practice. You could have the best attorney in the world as your business partner, you could be the best attorney in the world, but if you don’t have the case to settle or litigate, you don’t have a case.

You need to understand that your staff brings value to the firm, and if they don’t, there need to be changes.

I know Michael when you and I have this discussion all the time about activity. It’s all about activity. That’s all about phone calls, that’s all about presentation, that’s all about meetings.

That’s no different in intake. There needs to be activity within your staff to make sure that they’re on top of their follow ups, they’re on top of their scheduling and consultation, following up on the agreements if they’re sent out. You need a way as a partner and an admin team to track that. If it’s not taking place, that means the conversations with your staff are all good. Show them whether it’s due to raises, ice cream parties, whatever it might be. People just want to know that they’re valued.

I think for a lot of attorneys, their success is almost their detriment.

You’ve been successful for 10-15 years. I think it’s true for a lot of industry professionals who’ve had success. You may get a little lazy. What you hear today maybe opens your eyes so that you should be treating your practice specifically your marketing and intake a little more intentionally.

I haven’t met many attorneys who don’t spend a lot of time looking at the stock market, or personal investments, real estate, whatever maybe. That same level of respect and accountability should be treated with your staff and your intake department as well.

Michael: Yes, what gets measured, gets improved, right? People will respect what you inspect implying that if you know your numbers, you know your conversion metrics then, you can advise somebody who’s answering the phone. You can start by saying, “Okay we know this is our response rate, this is how quickly we responded, if you can get it down from six hours to 30 minutes right? Then we’re going to do a team outing.” Orm if it’s one person you could say, you will give them a certain bonus or whatever it is, but you can tie the things that are very objective and easily measured.

I’ve tracked every metric, I’ve got these dashboards up. Like when you look at that and say, “We’re getting a thousand leads a month”, and then, “They actually just signed on 10 cases,” and then once you figured out what percent your bills were, actually fill it out with what percent of those were qualified, that signed, and so on.

Then you can determine what’s falling through the cracks and by simply improving those conversion metrics, it can be millions of additional dollars just because you’re just making those improvements from existing leads, from existing inbound that you’re already getting without doing any additional marketing.

Denny: We see that all the time. We have the conversation with firms that are complaining about a campaign or marketing group. But what they’re complaining about, what it really is, is knowing when we dig in to these numbers, they don’t have the level of processes necessary.

They’re just not calling the lead, they’re not making it easy on the client, they’re actually losing cases. The answer isn’t always spend more on marketing.

This comes back to rewarding your team. I like the team mentality as well. Your team will care more about goals if you reward them for achieving them.

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Michael: The one thing that I’ve found is even more effective than money has been recognition. Team members respond really well to recognition. When you recognize someone for improving some sort of metric within the business or you’ve got an intake staff and a team of these people and then you’re actually celebrating who’s Employee of the Month and things like that, it means a lot. Especially, when there’s that team focus and that type of culture. That, we find, makes a much, much greater impact.

You can still do the financial incentive but make sure that there’s the recognition as well. Saying a simple thank you and saying publicly in front of the whole team and recognizing that person could mean the world to them.

Denny: Yes, I agree. I personally like hearing thank you and gratification from people, except my kid who doesn’t say it a lot.

Saying thank you to someone doesn’t hurt your wallet.

That should certainly be something that you’re mindful of. I know we, as business owners, a lot of people on this call, you and I, we get caught up in the weeds but miss the big picture.

A lot of times, any interaction we have with staff sometimes ends up being more negative because that’s the work, thinking about improving. Make sure that there is positive reinforcement for any small thing. Making that call at 5:31 PM, going out of their way to making the client feel comfortable, listening to a recorded call that sounded great. I mean that should be a huge takeaway of today, just having that mindset throughout your day as an administrator or a business owner to show positive recognition to your staff, absolutely.

Michael: The next question is: how early in the conversation does it make sense to discuss fees? I’ve heard guys answer the phone and say 5,000 bucks for first-time offender DUIs and then the person on the other line says, “Too expensive,” and that’s it. That’s the qualification criteria but it is important because obviously, no wants to spend an hour on the phone to discover that, it’s just not going to make sense for this person.

Denny: At the end of the day, even if they’re not the right fit or they don’t have the finances, you should still try to find out why they called your firm.

Definitely try to get that information from them, allow them to tell their story. I wouldn’t sit there for an hour and a half listening to them, but allow them to tell their story about what’s going on.

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Then, if you’re a firm where you need an upfront fee to pursue that case, I think an appropriate time for a lot of people would be prior to scheduling the consultation because that’s when time, effort, and starts coming out of your pocket.

I definitely would allow them to get through the initial phone call of what’s going on with their case before discussing fees.

On the plaintiff side, there’s really not a need to discuss that at all until the time comes that you need to get the retainer or the fee agreement form.

The big thing is make them feel comfortable with your firm because even if they don’t have the $5,000 to pay you, you want them to go tell all their buddies, “Hey, you know what, when I call those guys they couldn’t help me but they were nice, they were open to listen to me,” and they’re able to tell everybody else about your ability to at least.

Michael: Okay. Then a quick question, we talked about following up 7 times, 12 times, 48 times, what kind of timeline were you thinking for this? Is it once a day, is it a couple days? Does that timeline then expand right? Do you call them every single day for 48 days straight?

Denny: Right. it’s a good question, yes. We go to seven attempts over the course of 45 days. It’s more aggressive on the front end- we have the first attempt immediately and then when you make that initial call, if you’re unable to connect with them, you should try them twice in the first day if possible.

If it comes in at 5:00 PM in the afternoon, go to the next day but we have it four hours later. If at any time morning, midday, try them one more time in the afternoon.

We find that’s very important to try twice in the first day they’ve contacted you. Then we usually skip a day and we’ll go to the third day. We’ll end up making three attempts in the first week and then it starts spreading out.

I would suggest that you don’t make your attempts at the same time every day. I definitely would be more aggressive on the front end but the bigger suggestion is, don’t call the person at 10 AM every single time you try to call them. If they didn’t answer the first time at 10 AM, it probably means they have some obligation at the same time every day that they’re just not going to answer the phone. Try them at lunchtime, try them at 8:30 in the morning before they potentially get into work, try them at 5:30 right before you leave. If possible again, try them in the evening on the weekend but that’s my bigger suggestion.

For the seventh attempt, I would go up to 45 days before you start considering not pursuing that lead anymore but as an important part of that is definitely trying different times of the day to reach those claimants as well.

Michael: Awesome. Well, Denny, I appreciate everything. Again, you don’t have to become a client of Captorra, if you’re interested you can reach out to Captorra. Denny, what’s the best way for them to get a hold of you?

Denny: Yes, so you can contact me. The information is [email protected] or an easy number to remember is 855-GO-INTAKE. Michael, I sincerely appreciate you and your group inviting me to this. This is obviously what I live for. If anyone has any questions please feel free to reach out even if it’s not about Captorra or just intake in general.

Michael: Awesome. Denny, I’m very grateful to have you on. Thank you for answering all these questions, this stuff is gold.

Denny: Absolutely. Yes, I agree. Thank you again, Michael.