22. David Brauns, Brauns Law Creativity Over Competition, Tracking KPIs and Achieving Goals

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David Brauns is the founding partner of Brauns Law, a plaintiff’s only law firm specializing in personal injury claims. David hasnt had the same journey as most attorneys and actually had a promising career as a software engineer until he switched tracks at the age of 31 to become a lawyer.

Join us as we discuss why David swapped coding for the courtroom, what lessons he brought from the IT world into his own law firm, and how nearly 50% of Davids new clients come from his old ones.

Transcript

David Brauns

I tell myself perfect is the enemy of done, right? So you just want to get in there and do stuff and take action. And if you’re going to fail, fail forward. You know, you’re going to fall, fall forward, keep a forward momentum going, learn, get yourself back up.

Chris Dreyer

If you have a goal you want to achieve, there comes a point when you got to stop planning and start doing. And as my guest today says, if you’re going to fail, you may as well fail forward because any action is better than inaction.

David Brauns

When we first started the average case, he was about two grand. Um, we’ve, we’ve developed through the way we manage our cases up to about 10 grand. Um, and that was focusing that goal of making each case worth more by working it.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to The Rankings Podcast, the show where top marketers and elite personal injury attorneys share their stories about getting to the top and what keeps them there. Joining me today is David Brauns, a plaintiff’s only personal injury, lawyer and founding partner of Brauns Law. After starting out as a software engineer, David changed direction in his thirties to pursue a career as an attorney, and within five years started his own practice, which has re-imagined how law firms can operate. And just like a change in the Google algorithms can send your SEO into a spin, David’s unique software-startup inspired take on running a law firm is disrupting the old ways of practice management for the better. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder, and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. SEO is all about the first page and that’s also where we’d like to start our show. Here’s David Brauns, founding partner of Brauns Law.

David Brauns

I didn’t go to law school until 31. I had this whole prior to the career and I just quite frankly, wanted a midlife change. Uh, I was just tired of sit in front of a monitor all day, even though I still do the same thing here, just looking at different stuff. Um, so I actually went to law school for real estate of all things. I was making a ton of money in tech. I was starting to invest in real estate. And I was thinking, hey, if I can do these deals and learn the play makers, I could get into real estate as a second business. But when I got into law school, I just realized how boring real estate is. I was just copying and pasting contracts all day. Um, so I started kind of just interviewing other attorneys to come out the lunch. What do you like? Which don’t you like? And I just settled on personal injury. Um, I also had my family up in Baltimore, Maryland, and my uncle’s side, my mom’s side were all personal injury lawyers. So I was around it never quite understood it, but just kind of sold them, talking, the success they had stories they had and things like that. So it was kind of a career change followed by honing in on what area of law I wanted to practice.

Chris Dreyer

That’s awesome. Awesome. And that’s such a different, you know, journey. Typically it’s just go to college and go right into law school. And so you’ve got this rounded experience of being a business owner. You know, being in estate, you know, there’s all types of complexities there and it’s very saturated and competitive just like law. So. You know, what were those early days of your, of your firm and like? What was it like?

David Brauns

So my, my firm, when I opened my firm, I did insurance defense. I was in a couple of large firms. The first firm had like over 80 lawyers, three floors, and a big building down in downtown Atlanta. Then I went to smaller firms. When I left that to start my own shop, it was literally startup mode. I’m was sitting in a spare bedroom with an Ikea table, a laptop, and a cell phone. Um, and that was it. I ran everything that way. If I had any clients, I’d put on a suit and go meet in a Starbucks, and then I kind of scaled it up from there to use virtual space. But it was literally, you know, tech startup out of a spare bedroom. Oh, that’s kind of the beauty professional services. You don’t need inventory, you don’t need spaces. Um, all that kind of build out. It’s just literally a phone and a computer.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. So, so what were those, you know, the big turning points at the beginning, you’re hustling. You’re, you know, you’re going all in, you get a lead, you’re going all in. You’re going to their door to get that contract, to talk to them. What was, what was that transition – the turning point – where you could start, you know, investing a ton and building out your marketing team and grow your firm?

David Brauns

Yeah, I mean, it was, it was very kind of guerrilla marketing beginning. Um, and I’ll be honest with you. There was no big pivot. Um, there was no, I’ve never had a big multimillion dollar case like some of my friends, that just allows them to kind of hit that next gear and drop stupid money into something. For me, it was just a very slow, slow grind. Um, it was really just about focus. And this was one of the tricks I learned from just kind of watching myself work is; for me, what works best is weekly goals. When I first started, I had monthly goals, but I found that I wasn’t looking at them enough. I was only looking at him at the beginning of the month and the end of the month. And I’d forget about them for those two, three weeks in between. So it was really about focusing on weekly goals and it was essentially, hey, the first week, the first year, I only get two cases a week. How hard is that? Can’t be that hard, you know. Go out, call the chiropractors doctors, do what I had to do. Um, and I hit that goal. And so the next year I was like, okay, three a week. And then the following year was four week and then it was five week. And so just by telling myself, hey, I can get one more case a week. That’s not hard. It’s just effort and activity. Um, and that’s what I did. So there was really no, um… it was a very slow, steady burn, um, that’s gotten me to where I am and I’m in year seven now. So, um, you know, we’ve taken it from this the bedroom start-up to here. But again, there was no huge case that blew it up. No war chest. It was literally starting with, uh, you know, $13,000 on a credit card. My back against the wall. I had no choice, but to go out there and be successful and make it work.

Chris Dreyer

Well, let’s talk a little bit about those goals. So, so were those like leading indicator type goals that helped? Were are they predictive or were they just stuff to keep you accountable and hungry?

David Brauns

Oh, it’s love goals. So the two big ones I focused on early on were number of cases, which is kind of top of the funnel, bringing it in. And then the bottom of the funnel was a revenue goal. Um, and so basically in personal injury, if you think about it, there’s two ways for lawyers to make more money. It’s more cases or make each case worth more. Um, so we focus on that. If we get the cases in the top of the funnel, we watch our average case fee. Um, and you know, when we first started, I don’t mind sharing this with people, but when we first started the average case, he was about two grand. Um, we’ve, we’ve developed through the way we manage our cases up to about 10 grand. Um, and that was focusing that goal of making each case worth more by working it. Um, so those were kind of the revenue goals to build it. Um, the other goals I had were, uh, talking to clients, which I’m sure we’ll talk about the client services, huge at my firm. Um, and so one of the things we would do, and we set this all up in our case management system, but I’d run reports to make sure I was talking to clients and still to this day, at least once every three weeks. Um, and so I track, um, you know, number of clients that I’ve called, the number that I’m laid on. What’s that percentage? Am I shooting a 90% or higher? Just like in, you know, elementary school, I want to keep an A average. Um, but you know, internally that that’s initially where the goals… now that I’ve got staff, we’ve got a ton of goals on. We measure everything from their late phone calls to the number of pieces of mail they process a day to their t total time on the phone. And again, the more we kind of focus on the work and be self-aware, it just kind of drives itself. I mean, you are what you think and what you’re focused on. And so I can’t stress enough to how I didn’t really appreciate goals until I was in my own business. Um, but now it’s everything I’ll give you. This is kind of like my fun hack. Um, so our IT group, um, the way we’re set up – we got to change our computer log-in every 30 days, just for security reasons. And so my password is always a goal. And so it forces me to type in that goal every time I want to unlock my computer. So like one was, you know, I want to weigh 220 pounds. I want to lose weight. Obviously I’m not there yet, but that was, you know, for one 30 day increment, the goal was lose weight. Um, the other one was, you know, I want to hit X dollars per year revenue. So it’d be like, you know, X dollars in 2020. Um, and so that little hacks been really fun and it just keeps me again, top of mind consistently thinking about a goal every time I kind of clock in to go to work.

Chris Dreyer

That… so I’m going to steal that from you right now. Yeah. And the other thing I wanted to unpack here was something you mentioned about case value. So let’s say you got this Y and X axis where the Y is your brand and the stronger your brand gets, the more you can attract these serious injury cases from your reputation of doing good work. And you talk about, you know, really taking care of your customers so that they turn into these evangelists with, you know, I’m sure we’re going to talk about your case management software and maybe how you utilize that for, for customer service, and just all of that goes into maximizing client value and turning those into a referral mechanism in the future. David spoke a lot about how his goals shaped his practice in those early days and how they in turn evolved alongside it. And as he achieved those girls and transformed his firm, I had to find out some of the lessons he learned about running a practice along the way and what he’s doing now to maintain that upward trajectory.

David Brauns

Yeah, there’s a lot, right? I mean, you know, running a business, as you know, at some point we’re lawyers, we’re also entrepreneurs, so we’re business owners. And you know, you’re gonna make mistakes. Uh, you, you can’t overthink stuff. You just need to get in there. And, you know, I tell myself, and this is kind of the, you know, the Facebook motto is “perfect is the enemy of done.” Right. So you just want to get in there and do stuff and take action. And if you’re going to fail, fail forward. You know, you’re going to fall, fall forward. Keep a forward momentum going. Learn, get yourself back up. Um, yeah, I had a couple of big ones, um, kind of unlike the pivot where it was a slow grind. There were a couple of kind of big moments in my firm. Um, one was when I scaled it to be just not myself, but I started hiring people. I was up to a case manager and the case manager had two assistants and we were maxed out. And we were maxed out! I didn’t wanna spend any more money on payroll. And I think we had probably at the time we were probably running about 160 to 180 files between the four of us. And the case manager, I didn’t catch it, was burned out. Um, and so she was going to quit and I learned all this after the fact. And so she called her two assistants who she became friends with and said, hey, I’m going to quit tomorrow. And they said, well, hey, if you’re not working, we don’t want to work either. As they all came in and dropped their resignation on the same day. I, so basically I was back to square one. Um, I just, you know, wanted to throw up. I was like, Oh my God. Um, so I gathered myself. I was like, you know, David, you’ve done this before. Um, you know, start back it’s it’s just working effort and hustle and get back into it. And so we did, you know. I, I ground it out, I called my wife. She came in, I started running records again for me. Um, but the lesson learned was over-hire. Like, I want to hire to the bench and I’ve got every position right now in my office where I’ve got excess capacity. And now that I can afford the payroll, um, you know, it’s by design someone leaves, we’re going to absorb that we have plenty of time to go find a great candidate. There’s no sense of urgency. Um, so that gives me that buffer of not being lean, having something, just blow up like that. It also. Helps our client service level. Right? So now we have, we have paralegals that, for example, all paralegals run about 80 files, max. That’s low. Like most law firms are running 100 something. Again, we’ve got that bandwidth. I could take them up there, but I don’t want to, because stuff gets missed if they’re running too lean on the files. So now we’re deep in the files and because we kind of, are paying that premium for the staffing, which is the product. Like, the people are the product, right? We’re now creating better cases, better case values, um, and allows me to sleep at night knowing that if someone leaves, you know, I’m not going to lose everything and be back to square one again.

Chris Dreyer

Let’s let’s talk a little bit about that situation here. So you mentioned earlier, you’re, you’re very goal conscious, very focused on the number. So are there now goals, are there goals or metrics that you track say forecasting or capacity? You mentioned the number of files are, those are the things that you look at for, for staffing?

David Brauns

Well, we do, we do. So what we do is, um, we’ve got a case management system that we, we do some reporting out of that, but we also have hooked in Excel and this kind of gets a little techie back in my tech background, but we basically use an ODBC connector to create dashboards in Excel to plug right into case management. So what we’re looking at is the total number of cases handled, the number of clients that are treating meaning they’re in medical care, the number that are released… we have stages as the case goes through the firm, we measure how many we have in each stage and where stuff is stuck. So like for example, one of the goals in the firm is the demand package needs to be written within 10 business days of the last medical record being received. We’re not gonna let a file sit. Um, it’s not good for the client. It’s not good for the firm. It’s not good for anybody. We want to move files. And so if a case is sitting for more than 10 days without a demand out, it hits a dashboard. And then I’m hey, I go to the paralegal, what’s going on with this, you know, what do we need where you help from? And then, you know, she won’t get another case until she fixes that problem. Um, so the two big stuck points that we look at kind of in our flow are the demands going out. And then also, um, cases in negotiations. And that’s me. I mean, I negotiate all the cases as a lawyer, I’m the only one allowed to do that. And so my goal was, I don’t want cases stuck in negotiations more than two weeks. Um, if I can’t get a case resolved and it’s trying to make decision, Hey, we’re going to follow suit or are we going to, you know, what are we going to do with this? Um, and that keeps me moving on negotiations instead of leaving stuff hanging out there. Um, and then again, that could be another stick point. So we take all that and we measure average time on desk, right? So we know the average time on desk of my firm is 8.2 months. From the time we sign somebody to the time we close a case – that’s about 8.2 months. Which is fast. It’s very fast. And that kind of pace and precision is what’s the brand has developed into now from the client perspective, because they know they don’t have anything to compare it to. But if you look at the vendors we deal with like, um, you know, the medical doctors, the lean companies, all these places. They know Brauns Law is moving fast. Um, and that gets us the referrals from those medical practice, because that’s what they see as quality legal services is not really the result of how we’re interacting and how fast we’re moving in with precision. We’re moving.

Chris Dreyer

One of the things you mentioned there was the bottlenecks. So by setting it up like this, you can see where the bottlenecks occur and you can set whip limits there to look at them. And your throughput’s improving when you can see these bottlenecks for efficiency and it just makes you more efficient, quicker, it helps with those referrals. So I think that’s genius.

David Brauns

One of the things I struggled with when I was building the firm, when I got to the point where I had to delegate, right. Like I had, I wasn’t running the firm by myself. I had paralegals receptionists, we’ve got a records custodian now that does all the records work. It was how do I delegate, but still have a sense of control because I’m a control freak. I mean, I, I wanna know, measure everything. And so those goals and those KPIs and those dashboards are what all effectively allow me to delegate, but still keep a pulse on things. I mean, um, I’m not touching the file and doing everything, but I have this insight. There’s just this dashboard into everything where I’ve got just a rhythm and the pulse of not only the firm, but every case. Um, and I think that’s been strategic in, in terms of how we’ve developed internally operations to perform the way we have.

Chris Dreyer

So, if you’re sitting on a desert Island, you can, you can go pull up the dashboard and still have an idea that top level view what’s going on with the firm.

David Brauns

Oh yeah. Yeah. And I’ll tell you, you know, it’s interesting. I mean, we’re sitting here talking in the, in the middle of the COVID thing, right? So, um, all my team are at home. I’m the only one in the office today. Uh, they’re all working remotely. That wasn’t a big deal because we built the ground up to be that way with voice over IP phones, cloud services, things like that. But they’re all working from home, but I know they’re productive, right? Because I’m not thinking I’m paying them 40 hours – are they work in 40 hours a week?. It’s no, I’ve got all these dashboards, I can see the inbound, outbound calls, the pieces of mail they’re handling, whether they’re late on phone calls. So, I mean, we’ve done really well. And I think I haven’t seen anything drop at all and I’m, and now I’m thinking, why do I need all this office space, might as well make everyone remote and kind of, you know, run it that way and save a bunch on the lease.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, things are going to change. There’s definitely going to be a lot less of the, of the office space. I think post, post COVID, you know, everyone’s getting the zoom video conferencing. There’s better technology, Slack, there’s all types of internal software. Let let’s talk about, you talked about a challenge that you overcome with the staffing situation and what you learned there, but what was a proudest moment? A moment you look back on and you’re just especially proud of a big success.

David Brauns

I think it’s just, I’m proud of what we built. Um, you know, there’s a lot of smart lawyers out there that could be phenomenal in the courtroom, phenomenal trial lawyers, but their office and their operations are just a mess. Turnover, um, staff isn’t fully engaged, uh, you know, there’s no sense of empathy with the clients. And so I tend to be more of an operations guy. Um, you know, at some point we’re all businessmen with bar cards is one of my sayings. Um, and so we gotta treat it like that. And so that’s kind of what I’m proud of is when people come in and see the office and interact with us we’re and I know everyone says they’re different, but I think we are. I just think the way we have built this, maybe from my tech background and seeing how corporate America works versus traditional law firm. It’s just a different animal altogether. Um, and looking back in for seven years when I came from nothing, literally nothing at $13,000 on a credit card, that’s all we had to live on, um, to where we are now is just, that’s probably my proudest moment is just how far I’ve come in the process.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, it’s incredible. And now that you have all this data and everything, you can see, you can make smarter decisions on where you want to take the practice and, and identify those. You know, if someone left you now, like you said, you have the processes in place. You have the team that can step in and take over the transparency that you built with the software. Let let’s talk about, uh, you know, how you’ve developed and, and, and kind of your journey. What are a few of your favorite business books?

David Brauns

Um, so everything I’ve read has been from different verticals. Um, I’m a huge fan of sales books. I just think sales is a fundamental skill for life. Um, you know, in sales is really both the technique and the mindset. So it kind of combines both of what you need to kind of be successful. Um, probably the two books that I credit to my success the most would be, um, As a Man Thinketh, which is a really old, old book. Um, and I can’t remember the author. It’s like one of those Dale Carnegie-type books. Um, and the other one is by a guy named Grant Cardone down in Florida called 10 X. Um, and so when I was starting out in my bedroom, Trying to stay motivated and deal with all this competition out there. I was actually going for daily walks and I had both books on audible. And when I listened to both those books, I kind of had this synthesis where I took the ideas from both and something just clicked. Um, you know, As a Man Thinketh was kind of a, you know, if you think about it, you’ll create it into existence. Um, you know, create don’t compete is one of my sayings to deal with all the competition in the marketplace and then Grant Cardone, if you ever follow him, you just know it’s all about massive action. He’s like, don’t just take action. Take action. Take 10 times when everyone else is doing – it’ll work out. Um, so those are kind of my two, like the core. Probably the book that gave me the best insight into operations and how to structure stuff is Scaling Up, um, which is kind of part of the Rockefeller habits series, um, where I could just see, okay, this is how you really do like the E-Myth, which everyone reads, this was like that, but it wasn’t detailed, real high level stuff. I could really see in scaling up, like, man, this is how people grow from nothing, you know, to being on the shark tank, to blown it up to, you know, multimillion dollars. Um, so that kind of led me into like, okay, we’ve gotta have meetings, agendas and a daily pulse. Um, so I think that book’s probably the most contribution to kind of our operations portion of the firm.

Chris Dreyer

So I haven’t read the, As a Man Thinketh. I’ve read 10 X and I’ve read the Scaling Up. 10 X is definitely grant Cardone’s book is not a book that you read before you go to bed.

David Brauns

Did you read it or did you do the audible?

Chris Dreyer

I did the audible.

David Brauns

Because his commentary is priceless. I mean, to have him like ad-libbing through it and it’s just phenomenal. Yeah. He’ll get you fired up.

Chris Dreyer

And Scaling Up. Well, I was gonna say that’s a great book too, but I would say that one’s also not an… I would say that one’s not an audible book. That’s that’s a reader. It’s got the different charts and things in there that really provide more value. Those are great books like Grant Cardone. I mean, love him or hate him, this guy has taken action. I look at his Instagram profile. He’s this he’s incredible. What about, you know, with your software engineering background, and we talked a lot about these dashboards. What’s some of your favorite software that you use to run your firm?

David Brauns

Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, our favorite software is our case management system and there’s a ton of them out there. Um, you know, we took one that also had, it’s more insurance-defense oriented. Um, but the reason I bought it was because it was completely customizable. I could go into add data fields, chain screens, it had this workflow engine. So I could use my tech background and say, hey, I want to take this kind of infrastructure and customize it to go do this. Um, obviously that’s not for everybody cause when I started out, I had a lot of time on my hands. I could build it. Now I’ve got a vendor that I found I can outsource it all to saying, hey, I want this report. I want this done. But, you know, one of my philosophies is every business, I don’t care whether you’re retail or restaurant, a law firm, an accounting firm. You are a tech firm. I mean, this is the year 2020, everybody’s a tech firm. Whether you like it or not. And the more you use tech, the more you leverage it again, you’re going to have that pace and precision. Um, so the case management system, we couldn’t live without. We’re paperless office. You come in here and it looks like a day traders office, right? There’s dual monitors, no paper headset, phone, that’s it. Um, and the other one’s just good old Excel. I mean, I’ve used Excel since day one. Um, we’ve kind of. Built it to be a lot more, but I used to track my daily leads, my phone calls, all of that in Excel. And I actually make all my paralegals and everyone from the receptionist on go take basic and advanced Excel. Um, I think it’s, I think everyone needs to have it on their resume. I don’t care what you’re doing. It’s a valuable skillset. And it also allows you to how to think differently, the way you work, Excel kind of trains you to be more of an engineering mind. Okay. This cell and this cell relate and things like that. So I think Excel. And our case managers just, we’re kind of the core of what we’re doing here.

Chris Dreyer

So I, wasn’t going to ask this question, but, but you’ve brought up a lot of processize type questions and Excel. So do you put your team through a personality assessment, like a disc assessment or predictive index or Colby to kind of evaluate these processes mindsets?

David Brauns

I used to, I used to, um, like back when I lost everybody on that fateful day, when everyone walked out the door at the same time, um, I said that was on me, right? I was like, that’s on me. That’s bad leadership, bad management. I can’t fault them. What do I need to do differently? So I spent the next couple months just studying management, I mean I had no management experience. I was always working for somebody else and being told what to do. So that I had to go teach myself. Um, and then I also taught myself how to hire people. Um, I use a process called Topgrading. Um, which is like a really well-defined for executives. And I, I kind of pulled from that and tweaked some things. I did it initially, but I don’t want to say, I didn’t believe it. I just didn’t think it was all that. Um, so I used to spend the money on it. Um, but the interviewing process that’s intense and things like that. Um, but I just haven’t gone there because what I did is I had, once I had everyone hired, I had a consultant come in. And give the personality test is kind of a workshop. And when I was reading them, I’m like, okay, well I can see where that’s right, but that’s not. Um, so I could see a little disconnect after having worked with a person that’s not a hundred percent. I mean, it’s a data point, right? It’s a data point, but I wouldn’t rely on that.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great point. We put everybody through disk, but I read some of them. I’m like, that’s this off. That’s just not who that person is, but, but I, I do find it helpful. And it’s another data point. Yeah. Let let’s, let’s talk about mentors. Who are some of your mentors and their piece of advice for you?

David Brauns

You’ve kind of heard me refer to this throughout the, the talk together, but, but really my style is I’m kind of a self learner. Um, even though I’m an extrovert at the office, I’m an introvert at the house. And so I have kind of, my mentors have been books and online personalities and reading. Um, that’s really where I get it all from is just following somebody kind of deconstructing what they’re doing or looking at the success they’ve had and say I want to be like that person. How they get there. What were they doing. What’re they doing differently than me? Um, so it’s really been a combination of just books, and now with everyone being online with like, you’re doing podcasts and you know, like, you know, like your podcasts, when you listen to this, all you need is that one nugget, right? That one idea from our talk today, you’re like, Oh my God, that’s it. You know, I spent a half hour, I got this one idea that’s going to, you know, create this much value in my firm or in my life. Um, so I’ve done that in terms of real, I mean, from a far, my uncle was a successful personal injury lawyer, um, up in Maryland. So I saw his trajectory from kind of a, a DA when he flipped sides to civil. And that, I mean, my family wasn’t, we were Baltimore blue collar, poor. Um, and then I had a buddy in law school, but in law school was much younger than me. I was 31, he was 22. I had no idea while we were hanging out. Um, but the guy was just laser focused. His name’s Dan Castro. I’ll give him a shout out. Great guy took the time to basically say, hey, this is how I built my firm. Um, here’s how you need to do it. And he’d given that speech to a ton of people before. Um, and I think he was willing to kind of open up the curtain and show everything because he realized, like we all do, that 95% of people that he’s talking to are going to go implement it, right? It’s just like you leave the seminar, you’re all jazzed up. And then you have two weeks later, it’s all gone. Um, but I literally said, I’m going to follow everything you’re doing. I’ve seen the success you’ve had. And we still talk to this day. And lo and behold my farm through each year. Cause we compare our KPIs each year, he’s like five years ahead of me works on the exact same path. Um, so it’s, it’s scary kind of the, the runway and how it just played out the exact same way as his, as his success.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And talking to him helps you elevate. You get to see like what… what’s the saying? You don’t know what you don’t know. So you’ll see things that he’s doing and he’ll see things that you’re doing. So you both are elevating each other. And that that’s really exciting. So, you know, today where you’re at today with the firm, what are your high value activities? What are the actions that you take that drive the most impact for the firm?

David Brauns

Great question. So, um, the, the first one is always client contact. Um, you know, me talking to the clients is a differentiator in the market. Um, most personal injury firms, especially the successful ones, whether you’re a boutique that’s doing decent volume or the real high volume TV guys. Um, the clients are not talking to lawyers. Not even at sign up. I mean, maybe here’s the offer, do you want to take it? And that’s it. Um, so by me still contacting the clients the way I have been the way I’ve been developing rapport with them and building the relationships that’s, what’s throwing off the client referrals. Um, and you know, we are, I looked this up before getting on the show with you today, um, year to date, 44% of our cases are coming from client referrals. That’s huge. They’re better quality cases. Um, they’re easier to sign up because you’ve already been vouched for, and they don’t cost anything. I mean, it just, it just costs the service of the prior case. I’m not out there having to spend a hundred thousand in TV to acquire this new client. Um, so I think, I think a lot of people don’t focus on that low hanging fruit, which is the clients you have. Um, and then we market, um, to them constantly, uh, 26, 28 touch points a year, even if they’re even when they’re not clients anymore. Um, so that’s the goal. The goal is to get the client referrals up to 60%. Um, and that’s just gonna… Momentum again, it’s a slow burn. Um, And then the other thing would really just be, uh, if I had to talk about it, it would be marketing and selling. I mean, just, you know, keeping the biggest fear of every personal injury lawyer is the, phone’s not gonna ring with that next case the next day. Um, so just kind of continuing to drive the marketing, uh, both with Rankings.io. Um, you know, our, our conference calls our strategy, how we’re doing stuff. Um, as well as just being attuned in the marketplace. I mean, that’s, that’s, what’s going to keep the phone ring.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And they, you know, the actions that you’re taking now are going to pay off in the future. So that 28, 29 touch points that you’re doing that, that multiple touch cadence that keeps you top of mind because you can’t predict when they’re going to get in a car accident. But if you’re top of mind, it lends itself to more referrals. They may have a family member that gets injured and they automatically, you’re the person that comes to mind because of how well you treated them. And you were empathetic. You have that EQ and you, you shared their experience. So. I just think those are tremendously valuable and that is a differentiator. I like to think of it is warmth and competence. You have to do good work. That’s one component. But the warmth component, when you have both of those, it just really lends itself to it just a well…

David Brauns

And I bet Chris, you’ve seen kind of with, with your clients, I mean, during this kind of crisis, you have two personalities, right? You have the ones that are leaning into it. Um, like you and I have talked about that. I am that I’m like, hey, this is an opportunity. Let’s, let’s lean into it. Um, it’s not gonna pay anything now, but a year from now, the, the garden will have been planted and it will be growing. And there’s people that are pulling back, right. They’re pulling back and kind of go in defense mode. And the only way you should go into defense mode is to attack again. Um, and it’s hard with PI too, right? Because it’s not an immediate sale. Right. You get that, you booked that case. But you’re not going to see the return on that for a year. Um, and the more you do it, the more confident you kind of get in that rhythm. But at first it was scary. It was real scary to kind of put it all out there. And I have the phone ring, like, Oh my God, what am I, what am I doing? Um, you know, that’s the TV guys. It’s, what’s interesting with them is they do all this like TV spending. Um, and it’s not really direct response. Like to your point, you have a family member – they’re not thinking PI lawyer until they’re hurt, right? It’s like a plumber. You don’t think about plumbers until you walk in the basement and the pipes, you know, gushing water all over the place. Um, and so the TV guys, they spend this ton of money just trying to be in front of you all the time so when you do have that thought there on the TV screen. I can’t afford to play there. I can’t not in Atlanta market where it’s just hugely competitive. And so like with your firm, what we do is more direct response, right? When they type in the keywords, that’s where we, that’s where we can play. That’s where we can play through like your, you know, what you do for us, my analytics, um, it allows us to, we with a scalpel in there just really working and playing with that type. And so it’s also two different mindsets to TV. Guys. You think about it. It’s putting out millions of dollars a month in Atlanta. I mean, they’re literally spending over a million a month on TV and they hope the phone ring. Well, and the God, this guy is sleeping right now, I mean, it’s, COVID, intakes have dropped by 80% and there’s still this ad budget sitting out there locked in at a million a month. Oh my God. Versus you know what you and I do together. It’s much more direct response. We can tune it up, tune it down, see what’s working. What’s not. And that just gives me peace of mind. It allows me to not be sleepless at night, staring at the ceiling, thinking, Oh my God, all my money’s out there. is the phone gonna ring?

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. I hear you. And you know, they all kind of work together for sure. You have the bigger brand you get, it helps with the direct response when they do key it in for search engine optimization. And one of the things I’ll mention about COVID is. What other time in the past 10 to 20 years, did your competitors just stopped doing SEO?

David Brauns

Right?

Chris Dreyer

It’s a huge opportunity. So yeah, a hundred percent agree. David made some great points about continuing your marketing, even through tough times, like the pandemic. And he’s exactly right when it comes to SEO, having the ability to fine tune your strategy will make sure your marketing dollars have a much better chance of reaching the right people at the right time. And as we draw to a close, I wanted to ask David, what other advice he has for law firm owners out there trying to grow their practices?

David Brauns

I think when, especially in personal injury, um, if you want to tell yourself one thing, kind of one daily affirmation it’s create don’t compete. Um, if you compete, your attention is on what other people were doing. And when I was getting started and I’d, there’ve been TV guys out there for 20, 30 years. I couldn’t compete with that. And it was paralyzing. It was paralyzing like, Oh my God, how do I get started? And when I had that kind of revelation, like David, don’t worry with anyone, just go heads down, create and build, create and build. If you trust that process, that’s, what’s going to give you the result, um, because you’re focused on creating your thing. Um, you know, with your personality, with your ideas and you just gotta have faith in that. And at the end of the day that that’s going to win that that’s, that’s going to win for you.

Chris Dreyer

I love that and it lends itself to innovation because you’re thinking about how you can improve and how you can provide more value as opposed to let me see what they’re doing. And it’s, you’re always kind of lagging behind. Guys we’ve been talking to David Brauns, elite personal injury attorney and founder of Brauns Law. David, where can people go to learn more about you?

David Brauns

Yeah, you guys can go to my website, BraunsLaw.com. I have kind of a funky name. It’s like Braun the electric razor with an S on the end is what I tell everybody. BraunsLaw.com. And learn all about us. We’re also on Facebook at Brauns Law. Uh, we tend to be on Facebook. Insta a little bit if you want to look at pictures, Facebook has a little more content, uh, but go check it out.

Chris Dreyer

That idea of creating not competing is so valuable because if you just keep trying to one up everyone else, it won’t be long before a competitor does the same thing to you so it’s always better to do your own thing and stand out from the crowd. I’d like to think David Brauns from Brauns Law for sharing his story with us. And I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation. You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you like this episode, or have an idea for a future guests, whose story you’d love to hear, leave me a review and tell me more. I’ll catch you next week with another inspiring story and some SEO tips and tricks all with page one in mind.

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