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Written Schedule of Services and Fees Multiplies Credibility, Increases Client Comfort

How do you present fees in a way that emphasizes the value of your services and takes the spotlight off the price? If you’re a student of sales and marketing, you’ve probably read about the importance of completing your sales pitch and not revealing the price until the end. But, if you’re the person who asks the price, you know how annoyed you get when the vendor won’t disclose it.
Instead, he wants to sit down with you in your office and go page by page through his entire presentation. Then, when he finally reaches the end of this marathon, he will reveal the magic numbers. And he knows that’s the right way to do it because he learned it at “Friendly Bob’s School of High Pressure Selling” where the motto is “Stay Until They Pay.”
Here’s where salespeople miss the boat: By not disclosing the price, they arouse your suspicion, increase your skepticism, undermine their credibility—and, in general, irritate the heck out of you. And when salespeople finally do reveal the price, their previous stonewalling has built such a barrier that you don’t want to do business with them at any price.
When you follow the education-based marketing model, you never hesitate to disclose price. And one of the most effective ways to disclose fees is on a written schedule of services and fees. This is a helpful document because you can use it in so many ways, including (1) as a handout during in-person meetings, (2) as a handout at seminars, (3) as part of your website, and (4) as a document you can email to prospects.
On this written schedule, you list the service you provide and then break down the service into all its sub-parts. This shows your prospect value. Then you show in writing what your prospect pays for the service. By not concealing the price, your prospect sees that you have nothing to hide and that you’re not bashful about your fees. When you balance all the things you do against the fee you charge, you present your fee in the most favorable light. And—possibly for the first time —your prospect has a visual and detailed understanding of the in-depth services you provide when he hires your services.
Here are three models you can use to create your written schedule of services and fees.

Business Services If you offer a variety of services, but not necessarily at any one time, you can offer a buffet: Title: (Your Name’s) Business Related Legal Services As your business lawyer, I offer the following services or offer to handle the following matters for you:

  1. Selection of new business entity, including corporations, limited liability companies, general and limited partnerships
  2. Partnership agreements
  3. Shareholder agreements
  4. Business contracts and agreements
  5. Business-related mediation and litigation
  6. Shareholder disputes
  7. Contract negotiations
  8. (And so on)

When possible, put a fixed fee next to the documents. If you can’t, then put a typical fee range next to the documents. If one type of business might pay one price, but another type might pay a different price (for my example, I’ll use small and large businesses), then say so. For small businesses, the fee is usually between $wwww and $xxxx. For large businesses, the fee is often between $yyyy and $zzzz. (Or create two forms, one you use for small businesses and the other for large businesses.)
If you cannot disclose fees or fee ranges, then state your hourly rate. This really doesn’t answer much unless your prospect knows how long you need to complete a task, which most don’t. Then, after you disclose your hourly rate, offer to quote exact fees or fee ranges when your prospect describes his situation.
The point is to show prospects your willingness to openly and honestly disclose and discuss fees—without boxing yourself into fees where you need flexibility.

Estate Planning If you offer an asset protection and estate planning portfolio, you no doubt have a list of subjects you discuss—and documents you prepare—as part of your package. Here’s how to start your schedule of services and fees. Title your page: (Your Name’s) Estate Planning Portfolio When you ask me to prepare your asset protection and estate plan, you’ll receive ...

  1. Living trust document
  2. Powers of attorney
  3. Living will
  4. Pourover will
  5. Certificate of trust
  6. (And so on)

I’ve seen lawyers list as many as 27 documents the client receives when he hires the lawyer to prepare his estate plan. You want the detailed list to include everything you do, so when the client reaches the bottom of the page and sees your fee, it will look modest when compared with the staggering amount of work you perform and documents you prepare.

Personal Injury If you offer to settle accident claims, provide your prospect with the list of services you perform. Title your page: (Your Name’s) Accident and Injury Services When you ask me to represent you for your injury claim, I will provide these services:

  1. Help you find a doctor who will wait for payment
  2. Help you secure a rental car until your car is fixed
  3. Order and review police reports
  4. Hire an investigator to take photographs and interview witnesses
  5. Review witness statements
  6. Investigate the accident scene
  7. Compile your medical bills
  8. (And so on)

Include everything you can think of because you really do provide all these services for your clients. It’s about time clients appreciate how hard you work to settle their injury claim. Some injured victims think all you do is write a letter and collect one third of the settlement amount.
When you list everything you do, your fee at the bottom of the page looks small compared with the lengthy list of services you provide. When you meet with your prospect to discuss his case, use this new sheet to walk your prospect through the services you offer. As you point to and explain each service, you help assure that your prospect (1) understands what you do, and (2) appreciates the skills necessary to provide these services.
On the same page, after your list, feature special aspects of your services. These are more things you offer that set you apart from other attorneys. Also, these special services may be your competitive advantages. Here are a few samples:

Free Phone Consultations. Write two or three sentences inviting your prospect or client to call you any time he has a question or problem. Questions often lead to work that you can perform on your client’s behalf.

Peace of Mind Meetings. Often, estate planners offer to meet with family members without charge after the death of someone for whom the lawyer has written an estate plan. Write two or three sentences pointing out how important this is at this difficult time.

Fee Guarantee for a Limited Time. Some attorneys state that the fees quoted on this sheet are guaranteed for 60 days from the date prospects receive this document or attend your seminar. After 60 days, simply invite prospects to call their office to see whether these fees are current. This is done to remind prospects that fees may increase and to encourage them to act while these fees are in effect.

Costs. List things that might be added to your fees. State costs in a positive way and make sure you include everything that might come up. Also, as an added competitive advantage, include things other lawyers might charge for that you have included in the fee at no added charge, such as photocopies or other incidentals.

Make sure you write everything in plain English and format it on the page with relatively large type that is easy to read. Prospects grow suspicious if they find a document hard to read or understand. Clear writing that’s easy to read increases your credibility.
I usually create written schedules of services and fees on legal size paper (8.5" x 14"). This implies that you offer so many services that you simply can’t get them all on a regular size sheet. Also, the larger page looks more important and draws the reader’s attention.
If you offer different services for different audiences, you can create a service and fee schedule for each audience.
When you hand prospects your written schedule of services and fees, they feel more comfortable because they believe they can rely on what they see. In addition, they have everything in writing in case their memories fade. And last, you’re happier because you have reduced the risk of a fee misunderstanding because everything is right there in black and white.
Plus, this written schedule has a pre-emptive value. Even if competing lawyers offer the same services, prospects and clients often don’t know this unless the competing lawyer publishes a schedule of services and fees. With this document, you can effectively display what you offer—and raise questions about what other lawyers might offer—simply by handing this document to prospects and clients.
This written schedule of services and fees is a terrific marketing tool. I’ve used them with lawyers for 20 years with very positive results. And, as a general rule, people trust what they see in writing more than what they hear, so this document increases your credibility.
Bottom Line: In most cases, when prospects see how much they receive from you in value, they are far less concerned about how much they pay. In this way, you take the spotlight off price and put it where it belongs, on the value you offer your clients. Till next time, I wish you the best of everything!

Trey Ryder

Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for lawyers. He offers three free articles by e-mail: 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss, and 13 Marketing Misconceptions That Cost Lawyers a Fortune. To receive these articles, send your name and e-mail address to trey@treyryder.com and ask for his free packet of marketing articles.

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Filed Under: Featured StoriesPersonal Development

About the Author: Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for lawyers. He offers three free articles by e-mail: 11 Brochure Mistakes Lawyers Make, Marketing Moves Most Lawyers Miss, and 13 Marketing Misconceptions That Cost Lawyers a Fortune. To receive these articles, send your name and e-mail address to trey@treyryder.com and ask for his free packet of marketing articles.

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