Last week: BVFLS surveys say technical matters are not keeping up as night – practice development issues are. And that is why I am coaching BVFLS professionals to find work.
This week: By listening to my client and understanding the pain he was in, I was able to craft an engagement letter with three pricing options that provided the solution he needed. It resulted in me getting a $10,000 higher fee based solely on my report delivery date.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
We are already 1-1/2 months into the new year. Likely, you’re already seeing a gap developing between where you are now and where you want to be by the end of the year. So what’s that gap?
What’s the one thing that, if you were more effective at, would move the dial on your practice further, faster this year? Email me and I’ll try to help … my inbox is always open!
Yes, an extra $10,000
I couldn’t believe … I was hoping … but I couldn’t believe my client picked the earliest delivery date option for my report. The difference between the earliest date and the latest date was five weeks. The difference in the fee was $10,000.
- In January, I received a phone call from a long-time referral source.
- An individual and business client of theirs had passed.
- The decedent owned interests in several real estate entities.
- The estate would be taxable, even under the new tax law.
- The executor is the decedent’s brother.
What I learned
- Prior to his death, the decedent was suffering from worsening dementia.
- The brother, an attorney, had to scale back on his successful law practice to manage his brother’s substantial affairs.
- Because of the time he had already spent away from his firm, the brother badly wanted to wrap up the estate’s affairs as quickly as possible.
- He wanted my valuation report no later than March 31, but sooner would be way better.
What I did
- Notwithstanding the brother’s frame of mind or frame of time, I vetted the client just like I do for any other engagement.
- The time spent on phone calls and emails with the brother allowed me to get all of the information I needed to price the work – without considering alternative due dates for the report. Or I should say with the typical due date of “four to six weeks after receiving all of the requested information.”
- Knowing my client was deeply motivated, I presented three pricing options in my engagement letter:
|Estimated Fee Not to Exceed||Draft Report Completed By|
|$30,000||February 23, 2018|
|$25,000||March 9, 2018|
|$20,000||March 30, 2018|
- I would have been happy with the $20,000 fee. It accurately reflected the work required to value fractional interests in several real estate entities for estate tax purposes.
- I was hoping for the $25,000 fee because I knew I had some slack in my schedule that would allow me to finish the report by that deadline.
- While I will be hoping to get a report done by the earliest date, financially it became worth my while to move other things around to make it happen.
I hope you can see the lesson here: don’t react too quickly when you get an initial inquiry for a project. If I had done that:
- I would not have learned why or how much my client was motivated to get the work done asap.
- I would have quoted my usual fee without communicating that I could do better, timing-wise.
- I would not have delivered what the client really wanted and was willing to pay for – a solution to his pain.
- I would not have made my long-time referral source as happy as they are now because of the service their client is getting.
- I would have left $10,000 on the table
Reading that can help
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.