Get your business to and through $1m with Wealthy Woman Lawyer Davina Frederick (#055)
Davina Frederick is a Florida-licensed lawyer, and founder of Wealthy Woman Lawyer,® a company that helps women law firm owners, scale their law firm businesses to and through $1M with total ease.
Davina also is the host of the Wealthy Woman Lawyer® podcast, and she’s written two books on successfully scaling law firm businesses.
- Insights from moving to law from 30 years of Marketing
- Huge difference between being a good lawyer and running a successful company
- Not so much about the money, more so not burning out and what pillars to put in place to get to the next level
- The driving reason is often flexibility, which doesn’t work for the traditional law firm model, so instead create the system you want to see
- Handling the naysayers
- Crucial to be ready to challenge your own mindset
- Most don’t have a time management problem, it’s a priority management problem
- Delegation of low value tasks, but many struggle with it in reality as they don’t fully appreciate the true cost to them
- Dealing with clients who want to negotiate the fee; essentially you’re writing them a check for the difference
- When you have a clear system, they will lose confidence in you and that there’s a lot of space for negotiation
- Key perspectives when negotiating when hiring staff, not all about money
- “A lot of room to negotiate when you get to the heart of the need”
Al McBride 0:03
Welcome to the dealing with Goliath podcast. The mission of dealing with Goliath is to sharpen the psychological edge in negotiation and high impact conversations. For business leaders with skin in the game, who want to be more effective under pressure, uncover hidden value, and increased profitability. So with expert guests crossed the business spectrum, we deliver Gems of Wisdom delving into their methods, their thinking and approach to business life and problem solving. This is the Grande cup of insight, long form podcast interview, where we take a little bit more time to delve deeper into our guests experiences stories, and to get those priceless nuggets for you. I’m your host al McBride and my guest today is Devina Frederick.
Divina Frederick is a Florida licensed lawyer and founder of wealthy woman lawyer, a company that helps women law firm owners scale their law firm businesses to and then through $1 million with total ease. Davina also is the host of the wealthy woman lawyer podcast. And she’s written two books on successfully scaling law firm businesses. Davina, welcome to the show.
Davina Frederick 1:16
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, you did a good job getting through that introduction. I always find that the most challenging part when you’re doing kind of this video podcast format, because absolutely hard to memorize those things. And so we wind up reading them. And it’s a challenge, right. But thank you very much for
Al McBride 1:35
your You’re very welcome. It’s stellar stuff associated. I’ve enjoyed the conversations that we’ve had, we went into all sorts of different detail and depth. So it’s almost a shame. We didn’t hit record on those because they were as all sorts of gems there. So I’m so glad to have you on the show. So thanks for joining me.
Davina Frederick 1:53
Thank you. Thanks for having me. i You were a guest on my show. And I absolutely loved having you on my show. And you and I probably could have talked for like two hours. So it’s really glad. Yeah, I’m really glad we’re getting a chance to do that. Now. We’re coming back and picking up where we left off.
Al McBride 2:08
Oh, thank you. Well, yeah, we could talk for hours. And this is this is the second half, so to speak, almost almost. Yeah. But look, you have a very interesting background when you came to law, because you have 25 years experience as a marketer. And that’s always fascinating, always interested in people who come to a career joining another area of expertise, and dare I say, mastery. So I’m intrigued how that has helped you or how that’s giving you some unique perspectives on law. And I’m running a law firm, which is a sale for business, a lot of people might and who don’t run law firms might realize it is a business. So just just some of your thoughts around how you what elements of the marketing, you bring to law.
Davina Frederick 2:55
Yeah, and actually now since I wrote since my probably that bio, you got read, though, it’s been 30 years, because I celebrate in just a couple of months, 15 years of being an attorney, and I was a professional service marketer. That was my career for about 15 years before I became an attorney. And the reason I say 30 is because I started my law firm right out of law school, and obviously continue to do professional services, marketing. And now I teach my clients as part of helping them grow their practices, that’s a part of what I do. So it has been a much like writing, it has been a thread that has been interwoven throughout my entire career. Because basically, when you are in business, you you cannot escape marketing and sales.
Because until a sale is made, regardless of what kind of business you’re in until the sale is made. This is not being conducted, you’re running a hobby or a charity, unless you’re, you know, creating profits. That’s what business is about. So marketing professional services for me. In my early days in my career as a marketer, I worked with professional service businesses, so engineering firms, law firms, I worked, I was a lead copywriter at an ad agency. So a lot of that’s kind of led me here. And then I got an opportunity to go to law school, and in my late 30s, turned 40 In law school, and have then been a lawyer for the last 15 years.
So it is a common thread that is run throughout my career, the marketing and I’m always marketing and sales, you know, because there’s a difference. And I’m so I’m always, you know, working with clients and working myself on trying to improve and perfect marketing, how do we get our message out and make our businesses visible so that we’re able to impact more people and more lives?
Al McBride 4:50
Absolutely. And I love that. You’re focused on an area which I’d imagine an awful lot of what business owners struggle with, and I’d measure an awful lot of Law Firm owners lawyers struggle with, which is because they think I’m here to do the law. Why do I have to do this marketing stuff? Yeah. So, you know, what are some of those common problems that a lot of your clients come to you with?
Davina Frederick 5:13
Well, to be clear, my, what I do with my clients now is not just marketing marketing piece of it, I have a framework that I use to help my clients scale their businesses. So scaling a business, as you probably know, it involves a lot of things besides just getting clients, you have to get the clients, you have to then service the clients, you need a team to help you service the clients, you need systems in place to service those clients. And you need to provide that optimal customer service experience.
And then also, you need to learn all about money and how to manage money and work with money. So my clients now are lawyers, and who decided to become business owners. So they’ve gone through law school, and they’ve learned how to be lawyers and think like a lawyer, which is a big thing. Any lawyer listening to this knows what I mean, when I say think like a lawyer.
But then if you get out and you hang your shingle, like I did, right out of law school, and you start a business, you very quickly realize, wait a minute, there’s a whole body of knowledge that I don’t have, and that is how to run, how to own and operate this business, and then grow it so that it becomes a very successful business. So those are all those all of those skills are the ones that I work with my clients on developing, so that they really evolve and grow into the person who can lead a million dollar multimillion dollar law firm business.
Al McBride 6:43
But what stage they usually meet you, and you know, what’s the what’s the great need in their head? Is it I need more clients? Or how do I scale? Or how does it make? How do I make it?
Davina Frederick 6:53
Well, I have, I’ve worked with women, law firm owners at various stages of their growth. So my private clients are the ones who’ve already they have no trouble getting clients, they’ve been in business for a while. And they have you they’re not having trouble getting those referrals, they’ve sort of worked that out. But they get to a point. Usually, and this is really, this is really a characteristics that women, I find more in women than men in in that they are working by themselves for way longer than they should they get they can get their firms up to half million I talked to one yesterday was up to three quarters of a million dollars.
And it was her and a couple of staff people that got that to that level, which for anybody who understands the legal business understand that’s an incredible amount of work. I mean, she’s working all the time to get to that point. And so a lot of my clients at that point, it’s really not so much about the money, although there is that sort of goal of a million dollars and beyond. For my clients at that stage, it is about I’m burning out, I am worn out from doing all of this. And I’m going to walk away from it all, if I continue this way.
And so what I do is come in and help them understand what pillars they need to put in place in their firm, to shore it up and get to the next level. So what got them here, that hard work that high achieving women do is not the thing that is going to get them to the next level. But we have to do a lot of mindset work to get people to understand that and then make that ship. So the pieces and parks we can put in place. But we have to become the people who think like that, to be able to put those things in place, and then lead and manage a law firm with a bunch of people working for us now into the next, you know, decade, right two decades of our career.
So that’s really where the majority I’m working with the majority of my clients, I do have a community for women law firm owners who are in the earlier stages of their business, where they’re just trying to get the business fundamentals are trying to figure out how to get clients and how to get the work done. While they’re still continuing to get clients and that sort of feast famine cycle. And so I have a community for them as well, where we sort of do group coaching and that kind of thing to work to get them up to that half million dollar kind of stage.
And then the next stage beyond is where I tend to work with my clients individually. So those those are the two things that are really on their mind. I just a survey among my community and asked them the number one reason they started their own law firm business. And across the board. It was flexibility. It was control of their time and flexibility. So a lot of them have children or they may have other family members they’re caring for and the traditional law firm model did not work for them. And it’s also the traditional Laufer model tends to be dominated by men and particularly white men, when I call them like white men over 60 club, I used to call it white men over 50 Club until I got over 50. And now I call it white number 60. Club.
But that is, so it’s a model that’s very traditional and slow to change. And big law firms are changing slowly over time. But I’m kind of coming in with a grassroots approach and say, let’s just start our own law firms and create the kind of law firms we want to see law firms that allow us to be flexible in in not only where we work, but how we work and who we work with. Right. And in addition to that, it is my belief that most women law firm owners who start their firms for that purpose have kind of very, they have goals that are very simple, you know, I want to make a certain amount of money and be able to work for myself and help take care of my family.
And one of the things that I’m coming in and doing is encouraging them to aspire to greater heights, because I think what we’re really missing is we’re missing women, led law firms that can be national and international, those firms that can really create a global impact that are led by women, because very few law firms are led by women, because we just don’t have the long history, and the mentorship and all of the network that, you know, that men have had all of these years, right.
So we’re now putting those things in place, we’re starting to see those changes, and I’m encouraging them to go to the million and go beyond the million because a lot would be happy just to make enough to cover, you know, helping to take care of their families. So long answer to that question.
Al McBride 11:48
But no, I love it. I mean, there’s so much there’s so much there to unpack. I mean, I love the way just to reiterate, as I hear you that you know, you’re helping people move essentially from self employed, or you have a job to business owner, where there’s a lot more you’re managing, you’re doing that kind of CEO half swearing, activity,
Davina Frederick 12:09
freelance lawyer like freelance courier to CEO, you know,
Al McBride 12:14
gotcha, yes. Yes. Exactly. Freelance. That’s a good way to think of
Davina Frederick 12:17
it. Like a gig worker. It’s like a gig work. You do a lot of that now, right? Absolutely. really changing now.
Al McBride 12:25
I love also the way you’ve, you’re changing the model. You know, you I love what you’re saying. You don’t need to do this standard law firm thing of having our own version of working 60, 80, 100 hours a week, you can actually do it, how you want to do it. And what life do you want? What work do you want? And then then adapting it and altering it to suit you. I mean, it’s a very bold model. A lot of people resist, is there a resistance there? They think, Hey, hold on. Hold on. This sounds too good.
Davina Frederick 13:01
Yeah. I do think I do think Well, I think what happens is we get a lot of outside naysayers. So I know, for me, when I started, my firm, I had people who wanted me to do certain things, they always had an agenda of their own, and they want me to do you know, somebody wanted me to rent office space in their building. And you know, when I went virtual in 2013, which was before virtual was a thing, here’s the game there, I had someone say to me, your clients won’t like that.
And the reason he said that is because he had bought an office building, and he had some empty office space. And he wanted me to pay, you know, $1,500 a month to be in his office space. And so he was trying to cut down what my vision was, to serve his own agenda. And, and I do think there are a lot of women also, you know, we have a lot of people in our lives, who love us and care about us who are well meaning, who also will cut down our vision, because and it’s easy to do, if you don’t have that confidence yet, and you have your own self doubts and your own insecurities, which all business owners do.
And you you know, and so if you have a parent or a spouse, who is fearful because they’re afraid for you, I know my own parents were afraid for me when I started my law firm out of law school instead of going and getting a job. You know, I talk to a lot of women law firm owners who have that same experience, you know, their parents worry about them, their spouses worry about how we’re going to make the money. And so those kinds of things are, you know, raised their, their ugly head.
Al McBride 14:50
Do you find that some of your clients I’d imagine it’s quite common, again, business owners. It’s the same diets that maybe as you say, a parent or a spouse or a well meaning friend or sibling or something. It’s also the voice the critic voice in your head. So you can’t do it like that. Why aren’t you doing it properly?
Davina Frederick 15:08
You may have you may have a parent in your head. Yeah, no longer says those things to you. But you now say them to yourself? Absolutely, for sure. And then some of us have parents who say them present day.
Al McBride 15:23
Section, is there a section in your course for getting through those voices in your head?
Davina Frederick 15:28
Well, when I, since I’ve worked one on one with a lot of clients who are kind of at that, at that stage, we well, even with my group coaching, we discuss those things. And it’s part of the reason why I have worked with male law firm owners. I’ve also worked with all kinds of other business owners, but I niched down a few years ago just to work with women law firm owners. And the reason that I do is because the conversation is different when it’s just women in the room, because we deal with different sorts of challenges, then, than men in business do.
And so it is a place where we, I bring up these, I challenge those mindsets and points of view, because I’ve had them I’ve had them challenged for me, I pass that on to others. And I challenge those points of view. And sometimes I will, you know, it’s uncomfortable to to hold up a mirror and say, Look, is this really, really what you want. And I think it’s often times very challenging for women to get really clear on what it is they want. Because they may be always thinking of their children, or they may be thinking about their spouse. And they may be thinking, if I can, I want people around me to be happy.
And so a lot of times, it’s hard to hear their own clap, you know, their own voice of what it is that I want. Now we’re seeing a new generation of women come up who may be different. So I am I’m a Gen X, you know, women just like on the cusp, almost Boomer, right. So Gen X. And so I grew up in a at a time, if you remember, in the 80s and 90s, it was a very driven corporate world out there. And everybody was very ambitious, very driven. And so much has changed in the dynamics of women in the workplace over those decades.
And so we’re seeing young women come up who are much more grounded in, you know, they’ve had a lot of reinforcement, that their belief, you know, their opinions, and their thoughts are valuable, as opposed to sort of, we need to make everybody happy around us, right. But we, I still deal with millennial women with Gen X women, we’re still dealing with some of these of I need to put other people first and before me, and that may be clients, it may be the bar asking you to do things, it may be the community asking you to do things, we’re taught service to the community, and service to others.
And that’s why so many women are tapped for volunteer work, and you don’t see men doing the same, you know, to advance my career, I need to volunteer for legal aid, I need to volunteer for this, I need to volunteer for that. And that’s the way in past women have connected, when they weren’t able to be in the workforce, they did it through their philanthropy and your volunteer stuff in that thread is still there. And that pressure is on women to give back. And I don’t have any problem with giving back.
But I think the issue is we have we’re doing it on the backs of a lot of women who are burned out. And I think there is a different path. And so one of the things I share with my clients is, let’s go make the money. And then we can write a check. And that’s probably going to give back more way more than go in and serving in the soup line. Right. So I do have it is a it is a belief that I have it is a philosophy that I have is different from other people’s philosophy around this, but I just yeah, I’m here to to support women in sort of thinking bigger and aspiring to bigger and realizing that they can have economic power. And they can create that for themselves.
Al McBride 19:11
And I love that you touched on that. I mean, this is a question I often like to ask my my guests to get there. Maybe they’re more unique point of view on their industry or how business should work or could work. And it’s such a great point that you’re really changed the dynamic of what’s possible of what is creating maybe even a new normal, and particularly with expectations. And you also as from our previous conversations I what I love about it is you’re very focused on the quality of life.
Because you mentioned burnout there and anti burnout. So it’s all about making conscious choices to sculpt the type of firm that you want the type of work that you want, or clients that you want. Could you maybe talk a little bit more about that like what are some of these areas that your clients tend to have choice on which maybe even some listeners don’t realize that there’s even a choice there. So what are the ones you mentioned? Yes, sorry, number one.
Davina Frederick 20:07
Number one is how you manage your time. Yeah. So I have a lot of people reach out to me and say, I have a time management issue. And there are all kinds of time management tools out there, all that information is there, you know, for them, and I share with them, but most of the time, what I find is not they don’t have a time management problem, they have a priority management problem. And they’re not putting themselves on the calendar first. So what they’re doing, just to give you a one little example, picking up your phone, first thing in the morning, before you even go pee, like you know, picking up your phone and answering those emails that come in, or getting to the office.
And the first thing you do is dive into your email, what you’ve just done is you’ve let other people’s priorities hijack your priorities. Because truthfully, in the law, there are very few emergencies that require us to respond if they are people call the office, if there’s a true emergency. But we have it in our head that we’re missing. It’s that FOMO, that fear of missing out. And we need to we need to answer everybody’s just waiting to hear from us. And we need to answer that email first thing in the morning. And when you do that, half your day is gone.
Because now you’ve just jumped in and started responding to people, and you’re not intentionally managing your time. Another area is delegation, we think that we have to be the ones to do you know, we’re the best person to do every job in the business. And if we just had more time, we would do it right. And that’s kind of an attorney arrogance of, we’re smarter than the average bear.
If we just had more time, we could figure out everything in our business. And so we’re reluctant to hire people to help us instead of respecting that. There are marketing people who went to school to learn marketing, and they probably have more expertise in it than we do. Especially as it is ever evolving. Today, we think I can read a book and figure it out do it myself, well, those are choices that you’re making. And their choices that I argue aren’t working in your aren’t working in your favor.
And, and I mean, I had a conversation with a woman, law firm owner, one time who was so low, she had a couple of people working for her. And she insisted that she needed to be the one to call the copier company to come fix the copier, because she’s the one who knew, you know, whatever code or whatever. And it was like that. And she was upset that I challenged her on that, um, and insisted that this was what she would do, you know, and it’s and that little thing of calm atop your company, okay, no big deal may take you a half an hour or whatever.
But that adds up over time. And now you’ve got a full day, a 15 minute, half an hour here and there, doing the low income producing activities and steady or high revenue generating activities, those things that are really going to cause quantum leaps in your business, you’re sitting here nitpicking over some detail that you could hire, you could have your $10 An hour person or your $12 An hour person do for you. And it it makes it’s that kind of thing. And I think that again is different for women than it is for men.
And men often start their careers one of one of the things I posted recently was a real. When I started my law firm, it was just me. And I got invited to be I started networking immediately because marketing. And I got appointed I was on all these committees and then I got pointed to leadership and committee. So here I was brand new baby lawyer trying to figure out how to run a law firm trying to figure out how to be a lawyer appointed to all these committees.
That meant I wouldn’t be doing the work. I was the implementer of the committee’s you know, I was on one committee for an inept court and it was all judges and so they would come up with their ideas and then I would have to go implement them. And finally a mentor mindset Davina, you realize that these people have secretaries. The man who is the president of the organization is not doing all these things. His secretary is doing them. And Secretary is an old fashioned word but where I live, that’s what is very common, right?
And it’s one of the things that I see with my women law firm owners now very sophisticated modern women. And when they eventually do start hiring, they never start with just hiring an assistant just for them an executive assistant, they may hire an assistant for the firm. Right, and they may hire paralegals for the firm and they eventually get to the point where they hire attorneys. They never hire those soon enough.
But having an assistant just for you For a lot of them, it doesn’t even occur to them. And secondly, there’s something about it that makes them, you know, that brings up negative feelings about about that. And they don’t think the same way that men and women, but men in business do and, and we see it from assistants as well, we see that that oftentimes assistants, who would not take offense at something, if a male boss said it to them, take offense, if a female boss says it to him, I just had this conversation with a client this week, who has that very problem.
She’s very direct. She’s super, super smart. She’s been an attorney for decades, and over 40 years, and she has to be very careful about how she talks to her women employees, because they can easily get hurt feelings, and then she’s got a problem. Whereas men, I’ve seen male law firm owners, you know, Mow over women who work for them, and the women are like, oh, yeah, whatever. And so we think those dynamics don’t still exist in our culture, but they do still exist exist in our culture. I have conversations every day, where we see those things that exist in our culture. And and I’m just, I’m just, it’s an area that like, we need to change that. And so that’s a lot of the work that we’re doing, you know,
Al McBride 26:22
absolutely, absolutely. As I said, it’s, it’s a strange thing of kind of an unconscious expectation. That needs to be altered reset.
Davina Frederick 26:32
Yeah, yeah, there’s think there’s things that are, you know, that people read into, you know, people read into is there is this person mad at me is there’s this hidden, you know, that kind of thing, as opposed to just taking it like, they’re in a hurry. Because all lawyers are doing, you know, running around like crazy. And so that’s one of the challenges of getting help. And they often just say, it’s just quicker and easier if I do it myself.
Al McBride 26:59
Which is helpful, as you say that this is this isn’t that problem where I remember, you know, the great consultant Perry, Marshall used to say, you know, think in terms of every task, if you had to outsource it, what would be the dollar cost? Like, is it a $10? Task? Is a 20 per hour to get someone to do it? Is it 500?
Davina Frederick 27:19
Is there an equation even five times? Yeah, I have an equation set out for my clients on in our, in our course, materials, we do a plan. And we get down to the tactical level, and it says, who’s responsible for doing this? And what is the cost? If you so so for those who have trouble letting go, I make them do the math, do the formula? What’s your hourly rate? times how long it’s going to take you to do this?
What could you pay to have it and then they see, oh, my gosh, I’m paying $3,000 For something if I can pay, you know, $250? For right. But oftentimes, so that’s the kind of stuff that’s a it’s a mindset barrier, right? Because they just have it and also math, fear of math, a lot of lawyers will say I don’t do math. That’s why I became a lawyer. So a lot of what we do is really showing them some business math and getting the data. Right,
Al McBride 28:12
and that that’s what I would hope changes people around in that idea of, well, just as a random number, if, if it’s $300 for me to do the most value work, and I spend time doing $100 task instead of paying someone $100 to do that. Yeah, then you’re losing $200 In that hour. Yeah. Yeah, you know, so it’s actually a little lost.
Davina Frederick 28:33
That’s not to say, I do want to say there’s really a legitimate issue now in the current economy, because one of the big struggles that all law firm owners are having now is hiring and getting people in, and oftentimes, they’re hiring people, because they don’t have a lot of candidates. And then those people don’t have the skills to do the job. And there’s also, you know, so how do we create hiring systems so that we can make sure we’re getting the right people, but we really are facing a real challenge right now.
And so I you know, I understand there are a lot of women law firm owners who may be listening this go well, I have tried to delegate but I’m, you know, they can’t seem to get pick up what I’m throwing down and I have to train them, and I’m tired from training. And there are ways to get your training done without you being the one to do it as well.
But it you know, so I recognize there’s a legitimate issue with not getting enough not having enough good candidates and needing to find those right. But there are ways to do that as well. It just is not as simple as it used to be. Right. So just put that out there listening.
Al McBride 29:48
I think you’re right. I think it’s also it’s a huge problem across all sorts of industries is getting getting quality candidates and I mean quality in terms of they’re a good fit for the role, they can do the role and Absolutely, absolutely. Just just changing the focus moving slightly over here, just from a conversation we were having earlier just around this idea of negotiation, as you know, I’m particularly interested in negotiation and those sort of communications and and back and forth or sort of dynamics.
And it was fascinating. You mentioned about the problem that many of your clients have many business owners have this problem. This is why I thought it was fascinating that, you know, when you when you’re there when you’re dealing with your client, and then they suddenly want to negotiate the fee, which you thought was pretty clear. I thought we’d agreed on this, what’s going on? Could you talk us through some of the some of those, some of how your clients feel about that, and then what you advise them to do how to hedge run with that. And to get through it.
Davina Frederick 30:50
So anybody who works in the world who has their own small business, probably is at some point or another, had people try to negotiate fees with you. And for a lot of the women, law firm owners who have worked so hard to go through law school, pass the bar, which is really difficult, it’s a multi day test, you know, and then starting your own law firm, and all the expenses that go along with that, you come up with how much you’re going to charge for it, and you think you’re probably not even charging enough because you’re new to it, or whatever. And then someone sits in a chair across from you and goes, Oh, that’s too expensive.
Can you do any better, or they’ll they’ll put something out, oh, I can’t afford that. And they’ll want you to give them something they can afford. And it a lot of small business owners, women, law firm owners in this particular case get really offended by that. And it’s understandable, they get offended by it, because they’re like, you know, you’re asking me to do all this stuff, I’m not going to sleep, I’m going to be thinking about your problem all the time, I’m going to go do all this work, I have to go drive to the courthouse, I’m going to have to deal with this, you know, jerk of an opposing counsel and all this, and all the things that go into helping people and you are wanting me to do it for free,
or you are wanting me to do it for essentially free or no money or a little bit of money or not nearly enough or whatever. And a lot of people who engage lawyers believe that lawyers are wealthy, like right out of the gate, we’re just wealthy right out of the gate lawyers make a ton of money, they can afford to give me a break. And they don’t realize that lawyers starting out don’t make a ton of money. And a lot of lawyers will work for 10 20 years and not make very much money. And so it’s that’s a that’s a myth.
But the other thing is, is there’s this idea of, well, I can’t afford it. So you should help me pay for it. And they don’t think of it that way. But that’s what I talked to my clients about. I said, basically, what they’re asking you to do, is because I’ve had clients say, you know, I’m really bad about giving discounts because I feel sorry for people and you know, blah, blah, blah, and I want to serve this audience.
And so essentially, what you’re doing is writing them a check for the difference. You don’t realize that but what if you if next time somebody says You said my fees, 5000. They said I can’t pay that I can pay 2500. And you go okay, once you get your checkbook out and write $2,500 and give it to them? Because that’s just what you’ve done.
Al McBride 33:23
Exactly. It’s just a great, it’s a great analogy and way to think about it. Yeah.
Davina Frederick 33:27
And, and also, a lot of women are so compassionate and big hearted and not all of us are some of us are meaner means rattlesnakes, but they want to help help help their their help have a helping nature. And maybe they’ve been brought up that way or whatever. But what I remind them is that when you are buying into this person’s story, make their money store it, it may be legit, it may not.
But when you’re buying into it, and you’re making the decision to take that on for way lower than the business requires you to take it on, what you’re doing is you are you are asking other people to pay for it because somebody has to pay for it. So it’s your spouse is paying for it. Because you’re not going to bring home as much money this month. It’s your children here pay for it, because you’re not bringing home as much money. It’s for employees, because you can’t give them raises.
And therefore it’s their families because they can’t bring home enough money. It’s the existing clients who’ve already paid you in full, who are counting on you to keep this a profitable, sustainable firm. So you will be there for them through the life of their case. So you’re making that decision for a lot of people when you sit there and I think most people don’t think of it that way. They only think of themselves. Well, I can do that. You know, I know I could sleep at night if I do that.
Al McBride 34:45
It’s not the right consequence. Yep.
Davina Frederick 34:50
And so what do you do when somebody wants to negotiate fees? That’s the question and I have a colleague who is we did a recording together. That’s actually Part One of our podcasts episodes, Sean Carroll Sandy, who is a master sales coach. And I love this, she goes out and she teaches sales teams and companies. And so she had up, you know, obviously, it’s had more than one, but she had a man say to her, Well, this is all great, I’d love to have you do that the only thing that we need to work on is negotiating the price.
Because this is too much. And she just leaned forward, she says, I don’t negotiate my fees. And that was it. And he was like, well, and she goes, Well, what kind of salesperson would I be? You know, what kind of sales trainer would I be? You know, if I come in here, and I start backpedaling on my fees on the thing that I’m selling you I believe in the value of the thing that I’m selling you. And these are my fees, so I don’t negotiate my fees, she didn’t even go into that much explanation, she decided to negotiate my fees, he’s like, okay, then and he signed the contract for worth, you know, several $1,000. So I don’t negotiate my fees is very powerful.
Also, scaling service is powerful, if they truly can’t afford it, you may be able to scale service, so they’re not getting, I once had a boss who said don’t sell the Cadillac to people who want to buy a Ford, you know, want to buy, like, whatever, right? And he needs that Ford Focus or whatever. And he says, Don’t sell a Cadillac. And I’m like, That’s sometimes people genuinely cannot afford a thing. If they can’t, you can scale service.
But the biggest issue with business owners who get into that, is they haven’t done the math, they haven’t tracked the time to see how long it actually takes to do a job. They haven’t calculated what it takes to make a profit. They haven’t calculated what it costs for the overhead, they haven’t done the math. And so if you have done the math, then when you’re sitting there for somebody, and they’re saying to you while you want to pay $500, for that, you just say well go to the bar with the State Bar referral service and look out there some brand new baby lawyers just graduated law school, they may be able to do it for you, or you can go to Legal Aid,
or you can go to you know, like, for my criminal defense attorneys, you literally can get a public defender. I mean, you know, so there are other solutions, and the arrogance of thinking that you are the only solution to solve the problem is part of the problem. And also, you know, obviously, there’s the desperation in that comes in the first, you know, when you’re when your business is a fledgling, and you feel like every client is somebody, you need to not let go and let out the door.
But oftentimes, most often, I know, certainly my experience, I’m curious to hear about your experience on this album, I find people, people I give the discounts and the breaks. And all of that to that I have in the past, always turn out to be the most difficult clients, the most challenging clients, they don’t have enough skin in the game. So they, they want you to solve their problem, instead of them being actively involved in solving their problem. They are the ones who are more demanding and want you to available all the time on the phone, they want to meet with you, they’re rude to your team. All of these kinds of things happen. When you compromise on when you start negotiating, you begin to negotiate a lot of things in that particular area.
Al McBride 38:21
It’s a really interesting point, yeah, because as an old friend of mine says, you know, if the price is going down, as you said, the services are being removed from the table. And that’s fine, as you said, you know, you can have a menu of services, depending on what your business your services, that maybe you can reduce, or you can, you know, take them and do a time bound thing where yeah, we’ll do this in the second quarter, the third quarter down the road.
So I completely agree that the fundamental price may not actually change, but the services being delivered and the time or whatever that is taking it is just another great point, I’d love to circle back to that you made and just emphasize it for the listeners, because it’s something I love to do as well is to get people to really examine what costs what in their business, so that they know where they can actually potentially reduced service or negotiate.
And where the margin is extremely thin or what’s non negotiable. It’s also around as I said, as ideas of either front loading or back loading certain levels of payment, that will be one of the other areas. But again, it depends on your industry, it may or may not the
Davina Frederick 39:30
issue. The issue is is that oftentimes, you know, if we’re back floating, we don’t get paid and then we’re chasing money. That is the problem. And so you know, that I’m, the more you can get up front, you know, the better obviously, and also there needs to there needs to be ways for you to get out of a thing if they’re not coming through with later payments, right. So, you can’t do that. But there are there are methods and techniques, you know, techniques for sort of structuring your arrangement with them.
But the main The thing is, don’t start out a business engagement where you are feeling resentful right from the beginning. Because if you are, then you’re not going to show up fully present for that person in the way, in your best light, you will resent them for it, you will look at everything that they do through that lens of them taking advantage of you. So you really, this is a place where I see a lot of new business owners struggle.
And what it is, is they have direct access to the decision maker. And the larger your firm gets, the less this becomes a problem. Because now you have other people there interacting with it, you can see this is the fee, right? And so you don’t go to the doctor’s office, at least the United States, you know, go to the doctor’s office and negotiate the fee.
Fee is the fee and you know, your insurance covers it, it does it, then you get bills, and you pay the bills is what you owe, there’s no discussion of negotiating those fees. And when people have direct access to you, and they only see you they think, Well Rob, do you deal with this individual. And so really, the quicker you can say you’re dealing with a law firm that has certain prices, you know, for the services, and you’re having other people involved in that transaction. So they realize that it’s not, you know, you’re they’re not going to be able to just negotiate.
Al McBride 41:31
Yeah, that’s a great reframe. And in that, in that idea of, you know, let this be fixed. And there’s no discussion around here. And that’s very powerful
Davina Frederick 41:41
I what I what I find, but I know we’re gonna move on to something else, what I find really quick too, is when you have so much of this is setting up systems, when you have systems in place where they it, everyone enters this way, fills this out nice if this in this way, concludes this way, they either go in this direction, or they go in this direction, they go on the outdoor or they go in the indoor, and then we sign them up. And there’s a process, if you don’t have a very clear process that is a repeatable process over and over again.
Even if that person doesn’t know it, when they come in, they will automatically feel it since it believe it. No, like, they’ll know when things are off. And so they will lose confidence in you. And they will feel that there is room to negotiate. And often they will like I’m a very strong personality. If I go into a situation where it’s apparent, apparent that no one is leading, that they don’t know what they’re doing. I’m gonna jump in and start leading, because it’s just like, okay, come on people, I got things to do, I gotta jump in and start leading.
I’m a high D, can you tell like d i on the disk, right? But that’s what will happen oftentimes with your clients, if they come in, and they see that you’re not really certain What’s your processes, and they’ll say, oh, there’s waffling here. So there’s room for. And so in having that process, if that’s not your personality, having that process will help you because then you can rely on the process
Al McBride 43:08
to process is the structure. That’s what I love about
Davina Frederick 43:10
right, right to shore up that. And they’ll have a lot more confidence in you because they’ll know you’ve done it. Obviously, you’ve done this a million times, right? Because you have this very clear process,
Al McBride 43:20
which just was another conversation we’re having recently about where you’re mentioned, it was discussion in one of your groups, where one of your clients was upset or irritated, even angry, I guess, when she was attempting to hire someone or they wanted to negotiate. So there’s another area of negotiation in a different direction to just talk quickly through that. And then what your thoughts on your advice was in that scenario?
Davina Frederick 43:48
Well, so it’s, it’s interesting this, I’m in a number of lawyer groups on social media. And this was an another lawyer. This is not my client. This was another woman, law firm owner who was discussing this and she was she was saying, I’m, I’m attempting to hiring and to hire and this young man, I really liked him. And he seems great, but he’s, he’s come back, and he’s wanting this, this and this and this, and I’m offended. And that was the long and short of it. And she was offended. She was offended, because he came back and he wanted more money than she had budgeted.
He wanted some other things that she wasn’t, you know, like she wasn’t prepared. And a lot of people we see this a lot in these sort of social media groups where people will pile on and agree when they don’t really know all all these kind of details and whatever and they’ll jump in.
Well, and I commented and I said, you know, he sounds like a good lawyer to me because he’s negotiating. Oftentimes women I mean, those statistics will tell you that women don’t negotiate as frequently for jobs as men and women, in fact, will look it up at a posting and if they don’t meet up 100% of that criteria they won’t apply, then will, you know, I mean, happy to have that criteria I’m going to apply anyway, give it
Al McBride 45:06
a go. So that’s kind of the attitude is it’s like, yeah, sure. The worst I can say is no,
Davina Frederick 45:11
you know, competence kind of thing. But he was negotiating. And I said, that’s a wonderful skill and a lawyer. So I will be looking at that. And I will be going, Oh, wow, look, you know, I would expect him to negotiate, I would not expect him to go through this job application process and not negotiate with me. And and I would look for other people who were attorneys coming to work with me, if they didn’t negotiate with me in some way for this position, then I, I would question that, especially if you’re in an area like contract law, you know, what it looks like.
So that was my, my take on it. And some other women attorneys said the same thing. And what the issue was, I suspect is that she had given her best offer, she wasn’t prepared for negotiation. So she didn’t leave herself room to allow for negotiation. And he threw her when he came back, and she immediately went into panic mode, I can’t afford that. And that’s a that is a, when people say I can’t afford that it’s an immediate, you know, steel trap that just drops down an immediate steel door that just drops down,
I can’t afford that you immediately close your mind to any possibilities, instead of looking at it and going now, I have had a client recently who had a, they had a wonderful receptionist who worked for them, who works for them. And she was doing a great job, and the clients loved her. But she came in one day, and she asked for some astronomical raise, why way I was like, double our salary or something. And, and I want insurance. And I want this and I want that channel a lot of things, right.
And my clients who are partners in a law firm, they were just taken aback by this, and they’re going, Oh, my God, we can’t afford to lose her. It’s so hard to find people right now. She’s wonderful, but we can’t afford this. What do we do, and one of the issues is that she was a little older, and she had been a profession and another professional and another profession. And here, she was working as a receptionist job. And I said to them, and I think she had some shame around it.
And so what I recommended that they do, because I’ve been seeing a lot of law firm owners having trouble keeping receptionist, and one of the things I recommend they do is change the scope of the job and the title of the job. And in that case, I said what she’s really wanting is a career path. So she wants to know, what is my career path in this firm is their growth for me in this firm? What, Where am I headed here, because I don’t want to be in this dead end job, because I’m this person who’s still got a lot of potential for my career.
And when they went back, and they gave her a career path, they changed it from receptionist to client care specialists, they gave her more client care activities, in very important things like following up with leads and, and being that point person when people call in and they’re trying to solve a problem, they want to talk to the attorney. Now she’s the person who is empowered to find answers for them without passing off to an attorney immediately.
So they began to evolve this position, and give her a career path we so value you, as an employee, this is what we can do. So there’s a lot of room for negotiating with people, if you can get to the heart of what it is that they want, and need, instead of trying, instead of just immediately going steel door, I can’t afford that, boom, I’m back to the drawing board. And then I throw up my hands and I can’t find anybody nobody wants anymore.
Al McBride 48:53
What you’re doing is you’re talking exactly from position, you know, I won eight more days off or undisciplined, more pay and raise or whatever. And then when will the interests? What is it about this that you actually really want, you know, diving under the request, as you say, and that’s great that that client of yours was able to then have value add tasks that their employee their staff member could do, which would actually generate potentially the money and
Davina Frederick 49:26
potential, and when they did it made her feel so empowered, and she loves that solution. She was so excited and happy about that.
Al McBride 49:35
And that’s what creates loyalty that’s for creates respect, because as I said, they were
Davina Frederick 49:40
they did give her a little raise, but it wasn’t sure yeah, it was more in line with what they can do, you know, so. So
Al McBride 49:49
that is that was a lovely example just to have the approach to problem solving and thinking there and it’s fantastic stuff. Fantastic stuff. Davina so just we’re just coming up on time there. Where can people learn more about you? You You mentioned your podcast which is superb. Where can people follow up with you a bit more on your podcast and if people are interested in exploring more on your website what where can they get you
Davina Frederick 50:19
so it’s super simple to remember it’s wealthy woman lawyer.com wealthy woman lawyer.com best place to go you can find out about our services you can also get a copy of one of my two books on there. We’re actually updating the product page so that’ll be out by next week. You also can follow me on Instagram at wealthy woman lawyer or come join our free Facebook group you just look wealthy woman lawyer in Facebook, we’re there I’m on LinkedIn as well.
So I’m in all the socials are except for Tik Tok. I’m not there probably won’t be for all kinds of reasons, but I’ll spare people my dancing skills. So that’s that’s the best way to find that information and connect with me and get to know me and then I do recommend the podcast I’ve gotten a lot of terrific feedback on the podcast we’ve been doing about three years we we are kind of unique because when we started doing this, we did something nobody else was doing.
And that was really inviting women law firm owners on the podcast to share their stories and their insider secrets and things they had done to be successful. And then we also bring in other experts who work with professional service businesses and law firms to help them scale as well. But we have a really great following people who just binge on all of these episodes and so I hope people are going and enjoying those. You can find it on the website but it’s also on your favorite podcast app so it’s on Apple and Spotify and I Heart Radio and a whole bunch of different ones it gets distributed pretty widely so um, I do people I do hope people go and listen to upgrade.
Al McBride 51:56
Just just like to reiterate that it was a great interview. You gave me so much appreciated on that so I know you’re very good podcast host so do check it out. And also as I said, you know Davina his books are superb. They’re they’re concise, they’re focused. They’re just behind you there. So do check them out. Do check them out. All right, Davina, thank you so much for being a guest on the show. Great talk with
Davina Frederick 52:21
you. I appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed it. As usual. I enjoy our conversations. Thanks for having me.
Al McBride 52:27
Thank you so much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Ready for more:
If you’re interested in more, visit almcbride.com/minicourse for a free email minicourse on how to gain the psychological edge in your negotiations and critical conversations along with a helpful negotiation prep cheat sheet.