Webinar: How to Build a Preeminent Law Firm with Ken Hardison and Alex Valencia

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“Under Promise and Over Deliver”

In this webinar you will learn the secrets as to how Ken Hardison built one of the largest PI firms in North Carolina. You will also learn:

During this Free Webinar with legal marketing authority Ken Hardison, you’ll discover:

  1. You’ll discover how a powerful Unique Selling Propostion can transform your law firm.
  2. You’ll discover the 3 phases of marketing that your law firm MUST consider in your marketing strategy.
  3. You’ll discover the importance of the Doctrine of Preeminence and why it’s critical to your law firm’s success.
  4. You’ll discover the key to hiring the right people.
  5. You’ll discover the 3 Most Cost Effective Marketing Tactics that Ken presently uses at his law firm.

I’ve worked with Ken for several years now and this book is a must read. We will show you how to get your free copy of the book during the webinar.



Alex Valencia: Good afternoon and thank you all for showing up to our webinar, how to build the preemptive law firm in your market.  Just want to make sure that we have all technical difficulties out of the way, so can everyone hear me, if you can’t, please write something in the chat box.  I’m excited about our show today.  We have Ken Hardison who is a great friend of mine, also a mentor.  So I’ll tell you a little bit more about him and I’m excited to ask him questions about his book who was going off the shelves at lawyernomics about a month ago when we were there.  So please feel free to ask any questions.  I think we want to make this as interactive as possible.  I’ll ask my questions and then I’m sure Ken is going to leave sometime for questions on his end, but in the meantime, if you can hear me, Ken, if you want to test to make sure they can hear you too, that would be great.

Ken Hardison: Testing one, two, three.  Testing.  Can you hear me?

Alex Valencia: Yeah.  I can hear you.

Ken Hardison: Testing.  There it is.

Alex Valencia: Yeah.  I can hear you.  I think we’re good.  We’re still waiting for a couple of people that have come through, sounds great on their end, thank you so much for responding.  So, okay so, let me just make an introduction if some of you do not know Ken Hardison.  Ken Hardison practiced injury and disability law for over 32 years and built one of the largest personal injury law firms in the State of North Carolina.  You can see more about him on www.lawyernc.com.  And what he did to help build his law firm.  In addition, Ken also has a small Social Security firm called Carolina Disability Lawyers at Myrtle Beach.  Ken attributes this success to his persistence and willingness to try new things, especially in marketing.  I’ve been following Ken for years and I know he’s great at marketing, marketing his law firm, marketing PILMMA.  He does a great job with that.

So Ken has proven his success with his firm and in 2007, he decided to share his knowledge with other lawyers.  This eventually led to the creation of PILMMA, which is the Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing and Management Association and that, we might touch on a little further but if you haven’t registered yet, the conference is starting in mid-July in Fort Worth, Texas.  So PILMMA is the only legal marketing and Management Association, exclusively for injury and disability lawyers.  Ken is a native of Dunn, North Carolina and he graduated in Cum Laude from Campbell University in 79 and from Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law in 1982.  Ken was chosen as Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle Diamond Coaching Contest Winner for 2010 and that’s a big deal.  I don’t know if you follow Glazer-Kennedy, but it’s something you should definitely look into.

Ken’s cutting-edge submission focused on the promotion of PILMMA’s marketing and Management Summits, his breakthrough cost free marketing technique promoting PILMMA’s Fall 2010 Summit at the Wynn in Las Vegas, more than doubled the Summit’s attendance that year.  And he is also author of the book we’re going to be talking today about, which I’m super excited about Under Promise and Over Deliver and numerous articles in both marketing and managing injury and disability practices, where it doesn’t stop there.  You can go in to different law practices, the marketing and management techniques that can help you with virtually any business, but most importantly any type of law firm.  His most recent book on Systematic Marketing, How to Grow Your Firm without Losing Your Mind, is due out in July.

So make sure we look out for that, I’m sure we will have him on for an interview and it’s become Ken’s mission to teach lawyers how to market, manage and grow their practice and that’s exactly what he is going to do with PILMMA and now recently released lawpracticeadvisor.com, which he checked out.  So, Ken, I’m stoked to have you on.  You and I have done a lot together within the past few years, so I’m excited to continue that growth, but I’m sure the followers and our friends and clients that are on this webinar are super stoked to have you on and ask any questions that they might have.  So with that said, let’s go ahead and get started and tell me a little bit about the book, so they’d learn what they might find inside the book and then I will go in to my questions.  Well, I guess the lead-up question is what made you write the book, what’s the reason for writing this book?

Ken Hardison: Well, first of, I want to thank you and those that will stay with us, I’m going to offer this book for free, no shipping pr handling fees so stay up to the end to get that information.  There is no strings attached.  Let’s give them back.  So why I wrote this back? I’ve written several books, the big book kept saying, there’s got to be a secret sauce, there’s got to be something, what really gets you to this really build a large firm, successful firm and you always think about, just about marketing and that has got a large part of it, but it’s so much more, it’s — and I kind of get down to, you know what, how are the ways to try to under promise and over deliver to my clients, to my vendors, to my staff.

So that’s why I came up with the book and also talking about pre-eminent, I’ve had the pleasure — you’re talking about Glazer-Kennedy, I’ve mentor, my mentor is there in Kennedy who is a marketing genius, also Jay Abraham, who, if you don’t know, you should know, and he really preaches this pre-eminent stuff, which is everything you do is for the betterment of your customers, your clients, whether or not whoever is paying you the money, making the purchase or whatever.  And so, I thought about it and I thought about marketing and how you could break it down in the whole client service and just how you pick people to hire people and how do you set those and different things like that.  So just kind of laying it all out in this book, I mean, is it all there in the — that a big part of it is and it’s kind of in the reason, I tell a lot of stories, people like stories, so I guess I’m left some real left stories of things, really good things, there are some really bad things that I faced some mistakes, I made to, so I guess what I did it.

Alex Valencia: Excellent.  Do you want to tell us a little bit more about the book before I jump in on all my questions about it?

Ken Hardison: I think it’s a good read, it’s about 160 pages, it’s pretty easy reading, I’ve got to book it now in the separate — I’ve actually had a lot of us marketing in to three phases, before representation, during representation and after representation, we will talk about that later.  But yeah, basically yeah.

Alex Valencia: So in the book, you talk about working on your business versus in your business, can you break that down and explain that further?

Ken Hardison: Okay.  It’s 1996, I read a book called E-Myth — E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber and it pretty much, they had nothing, where they had certain to do marketing, but it really had more to do with management and systems and it can’t change my life and it’s all about working on your business, which means working on your law firm, not just in your law firm, because if you work in ADR weeks and you are making a really good money, but you’ve got no life, you really just go with that employee, but the last one that gets paid.

What I found was — is that the more time I spend working on my business, creating the systems, working on the marketing management, I’ve spent less hours and I was making more money.  Now, it’s not for everybody, if that’s all you want to do, just practice law and you know, then you probably either got faster by that, really you just need to go and work for somebody.  If you’ve got your own firm, unless you’ve got a partner that can play that role, you probably ought to be working for somebody else because you’re never going to, you just going to always be, you’re going to work 80 hours a week, in the last minute you get paid, and that’s not fun.

You know, so the key to it is to figure out how much your time is worth and we can do that by figuring out how much you make a year and dividing that by you know 40 hours, that should be what you work and then, unless it’s something you just love to do, you need to figure out how to outsource it if you can get it done cheaper.  You know, if you’re worth $150, $200 a hour, and you know if you’re doing — making coffees or doing stuff then it’s you could pay somebody $25 or $50 an hour, why are you doing it, unless you love to do it, now if it’s something you have a passion for, there are still some things out there like you can hire people to do, because I really enjoy doing certain things and so I do, but unless you just got pure joy from it, you know you need to think that way.

Alex Valencia: That’s right.  So you mentioned systems, why are systems so important?

Ken Hardison: If you only have any scalability or any growth and not be held hostage by your employees, you need systems, processes and procedures, tasks.  You know here is a deal, I always preach that — there was nobody here replaceable and the reason that it was is because I had processes and procedures for everything in the firm.  So if somebody just walked out or you know got mad with me or I got mad with them or whatever, don’t do their job, I can fire them, which gets to another same amount or way I guess philosophy is, I like to hire real slow, but I like to fire real fast and that’s not the way I was.

The first 12, 14 years, I was just the opposite, I hired really – well, I got to get somebody to refill this place, you know we got all this work to do and then when it came to firing somebody I always say, oh, I can’t afford to lose him, what I’m going to do, it will so long to train somebody, you know they got certain much intellectual properties, so much knowledge and that was just a terrible way to run a business.  And so, after reading that book, I pretty much just created, I got manuals on client service, I got manuals on how to handle a case from start to finish, I got processes on how to intakes all the way to opening files, closing files, we got checklist we use case management systems, that has individual tasks and they run reports and we can you know now you’re getting access you can have you know screens on your computer to — I mean desktop, where you get managed by that.

So, you know, and you still have to pick the human – but now, I like to manage by walking around and talking to people, seeing what they are doing but I can tell when the stuff is not running right by the reports, and then, you know, using benchmarks like I noted, when a guy, a person gets released from an accident that I want a demand send out in 30 days, so I get a report on that, and if it’s not, you know I want to know why, and if I got one person that is constantly is always, 10, 20, 30, 40 days behind and I got this other person who is just getting them out 28 days, I know I got a problem, it’s not the process, it’s the person, I didn’t train him right, or they just don’t have the ability and they got to get back to training, or we got to fire them what I call a new seat on the bus.

So it’s so, so important because you don’t want to be held hostage by someone, and that person, thinking having that person, their basket be moved because of another job, they could die, they could sick and that’s you know and then you got key personnel, and I always tell people, the key personnel like your office manager or your partner should have the contingency plan if something happens to them, you should already have it worked out in your head on what you’re going to do so that you’re not making major reactions.

So you know, but that’s why I think systems are so important because it’s going to make more efficient, you’re not going to hold them to your employees and your staff and I just think it makes you easier to manage when you got systems and benchmarks and everything, it’s just so much easier to measure and be more efficient.

Alex Valencia: Exactly, I agree.  What’s the USP?

Ken Hardison: Unique selling proposition and basically what that is, it’s what differentiates you from all the other lawyers or other businesses in your market because the nuance to most lawyers, people really don’t care about you, they want to know what’s in it for them and what I — the idea is to get into the people’s mind and figure out, ask for these two questions, why do I need a lawyer but better yet, why should I chose your firm over all of these other guys I see on TV, yellow pages, Facebook ads, why you? What makes you standout? What makes you unique that I should raise my hand and even check into for using you?

And it’s hard — and in this book, I actually go through and lawyers say, but that’s how we all do the same thing, well, we all do the same thing, but we might do it a little bit different, or add bonuses and it can be things — it can be a thing too, like what our firm really offer — we always offer books in a — we have — I don’t know if I have it around, I don’t think I do.  So we give away — we give away a book, how to — the ultimate guide to winning yourself security is build a case.  So it kind of stays in the set, there is nobody else in the market that has got a book.

Other thing I’ve done is like offer a 30 day flat service satisfaction guarantee, and tell you that, man I guarantee you we’re going to win the case, it means that, if they don’t like us or don’t like the way you’re handling the case, they can fire us and get the files for first 30 days, no term fees, no cost.  That’s easier to do with contingency firms I would agree but I think there is other ways you could it and do the same thing, because that’s what we call a risk reversal, because people when you know it’s like picking out a Doctor or Dentist or something that for a important thing you want, if you never used that person before, you’re trying to figure out, is this the right fee, now I’m going to go and pay him a lot of money, and not be able to get out of it, I got to sign a contract, which at reality, anybody can get out of a lawyer’s contract, it’s not important but we can caught on a merit but I see it, and good luck with that, I’ve done that over the years is pain in the butt.

So you know it kind of takes — what happens is, you get a lot of the fence setters that you were thinking about hiring but wasn’t quite sure, and making them just say, what I’ve got to lose and I do it for PILMMA we offer them memberships you know all from a money back guarantee because I want them to have value, I want — I practice the preeminent stuff, remember I said, for the betterment of my clients, for the betterment of my members and if I’m not giving ten times the value of what I’m charging then you probably should be – probably shouldn’t, I shouldn’t be able to charge you.

And that’s a different way of thinking but I think that is a key to my success is, I do over deliver and I just think it’s the way to do business, its worked for me all these years, and that’s why I think it’s important and I know I’ve kind of dived rest off to USP but in the book, I actually tell you, I got some exercise that you can get through to actually create your own USP, because most lawyers don’t, they say the same thing as everybody else, free consultation, we care, we are tough, all the kind of stuff that people hear over and over, they’ll say the same.

So you got to pop out with something that differentiates you, you know like, remember Domino’s Pizza before they become just Domino’s now, their big deal, how they got to the top of the ladder wasn’t because they had the best taste in pizza, you know Papa John’s has gone with that their natural ingredients that’s their USP but Domino’s was fresh popping hot pizzas in 30 minutes or less, we say they have to quit that too because of us lawyers, we sued a lot of people for it, but before we start to sue them that let’s set them aside from everybody else in the market and that was being — that’s what made them unique out of all the 10 million, that you want some every corner, you don’t take much, I mean what’s the cost.  You got a good buyer and got some ingredients.  He makes a pizza for about two bucks and sell it for 10.  I mean it’s a great margin business and there is a lot of competition.  And you think there is a lot of lawyers out there trying to get into the pizza business.  It’s a tough business.  So I cannot do something that was to set them apart and Papa John has got used to work for them and he knew that was important so he came out with a natural best tasting ingredients da, da, da and that’s what’s so, so important to have a USP in your business whatever it might be.

Alex Valencia: So touching on marking giants and like Domino’s and Papa John’s, in the book, earlier in the call you talked about the three phases of marketing.  Could you explain those phases a little further?

Ken Hardison: Yes, so I got thinking about it.  I mean if I was going to work then of course start talking about a while for marketing of any business, there is so many tactics, so many different things you could do.  I mean I think it’s all for money, we are doing 42 different things the market practiced and here I am probably doing 21 things.  So how do you keep them all in a categorized, systematized and so I kind of broke it down into the four representation.  This is all the stuff you do before representing, not TV, yellow pages, Facebook, ASCO, blogs, getting people’s attention, people meeting lawyers and get them to raise their hand.  So that’s what 100%, 99%, all the lawyers at market, that’s what they do.  If they market it at all, they all are working on that phase.

But then the next phase is once you get them into your office and this is where about I will say 50% of the lawyers forget about it.  They get a man and then they kind of — they did a job, but they are still not really marketing to these people and building what I call a relationship, and I call that lot of relationship marketing and doing the three minutes doctor and whatever thing I do like making sure with our firm, we always made sure that the client got contacted every 45 days and we had systems for that and we got a checklist and it worked off.  And we made that part of the deal for your quarterly bonuses.  If you didn’t have a 90% contact rate, you didn’t get your bonus no matter how much money your division or your lawyer produced.  If him and his staff didn’t 90%, 95% contact rate of contacts in your present clients on that 45 days then they didn’t get the bonus.  And we do spot checks to make sure that they want such, you say they did or didn’t.

The other things you can be doing is, you just give them really good and I will talk about in the book how to create client royalty because the cheapest marketing is if you can become their trusted legal advisor, then you don’t have to spend any more money trying to get this person to come back to you or to refer you somebody.  And there are some, I would say, we will call them about other thing.  I don’t do this, don’t bother me.  But I guess it’s the wrong way to go and I think that you want them to call you because number one you don’t – all of a sudden whole family into our case and say I don’t think you do this kind of stuff, so I will call this other guy. That’s a potential referral you missed and the theory is if you are considered their trusted legal advisor, if I got a legal problem, I will take the call, because they trust me.  If I can’t help them, I will send somebody who can and then by doing this, I create these restitutes for these lawyers and sending cases to and having systems built in where they will call and let them know I will sent a person or sent him a card or email like a firm and I did it, they get to know that I am helping them and then they are going in turn, not all of them, but 50% of them are going to send these cases because of the stuff that I did.  So all of that whole deal while you represent the person and actually represent them is very, very important.

And treatment, I’m not – I started and – I call it the grandma tales, but whereas my staff I tell them when they talk with somebody in the phone, client or whoever, put grandma in the vicinity and if you are not going to talk to your grandma like that then don’t talk to my clients like that.  I also believe that the way you treat your staff is the way your staff is going to treat your clients, so I try to treat my staff with — I will try to put grandma into that.  I am nice to them.  I mean I’ve got rules and I am stern, but I still try to treat them as professionals and manage them and I just read article about agreements not trying to manage the person.  You agree that this is your job and you got to have the deadlines and you got to have it and you agree that you are going to do that, yes.  And you want to know when they have broken their agreement, so we got to fix it and we got to figure out whether to fix it or they got to go.

So the last phase is after-representation.  This is where like 90% of lawyers lose it, they forget all about it.  So this is where you likely use newsletters, create kind of advisory boards, have past client appreciation days and still keep sending birthday cards, all these stuff because and I talk about it in my book, I came in here to Myrtle Beach Five years ago I sold my firm out and started to sell the firm back two years ago, but I when got now here I had plumbing problems. O called a plumber, I looked on line and got a few referrals, he came and did a great job and they gave me a fair price and I thank him and he gave me his business card and six months later I am having another problem, water goes out.  I can’t remember that guy’s name, I remember what he looked like, I remember the color of his truck, but I do not remember the name of his company and I tried, went online I just can’t remember.

So I got this other company, they came out, they did a great job, they gave me a reasonable price, but this guy is different.  He leaves me a little magnet and leaves it on the hot water heater and says if you have any problem call me 24/7, this is my number and in about two months later I got a newsletter from him and about his business, and his employees, things that were going on in his life and I get one about every three months, three or four months.  So about a year later I am having septic tank problems and I call him.  But I guess what I did, I remembered his name and I can’t find the newsletter, but I know he has got the magnet in here, I will go in there and get it.  So that guy, they are really good plumbers, they did a great job and they charged reasonable prices.  But the marketer – the guy that marketed to me after he finished my job is the guy that got my repeat business.  And I know he is a plumber, but it’s no different for a lawyer or any other type of business.  And so it make sense.  It make sense that you market to the people after the firm, I mean after they leave the firm.

Alex Valencia: Yeah, that makes complete sense and it’s definitely created by some – on the three marketing tips.  You touched a little bit on doctrine on preeminence.

Ken Hardison: I am on a webcam, I am sorry.

Alex Valencia: You mentioned a little bit on the doctrine of preeminence, what’s it so important?

Ken Hardison: Because – I mean, that’s what really is going to get you to business if you become the trusted legal advisor and that’s what’s going to get you the business forever.  It’s like I said before not the labor, I mean – and that’s the example.  You want them – they got a legal problem, they call you.

Alex Valencia: In your book, you talked about the ten tips of creating client loyalty, and it seems like you touched on that a little bit with some of your marketing tactics.  Are there any specifics on those ten tips that you might want to share?

Ken Hardison: I mean, they got a grandma test, that’s the golden rule for the way you want to be treated, and I don’t want to go into – I won’t give away the book at the end of this deal, so they can just read it, I mean – but it is stuff that’s kind of problem for you, not the one — since we are running out of time.

Alex Valencia: Okay, so we will move on.  You talk in the book and you and I have known each for years and I know this is trial, talk about surrounding yourself with the right people to achieve success.  Can you elaborate – I mean, obviously one of those is Dan Kennedy, J.  Abraham, any others you want to share or what you have gotten out of it?

Ken Hardison: Really what I mean by that is, everybody has got strengths and everybody has got weaknesses like am I really great out there, I am really not a great implementer.  I am a great leader, I am a so and so manager, when it gets to technology, I’m terrible.  So what I try to do is, instead of trying to make those weaknesses good and better, I am trying to leverage my strengths, I am really – I have a lot to do with trying new ideas and I get other people to implement them.  When it comes to technology I get an idea, but I don’t know how to get it done, so I got to give somebody that’s a lot smarter than I am and I don’t let my ego get in the way.  So I try to get people that are smarter than me in certain areas that I am probably weak in and play them and empower them and let them take it to the next level for me.  Of course for me managing it, so that’s the idea, it’s just not let your ego get in the way.

Alex Valencia: Excellent.  So we have a good handful of attorneys on staff and I know Levine talks about this all the time.  I think it’s important to learn about hiring the right people.  What’s the tip you could give us and it’s probably in bulk end, we are running out of time.  So what’s the quick tip you could give us on hiring the right people for your law firm?

Ken Hardison: Test them, and what I mean, you’ve got different tests out there, but test them and no matter what they tell you, test them.  Don’t go about it interview alone because some people are professional interviewers and they can tell you what you want to hear, they got to research you and then they know what’s your philosophy as your values.  And then they want to mirror that and circ up to you make and they are – I have been fooled before, so now I use these tests, I use J.  Henderson Real Talent Hiring, there is another guy that named John Bean, both of them are very good and I would say, when you get it down to two, three people and you can’t make it, do the test, that would be my number one deal.

Alex Valencia: J.  Henderson’s test?

Ken Hardison: Yes, I have been using it for about 12 years now.

Alex Valencia: I have taken that test myself.

Ken Hardison: I have too.

Alex Valencia: Yeah, it’s a great test.  We do a lot of testing for our staff and writers as well, which allows us to build the systems we have.  So before we go, three tips.  What are the three most cost effective marketing tactics that you presently use in your social security law firm or used in your last law firm that they could take away with and then I will tell everyone how to get a copy of the book and how to reach out to Ken.

Ken Hardison: Okay.  Number one would be newsletters.  Number two would be the books, because we put them out in doctors’ offices, we have had a promotion now that we have been using it, this is — I did one promotion, it cost me $200 and I got 130 request for the book and then I got a whole sequence from the campaign and I am getting chases with little amount of money.  And then the way upside, doing SCO and things like that.  So that’s like the top three.

Alex Valencia: Well, Ken, tell us, if you can see down your screen, it looks like you can go to www.UnderPromiseBook.com to get a copy of the book.  If you want to reach out to Ken personally, Ken, how can they reach you?

Ken Hardison: They can do at ken@pilmma.org and that’s ken@pilmma.org.

Alex Valencia: And then I am going to be sending a copy of the webinar and the link in an email in a couple of days, so you will be able to get that, so the information will be on there, but make sure you download the book, it’s awesome.  Ken, thank you again for attending and presenting on the We Do Web Content webinar series.  We look forward to having you again.  Again, if you have it registered or checked out PILMMA for the Fort Worth Summit coming up in July 15 through the 17th or 15 through the 18th.

Ken Hardison: 16th through the 18th.

Alex Valencia: 16th through the 18th check it out now.  Also make sure you check out new projects, Ken is working on lawpracticeadvisor.com, which is awesome resource for all types of law firms with marketing and management solutions, it’s probably the lowest cost, most effective program you could get on board now.  Make sure you check it out, there are going to be monthly modules of Ken doing management work, I mean, marketing work and Ken will end up doing management work.  So that’s www.  lawpracticeadvisor.com and again www.  pilmma.org.  Make sure you check those two out again.  Thank you all for attending.  Have a great week.  Let me know if you have any questions – I don’t see any questions come up now.  We will give you another minute or so, if not, we will go ahead and end the call.  And if you have any questions by email, please feel free to reach out to us, we are here to help.

Ken Hardison: Thank you so much for having me.

Alex Valencia: Yeah, thank you so much, Ken.  Have a great day, sir.

Ken Hardison: Thank you.


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