July 30, 2012 Blog by: Jennifer Price, Chief Operating Officer, American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys+
Tagged with: Consultations • Estate Planning • Estate Planning Education • Fees • Jennifer Price • law firm practice management • Law Firm Systems • Legal Education • legal marketing • Practice Building Strategy • Quality • Quote • Services
Sometimes during our coaching calls with attorneys, it comes up that the fees collected for the services provided are too low. Typically, when you’re setting fees, are you considering the value of your advice, the experience, the time investment to produce the quality of services and peace of mind clients need…. along with the liability and overhead?
Then we look at the math: overall revenue divided by the number of estate planning “transactions” (for lack of a better word). You do want to make sure that the hours it takes to produce the type of quality work you’re providing along with the liability you’re taking on, combined with the confidence that you want clients to have in you, is incorporated into your fees. You want to look at your “average transaction” amount regularly and understand what is making it fluctuate. You may be offering more trust administration as the years go by, so your fee appears to be averaging higher – causing you to overlook your actual fee for each type of service you’re offering. Average the fees in each category of revenue. If you haven’t changed your fees recently and you see numbers jumping around – you may be guilty of quoting different fees for the same services as different clients come in. Make sure that your fees are the same each time. It’s a common problem to be in front of a client and not feel the ability to quote a specific fee, so you quote some made-up fee that in your own mind will be something the client can say yes to.
It’s worthwhile to really master your consultations so the results are completely consistent. It creates the type of situation that allows you to forecast revenue.
Keep in mind that your fees say a lot about you! If you’re the cheapest guy in town, people will think of you that way. Your fees make a statement in some ways, but they also keep your doors open. They provide for your family. In my conversations with attorneys about why their fees aren’t higher, the answers can be all over the board but generally come down to one common thing.
The attorney somehow doesn’t believe they’re worth a higher fee.
The excuses used before the attorney gets down to the real reason are often along the lines of, “The client won’t pay that,” “I’ll be the highest priced attorney in town,” “I’m just not comfortable quoting that fee.”
The thing is, if you GET comfortable quoting a fee that you’re worth, you can quote that fee just fine. And the truth is, that quoting a higher fee will not change the percentage of retention that you have a habit of achieving. Take a close look at the real reason your fees may not be as healthy as they should be and get those reasons out for a closer look. We do encourage a review of fees and services offered at least annually. Email me directly if you have questions or post your comments on the blog for a discussion if you like!
Director, Member Services, Marketing & Recruiting
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128