Here is a great post from the Solo Practice University about whether to offer a free initial consultation to clients. Clearly attorneys struggle with this for several reasons:
- It can attract tirekickers
- Take lots of time
- You are giving it away for free
The author transitioned from a free approach to one where she charged a fee but if the client purchased a package, they received a credit for that first hour. This seems smart in that it provides an incentive for folks to sign up for services but also insures another revenue stream. This model may work better for some attorneys in certain practice areas and locations.
Use your Website as a Qualifier:
Whatever approach you take with initial consultations, use your website to make sure your clients have the appropriate expectations, documentation and done some preparation before they come to your office. You can serve this up as a PDF that they can print out and bring with them as a checklist to the meeting.
Don’t just give away your services without determining whether an “offer” is bringing you the business you want at the price that is profitable to your practice. If free consultations provides you with volume and you convert a high number, great. If you find that they don’t convert at a profitable rate and they require a great deal of time and energy (divorce situations for example?) then maybe you need to re-think your approach