6 Ways Your Law Firm Intake Department Hurts Your Bottom Line

6 Ways Your Law Firm Intake Department Hurts Your Bottom Line

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Why is your law firm not generating enough profits? Many law firms, from small to global sized multi-office giants, spend a small fortune in human capital and money on their marketing programs. They have lead generation funnels set up to increase sales utilizing digital advertising, pay-per-click advertising, print advertising, television advertising, search engine optimization programs, free information books, and countless other pieces of collateral aimed at attracting new clients. But in many cases, the law firm intake department is not being given the same careful consideration as the marketing program.

All of the case results and feel good stories are being published on the firm’s blog. Potential clients are finding you and they are coming to your website, blog, landing pages, and office. The firm is receiving a growing number of phone contacts and digital inquiries. The traffic is there and all analytics indicate that your increased contacts should yield increased conversions. . . .But the results from marketing, the increased inquires and contacts to the firm, are not translating to bottom line profit increases.

What is wrong with my marketing program and why is it not producing higher profits for my firm?

In many cases, nothing is wrong with your marketing program. You have invested heavily in your marketing program and it is producing targeted contacts. Yet many businesses don’t understand the fundamental differences between marketing and sales. And in many instances, they don’t realize the vital role a law firm intake department plays in the sales process.

According to Ken Cook founder, managing partner of Peer to Peer Advisors many businesses make the mistake of viewing their marketing and sales as synonymous activities yet there is a significant difference between them.

“Marketing activities are the strategies and analyses conducted to 1) create value for customers, 2) create a differentiated and valued market position for the company, and 3) develop opportunities for relationships with prospects who would value what is offered.”

Have you made the mistake of thinking that marketing is simply selling? Do you understand who or what department is responsible for selling your law firm services? Before answering those questions let’s examine Ken Cook’s definition of Sales:

“Sales are the one-to-one interactions that evolve into strong relationships. In the context of these relationships, selling entails presenting the company, products, and services, and closing the business.”

With these definitions in mind, if your marketing efforts are producing qualified leads but you are not increasing your bottom line profits then something is amiss in the sales process.

In many instances our experiences have lead us to pinpoint the source of the problem: the law firm Intake department, the law firm Intake department mandate, the intake processes, and the intake personnel tasked with selling your firm’s services to prospective clients.

Examining Law Firm Intake Department and Intake Processes

Prioritize! Your goal should be to place as much importance on your law firm Intake department, the  mandate and intake processes as you do on your marketing program. If your firm is investing thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars on a marketing program, what is being invested in your law firm Intake Department? Although your firm’s reputation may be the deciding factor for many new contacts to convert to new clients, not all of your potential leads will be choosing your firm due to reputation.

In a majority of instances the Intake Department, like it or not, is your sales department. With that idea in mind, do you have processes in place for intake personnel to follow? If those processes include a script or other tactics is there also a method in which important data is captured for analysis?

6 Ways Your Law Firm Intake Department Hurts Your Bottom Line

The vast majority of law firms, regardless of their level of sophistication in other processes, still rely upon paper and not automation software when processing new prospective clients through their system. The following are six ways your Intake department is hurting your profits when prospective clients contact the firm through email, telephone, or chat services:

  • No step by step script of questions that thoroughly investigates each prospective client contact
  • Handwritten paper contact forms hastily filled out by understaffed or under qualified Intake personnel
  • Forced multiple-duplicate recording of data by individual staff which leads to input errors, data omission, illegible-indecipherable handwritten input nobody else can read
  • No central hub for all intake information. No real-time rapid sharing or visibility of the pipeline of potential clients’ data within the intake department and all other authorized parties
  • No historical analytical data showing the number of cases entering the pipeline, ability to determine average number of leads per month, what channel the leads originate from, or what the pending status is of any particular lead at any time in the pipeline
  • Losing loose paper tablets or small sticky notes containing client contact information resulting in failed follow up calls or follow up emails

Advantages of Intake Automation Software and New Processes

If your law firm is still in the paper age and you are experiencing lost profits due to antiquated processes, the following reasons should help you justify investing in a intake management software product.

Measurable and Historical Data Statistics: The only way your law firm can gain the intelligence it takes to understand their intake performance is by analyzing the data you should be collecting. Can you answer the following questions?

  • What marketing channel(s) are your leads originating?
  • Are leads coming from more than one channel before contacting your firm?
  • What is your Intake closing rate where personnel are converting leads to new clients?
  • What is the acquisition cost in advertising for converting a new lead into a paying client?

8 Ways Automated Intake Processing Boosts Your Bottom Line

Creating an intake process that is automated should be the number one priority. Paper records of your precious client contacts are outdated and a costly method of attempting to convert leads to paying clients.

The next step in automation is to choose the right intake management software that suits your firm. Law firms should perform a careful due diligence on multiple software applications before making a buying decision. Some of the features and advantages you may wish to research would include:

  • Web-based Software: the advantage is the ability for employees, both in office and remote, to access the system
  • Compatibility and Integration: look for software that allows your current applications to integrate with the new intake processing software. Also consider the compatibility of your intake software with any new applications you wish to download in the future. Compatibility with your new software should allow information to be shared between departments so that the intake process is a transparent system
  • Ease of Use and Customization: if the new intake software is not intuitive, if it is difficult to learn, and/or time consuming beyond reason, do not purchase that particular package. Training your Intake personnel is a major consideration before making your final purchase. Just as important is customization. Customization allows your firm to create vetting criteria that fits the type of client you are looking for, the questions that need to be asked by intake, and the method intake will input those answers.
  • Automated Notifications: one of the most vital issues that can result in a multitude of problems in Intake departments is the lack of communication or transparency between Intake and the rest of the firm. Trying to keep pace and track of all of the steps intake must perform becomes simpler with the proper automated notifications. This feature also allows management the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the process and their Intake personnel on an ongoing basis
  • Store Contacts: an individual page for each contact where all the details of your Intake department call, email, or live chat can be recorded
  • Notes: a feature which allows intake to record notes from the original contact throughout the intake sales process. This provides a historical, transparent, record for authorized personnel within the firm to evaluate
  • Scheduling: a feature that allows intake personnel to assign tasks as well as future reminders which keep each prospective client’s record organized and moving through the intake (sales) process
  • Lead Origination: a benefit of automated intake processing is being able to identify where (marketing channel) each prospective contact came from and if the prospect made their decision based on their experience with your firm within one or multiple marketing channels

The Goal

Until your law firm organizes the Intake department, automates the intake process, collects vital contact data, and analyzes the data in a meaningful method your firm will continue to lose new prospective clients. Begin building a historical record of your sales efforts by collecting intake data that drives intelligence on which marketing channels your firm should and should not be investing. Until this becomes a reality, your marketing dollars will generate leads but your sales effectiveness and efficiency will remain unclear.

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