The dreadful Covid 19/ Coronavirus is certainly going to impact greatly on all of us. This article explores my views on what impact it will have on the Legal Services Market Place and what solicitors can do to minimise its impact or, for some law firms, to be aware of the opportunities that will exist.
***NEW*** “How To Market In A Post Covid/Lockdown World”: a 60 minute presentation explaining precisely the steps that you must now take to market your law firm.
First, let me explain why it is so important that you do take action now.
Small businesses, which are classed as those with 49 employees or less, account for 99.3% of total businesses, generate a turnover of £2.2 trillion to the UK economy, employ 13.6 million people, collect large amounts of VAT for the Government and pay a lot of tax.
At a time when the Government will need all income possible to pay for increased NHS costs, we all owe a duty as business owners to keep our businesses going and to make as much profit as we can so that we can pay the taxes which keep this country going and pay staff and suppliers to keep the economy functioning as well as possible..
It is no time to sit and be fearful; it is a time to take action.
Assuming that we will all soon be on lockdown to a certain extent or completely, what does this mean for your law firm and your services.
I give you some general thoughts, some legal specific thoughts and then some law firm marketing ideas for you (a positive end to a worrying topic).
The key point to remember is that as a law firm owner you have a duty to yourself, your family and your staff to ensure that your law firm survives. If there are opportunities to acquire new clients, you should do all that you can to make the most of these to strengthen your firm’s profitability. If your legal services market place is likely to take a dip, you should spend the time strengthening your marketing and operating processes so that you can come back stronger once the market picks up.
The only thing that you cannot do is to do nothing, however depressing the current situation is. Every business owner must do all that they can to keep the economy running for all of our sakes.
General Thoughts On Covid 19 Impact On Legal Services
Signing of any documentation brings your staff into contact with potential contamination. If you haven’t yet done so it would be an ideal time to move to remote signing of documents. If this is not permitted in certain legal transactions now would be a great time to lobby the Government to pass an act to make it so and to do so quickly.
The more that can be handled remotely, the better for your staff and clients.
For your team, you may have to operate reduced office coverage, or close it completely. If you do not already have any type of intranet system, it would be a good time to implement Slack or Trello for team communications.
Legal Service Specific Thoughts On The Impact Of Coronavirus
It is a fact that some services will stagnate now for a few weeks or months, whilst others will thrive. It is how you prepare for either of these eventualities that will determine how strong your firm is 12 months from now.
I am most worried about this legal services market place.
Just as it had been picking up after the Boris Bump, I believe it will now completely stagnate, if and when we enter lockdown. Unless a house move is absolutely vital, who is going to put themselves in risk of contracting the virus by walking around strangers’ homes, touching their surfaces and breathing in their germs?
I have been attempting to sell my mother’s apartment for some months and had one viewing. I expect that to remain the number for the next three to six months. As the most vulnerable sector I do not see pensioners looking to move home for quite some time.
Now is the time to review and improve all of your processes. Can you streamline your client services? Should you put in place a case management system which monitors your numbers, tracks your conversion rates and ensures that you follow up on all conveyancing quotes provided, so that when the market place picks up you can take on more instructions than usual to replace your lost income? If you need such a system, I can recommend one to you.
Now is also the time to undertake all of the marketing activities that I discuss below to ensure that you are ready when the world starts to move again.
Outside of the legal services market, other opportunities will exist. Property investors will be presented wit hopportunities to acquire some housing stock at lower than usual prices if the market stagnates.
Equity release may come more into play if people are unable to move as they had hoped to do so.
Aside from possible court lockdowns at some stage, the actual enquiries should continue to come in because they can easily be handled remotely, but if a lot more people are forced to work from home, accidents at work will reduce substantially.
Seeing as those claim types are the major claim types that solicitors are chasing now as there are more profit costs, there will be more solicitors fighting over less claims.
Road accidents will dramatically reduce with less people travelling on the roads.
People are unlikely to start divorce proceedings when they are unable to leave their houses, but the fact that they are locked up together for a sustained period of time means these numbers are likely to rise in the future (just like after Christmas and holiday periods).
Some forms of litigation will not be started as business owners will have more pressing matters to deal with, however, debt recovery may well see a spike as business owners look to gather in any income already invoiced.
I would be inclined to go hard now with my marketing for personal injury services. If you are spending money on Google Ads, spend more now whilst the claims are still at their usual levels. If you are not, should you boost your intake to allow for quieter months ahead?
Medical negligence claims are likely to rise due to the strain on the national health service. Will the Government bring in some measures to protect the NHS and prevent certain types of claims? These claims will still continue to be made but of course whilst routine operations are cancelled, the overall numbers will drop, so again, should you increase your marketing efforts and take on more instructions now to cover this future lull?
Other types of litigation are either likely to be delayed or stopped completely.
Business Legal Services
Will people start a business in this environment? I think, for most the answer will be a no for the immediate future. However, many people forced to work from home with more time on their hands may decide that they will start a business once the current pandemic slows down, or hopefully, goes away.
Some firms may be forced to start debt recovery processes as their income reduces.
Now is the time to give your existing clients a wonderful service. Help them with this situation. Ensure you offer them all of your relevant services to make their business life easier in a difficult period. Any more instructions are likely to come from your existing clients.
If your current clients are larger businesses, now might be the time to connect with smaller businesses that work from home. Is it time to do some research and start connecting with these business owners on LinkedIn (see below).
Probate Legal Services
Clearly there is going to be a huge rise in this area, I don’t believe there is any doubt about that. My only concern is that people are underestimating just how many people are going to lose their lives to this dreadful virus.
Should you retrain non probate team members in the art of probate services (such as quieter conveyancing teams) so that you are better able to help your clients over the coming months.
Can you use screen recording software showing your non probate legal secretaries how to complete probate applications and processes so that they can help in the future remotely or in the office. I use Camtasia for screen recording training for my Marketing4Solicitors members.
Marketing Of Legal Services During The Covid 19 Pandemic & Afterwards
If your legal services goes quiet, or is going to, then you must use the time to put in place all of the marketing processes, systems and marketing arteries that you need to ensure that you become as busy as you need to survice when the legal services market picks up.
If you have put off marketing activities until now because you simply haven’t had the time, now that you do you must use it.
I know some law firm owners will be panicking or scared. You need to use that fear to drive you on to take positive action to make your law firm stronger now and for the future (I find it hard to believe that there will not be other pandemics like this).
What should these marketing activities include?
For an indepth look into them, download my guide at the end of this article, but for now they should include:
- Your Website – A website should deliver a large volume of new instructions to its law firm owner. If your website is not producing at least 30% of your new enquiries, but more frequently 50%, it is not working hard enough for you. Now is the time to fix this and ensure that it does its job properly for you for when the market picks up.
- Email Marketing – This is an important marketing artery for all of my law firm owner clients who undertake it consistently, yet I know that the majority of law firms do not do this. Fix this now by setting up the software (very easy to do, especially as I have a guide showing you how to do this. Every law firm should be a ‘thought leader’ now for their clients. An email marketing database with all of your clients on it allows you to do reach everyone very quickly. People need your guidance.
- Referrals – If your business relies on referrals now is the time to track all referrals in and out so that you can ensure that your best referrers are rewarded (not necessarily financially, but in some way – it is rude to take and not give anything back I was always told, even if the giving back is as simple as a ‘thank you’). In addition to this, you can grow your network on LinkedIn without leaving your home. Connect with more of your your ideal prospects or referrers on LinkedIn per day (no more than 10 now as LinkedIn has reduced its numbers).
- Optimise everything that you do – Look at every form of marketing that you undertake and improve it all. Optimisation is one of the success traits of my most successful law firm owners. They understand that by spending time optimising they will generate even more client instructions with little or no extra cost. That is very smart legal marketing.
Now is not the time for doing nothing. Now is the time to take more action than ever before.
During this crisis I am opening up Marketing4Solicitors membership for an indefinite time.
If you want access to my one to one support and all of the training materials that you need to put in place your new marketing systems, Marketing4Solicitors is there for you, along with the mentoring option if you would like additional help.