Seven Rules of Client Development for those in the Service Industry

This post we thought could be for fellow lawyers, but nearly 80% of the US economy is based on services, thus we hope it will be helpful to a large number of our clients and others seeking to develop business in their own field.

1.     Recognize, that There is No Secret Rule. If there were, we would not be writing this blog post – we probably would not want to share the magic secret sauce. Your own unique, talent and skills are what make you who you are and you simply should make the best of them. You will be rewarded for your hard work and persistence. So put your pants on, pull them up tight and do what you do best. You will do great if you believe that you will. We do.

2.     Act Like a Professional. You do not need to be the best dressed, the best looking or the smoothest talker. You do need to act like a professional. What this means is probably the subject of another post: e.g., if you are a lawyer, you need to always follow the Rules of Professional Conduct. If you are a doctor, really listen to your patients’ concerns. You know your industry and will aspire to the highest ethical and professional standard. If you do not know the answer to something, that is fine - say that you will look it up.

3.     Do the Highest Quality Work. Your work is what defines you. Pay attention to detail. Despite your best efforts, a typo of some sort may send a client the wrong impression. Some attorneys get clients when their opposing counsel notices the caliber of their work and then refers them business. Your clients will tell their friends. Make your high school English teacher proud.

4.     Admit Mistakes and Fix Them. Despite your hard work and highest quality work, lawyers are humans (insert joke) and humans err. When you recognize a mistake you made, point it out to your client and offer to fix it free of charge. Clients will respect your honesty. Sweeping a problem under the rug will make it fester and will likely lead to the loss of a client.

5.     Everyone is a Potential Client. Some are of the belief that to develop clients you need to be a Johny Appleseed and spread your business card from here to Timbuktu. More importantly, it is important to treat everyone with equal respect as you never know who may need your services. When we launched our business in 2010, a senior lawyer came to our event and told us a prophecy that is true – you never know where your clients are going to come from.

6.     Treat Your Clients How you Would Like to be Treated – You are probably charging your clients a lot of money. Do you really need to bill them every time they have a quick question you can answer in five minutes? Do you need to invoice them for stamps? This is the obvious “do not nickel and dime your clients,” but there is more. For example, you are really busy with a project and a client contacts you by e-mail. Do not ignore it. Especially a phone call. Clients will understand if you are busy, but you need to communicate since they want to know right away that you will eventually get to it and the when is less important than the certainty they desire that you will get to it.

7.     Stay in Touch with Those You Meet. This is perhaps the hardest since everyone’s time is limited. Some people have described the concept of ‘touchpoints,’ which means the more you stay in contact with someone, the more likely they are to refer you business. Remember that Stevie Wonder song “I Just Called to Say I Love You?” Do not take this overboard, but if you find something of interest to one of your colleagues or friends, send it their way. They will appreciate that you were thinking of them, but only if it is sincere. Finally, along the same lines, it is always better to stay in touch with people in person than by telephone; it is always better to call someone than to email them; and it is always better to send a personal email than a mass email. Obvious, perhaps, but worth reminding you.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to share some of your rules in the comments section below. Special thanks to our former Intellectual Property Advisor, Rick Lehrer, for his contribution to this post.