Author: The Process Server Center | PROServerCENTER is a legal professional organization whose mission is to set a national standard for the process service industry in the United States.
"I lost 80% of my process service clients...", John is telling us his story in a phone call.
"I drive around every day, leaving cards at law firm offices, wasting gas and all, and then nothing, absolutely nothing! I don't hear back from them! What am I doing wrong?" Frantic calls like this one are an almost daily routine at the Process Server Center. There are many process servers like John who have lost a large percentage of their process service clients and they all need help. We tell John that he is not doing anything wrong. But there is a huge difference between not doing anything wrong and not doing the right thing to help your process service business, particularly during hard times.
Process servers belong to the service providers industry that has been hit particularly hard by the current pandemic. According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, conducted in August 2020, 21% of business owners say they will permanently shut down if the economy does not improve within the next six months.
As a process service professional, you servers need to acquire multiple revenue streams to weaken the financial risk, given today’s economy. It is also critical to operate with the right mindset about one’s work. You are the absolute proprietor of your own labor, and particularly during these hard times, it is important that you see yourself as the owner of your own professional process service firm. Your name, reputation and brand are inseparably tied to your process service quality and professionalism. As the CEO of Process Server, Inc., the following are four quick, yet effective ways process servers may use in order to acquire new clients:
1. Connect to a hidden job market
Many process servers regularly mail out, email or drop off business cards and brochures to paralegals, attorneys and other legal professional. Unfortunately, this marketing approach rarely works. Process servers who randomly send introduction letters are at a huge disadvantage. Small and particularly large law firms are also going through the current difficult times, many working remotely or with limited resources. Lawyers and paralegals struggle to find time to review the cards and brochures process servers send them, and instead opt to merely discard the majority of the all-too-popular time-wasters in a digital (or literal) trash can.
A better approach for process servers is to tap into undisclosed opportunities by instead speaking with social-media contacts, business associates, friends, family members and people who are already in your existing personal and professional circles. Networking is a powerful tool for finding new business opportunities or expanding your current process service customers.
In addition to law firms who do not have a process server and are actively searching for one, the majority of process servers clients actually come from customers who are not satisfied with the quality their current process servers provide. Unlike the open and active customers who sometimes even advertise openings for process servers, the hidden ones represent a much larger approach in acquiring a new process server. In fact, a LinkedIn poll from the end of 2020 found that unposted or hidden opportunities represent 75% of all new service industry opportunities. Leveraging this hidden market through networking makes it more likely you will find new customers for your process service business.
2. Touch base with past clients
If you are like most small process service businesses, the bulk of your revenue comes from a few clients while the rest only provide infrequent work or one-off projects. The 80/20 rule says that 80% of the effects (i.e., revenue) come from 20% of causes (customers). Because of this, there is a natural temptation among process servers to ignore past clients who did not previously provide consistent cash flow. However, times and circumstances change. Remember, decision-makers are also routinely replaced and hidden opportunities to grow your process service business are abundant if you know how to hustle for them.
There is a popular saying in marketing that goes like this: “The money is in the list.” That is an email list.
Do some digging in your inbox or process server software and create a mailing list that allows you to touch base with former clients and associates. Remind them of who you are and what services you offer. It only takes one or two resurrected accounts — in addition to current clients, of course — to create a new pipeline of work that will keep you busy year-round. When reaching out, personalize your email and show what you have done for similar clients in the past. Focus on what differentiates you from other local process servers: consistency in quality, excellent turn around time, additional education, industry designations like PROServer. Since former customers have paid you once, assuming they had a positive experience, they will be more likely to pay you for your services again. Slowly but surely, some of your past clients will come back or remember your process service business when an associate asks them for a referral.
3. Fight for strategic accounts
As a process server, it is a good idea to separate regular clients from potential high-value clients, like large law firms, government agencies and nationwide process service management companies. High-value targets are ones that make you very profitable, have a large volume of process service and if they are the right one, then they are also easy to work with.
In contrast, struggling process service solopreneurs work with low-margin accounts which often supply more in the way of migraines than actual revenue. Bad customers imprison service professionals in a cycle of service-to-service dependency, as they are unable to devote enough time to landing more lucrative accounts.
4. Stay connected with decision-makers
In many cases, it is a matter of timing. You may have a shot at landing a lucrative large law firm client but just not right now. Paralegals with whom you have built a relationship routinely go on maternity (or paternity) leave or vacations, attend weddings or come down with an untimely illness — any number of things, really. By constantly networking with decision-makers, you can be first in line when decision makers change. A hidden opportunity to grab this new large process service client may just be around the corner.
With social media, connecting with decision-makers is more convenient than ever. As a process server, it is never a bad idea to become well-acquainted with popular networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, which allow users to connect with high-value prospects, as well as join relevant industry groups like the exclusive PROServer List. LinkedIn is the top choice of social media platform for legal professionals of all sizes, large or small. Join LinkedIn as a process server and also join process server groups, like the PROServer Center. Or join process servers Facebook community groups, like PROServer Center. But don't just join and browse and waste your valuable time as a process server solopreneur. Make your voice be heard, be an active participant and provide regular value. The more fellow entrepreneurs, paralegals, lawyers, managers within your industry view your profile and the expertise you readily share as a process server, the greater the chance you will be considered as their preferred process server. And isn't that the ultimate goal of most process servers, all of whom are chasing a limited number of clients.
Yes, putting in the effort to be top-of-mind can seem daunting, but not everything you do has to have an immediate return. Being predominant with legal industry decision-makers can lead to securing a contract or landing that large new law firm as a client when a business or online acquaintance is suddenly in need of the process service you offer, even if your relationship may not seem very strong at the time.
Will each of the above methods immediately lead to a constant influx of new, exciting work for all process servers? If that is your expectation, prepare for a letdown. What is more likely to happen, instead, is that one or two of the people you have networked with will at least give you a shot and choose you as their preferred process server. From there, it is your job to keep your new client satisfied. Really satisfied! Fortunately, your growing process service business bank balance will be proof of the right, targeted effort!