Have you talked to your clients about your maintenance program all year and now you are wondering exactly what to do to fulfill on these services in 2012?  Many firms we talk with are overwhelmed by the “getting started” process.  While we fully advocate that a lot of intentional thought and analysis go into the creation of what you are going to offer and what you are going to charge, now that it is time to “deliver” – here are a few QUICK and EASY steps to do so.
(Our Disclaimer: By no means are we saying the suggestions below are the ONLY way to deliver a maintenance program.  They are simply some EASY ways to get started for anyone who is overwhelmed and not sure where to start.  Of course, you have to make sure your actions match up with your promises. )
1. Send out a package to your clients who are in the program.  (Be clear on who IS in the program.  In the program means they have either paid an annual fee or they have signed an engagement letter to do so next year.  Do not go through all the preparation of a package for people you have only ‘talked to’ about the program.)  Included in the package:
a. A confirmation of the names of appointed “helpers” to serve in roles in the client’s plan with instructions for the client to review and return with any changes.
b. A Funding Report – a spreadsheet showing their list of assets, how they should be titled, and a Funding Homework list with any remaining items you are waiting on or need.  (Don’t be afraid of the Funding Report just because everything isn’t 100% complete. This is a GREAT opportunity to get any remaining items from clients you’ve been waiting on.)
c. A  one page worksheet asking the client if there have been changes in any circumstances (i.e. death or divorce in the family, new family members thru marriage or birth, significant change in health and anything else you think would trigger a change)
d. A short memo with 2-3 legal or enhancement changes.  If not, clients will say “oh nothing has changed on my end so I don’t need this program”.  It doesn’t have to be a legal change, but can be an “enhancement” – something new to add to their plan or a new feature or option; your Legal Directives, Legal Vault or Docubank.  It can be “making sure you fully utilize your Docubank membership” and a short checklist asking have they filled out certain things. Or let them know your Client Services Coordinator will give them a short tutorial at their meeting when they come in.   Client also like anything to do with their personal property lists.
TIP: A great way to find changes is to scan the list serves or look at update logs for your software program and see what they have updated lately in the software.
e. The cover letter needs to be SHORT so they read it – everything else should be enclosures.  It needs to reiterate clearly that these services are INCLUDED in their annual fee already paid.
f. The cover letter should explain that they should call your Client Services Coordinator to schedule an appointment NOW.  Not to wait until they fill out all the papers, that you only have a limited amount of appointments (or workshops if you do a group update) each month.  We suggest to reduce the back and forth of scheduling, include an enclosure that lists 3 appointment times for each month and the client can call in to schedule or check their top 3 options and fax or email in.  Your Client Services Coordinator should call to confirm upon receipt.  If you pre-set the appointment times it will make the scheduling more organized.  If a client can’t do one of the pre-set times they will let you know and you can schedule accordingly.
g. If part of your program offering is doing “educational workshops” then schedule 1-2 workshops now and include a schedule.  Trustee training is always a great one.  Make sure it’s clear they can/should bring their trustees if possible.  Or even as simple as an annual anniversary party you have on the firm anniversary date—maybe even just 2 hours where you serve cake and coffee and they can stop by to “cheers and visit” with you all. Or a birthday party for the attorney.  Be creative and make it an “experience” for them.  You can list of all your upcoming happenings:  National Elder Law month or the health care directive events that you are doing. Clients love all of this fun stuff. 
The events can be for later in 2012 but you want to announce them now in the package.
h. The clients need to return the items at least 2 weeks PRIOR TO their meeting so you can prep the docs.  Your Client Services Coordinator needs to calendar to check and make sure the items were received 2 weeks prior to the client’s appointment and call to remind them if necessary.   
i. Let them know they are welcome to bring their family (adult children, trustees, etc.) to their meetings/workshops.  GREAT way to start working with friend and family of the client.
2. Your Client Services Coordinator should call each person who has not scheduled 2 weeks after the packages go out.  This is new for clients so they might be confused or overwhelmed.  Your CSC can walk them through the process.
3. CALL anyone who has not paid their annual fee.  Don’t send them a 2nd bill or a reminder letter.  If they haven’t paid they are simply confused about what the program is.  It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be in it.  It’s just something new and they may not remember exactly what it is, particularly if they registered for it months ago.  This is not a bad thing.  It’s a GREAT opportunity to call and re-explain the value of the program to the client.

Again, these are some general suggestions to get your program going, one small step at a time. Easy action steps can get things moving and then you can refine along the way. Remember, progress not perfection!

Champions of Your Continued Success,

Molly and Laney