DUI ATTORNEY CASE STUDY By Adrian Ulsh
In my Ask The Expert column, I detail the proper way to perform a SWOT Analysis.
Let me reinforce the importance and value of that exercise by backing it up with a real-life case study.
Let’s look at an attorney who specializes in DUI defenses. There are a thousand attorneys in every major city that are qualified to handle DUI cases. But since most of them don’t know how to properly market their services, they naturally wind up competing on price.
One local attorney we coached wanted no part of that. He decided long ago he wasn’t going to base his practice and his future on price competition. In fact, using his SWOT Analysis, he viewed present and future price competition as a major threat to himself and his business.
Instead, he set a goal for himself. In his opportunity column on his SWOT Analysis, he noted that he wanted to be able to charge a minimum of double what everyone else was charging, and have his prospects standing in line to pay him that additional revenue.
Most DUI attorneys charge a standard rate of $1500 to represent you in court. Unfortunately, for that price, you don’t get much. They spend little if any time whatsoever preparing for your case, and they basically show up on the court date and walk up to the prosecuting attorney five minutes prior to the court start time and ask them for a plea agreement.
IF this is your first DUI, the prosecutor will usually offer something like 3 days in jail, a $2500 fine, a 30-day suspension of your driving privileges, 40 hours of community service, a one-year probation period, and a felony charge on your permanent record. Wow, what a deal, huh?
And on top of all of this, you get to pay your attorney their $1500 as well. As I said, that’s what 99% of all DUI attorneys provide, and as a result, they all compete on price.
This is what convinced one local attorney to perform a SWOT Analysis. He first identified his strengths, which are the areas he excelled at individually, and then he identified his highest impact and highest income-producing activities, which are activities that generate revenue.
After he specifically identified both areas, he matched up his strengths with his high impact activities, and his practice shot through the roof. So how did he do this?
First, he discovered his strengths by completing a personality profile. These are very common today and there are many different types you can choose from.
He discovered his profile to be Analytical. This means he was very detail-conscious and excelled at things like analyzing situations, creating innovative solutions and detail tracking.
He also noted that even though he had a degree in law, he also had a second degree in behavioral counseling. Being an analytical type, he had always been interested in the inner workings of the human mind and its impact on behavior.
So, his overall strengths were his analytical personality style, his attention to detail, his innovative nature and his counseling background. He then asked himself what his highest impact and income producing activities were. In other words, what were the things he did every day that actually generated revenue for his law practice?
It didn’t take him long to identify these – sales and marketing. These are the ONLY two areas that EVER produce revenue for a business. But how did his strengths fit into these two areas?
First, he looked at his marketing. He knew that he had to create a business that was unique and that offered extraordinary value. His law practice didn’t. He looked just like every other attorney, offered the exact same services as all other attorneys, and charged the exact same price as all the other attorneys. He was competing on price, just like ALL the other attorneys.
Since he had specifically identified his strengths, he decided to match up his strengths with his high impact and high income-producing activities. He decided to use his innovation strength to reposition himself as a DUI attorney, and then use the repositioning to market himself as unique and valuable.
With the help of our program, he knew his target customer was not only the 18 to 25-year-old kid who had received the DUI, but also that kid’s parents who didn’t want their kid serving the mandatory jail time most judges impose today, or the blemish on their kid’s permanent record.
He also knew that people buy what they WANT and not what they need.
The parents and the kid WANT the kid to avoid jail time and avoid a felony conviction on their permanent record that could haunt them for the rest of their life. As he spoke to his prospects, he discovered they would pay practically anything if an attorney could “guarantee” these results.
Unfortunately, it’s the judge who makes that final determination, and they are really cracking down on DUI cases, even for first time offenders. Most courts require a minimum of 3 days in jail as a scare tactic for first time offenders.
This attorney reasoned that if he could somehow guarantee a favorable outcome, he could easily attain his goal of charging double the going rate for DUI representation and have prospects lined up to pay him his fee.
Now he had to find a way to guarantee a favorable result. If he could, he would have no trouble marketing his services to prospects.
As he completed his SWOT Analysis, he identified and highlighted his weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Notice in the column labeled opportunities, he had recorded the fact that before he started his own law practice, he had spent 10 years as a prosecuting attorney. He knew all the current prosecutors personally, and was friendly with all the current judges.
He approached several of the top prosecutors and asked if he could take them out to lunch. At this meeting, he proposed a dramatic deviation in the typical DUI plea arrangement.
What if, he proposed, that for EVERY one of the clients he represented, it was mandatory that they participate in 40 hours of private, one-on-one drug and alcohol counseling with him?
The counseling he received training in has a documented and proven 93% success rate in avoiding a repeat drug or alcohol offense.
This approach has proven to be twice as effective as the mandatory 3-day jail sentence, and it avoids the current over-crowding at the jail, not to mention the cost of the 3 days of imprisonment to the community.
He told the prosecutors that he will supply the court with a certificate of completion for this counseling for each and every one of his clients if the court will agree that his clients will receive no jail time, a $1500 fine instead of $2500 since the kid will have to pay an additional $5000 for the counseling, and one year of probation, at which time the felony charge will be reduced to a misdemeanor.
This attorney knew the prosecutors would jump all over this offer.
He knew the jails were over-crowded and that the cost to the community for 3 days of incarceration had a cost of $1500. In fact, he had noted those facts in his SWOT Analysis under opportunity.
This attorney had used his strengths of detail, education and innovation, combined with an identified opportunity which was his background, knowledge as a former prosecutor, and familiarity with the current jail conditions, to create an innovative solution that was a win-win scenario for all involved.
Now the attorney had a marketing message that positioned his practice as unique and offered extraordinary value. All he had to do was position that message in his marketing and create a sales script to highlight the benefits of his new approach as he spoke with prospects. However, he wasn’t done yet.
He had noted on his SWOT Analysis form that he had several weaknesses that would work against his strengths. For one, he didn’t know how to create a compelling marketing message.
He didn’t have any training in persuasion architecture and had no inclination to want to learn how to do it. He had mapped out his sales process and he had created a marketing schedule, but only because he loved the detail both of these critical fundamentals took to develop.
In other words, he was good at creating the tactical elements for his marketing, but it’s the strategic side, the actual message, that he didn’t know how to develop.
Weekness and Strengths
Unfortunately, it’s the strategic message that makes you money with marketing. Running an ad in the paper or building a website are tactical components. Anyone can do that. But if you don’t have an emotionally compelling strategic message in that ad or on that website, then they won’t get results.
Since he recognized this as a weakness, he knew he had to plan to hire someone to do this critical function for him. The same thing applied to his sales script. He knew from speaking with prospects that there was a certain flow, a certain logical sequence that when followed, had prospects begging to become clients. He needed a sales script that incorporated persuasion architecture to convert his prospects into paying clients.
This serves to highlight the absolute power of the SWOT Analysis. Instead of constantly “reacting” to situations and conditions, you can create your “crystal ball” as we call it and proactively forecast what you can and should be doing to grow your business and increase your revenue, and what you should plan to outsource.
Remember, the key is to remain focused on your strengths and to apply those strengths to all high impact and high income-producing activities. All areas of weakness should be outsourced by hiring, delegating, assigning or bartering with someone else.
Weaknesses can be gaps, missing components, or you might refer to them as flipsides of strengths. You should strive to minimize, or better yet, eliminate your weaknesses. NEVER work to strengthen an area of weakness. The time and effort are simply too great, and the best result most people achieve is mediocrity.
Opportunities and threats are always external to the business, and should also be considered from the personal and business viewpoint. In the case of the attorney, the opportunity was his previous knowledge and experience as a former prosecutor. He knew what prosecutors wanted and how to approach them in order to influence them. He knew the system, and what was possible and what wasn’t.
The threat he was able to identify and eliminate was the trap most business owners fall into – price competition.
Unfortunately, when you provide the exact same product or service as a thousand other professionals, your prospects have no way to tell who is offering them the most value, so they understandably default to lowest price. It’s the only value proposition left to them.
So, when you think of opportunities, think in terms of the potential for you to create new markets, add additional clients, and generate much more revenue. Consider the external factors that will influence these, such as new technology, changes in the competitive landscape, changes in regulations and so on.
The attorney recognized the need for new technology, applying a counseling approach based on understanding and identifying underlying emotional problems that could lead to drinking versus the typical punishment approach of mandatory jail time which has never proved to be effective long term, especially when dealing with drugs and alcohol.
He recognized the need to change the competitive landscape so he wouldn’t fall into the trap of price competition. He recognized the changes in regulations that were enacted by an outraged public when it came to drinking and driving.
You can see why opportunities are often the doorway leading to innovation, and innovation is what allows you to create huge differences between your business and your competition. It certainly did for this attorney.
Threats are also external factors that negatively impact a business, and can be things like a competitor’s products or services, pending governmental regulations, or shifts in consumer trends. But here’s what I want you to always remember about threats.
When you identify them in the beginning, you give yourself the opportunity to create the innovative strategies and tactics to overcome them, and you do so proactively. In essence, you can turn almost any threat into an unprecedented opportunity. To us, a threat is nothing more than an opportunity in disguise. It’s an opportunity just waiting for innovation to happen.
That’s why we consider the SWOT Analysis as the foundation for your strategic plan.
Effective decision-making begins with an accurate assessment of the internal and external factors that can impact your business, and that’s exactly what a SWOT Analysis does.
About Adrian Ulsh
Adrian Ulsh is the CEO for Leader Publishing Worldwide, the largest online provider of coaching services worldwide. Adrian currently works with more than 500 coaches in 24 countries advising them on building 6 and 7 figure coaching practices.