51. George Salinas, The Law Office of George Salinas Client-Centric Firms, Personalized Experiences & Hybrid Marketing

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George Salinas is a Texas super lawyer with a list of achievements as long as your arm. But he, like many lawyers, knows that hes in a competitive game and that being great at what you do isnt always enough. So George found a way to set himself apart from the crowd.

George set out to make his firm, The Law Offices of George Salinas, different from the others by putting customer service at the heart of everything it does. In this episode we talk how his firm keeps its clients happy and how he utilizes hybrid marketing to communicate his brand.

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

Something that I hear time and time again from successful personal injury firms these days is the value of great service. In this modern world, your clients aren’t just comparing their experience with your firm to that of another lawyer. They’re also comparing you with Amazon, Netflix, Apple Starbucks, and all the companies that market a service to them. So does your customer service stand up to these big household names? Today’s guest is certain that his firm lives up to the challenge. Why? Because he’s designed a firm when the client always comes first.

George Salinas

I think all of our folks know that, um, they have to keep our clients happy. You can be as good a lawyer as you want to be. You can have as big a firm as you want to have, but it’s going to be short-lived if it doesn’t revolve around that.

Chris Dreyer

George Salinas, one of Texas leading personal injury lawyers knows all about building a successful firm from the ground up. Today, we talk about how hiring for values delivers the ultimate client experience. Why George loves giving back to the San Antonio community. How a hybrid marketing approach helps George extend his reach. And why there’s no shame in starting your day with a pumpkin cream cold brew coffee. That’s coming up on The Rankings Podcast, the show where founders, entrepreneurs, and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there. I’m Chris Dreyer stay with us. George Salinas’s’ career has gone from strength to strength. He’s a regular feature of the top 100 trial lawyers. He was named on the 2020 Texas lawyer list. And he went from solo attorney to successful firm owner through sheer determination. George is the son of a legal secretary and a car salesman. And he first got the bug for the legal process when he heard about the mid-nineties case that shook the nation.

George Salinas

I’ve been a lawyer for total of 15 years. Have my practice for going on 10. Uh, but what originally drew me to law growing up as a kid, uh, was just, my mom was a legal secretary in the federal courthouse. Um, my dad was a car salesman, so I spent a lot of time in both places. So the, I think the attraction to being a trial lawyer was sort of like the way to marry, uh, to marry the two, uh, for me. And, uh, just, you know, I got into a debate when I was in school. Uh, I grew up in the generation that. Was, uh, when the OJ trial was going on in the nineties, uh, was, uh, I think I was 13, 14 years old while that was going on. And I was just, um, you know, really captivated by that and the advocacy, um, the lawyers, the dueling, the duking it out in court. And, uh, you know, from there it just, you know, it was my natural landing place to where I’m at today.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah, so I didn’t prep for this or anything, but did you get a lot of those soft skills and stuff from your dad and, you know, taking home conversations and then you kind of transitioned that to your, to the, the trial, uh, you know, prepping for trial and stuff like that?

George Salinas

Yeah. So I think, you know, obviously I got something from both places where, you know, being around my mom’s place of work and then also being around my dad’s place of work. Uh, and, uh, yeah, you know, I think hearing things and listening to, uh, I think somebody like the intangible things that you can’t teach, how to talk to people, uh, how to treat them, you know, uh, with respect, but, you know, uh, being on a Salesforce, for example. Um, and, uh, a lot of that stuff, uh, is applicable to what I do today. Uh, and also things that I think I developed working. I mean, I’ve worked since I was 16. And so, um, picking up a lot of those skills that apply, you know, as a trial lawyer inside the courtroom, but also importantly, inside our office.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely dealing with the staff and dealing with individuals. Just, I think it’s when you have those skills it’s so they’re so valuable for all facets of the business. And I kind of wanted to jump in, you know, before kind of the transition from law school. So you worked for a couple of firms you work for, and I may pronounce these incorrectly Donnell Abernethy & Kieschnickk, and then the law office of Fidel Rodriguez Jr. And in kind of 2011, you struck out on your own. So what was kind of the transition? Was it “Hey, I got the five years under my belt”?

George Salinas

I, um, so yeah, I started off on the defense side, uh, that, from that you mentioned, Donnell Abernethy & Kieschnickk, is a defense firm. And, uh, my plan was to spend a couple of years there learning the defense side. Uh, and then eventually, you know, I kind of knew that I would eventually at some point then turning to play a plaintiff’s lawyer. Uh, I left to start doing plaintiff’s work a lot sooner than I planned. I had, uh, met, uh, Fidel Rodriguez who was a very successful well-known, uh, local plaintiff’s lawyer, uh, or really statewide, but, uh, and I had the chance to, to work under him, run under him for five years. Um, and, uh, I had actually pursued another opportunity that, uh, wasn’t quite what I was, you know. I took another opportunity, but I knew at that time that I was really the calling that I had to start, my own practice was still there and I needed to just do it now. Um, and I actually started my own practice in 2011, which was the same year that I got married. Uh, and it was like four months before the wedding. And…

Chris Dreyer

No stresses there.

George Salinas

Yeah. Right. Like, you know, you talk about, uh, budgeting, um, But I, you know, that’s one of those things where I, I realized like if I just sit around and wait for the perfect time to do this, it’s never going to happen. There’s never like the stars don’t just align and the sky is open, and you make your grand entry a lot of times it’s just, you know, facing the truth and making the decision from one day to the next.

Chris Dreyer

Absolutely. So let’s talk about, uh, running a PI firm. So. You know, it seems like your firm just goes from strength to strength. You’re, you’re named top 100 trial lawyers, you’re named 2020 Texas super lawyers list. And basically, you just seem to have this track record for continuous improvement towards excellence to towards just constantly striving to be better. Let’s talk about the employee side. What do you look for when you’re trying to find someone that’s a right fit for your team?

George Salinas

Uh, there are a lot of qualities that I look for, but the most important to me, uh, are folks that are effective communicators. Because I mean, um, communications in any field. But for me, the most important with our is dealing with are talking to our clients, uh, like they’re people, um, in being able to communicate how much, you know, that we care. Uh, there’s just a lot of that stuff. You know, you can’t teach that, ask someone that knows, you know, that it is really on top of things organized, um, you know, and, uh, knows how to handle a case from beginning to end. But at the end of the day, if that person can’t communicate effectively with your clients and your client ultimately is not happy then for me, it’s, uh, you know, it’s, non-negotiable. Um, it starts with and ends with communicating with clients for me. Um, but, uh, but yeah, that’s definitely one of the most challenging aspects too, for me at least, running a practice has been, you know, it’s been trial and error, but, uh, it’s finding the right folks, what to look for. Um, and I identifying those folks and then ultimately making sure that they stay, you know, inside of the tent. But, uh, but yeah, that, you know, I definitely know this is the kind of stuff they don’t teach you in law school. Right, right. Um, and so. I’ve uh, I’ve, you know, I said, it’s a really critical part of my practice. The people that I have that I, that have been with me for a number of years now are just folks that, you know, uh, have qualities that you don’t often find them visiting, you know.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. So that’s kind of where I was going to go next. Do you, is there things that you do to try to pull that out? Like for example, do you do any type of personality assessments like disc or Myers-Briggs or Colby or whatever? What type of things do you employ to try to find those and draw those out of people?

George Salinas

Yeah. So that’s one area for 2021 that’s targeted for our area of improvement internally, as far as operations is to use a test, like one of the three you’ve mentioned or what we’re looking at. But, um, you know, for me, I mean, I, the, uh, you know, I started off when I started off on my own, it took me probably at least two years before I hired my first employee. Uh, wait, did I start off, you know, when I mentioned that I was getting married and it wasn’t something that I had planned as far as the decision, uh, I always kind of knew that I would gravitate towards that, but, uh, you know, uh, I didn’t have the resources when I started off on my own hire my first employee right away. And so I’ve kind of learned this as, as you go. Um, but you know, I think, uh, the inner, I mean, for me, I meet with everybody with the interview. I am well, 2020, and you can’t do that anymore. Right. But, uh, you know, we have at least, you know, two or three interviews, sit down with folks, uh, you know, come up with scenarios, talk about what are some of the things that draws, draw them to plaintiff’s work or to work at a plaintiff’s law firm. And, you know, I, you know, you’d asked me earlier about the qualities that I look for in folks. I think one of the most important ones to me, um, also is folks that are able to take, you know, constructive criticism and feedback, and that are open to that. Uh, you, you know, that is one of the things that stops, you know, I think a lot of people from growing. Especially I’ve seen on the law side, uh, is the willingness to learn the willingness. To take feedback, constructive criticism. And to just understand that, you know, you can be better, you can always be better. And that starts with me.

Chris Dreyer

How do you ensure that your team, that you’re keeping them up to high standards? So is a radical candor and that those tough conversation, is that a big proponent of that component of that keeping those high standards?

George Salinas

Oh, absolutely. I think that, uh, I mean, number one here – all of our, our staff and employees know that, um, everything revolves around our relationship with our client everything, right. And, you know, look, you’re going to, you know, we deal with a lot of folks day in, day out. Um, there are sometimes going to be, uh, miscommunications. There are going to be, sometimes, some disagreements, but nothing that we can’t work or we work with work through. It’s making sure that any of these issues aren’t actually systematic. Um, and it’s not part of our system that’s that causes anything. And so, yeah, I think all of our folks know that, um, they have to keep their clients happy, our clients happy. And, uh, and if not, there’s an issue, I mean, it’s escalated. There’s no, you know, step one, step two, step three, step four. And then I’m in step four. I’m, you know, um, you know, when it comes to that, uh, I’m involved in each step of the way.

Chris Dreyer

Client-centric firms are on the rise in the personal injury world. As clients are becoming more attuned to what they want in a firm, attorneys like George Salinas are stepping up to the plate to deliver that world-class personalized experience. However, being great at what you do is only half of the equation. You’ve got to let people know about it. George has spent his years wisely investing in a hybrid marketing strategy that straddles traditional and digital. So I asked him for his top tips for PI firms looking to follow in his footsteps.

George Salinas

First is word of mouth, uh, and, and referrals from lawyers. I mean that, I didn’t have a budget to really put into marketing. And so, you know, what I relied on was making sure my work product and my clients were happy because they brought in clients down the road to this day. Um, and then I worked my tail off for, uh, you know, cases that other lawyers referred to me and, and still rely on that even though I do a lot of marketing, uh, from both the digital side and the outdoor side here locally as well. Now I can have like a multi-channel approach to what I do, uh, since I’ve been doing it and, you know, having the resources to be able to do different forms of marketing. Uh, I, once I was in a position to actually be able to go and get involved with marketing, uh, I chose to go the digital route. Uh, and I did it slowly and I, you know, I started with you guys. And that slowly built up. And the reason I did that was because I had to look at what I thought would be the most cost-effective time. And I don’t, I think we started working together probably around 2015, from what I remember in that timeframe. Um, and what I, you know, what I thought was, okay, what can I do right now? That was going to be a long-term play. That’s going to increase my profile, helped my business. But I’m not trying to go toe to toe with these massive law firm budgets on marketing. And, uh, you know, I went the SEO route and I think it was a smart call, you know? And, uh, and then slowly, once I did that, once I, you know, I took the next step and did some, you know, other digital advertising. And then I started doing outdoor advertising and that, you know, I think that was in about 2017 when I started doing, uh, you know, radio outdoor billboards, buses, that kind of thing. It was really, it was an organic growth process for me. And it required a lot of patience on my part, you know? And it still does. I mean, it’s a unique time to be talking about marketing and growth, right. Because, you know, uh, I’ve talked to a lot of people that are obviously, there’s a lot of uncertainty and I think you have to really stick with it at a time like this, and you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And I think you’re doing it right with the multi-channel approach. So we get to see, fortunately, you know, we work a lot of PI attorneys and we get to see. You know, the different approaches to marketing and some will just go all-in on digital and they’ll avoid traditional entirely. And then others will go all direct response or it’s just like this either. Or, and I, I see the benefit from the brand recognition. And just from an SEO standpoint, if people recognize your billboard and your name, when they Google you, even if you’re the second or third result you might capture that click-through, then Google thinks you’re a better result. And they started serving as the number one position.

George Salinas

Absolutely. No, I, uh, I’ve seen that effect too. It’s just sort of this ecosystem that feeds itself, right? And, um, it’s harder and harder, I feel like sometimes to track. Some of my, uh, especially, you know, the outdoor advertising, um, because what I think is happening is folks, you know, hear you, they see you. Uh, and then, you know, when they’re in their moment of need. Uh, and they’re looking for that if they don’t remember you already, and then they see you when they search for that, then the light turns on, you know? And so the likelihood that you’re going to convert, uh, just scales up. Uh, and so, so yeah, you know what I mean, right now, I, I think that, uh, you know, what’s effective, you know, and, you know, I think marketing is definitely changing and it’s changing rapidly, but, um, you know what? There’s no magic bullet is kind of what I’ve learned. And, uh, you’d asked me earlier what advice I would give and that’s, don’t expect that, don’t expect it overnight and don’t expect, uh: one there to be a magic bullet when determining how you’re going to market you know, uh, you just really have to put in the work. Uh, you have to be willing to invest in yourself. Um, you know, you take, take what your practice has given you and put it back into your practice and, uh, and do it for the long-term.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And I’ve seen that firsthand you’re from just kind of just incrementally compounding does grow and grow from these investments and kind of compounding over time. And, uh, one thing I wanted to talk about is it seems like you’re, you’re very dedicated to the community of San Antonio and you’re involved in a lot of charitable initiatives, big brothers, big sisters, wounded warriors, you know. What inspired you to give back and be so involved in the local community?

George Salinas

Yeah, so, uh, uh, those are the organizations we donate to and get involved with. Uh, I’ve always, you know, uh, big brothers, big sisters, actually. I was a, a big brother for geez. It was 10 years, I think. Um, and, uh, and so once I started having, I’ve got three kids now. So, uh, unfortunately I don’t have the time that I used to before to put into the program. Um, I got involved with big brothers, big sisters, actually, uh, when I think I was, it was 2007 and I was a young lawyer. And I, um, you know, just the way I was raised, I guess would be the easiest thing to say is you give back to your community and not that you expect to get anything back, but it’s the right thing to do. Okay, now that I have kids and I have a family and I, you know, and I’m raising my family, you know, and I truly believe that it takes a village. And so, you know, I think, um, it’s easy to become, sort of have tunnel vision as a business owner and just see what’s in front of you as it relates to your business. But you have to step back and sort of, you know, pay attention to the community that you’re in. And, uh, you know, I’m interested in a lot of different, uh, organizations that I’m currently involved with. And, uh, I think that’s something that I’m never going to give up. I don’t have the time that I used to have, unfortunately, to put the volunteer hours into it, you know, I’m still able to, uh, each year, but, uh, it’s definitely a passion of mine. There’s a lot of great organizations out there that rely on help from people in the community, uh, and whose missions are extremely important, you know. Important to me from. Oh, our local food bank, uh, to organizations that serve our veterans, uh, you know, special needs is probably most passionate about right now. Um, just a lot of different things.

Chris Dreyer

I think that’s incredible. I like that. I mean, just being selfless like that, and that’s just incredible. It’s it is a great value to have. Um, so first of all, thank you for that. And, uh, so let’s switch over to personal a little bit, and it seems like, you know, you’ve got this, you’re very positive, the “go get ’em” type attitude, you know? So, what makes you jump out of bed in the morning to kind of go hit the ground running? Do you have like a morning routine? Is it, or is it like, how do you start off your day?

George Salinas

Well, it’s a three: I have a, five-year-old a four-year-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old. So the way I start off my day is with chaos, uh, and so um, but, uh, no, I, you know, I’ve got that. I’ve got my routine. I mean, I, uh, I’m responsible want to start getting ready before they’re off and out of the house to daycare. And, uh, that, you know, seeing that as the start of the day, And, uh, you know, I’m listening to podcasts on the way to work business-related podcasts. Usually once in a while, I’ll listen to music. Uh, but, um, you know, starting off with my, uh, six shot, uh, Americano from Starbucks. On the way to work. Uh, I need my dose of caffeine. I’m a, I’m a night owl and, uh, it’s been every year I vow that’s when I’m going to break the habit and start going to bed at a reasonable hour. But, uh, usually, you know, I stay up, that’s when I love I’ll read or catch up on stuff. Um, but, uh, you know, I need my caffeine in the morning, so, but you know, I wake up thinking about, you know, obviously I’ve got four or five things. I know I need to get done for my cases and four or five things I need to get done for my business. I, you know, get to the office, uh, you know, try to get here before eight at eight and, uh, and just hit the ground running, you know, obviously, you know, right now it’s top, because one of, one of the things that I, you know, I really enjoy about what I do, especially, you know, as, as my business has grown and getting to bring people into the business and seeing people’s faces, talking to people. Um, and, and that, for me, that’s been one of the big challenges with the 2020 in COVID, um, is not being able to feed off that energy from my office, right? Um, and it’s, you know, I’m productive when I’m working through my office at home. Uh I’m um, I’m on task. I’m getting it done. But it’s a different, it’s a different feeling. I mean, I know that’s a whole, probably another conversation, but yeah. You know, uh, for me, what I really want enjoyed in the mornings and the routine was, you know, getting that, you know, walking to the kitchen and interacting with folks saying hello and, uh, seeing people’s smiles and you know, that really getting your day started. And as a business owner too, I think it’s just really sort of rewarding. Um, just when you see people showing up to work every day, ready to work and do your thing.

Chris Dreyer

I love the habits, you know, that’s incredible, you know, the business podcast, the Starbucks, I, uh, my wife makes fun of me for the pumpkin cream cold brew. That’s my go-to right now. Um, and what about on the, like, the physical side, like staying in shape because you know, we’re all working from home now. I mean, now we’re, some of us are starting to get back to the office, of course, but it’s just been this different dynamic. So what about like the mental and physical conditioning?

George Salinas

Yeah, so that, you know, we, you know, I try to do cardio, uh, you know, it’s three times a week, four times a week. We’ve got some weights at home, uh, that, you know, you know, we try to, I try using these twice, three times a week as well. Uh, and staying active, you know, the, uh… I laugh and laugh because of the cardio, uh, with the three kids. Like it really like it’s a cardio workout, right? Every day, just getting them to the bath. Um, but, uh, but you know, I think it’s, it’s extremely important for anyone, but especially lawyers, the rates that we have, and our profession, for things like depression, um, you know, rates of suicide and things like that. Um, it’s really something that I’ve paid attention to since I started practicing law and, uh, definitely something that I think we need to pay more attention to as a profession. Especially in light of some of the challenges that we’re all facing. I think you probably know this, but I’m the type of person that really feeds off of, uh, interaction. Right. And so, you know, I will take, you know, mental notes when it’s like, “okay, what, you know, why am I not feeling as busy as I normally would in, in, in this situation?” Right? “What am I missing?” And so, paying attention to those cues, um, it’s something that I think I’ve done a really, a much better job with, especially when it comes to managing stress. Because, um, it’s so easy to get lost in the wilderness, especially when you’re balancing the demands of running your practice, running, you know, your case doc, um, and then having a family or doing whatever else you have outside of the office. It’s really. Easy to lose sight of maybe you need some help. Maybe you need to do something to take a step back and decompress. So, so yeah.

Chris Dreyer

That’s a great piece of advice and certainly I hundred percent agree. And George, as we come to this, uh, our closing segment, it’s our three for three. It’s just a quick fire round three questions, three minutes. So, number one, I think you’re going to, you’re going to know where this one’s coming from. What is your top search engine optimization tip?

George Salinas

I, uh, research who you work with? Um, I know before I started working with you guys, I’d been through a few. And, um, it’s, it is really easy to lose money, um, in digital advertising, obviously, by not working with reputable vendors, by not asking for recommendations. Um, um, I mean I would do it and do it right. Um, and when I say do it right, uh, don’t expect the results to come overnight, in it for the long haul, because you’re playing a long game.

Chris Dreyer

Great piece of advice. And thank you for that. And a second question, which entrepreneur do you admire the most?

George Salinas

I like Mark Cuban. I don’t know that I, no one’s ever asked me that. And I don’t know that I would say that it’s the most, but, um, you know, I, I, his energy is something that I really like when it comes to how passionate he is about his, uh, his businesses, plural. Um, I’m a big basketball fan and, uh, you know, I used to live in San Antonio, so I’m a big sports fan. So, for, uh, for many years I hated Mark Cuban. And, uh, because, you know, because of the Mavericks Spurs rivalry, but, uh, once I became a business owner, I think I began to, uh, see a lot more in Mark Cuban and I learned to respect. And, uh, and obviously Tesla is another company that I, you know, watching them grow with Musk. Uh, so there’s, it’s tough. Bill Gates though. I mean, honestly, if you probably asked me who I respect the most, because it was, I mean, just, I mean, not just genius, but what he’s done even after his success and it’s the philanthropy is, um, I mean, that’s my number one.

Chris Dreyer

Those are three, certainly three top entrepreneurs, for sure.

George Salinas

Yeah. Well, I, I, you got to hold me to it. If you have to hold me to it. It’s Bill Gates.

Chris Dreyer

Nice. And then final question here. What’s the next place, when you can finally travel, your next destination for a vacation?

George Salinas

I’d like to go to Europe. Um, I’ve never been, I know it doesn’t narrow it down, but I’ve never been to Europe, period. Um, you know, when I, I’ve always, uh, I’ve always worked like full time since I was 16, other than one year in law school. So I’ve never had the opportunity to travel abroad. Um, and other than, you know, uh, North and South of the U S but, uh, you know, I’d love to do that. My wife studied abroad when she was in college. And, um, I think I’d like to share that experience, have that experience and take the family. So that would be cool. Um, and, and yeah, but realistically, the next place I’m probably going to travel hopefully will be Disney World, cause I’ve never been there either. And I want to take my kids.

Chris Dreyer

Ten years, running a firm is a relatively short amount of time in the scale of things. And George has achieved so much already his growth trajectory and outstanding reputation goes to show you how strong core values and savvy marketing and hiring decisions are still key ingredients in any personal injury attorneys, recipe for success. You’ve been listening to The Rankings Podcast, I’m Chris Dreyer, a huge thanks to George Salinas for joining us today. And you can find more info as always in the show notes. And we want to hear from you. What’s your miracle growth formula for a successful PI firm? Drop us a review and let us know. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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