Mastering the Consultation: The Sales Strategy that Generated $250k from Unbundled Leads in a Single Year
In this episode, we are going to be interviewing Matt Beach, who’s one of our provider attorneys out of Denver Colorado. We really dive very closely into a process he’s developed in the last couple of years that allows him to convert approximately 50% of the leads we send him into paying clients. What’s interesting about it is that about 2/3 of the clients that hire him, hire him for unbundled legal services, 1/3 of them are for full representation. He still has that 1/3 that goes straight to the full retainer fee. That’s a little bit different percentage than maybe some other attorneys do. So, he really focuses on educating and delivering the unbundled option. A lot of clients begin with that approach. The 50% conversion rate’s impressive, the fact that he earned a close to $1/4 million in revenue last year from leads alone is really impressive. What’s even more impressive to me is he has brought on a couple of contract lawyers that do a lot of the actual legal work for him.
He assigns and focuses his time on doing the lead calls and then enrolling clients and getting them scheduled to meet with the contract lawyers. He is at the point where his time and involvement in building the leads is maybe two, three hours a day. So, he’s really built a system to be able to leverage his time and really focus on what already as well from a previous podcast agrees is one of the most important things, which is doing our initial calls with the leads, responding quickly and then doing that call. On this podcast episode, we dive right into, in fact, we do a live role play on exactly how he does that call and also a strategy that he’s developed to completely eliminate no-shows from his practice. If you’ve ever had clients that you book in for an appointment and don’t show up, here’s the strategy you can use to eliminate that entirely. With that, let’s get right into it. This interview with Matt Beach, one of our provider attorneys out of Denver Colorado.
Dave Aarons: Matt, welcome to the show.
Matthew Beach: Hey Dave, how are you doing?
Dave Aarons: Excellent. Really glad we’re getting a chance to jump on a call and do this episode today. We’ve been working together for a long time and I know you’ve been pretty much killing it out in Denver so I’m really glad that you were able to take the time to jump in and glean some ideas from the process you’ve developed out in Denver because they seem to be working pretty good.
Matthew Beach: Sure.
Dave Aarons: So, maybe a good place to start, just share a little bit about the focus of your practice, the region you cover and maybe a little bit about how you get your start.
Matthew Beach: Let’s see, the focus of my practice, well, my bread and butter is family law, domestic litigation, child custody, dissolution of marriage, modification of parenting time, that sort of thing. I cover let’s see, pretty much the front range of Colorado, north of Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder area, I’ve got a couple of mountain regions. I got started in 2013 when I left the public defenders office and that’s when I started practicing family law. I think I started with you guys, I want to say it was beginning of 2015, shortly thereafter.
Dave Aarons: Yeah.
Matthew Beach: So, I have two contract attorneys now and I’ve got an office manager admin that answers the phone and helps me with some of the administrative tasks.
Dave Aarons: Okay, awesome. I think we’ve got at least a year and a half under our belt so that’s awesome and it’s been really cool to see the evolution of your firm since you first started. I think when you first got going, it was you and then maybe one other attorney that was doing sort of litigation? Were you pretty much solo when we first got working together about a year and a half ago and then you’ve expanded from there?
Matthew Beach: I was pretty much solo. At one time, I had as many as three contract attorneys and they were all doing unbundled litigation all from the leads I get from you guys. I have two now, we’ve kind of streamlined some things but it’s going great. Last year we had a really big year. This year, I’ve transitioned out of doing any domestic litigation. I’m basically just selling the services and then connecting them with the contract lawyer to complete the service, the representation.
Dave Aarons: Right and this is something I’d love to dive into. Originally, you were fielding the leads and then providing 100% of all the services and then gradually you brought on contract attorneys that you created relationships with. Can you talk a little bit about what that relationship kind of has evolved into, what it looks like? I know they’re not necessarily part of the firm, and this is really interesting for some of our lawyers that have been considering expanding their covered regions and contracting with other lawyers in other areas to be able to get clear on how they can create that relationship so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Matthew Beach: Well, the first thing I think is to check your local rules of professional conduct is how you can organize. In Colorado, we’re not allowed to split fees or anything like that. There actually has to be some relationship between the contract lawyer and the firm and that’s what we’re doing here. I essentially pay a lot of the overhead. I pay the rent, I pay for their malpractice insurance, they get Westlaw access, I pay for their time management system and I’m the one that’s providing them with the client. If you look at some of these models of how to split up compensation in a firm, talk about minders, finders, and grinders, I’m really the minder and the finder. In other words, I manage administratively the client’s money, their invoices, I make sure the pleadings are where they need to be and then I also find the client. Then the contractors are actually grinding or doing the work.
So based on that model, we’ve got almost a 50-50 split on the hourly rate. We bill at $225 an hour for those. It’s been profitable for me. I’ve been able to realize the salary that I was making when it was just me as a solo from their labor. I’m able to leverage off of them and it’s worked out really well.
Dave Aarons: Yeah I think we mentioned when we were talking the other day that basically they come on and then you have maybe a split … so if the $225 is being billed, in this case and again like you said, attorneys need to look into their local state bar and see what kind of relationship works well based on the up the rules for their jurisdiction. I think you mentioned it was about a split. So for every hour that’s being billed, you’re getting a certain amount and then you also help cover expenses in certain cases like if they have their own physical office that they work from or-
Matthew Beach: They’re in my office. I actually have the third floor of a Victorian, it was built in 1890. There are two law firms below us that practice in different areas but we have the third floor so there’s enough room for two attorneys in those offices. Basically, for every billable hour, I’m taking $100 and they’re taking $125. Out of that 100, I’m able to pay the rent. It’s pretty low rent here, west law access, those types of things. So I can justify by finding the client then managing the relationship, making sure the invoices are out, making sure their [inaudible 00:08:26] accounts balance, that sort of thing. I can justify my percentage because, in Colorado, you can’t just send somebody a client and charge them a split on that fee. You actually have to justify why you’re taking part of the profit. So, it’s working out really well though. Like I said, I’m no longer myself litigating domestics cases. I’m just finding the business and then again kind of the managing administratively that client account.
Dave Aarons: Maybe what we could do is just give a little context about how you’ve been doing, how many leads you typically take, I mean ballpark, how you did last year and overall what your conversion rate is so people have a bit of context on how well things are going and then we can dive into how its evolved and then your process as well.
Matthew Beach: Sure. I didn’t pull any actual numbers but I can tell you, I grossed about $1/4 million in revenue from unbundled last year. My salary ended up being around 72 from that. That time, I was also billing but right now, I’m not billing anytime. I’m not actually representing anybody but I’m still able to pay myself the same salary. So, does that answer your question?
Dave Aarons: Yeah absolutely. That gives people context that … that’s just the revenues from the leads alone from last year?
Matthew Beach: Sure, sure. The conversion rate, I really, honestly I’m working to get better metrics on that. It’s just been so busy. I couldn’t tell you a number but one time I think I was converting 60%, 70%. Sometimes it’s been as low as 40, sometimes I have slow months but overall, I’m always ahead. I’ve never been in a situation where I wasn’t able to pay myself, the contractors, the overhead and still have money in the account to pay for the leads. I’ve always been in the positive.
Dave Aarons: Well that’s awesome and so obviously given the fact that you’re covering pretty much the greater Denver metro, you’re getting a good volume of clients. I think we’re sending you probably on average maybe three or four a day, five or six a week, something like that. So, with the conversion rate of roughly 50%-
Matthew Beach: Yeah, I’d say that’s accurate, yeah.
Dave Aarons: Yeah something like that so a lot of clients coming on every week.
Matthew Beach: Also [inaudible 00:11:02] a lot of those folks I’d say of those probably 33% that come in the door actually convert to full retainer clients. My retainer’s $3,000 and I tell them that’s usually enough to get through 1/2 or 3/4 of a case. So, if they retain us, they’re paying us $6,000, $7,000 in the end. They’re not really like high complex, people who have a lot of assets or things like that. These are just dissolutions, child custody, things like that. So, 33% converting those to full retainer, that’s pretty nice.
Dave Aarons: That is a really good number. What’s interesting about that number is, for many other attorneys, that might actually sound low in the sense that you have 1/3 of them paying you for full representation but 2/3 of the clients working with you are on an unbundled basis.
Matthew Beach: Yeah and they’re paying me anywhere from, I’d say the minimum unbundled is like $500, $600 but more so, it’s going to be $1,500. That’s where most of the unbundleds are.
Dave Aarons: Right but that’s something that it seems like you really focus on especially in the get-go when you’re first working with the clients is gearing your practice towards offering the unbundled options. It sounds like the majority of the clients are taking that approach and then and some of them transition later on. Can you talk a little bit about why you feel like that’s been an important part of the way in which you work with the clients and why offering these types of unbundled options have contributed to that growth and those high conversion rates?
Matthew Beach: Sure, excuse me, I’ve got a bit of a cold here. I keep coughing on the phone. I think that it helps, I think they feel more comfortable when you’re on the sales call because I explain to them that you’re not locked into unbundled, you’re not locked into a retainer client. You can start out as unbundled and maybe you think this is going to be easy and we’ll give you some help and you file some pleadings and then you think, “Oh gosh! This is really complicated. I am going to need to retain you.” You can do that.
I’ve had clients that have retained us and they thought it was going to be this high conflict protracted litigation and it turns out there was an agreement. So then, we can then say, “Okay well, you don’t need to retain us. You can then transfer to an unbundled type of representation. Maybe you just need us to wrap up the final separation agreement or something like that.”So, they know from the beginning that they’re not locked into one or the other. I think it just helps them feel more comfortable and it shows that we’re flexible and willing to work with them.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, maybe we can kind of dive into that a little bit more and get some clarity on what that process is because one of the things that I think you’ve developed over a couple of years we’ve worked together, is a really good process for doing these calls, these initial calls, responding to the leads and then how you approach the initial call, which obviously is leading to a really high conversion rate. One of the things we talked about is you’ve developed a process for virtually eliminating the amount of clients that don’t show up for their appointments. You’ve developed a system for that as well. So, maybe what we could do is just kind of walk through, first of all, are you getting the leads via text message notification or do you get the email to your phone?
Matthew Beach: Email.
Dave Aarons: How do you typically receive them first?
Matthew Beach: Email and I usually set aside about an hour every morning, usually from 8:00 until 9:00 and then again from say, 3:00 until 4:00 in the afternoon to deal with unbundled calls. I’ll usually do outbound calls following up on leads I get through emails in the morning and then I’ll do callbacks on people that I wasn’t able to connect with, in the afternoon or sometimes they’ll call back in the afternoon. I think that’s really important. I think you have to set aside a time every day and that’s two hours. That’s not 15 minutes. You really have to be disciplined about it and really field those calls.
Dave Aarons: Right. If you’re not getting back to them quickly so that they’re getting a response because of a lot of these folks if you don’t get back to them right away, they’re pretty much ready to hire someone else if you don’t talk to them. I’m sure any lawyer that’s gotten leads for any given time has had that happen and says, “Oh, I actually just hired another attorney,” you go darn!.
Matthew Beach: Right but I do respond to, it’s an email feed that I get in for it and I just call them and initiate the contact.
Dave Aarons: Okay great. Maybe from there, what is your goal for the initial call? How long is the call and maybe you can kind of walk through kind of each phase of the call as far as what you take them through, how you figure out exactly what’s going on with their situation and then maybe even transition into how you start educating them about the unbundled options that your firm offers.
Matthew Beach: Sure. I’ve heard people say, “I’ll limit the call to five minutes or 15 minutes.” I tried doing that in the beginning and I feel that it tends to rush things. You’ve got to let things happen organically. We all know when we’re talking to somebody and they start to ramble on or if they’re, they’re not going to buy or they’re just looking for free legal advice. We all know that from talking to enough people. So, I don’t really, personally, I don’t like to say this is going to be a five-minute call or a 10-minute call, whatever. I just let it happen organically. If I sense that it’s not happening, I’m getting off the call.
I always start out with a conflict check. In Colorado, we’re supposed to do that whenever we talk to a client. It’s a good practice but it also lets a client know that you know what you’re doing. I’ve heard people say to me, “Oh, I’ve talked to five lawyers today and no one’s asked me who the opposing party is.” I explain to them, “Well, they should be,” and I explain why. So conflict check.
After that, I just say, “okay, well just tell me what’s going on,” and just listen to the story for a while. Then, usually, they’ll talk for two to five minutes, something like that and you can ask them questions. If they’re talking about their child, how many? If it’s just one child, boy or girl, what’s the name? Let them know that you’re listening, you’ve got to be an active listener and keep track of the names of the parties, that sort of thing. When you ask them questions about the case, make sure you’re using those people’s names and their ages and understand all that.
Then I’ll say, “Well, have you talked to any other attorneys or have you thought about what this might cost you if you have to litigate this issue?” Usually, they’ll say no or they’ll say, “Yeah I talked to some people and it’s really expensive.” Then, I’ll say, “Okay, well, you found us through Unbundled Attorneys, do you know what that is?” Regardless of whether they say yes or no, I’ll say, “Well, let me just explain to you what that is because we offer a couple of different products here in my firm. We offer traditional or retainer representation and we offer unbundled or discreet tasks services.” I’ll explain the differences between the two of those because there are differences in the service and there’s a big difference in the price.
Then I’ll walk them into what our retainer is, how the retainer works and explain that to them and then I’ll say, “Look, with retainer services, you’re hiring us to do everything on the case from the beginning to the end. Just so just so you know, we charge the same hourly rate for retainer services and for unbundled. It’s $225 an hour. But with retainer services, we’ll start out with the one-hour client intake, we’ll meet with you, we’ll go over your case, learn all the important details about it and we’ll advise you. We’ll advise you of your options or answer questions and we’ll help you develop a litigation plan or strategy on how to achieve your goals. At the end of that meeting, we’ll then implement that strategy. So, we might file motions, we’ll go to court, we’ll do investigations, we’ll go to mediation, we’ll interview witnesses, we’ll do everything in your case from the beginning to the end.”
“At $225 an hour with retainer services, because we are doing everything, that can get expensive. So, we also offer something called Unbundled Legal Services. With unbundled legal services, we’re not doing everything in your case. We’re only doing the tasks or services that you need us to do and want us to do. We start out our unbundled services just like we do with retainer service. We start out with a one-hour client intake. Now, to set the intake, it would take $100 deposit and I’ll connect you with one of my contract lawyers and I have two of them here, they’re both great, great litigators. You’ll sit with them, you’ll meet with them, they’ll advise you, answer questions, go over your case and they’ll help you develop that same litigation plan or strategy. Now, at the end of that meeting, you will then talk to them about what part of that strategy they’re going to implement and then you can negotiate a price with them about those services.” Then, that’s when I say, “Do you have any questions about that?”
Usually, they’ll say, “So, what’s the $100 deposit for?” That’s when I’ll explain to them, “Well, we’re a law firm. We’re just like a doctor’s office. We don’t sell appliances or shirts or anything like that. We sell services. So, if you want me to set up a meeting to come up with a case strategy for you with an attorney, there’s some preparation involved and they’re going to dedicate an hour of their day just to service you. So, we ask for the $100 deposit to make sure you’re going to be here. If you give us 24 hours notice to cancel or reschedule, we’ll give you a full refund.” That’s basically the spiel.
Dave Aarons: Right, exactly. Can you talk a bit about, because initially, you didn’t use to offer the deposit and then I think you were having some no-shows, which some of the attorneys will tend to experience if they don’t have this type of process in place? So, what happened as a result of implementing that deposit?
Matthew Beach: Every time I get the deposit, the person shows up. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Out of the 100 people, we’ve seen in the last year or more, I think there might have been one that didn’t show up and they called the next day and they explained they were ill and I gave them that. I can’t remember if we gave it back or we rest it, it wasn’t a big deal. Every time I get the $100 deposit, they’re coming in.
Dave Aarons: Pretty much 100% of the time except for the one that just literally physically could not come, they’re coming in the office.
Matthew Beach: Right, right. Prior to that, I would set, you set appointments all the time and people just wouldn’t show. I think that it’s because that’s an easy way off the phone with the salesperson. Right? “Oh yeah, I’ll call you back on this date? I’ll come this day, sure I will, right?” They don’t show up but the $100 is really what gets them. I think I ended up setting fewer appointments because there were fewer people, there were some people that were going to say, “Well, I’m not going to do that.” I have a lot of them say, “I don’t have the $100 in my account.” To me, if you don’t have the $100 in your account, you shouldn’t be calling me because you need to pay for the legal service or, maybe you just don’t trust me.
So, I say, “Well, if it makes you uncomfortable about giving me your credit card, what I can do is set you for a tentative appointment. I’m going to send you an email with the time, date, location. I’m going to copy the lawyer you’re going to meet with on that email but you have to contact that lawyer within 48 hours of the appointment. You have to figure out a way to bring them $100 in cash or cheque. So you can call back at a later date, I’m going to put it at tentative. What that means is, if they don’t hear from you before that, they can schedule over that timeframe.” That kind of puts the onus on them to contact us, to come in and bring us cash. We do have people who do that or some people don’t have a debit card or credit card. They’re just cash carrying people. They’ll do that so it’s worked out.
Dave Aarons: So they come in prior to the appointment and pay that fee or they come in [inaudible 00:24:16] and just confirm.
Matthew Beach: Absolutely. They’ll come in, I’ll say, “You have to do it within 48 hours or we can schedule over that time slot. We’re just keeping it open tentatively and if you don’t come in and pay cash or check at that time, then, it’ll just disappear and we can schedule over the top of it.” Of that group that says they’re going to do that, probably 1/2 of those people to come in and make that cash payment but if they don’t, I don’t have an hour blocked off because, in 48 hours, I’m going to fill up that. I’ll get another caller coming up in that spot.
Dave Aarons: Right. Okay, so, the majority of the clients, when you explain the deposit and this is the $100, because we’re not a doctor’s office and you’ve kind of explain how you break that down, do you kind of ask, “Okay, so would you like to go ahead and book an appointment?”
Matthew Beach: Oh yeah absolutely, absolutely. I’ll say, “Does that make sense? Do you have any questions yet?” “Okay, well let’s go ahead and set you up with so and so.” That’s usually when they say, “Oh I can’t-do it,” if they’re going to say no, that’s where it happens right there.
Dave Aarons: The majority of folks are going to be giving the card. “Okay, let’s go and get you set up with John.” What does your schedule look like? Maybe give us a walkthrough. So, say I’m the client and-
Matthew Beach: Sure. One of the things I always do too is say, “Well, have you been served anything? Are there any dates that you’re aware of?” That way, if there’s an important date on the 1st, I want to set them before the 1st. Right?
Dave Aarons: Right.
Matthew Beach: So I’ll say, “When can you come in?” Then I have everyone’s calendar right in front of me on my terminal and then I confirm and then once the date’s confirmed, I’ll take the credit card and then I’ll send them an email with the date, time, location, a reminder of, “Hey, you paid a $100 deposit. When you get here, you need to pay the other $125 before the start of the hour so, be prepared to do that.” I’ll copy and paste in a little electronic receipt from their credit card and transaction, and I’ll copy the lawyer they’re going to meet with an update that lawyer’s calendar. Then, once that happens, they’ve got an appointment set. When they come in, the admin has access to the same calendar, they’ll see that.
Then before they come in, they’ll have an intake packet ready for them. So, when they come in the door, there will be a questionnaire asking the names of their kids, spouse, any assets, that kind of thing so we can get all that information. Then, if they’re going to retain us and we’ll also have a fee agreement. So we have two fee agreements, the unbundled fee agreement, and the retainer fee agreement. Then, if they’re going to retain us, great. If they’re going to use us for unbundled, great, whichever they’ll choose or it might just be the hour. Sometimes we have people who’ll come in and just they want to buy an hour for the time and that’s fine. We have all that information so then the admin, once they do, that’s a billable exercise. Like inputting all that information into their electronic file, that’s billable and it helps pay for the admin.
Dave Aarons: Okay, got you. We’ve got the pieces and the concepts. You talk to clients to find out the goal, you ask them to have they talked to attorneys, do they have an idea what they charge, then you say, “Do you know about unbundled?” Maybe what we can do just to make it clear step by step, maybe we could do like a quick role play where I’ll just give you, I have a case in my mind. I’ll just be the client and let’s just book me in for an appointment exactly how you’d do it just to really get the nuts and bolts of how that process works from start to finish. Let’s say for example we’ve just jumped into the call, you’ve done the conflict check, you said, “Tell me a little bit of what’s going on,” and I said to you, “okay, well, I’m looking to file for divorce. I’ve been married for about 15 years and at the moment, we don’t have any joint property. We both have a vehicle. We don’t have any kids.”
Let’s just say I have one child that’s seven years old. We’re now separated but basically, we’ve been sharing custody and I want to get something in place to make sure I’m able to see her, my daughter on a regular basis.
Matthew Beach: Sure, sure. Okay, just a couple of quick questions. Do you think there’s going to be a conflict around this? Do you think you and your wife are in agreement on how this should happen or?
Dave Aarons: I’ve talked to her about it and I think we have some clarity around how we’re going to be sharing. I work primarily during the day and she has some of those hours off and so around those schedules, I think we have a general idea. When it comes to the divorce, I’m not sure if she’s going to try to ask for some type of support. I do make a little bit more money than her, so I tried to talk to her about maybe I can help by supporting, paying these specific bills or something like that but it’s not like it’s all been figured out from start to finish.
Matthew Beach: Sure. Have you looked at any support calculators or any of the calculators about child support?
Dave Aarons: No, I haven’t yet, no.
Matthew Beach: Okay, so we’ve got those here. We could run some numbers for you. They’re pretty simple, they’re based on the number of overnights you’re going to have and then what your comparative incomes are. Does your wife currently work?
Dave Aarons: Yeah, she’s working as a nanny.
Matthew Beach: Okay, okay. Well, have you thought about what this might cost to litigate if you have to litigate it or have you talked to any other attorneys about retainers and things like that?
Dave Aarons: No I haven’t really yet. This is, I just found the site and got connected and just knew I needed to speak to a lawyer, so I’m not really sure yet.
Matthew Beach: Well, you found this on Unbundled Attorneys, do you know what that is?
Dave Aarons: No.
Matthew Beach: Okay, okay. Have you heard of retainer services before? Do you know what retainers are?
Dave Aarons: Basically where you pay a certain amount of money to the lawyer and then they represent you?
Matthew Beach: Sure, sure. Let me explain both unbundled representation and attorney representation because we offer both. We charge the same hourly rate, it’s 225 an hour for both types of services but they’re markedly different. One is more expensive than the other. Retainer services are what most people think of when you hire a lawyer. We charge a $3,000 retainer for a dissolution of marriage, someone in your position. That’s not a total cost or cap on the case. It’s basically what we think it would take to get through about 1/2 or 3/4 a case. We take that money, we put it in a trust account and we bill against that trust account at 225 an hour. At the end of every month, you’ll get an invoice saying what we’ve done. In that type of relationship, we do everything from the beginning of the case to the end of the case.
We always start out with a one-hour client intake where we’ll meet with you, we’ll advise you, we’ll go over the case, answer any questions and we’ll help you develop with court litigation plan or strategy on how to achieve your goals. At the end of that meeting, the lawyer you’re going to work with is either going to be Luisa or Jessica, they’ll implement that plan for you. So, they’ll draft and file the petition for dissolution or develop a parenting plan, they’ll help you with the financial disclosures, we’ll go to mediation, we’ll do an investigation. If we have to go to a hearing, we will. Again, we’re with you from the beginning of the case to the end of the case.
Because we’re doing everything, that gets to be pretty expensive. With the unbundled services though, we start out with the same one-hour appointment, we will ask you to make $100 deposit to make that appointment. When you get to the appointment, you’ll pay for the other part of that hour, the additional $125. In that one hour appointment, we’ll help you develop the same litigation plan and strategy and we’ll talk about all the things that need to be done; the petition for dissolution, the parenting plan, the financial disclosures. At the end of that meeting, you’re not paying us a retainer. We’re not working for you but at the end of that meeting, you can then decide how much or how little of that plan we’re going to implement for you and then you can negotiate a price based on all the issues involved in your case and what it’s going to take to make those different services happen. You can negotiate a price with that lawyer and then decide and pick and choose, sort of like an hour card menu, how much or how little we’re going to be involved in your case. Does that make sense?
Dave Aarons: Okay, is someone going to be going to court for me?
Matthew Beach: Yeah if that’s what you want. That’s why that initial intake meeting is important. A lot of people say, “Well, do you do free consultations?” What we’re doing right now is really a free consultation. That’s what most lawyer people say. These are the issues, this is how much it is going to cost you. The initial intake meeting will explain to you all of the things that you need to do and we’ll have an understanding based on a more in-depth analysis of the details of your case, for example, how long a permitted orders hearing would take. By default, the court will try to set one for an hour but you might need half a day, you might need a full day.
It just depends on what things are going to be an issue or in other words, what you and your wife can’t agree about. There’s going to be some contested hearing to resolve that issue. So, we can go to a hearing but you really need to meet with that lawyer so they can understand how long it needs to be set and what the issues are involved for them to be able to quote you an accurate price. Does that make sense?
Dave Aarons: Yes. Is this something that my wife and I both need to be present for or is this something that I meet with you first and then we-
Matthew Beach: I would advise you to come in and talk to us alone. We don’t do collaborative divorces. There would be really a conflict if she were here. So, I would really prefer to speak to you alone.
Dave Aarons: Okay. So once I meet with the attorney then we kind of figure out what I would potentially be doing and what you guys would be doing and what that cost would be?
Matthew Beach: Correct, correct. Really what you’re paying for is a real understanding of what needs to be done in your case and you have a roadmap from which you can operate from. Then you can make intelligent decisions about whether or not you need an attorney to draft a petition for a dissolution. I can tell you right now that there are form pleadings online. I can say where those are or you can draft a petition for dissolution in about half an hour and it’s really not that difficult. Whereas you can use me for example to say, go to the contested hearing or to help you issue spot, to help you understand certain deadlines, when things need to be filed, help you analyze what your child support your maintenance should be. Does that make sense?
Dave Aarons: Yeah, totally, okay. Okay, that will work.
Matthew Beach: Okay great. Why don’t we set up a time?
Dave Aarons: Okay.
Matthew Beach: What works well for you? Do you want to come in sometime this week or next week?
Dave Aarons: I could come in on Friday afternoon. I have the afternoon off on Friday.
Matthew Beach: Okay. Do you know where we’re located?
Dave Aarons: No.
Matthew Beach: We’re at 1471 Stewart Street and that’s in Denver between Federal and Sheridan, just south of Sloane’s Lake. I got your email that came through the Unbundled services. Is it okay if I contact you with that email with a time, date and location of the intake?
Dave Aarons: Yeah, yeah, that works fine.
Matthew Beach: Okay great. I’m going to set you with Luisa. Like I said before, we’ll need $100 deposit. If I can go ahead and take that, do you have a credit card?
Dave Aarons: Yes I do.
Matthew Beach: You want to give me that number and we can set that up?
Dave Aarons: Okay, let’s just say that I just said no, no I don’t have a credit card.
Matthew Beach: Sure, okay. Well, do you have a cheque or cash you can bring in?
Dave Aarons: Yeah, that works.
Matthew Beach: Okay, so what I’ll do is to set this for a tentative appointment with Jessica. What that means is, I’m going to go ahead and email you and I’m going to copy her confirming the time and the date and you just need to contact her within 48 hours. Just coordinate with her when you’re going to come by our office and drop off that $100 deposit. Okay?
Dave Aarons: Okay. So I need to come in and then just give the cash for that appointment?
Matthew Beach: Yep, that’s fine. If you don’t, because it’s a tentative appointment, what I’m saying is, we can’t confirm it because I’m going to have Jessica here for the hour for you but if you don’t confirm within 48 hours by coming by and dropping off a deposit, then she’s going to be able to go ahead and schedule on top of that because we’re going to assume that you’re not going to be coming in. Okay?
Dave Aarons: Okay. So this deposit, that’s for that initial consultation?
Matthew Beach: Yes. So, the way the deposit works is, when we first started doing this, we had a lot of people calling in and saying, “Hey, I want to come in, I want to set an appointment,” but then they wouldn’t show up. We’re just like a doctor’s office. We don’t sell appliances or t-shirts and things like that. We just sell our services so if Luisa’s going to be here for that time slot, we just want to make sure you’re going to be here too. That’s why we ask for the deposit. It will go towards the hour. Like I said, when you get here, you’ll pay the additional part of that hour, the 125. If you need to cancel or reschedule, that’s fine, as long as you do so within 24 hours, we’ll give you that deposit back. If you can’t make that deposit, a lot of people feel uncomfortable giving us their credit card or maybe they don’t have the $100 right now, that’s fine. You can just bring it in in cash or credit but you’re welcome to do that 48 hours before the appointment because it’s a tentative appointment. Does that make sense?
Dave Aarons: Yes, yes it does, okay.
Matthew Beach: Okay.
Dave Aarons: So, I’m paying the $100 today and then I need to bring in another 125 on Friday?
Matthew Beach: Yes because it’s 225 an hour.
Dave Aarons: Got you.
Matthew Beach: Okay?
Dave Aarons: Okay, yeah that sounds fine.
Matthew Beach: All right, great.
Dave Aarons: Okay, good. That’s helpful. That really kind of nails down what those differences are and supports are. I appreciate you taking us right through it. For those that kind of come in, maybe you can talk about, now you’ve got the appointment booked, they’re coming in the office on a specific day, what are the first things you do when they first come in? I think you mentioned you have a packet you give them and then you’re actually, do you prep documents with them in that first hour? What are the things that you really make sure you accomplish and what’s their experience when they walk in?
Matthew Beach: I use that billable hour to really get information, analyze what’s going on, spot issues and help them develop a plan. When people come in here, to us it’s like our second nature, oh you need to file … if you get a divorce with kids, you need to file a parenting plan and financial affidavit and petition for dissolution. They have no idea. So, that’s what I use that part of the first hour for. It’s really helping them develop a plan.
In doing that, that sets it up for unbundled services or for retainer because then they can say, “Oh well, I don’t need you to draft the petition but I am going to need you to help me with the financials or this is a contempt issue for child custody. This is more complicated. I need you to draft this thing.” Then it also shows them that we know what we’re doing. Then later on, if they want to convert to retainer services when they understand how complicated it is in the first meeting, they’ll say right away I want to convert to retainer services. It just helps us too because we have a better understanding of the case.
Dave Aarons: Okay. How do you figure out what services you’re going to perform for the client and what are the types of options that you typically will provide on unbundled? Maybe you do specific documents, maybe [inaudible 00:40:37] appearance, can you talk about how those relationships have formed and what those types of arrangements look like?
Matthew Beach: Sure. It really depends on where they are in the case and what kind of clients you have. I have people that come in that haven’t filed anything, they don’t know what to do, they don’t know what they want to do. You need to explain to them what the options are. Sometimes they’ll say, “Well, I don’t want to do anything.” Or, “I’m going to get divorced or whatever.” It also depends on how savvy the client is. Some clients they could be bookkeepers or accountants. They don’t need somebody to help them with the financial disclosures. It really just depends on, it’s very case specific. Most of the time though, they want us to do some kind of hearing or mediation because they’ve already filed something and now all of a sudden they have a looming date and they don’t know what to do. That’s usually where we’re getting them is something’s already happened.
Dave Aarons: Okay. So when it’s unbundled, do you figure out in your head how many hours you think it’s going to take to do that one hearing or that’s a specific part of it and then just ask for that amount?
Matthew Beach: Oh yeah, yeah exactly. So, it really depends on the issue. You might have let’s say a contempt hearing. Well, what’s the issue? “Well, she won’t let me see my son.” “Okay, well how many witnesses do we have?” “It’s myself and here’s the text messages where she’s told me I can’t see my son, and that kind of thing.” Well, that’s a pretty simple hearing, right? That’s going to be a half-day hearing. So we’ll say, that’s going to be four hours and then we’ll figure four hours of prep time. So that’s eight hours times 225, is what we would quote him.
It’s funny. When you start with unbundled and maybe they’ll just have you do that and then you do a contempt hearing and you win it, then they’re like, “Okay, now I want you to modify custody. Here’s five grand.” It’s very case specific. I think it’s just from doing a lot of these cases and litigating a lot of them. We all know how long things take but you really have to look at where you have [inaudible 00:43:00] issues. Am I going to have to file for a subpoena [inaudible 00:43:03], am I going to have to get an expert. Usually, experts are outside of the purview on unbundled but sometimes you need one but you might need a child-family investigator. It just really depends on the case. We generally break it out into document preparations, mediation, original motions, and hearings. That’s pretty much … Most of the hearings are, when people come from unbundled, they’re usually not doing the full dog blown divorce, usually, it’s contempt or modification of parenting times, something like that.
Dave Aarons: Right. So for the hearings, you’re thinking about how much time it’s going to take to do that and then quoting that. Whereas document preparation, does your team ever quote just a flat rate and then you try to get it done quickly or is it always it’s going to take us this much time?
Matthew Beach: We never do a flat rate. We tried that but it really I think that … what I say to the contractors is, they get paid half of what they collect. So, they’re careful about not underquoting because we’ve gotten burned a few times but we’re learning. You just, after you get burned a few times, then you say, “Well, this is how much this is.” You don’t flat rate it. You’ll end up working for free if you do that I think.
Dave Aarons: Right sure. I think the only logical [inaudible 00:44:36] for some lawyers is they can charge maybe 750 to a client but then maybe by leveraging a paralegal or a support staff, they can do it and get that done in an hour of their own time and then leverage some time. But that-
Matthew Beach: You could but I find that our product gets diluted when you do that and I think that it’s harder to manage and find a good paralegal because then you’re almost paying them what you’re paying a contract lawyer, to find a really good one. They’re just not out there anymore. I get worried about that we’re probably getting diluted. I’ve had that happen too. I don’t know, I just think it’s better to have qualified people doing it, just doing it.
Dave Aarons: Well it makes sense because you’re already working in a contract relationship. It seems like if they’re going to be doing the work, you want to make sure it’s that contractor that you’re working with that’s actually doing the services for that client.
Matthew Beach: Right, right. That’s how our fee agreements are drafted. The fee agreements explain we have to abide by our escrow rules, the split between myself and the contractor, they have to explain what portion I’m getting and why. That has to be fully disclosed to the client.
Dave Aarons: Yep. Once you establish the scope of the service that you’re going to be providing to that client or the contractor does, then its detail in the limit of scope agreement, they basically put together an agreement that says, “We’re doing these services and then you’re doing or we’re not doing these services.” Basically, it just makes express what that looks like.
Matthew Beach: Yeah. Our fee agreements for the unbundled actually have different paragraphs to initial. Like for example, there’ll be one paragraph that we’re only doing documents and we’re going to do the following documents. We have the client and the lawyer initial in that section. What we’re going to do in this hearing and then we also beside the section have a lawyer and a client write in and hand-write the negotiated price. So it’s very clear there was a meeting of the minds about the scope and what it’s limited to. Also, the pleadings in Colorado have to reflect limited scope representation or unbundled or discrete-type services.
When we file a pleading or when we do an entry, it says we’re only doing it for this purpose and then we have another since completion we have to file. So that it’s all very clear. Then if we want to expand the scope in six months, five months or whatever and say, “Hey, we’ve done this but now we’re also going to do this discreet task. We just executed, we’re in agreement and file a different scope of completing.”
Dave Aarons: How was the environment, the legal environment in the Denver area, with the judges you deal with? Do you ever run into challenges with them saying, being not accepting or confused about why you do that or is that something that’s pretty widely accepted in Colorado?
Matthew Beach: Yes, yes some of them are. Procedurally, we personally filed ina pleading and we say it really when we arrive just to remind them, “Hey judge. This is a limited scope.” There receptive to it because 67% of the litigates in Colorado in domestic cases are pro se, which is terrifying. I won’t say terrifying but it’s judges, don’t like it.
Dave Aarons: It’s a complete shift from what it was 10 years ago. 10 years ago it was more like 67% have an attorney representing themselves and now it’s 67% are representing themselves. So, it’s been a complete shift in the market and that’s-
Matthew Beach: Well, I think that people are asking for $20,000 retainers. I don’t have, I’m an attorney, if I get divorced, I don’t have a $20,000 retainer, that’s crazy. For them to do what? Have their paralegals bill a bunch of fluff? We offer services. We get people results and we’re lean and we can do that. I don’t know, I think that’s the important part of it too.
Dave Aarons: Yeah, I would assume the clients appreciate the fact that you’re willing and able to offer these types of lower starting point options than maybe perhaps … on that role play call, some of them probably said, “Well yeah, I’ve talked to so and so attorney, and they wanted about $3,500 or $5,000 to get started.” Then you’ll offer something that can really, is more closely fit to their budget. Even as you said before, what percentage of the clients when you start out unbundled then eventually transition to going, “Hey, I’m a little over my head with this. You guys structure my documents but now it looks like it’s going to get contested. Let’s then transition over to doing more [inaudible 00:49:04] from there.”
Matthew Beach: From the get-go, they come in the door, about 33% goes to the retainer and then I think probably another 20% after that. So, they do make that transition.
Dave Aarons: Right. Yeah absolutely. For folks that are getting quoted these high rates to be able to work with an attorney, especially from a lead generation model, the clients don’t really know who you are yet they’re getting a chance to work with you so the easier you can make it for them to get an opportunity to sit down and get some work done and have a fee that they can afford to get started with, the more likely they are now to feel comfortable with you and be able to continue providing, working with you from there because it’s so much easier for them to actually get started initially.
Matthew Beach: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-, absolutely.
Dave Aarons: Then so maybe the last thing today and then we can wrap up the call, just over the last couple of years doing lead calls, is there anything else that you found is, either through mistakes you’ve made or something that you’ve developed over the years other than obviously the deposit really helped a lot, but just core strategy for the initial call or offering those options that have really, really helped you or you’ve just had to learn to implement just from a matter of experience?
Matthew Beach: Don’t be afraid to say no. There are going to be people that they just want to get free advice and I feel them out pretty quickly. I will give people some good information but once they start cherry-picking, I’ll say, “Hey, I need you to sign up or we’re going to hang up.” Also, there are times that it’s going to be slow. We had a slow month last month. Within the last two months or the last two weeks, we’ve just been hammered with new intakes. So, that’s just part of the ebb and flow of lead generation. Then to me, there’s always a time, it seems to be after Christmas, New Years, where people aren’t spending money on anything. Don’t take clients that don’t have any money then because you think you need clients because then you end up working for free. Try and plan for that well in time. That’s important.
I just think, I always try to be disciplined about the time I make the calls and I always I’m thinking … As human beings, we have up days and down days. Some days we’re really good and the flows happen and everybody you talk to wants to come in and other days you’re not. I always just try to keep that in perspective and just kind of get back on the horse if I didn’t have a good day for leads other than that day I’ll have a great day for leads. So, there’s a certain psychology to that. I think you could just keep working and you’ll get the clients. Like I said, I transitioned out of doing any family law and now I’m basically just administering and making the calls and then I’m able to work on more PI cases. So that’s pretty good for me.
Dave Aarons: Are there days when you just work from home and do the calls or are you always in the office? I would assume if you’re doing the calls, that you can work from wherever right?
Matthew Beach: Oh yeah, I’m all over the place. I have to have a terminal because I do the conflict check and then I have to run the credit card. Also, I do feel more in the zone when I’m at my desk but I do field calls from home sometimes. It just depends on what’s going on. That’s definitely freed up a lot more time with me and the family, which is always good.
Dave Aarons: Yeah and especially I think what you said about the ebbs and flows. There’s going to be down days and there’s going to be up days, it’s really important. One of the things that used to help me when I was on the phone for a legal company for quite a number of years was actually tracking the numbers on a spreadsheet. I think after a while and maybe you’ve kind of gotten clearer on this because you’ve done this long enough, that there really is a law of averages. It’s a ratio that appears. If there’s going to be a certain number of clients you talk to, you do this process with, that’s one of the things about lead generation that’s you can count on is that it’s very consistent in many ways.
There are the ups and downs but as many as there are downs and you’re going to … once you know what those law of averages are, when you know what those ratios appear, you can start to have faith to know that if you just had 10 clients and you talked to that didn’t enroll, there’s a really good chance, in fact, an inevitability that the next batch you’re going to get a lot more.
Matthew Beach: Oh yeah and that’s what I’m saying. Just last June was really slow. But then in the last week, I’ve had I think 6/10 in the last week have gone full retainer, just like that. So I completely agree with that. You just have to keep that perspective. For me, the proof is, I’m coming into second year here and I’m making money. I’ve been making money since I started doing this and that to me is the proof right there.
Dave Aarons: Yeah. On the flip side, even when things are going really well, it’s just to have the foresight to know that sometimes you’re in the summer and sometimes it’s the winter and things kind of go in seasons and so forth. So you’ve got to remember to keep some of the cash in storage for those days that they’re never going to come when there are down times as well.
Matthew Beach: One more thing I do want to add Dave. I had a lawyer that things didn’t work out with so great last year and they made some mistakes and I had to let them go. I actually let them go with some unbundled clients. I think there’s a fear when you’re going at this especially in a law firm, there’s this paranoia about, well, who’s going to split with the clients because you can’t, there’s no such thing as a no-compete clause because a client gets to choose the lawyer. You can’t say, you can’t have that client if the client wants the person, they get the person. The cool thing about unbundled is, there’s always new clients coming in. So you could let somebody go with 20 clients and so what because you’re going to have 20 more clients in another month. So that’s the other nice thing about the unbundled representation. You’re not losing an arm if you lose a contractor.
Dave Aarons: Yep, that can give you the confidence to bring on those contractors in areas that hardly cover in or you just have so much workload that you’re getting stressed out. Maybe you might be afraid to make that next extra step of bringing someone on. Knowing that there’s that consistent business can really give you the confidence to make that next step to expand the firm or move into a new region, whatever it takes.
Matthew Beach: You can’t have a no-compete clause. What you can say is that you can retain an equitable interest in the money that they’re collecting to pay for the overhead and the leads. So, that gives them an incentive to stay around and not rip you off and take the clients. Then, you can say, “Well, then we have a fee dispute.” The rule in Colorado and I’m sure as it is in most places if you have a fee dispute with another attorney, they don’t get the money. Someone has to decide that, usually a judge or an arbitrator. So, it gives them an incentive not to just run out the door with your clients.
Dave Aarons: Right, all right. Hey, Matt, this has been just a great call. I really appreciate just your willingness to get into the specifics on what’s been happening. It’s just really helpful to hear it and to break it down. Our team is going to kind of put some of this into writing so that we can share it with lawyers that either is having the challenge of a no-show, which this can really turn around or just starting to really get clear on what is the specific process that we can start utilizing. Obviously, it’s been working really, really well for you and we couldn’t be happier. On the feedback rate for the clients and the work you’re doing for them, with the way this is going, so I really appreciate what you guys are doing and thank you so much for taking the time today to explain how it is you’ve been doing it as well.
Matthew Beach: Great and I’ll give you a call later. You take care.
Dave Aarons: Okay Matt, I appreciate all the time. For everyone else that’s listening, we appreciate you for taking part in the podcast and we’ll see you all in the next episode. Thanks so much.
For more information about how our lead generation services can help you grow your practice, visit our website at www.unbundledattorney.com. If you’re enjoying this podcast, please be sure to subscribe to get each new episode as soon as it’s available and leave us a rating and review on iTunes. Once again, thanks for listening.
What did you think of the interview? Do you have any questions or comments for Dave Aarons or for our guest Matthew Beach?
Leave your comments or questions below and we’ll ask them to respond to you directly!
Episode 11: Mastering the Consultation: The Sales Strategy that Generated $250k from Unbundled Leads in a Single Year
In this episode we interview provider attorney, Matthew Beach, who built a thriving practice and generated over $250k in revenue last year from the Unbundled Attorney leads he received alone. Matt shares details of the process he uses to convert 50% of his leads into paying clients. Matt has an impressive strategy that completely eliminates no show appointments, and he explains how to leverage valuable time through the use of contracted attorneys.
- How Matt generated $250k in his first year from unbundled leads alone; this year he is doing the same amount of income and not having to litigate any cases himself
- Matt’s method via a walk-through and then live role-playing with the exact words Matt uses on initial calls to Unbundled leads and how he is able to convert 50% of those leads into paying clients
- How his simple strategy completely eliminates "no show" appointments from your practice
- The benefits from clearly explaining the distinction between a free consultation and a "client intake and strategy session,” and how to share that difference in value with your leads
- How to leverage your time through the use of contracted attorneys
- Best practices for creating limited scope retainer agreements
- And much more
If you are enjoying this podcast, be sure to subscribe and receive each new episode as it is published.
For more information about Unbundled Attorney and how our Lead Generation services help grow your practice, visit: https://www.unbundledattorney.com?t=podcast