When it Comes to Growing Your Practice: Are You Following Through?

returning calls

When I was writing one of my recent blogs about connecting with immigration lawyers, there was one point I tried to include but ended up writing much more than I intended!

I realized this was a crucial point (and something I see happening a lot) and that it could easily be an entire blog post – and here we are!

The issue I’m referring to? Not following through.

What Do I Mean By ‘Follow Through’?

Let’s set the scene: you’ve decided to add immigration evaluations to your services and put the work in to upskill your professional knowledge and skills in this area.

Perhaps you’ve invested in some courses or found some resources to help you do this.

Once ready, you start actively promoting your services. Perhaps you invest in updating your website, securing a professional listing, or emailing immigration lawyers in your area. Maybe you’ve also made announcements across your LinkedIn and started connecting with lawyers via the platform to grow your network.

And success!! The emails and calls for clients and service requests are coming in!

But instead of responding to the emails and locking things in, you tend to other matters. That voicemail from a potential client? That email from a lawyer with a request? It can wait a couple of days. You’ll get around to it.

Before you know it, a week’s gone by. You decide to follow up, but the client lets you know they’ve found someone else. This is what I mean by not following through.

It can show up in a few ways:

  • Not responding to new client emails or phone calls promptly.
  • Not getting back to clients or immigration lawyers when you say you will.
  • Consistently moving or canceling meetings.
  • Putting off phone call requests.
  • Not delivering documents when you say you will or by the requested deadline.

You might be reading this thinking, “Well, surely this isn’t such a common thing? Who does that?” 

Unfortunately, it’s much more common than you might think. I hear it from clients and immigration lawyers more often than I would like – and it’s very disappointing. 

The Risks of Not Following Through

Not following through with clients and immigration lawyers can have consequences for everyone involved.

Here’s a brief look at why not following through is such an important topic:

  1. You’ll lose business and clients.

Most obviously, and most importantly to you as an individual, not following through will result in losing business and potential clients. 

It’s easy to think that missing one or two opportunities ‘isn’t that big a deal,’ but you’ll find that word-of-mouth is an incredibly powerful way to get new clients. But only if word of mouth about you and your services is positive.

  1. You give others in the industry a bad reputation.

Aside from not replying to clients being just disrespectful, it also has a ripple effect across the entire industry.

If a handful of clients try to seek help and are continually met with no response, slow responses, or lazy responses, it impacts how they think about all clinicians who offer these services. 

They take these feelings into the relationship they develop with the next professional they engage with, and it can make those professionals work much harder, as there’s already a layer of distrust.

  1. You’re wasting everyone’s time.

Everyone is busy – it’s just a fact of life these days. And nothing is worse than having someone waste our valuable time, let alone wasting our own!

This goes back to giving yourself, and possibly others in the industry, a bad reputation. It’s much more respectful to be upfront and honest if you’re unable or unavailable to take on a case.

Set Yourself Up For Success

I definitely don’t want this to be a ‘telling off’ type blog! But I do want it to be an awareness piece. I 100% believe everyone who decides to start offering immigration evaluations does so with good intent in mind.

I also know that life can change, and our good intentions can fall to the side.

It’s essential to ensure you present your best self when offering these services Setting yourself up for success to do this can look like this:

  • Considering your calendar.

One of the good intentions I see from many is wanting to get a calendar filled with new clients – without really accounting for how much time providing this new service might take, especially when you’re new.

It’s essential to ensure you take things slow, to begin with, and dedicate more time and resources to conducting evaluations. This will change with experience but set realistic timeframes in your calendar.

  • Adding an auto-response to emails.

Unavailable? Not taking new referrals? Taking a bit longer to get back to people than normal?

Let people know! An auto-response email is a great way to communicate with potential clients about what to expect from you. It can also help you manage your work more effectively and politely let people know if you won’t be able to help them.

  • Being upfront with clients and immigration lawyers.

It’s normal to need to move meetings or if you need more time to complete an evaluation – but it’s important not to go cold in these situations and keep everyone in the loop. 

I’ve found that everyone is understanding and accommodating, so long as you’re upfront, communicative, and able to provide solutions when needed (for example, providing details of another professional who is available to help if it turns out you’re not).

  • Getting proactive about your availability.

Our work months (and years) can move in peaks and troughs, and depending on all the other things you’re offering, it’s natural you might have points in the year when you’re more available than others. 

Be proactive about this and let people know when you’re taking bookings – send out emails, advertise on LinkedIn/your website or socials.  Being really clear about when you are and aren’t available helps everyone understand your availability and helps you manage your workload.

  • Making sure this is what you want to do.

I know that sometimes, the reason for not following through is deeper than not having the time or being a bit disorganized.

Perhaps you’ve done a couple of evaluations and realized that this isn’t for you – but you’ve already spent so much time updating your knowledge and skills, even spending money on adding this service. It can be hard to admit it to yourself if it isn’t for you.

But, going back to what I mentioned about representing others in the industry, you must accept this if it’s the conclusion you come to, and ensure you put in steps so new referrals or clients don’t keep contacting you.

Don’t Forget to Set Boundaries

I want to finish this topic by saying I know it goes both ways.

I can’t tell you how often a client or lawyer has reached out, and I’ve followed up with them only to be totally ghosted! We can spend a lot of time and energy following up and getting nowhere, so it’s equally important to ensure we have boundaries in place to save our sanity in this respect.

Here’s a little process I like to follow to keep a boundary around this:

  • I send one initial contact email responding to any new inquiry.
  • If they don’t get back to me within a week, I send one prompt email to see if they didn’t see my email/forgot to respond.
  • I send a final email another week later advising I haven’t heard from them, so I assume they’ve found help elsewhere, and I’m closing their inquiry with me.

I saved these responses in my drafts, ready to copy and paste into new emails to save time. And that’s it!

Following through with clients and lawyers is vital in building your practice and services in this area. I hope this blog has helped clarify a few points around this and offered some helpful tips on managing it successfully!

Cecilia Racine: Immigration Evaluation Therapist

I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.

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