The Most Effective Strategies for Nurturing Referral Relationships with Brian Glass


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Are you looking to invest more time and money into marketing your firm? In this episode of the Maximum Lawyer Podcast, Jim Hacking and Tyson Mutrux interview Brian Glass, a personal injury lawyer from Fairfax, Virginia. Brian shares his journey in the legal field, and the shift in marketing that he has done with his firm, Ben Glass Law.

Brian shares some insights on his firm’s strategic shift from digital marketing to referral marketing, which has impacted the performance of his firm. Digital marketing involves putting money into running ads or commercials for a business. This only works if you have a team ready and able to take floods of calls from potential clients. Since most clients are calling to inquire, many will skip from firm to firm if that initial intake process is lacking. A shift to referral marketing involves putting money into a relationship management person whose job is to foster relationships with people who are most likely to refer others to the firm. Depending on how much money the firm is making, referral marketing might be more feasible and manageable.

Nurturing these relationships is so important if referral marketing is the avenue a firm chooses to go down. There needs to be a process in place to figure out where to search for potential clients who can refer people. This can be cold calling or cold emailing people within your postal code or city limits and meeting them one on one. Whether it's a coffee chat or a lunch, it is crucial to make personal connections with those who have a wide range of networks.

Take a listen.

Jim's Hack: Read the book No Ego by Cy Wakeman. The book is about cutting down on workplace drama and what solutions can be implemented to create a better culture.

Brian’s Tip: Read the book The Comfort Crisis by Michael Easter, which talks about how comfortable people are in their day to day lives and how to move away from the mundane.

Tyson's Tip: Choose a theme for each month and encourage your team members to share something related to that team. 

Episode Highlights:

  • 08:39 The decision to shift from digital marketing to referral marketing, and the results of this change
  • 05:54 Building relationships and prioritizing family time
  • 10:59 Referral relationship management strategy 
  • 14:16 Role of the relationship manager 
  • 19:05 The importance of evaluating processes and seeking innovative approaches in law firm operations

Connect with Brian:

  • 08:39 The decision to shift from digital marketing to referral marketing, and the results of this change
  • 05:54 Building relationships and prioritizing family time
  • 10:59 Referral relationship management strategy 
  • 14:16 Role of the relationship manager 
  • 19:05 The importance of evaluating processes and seeking innovative approaches in law firm operations


Transcripts: The Most Effective Strategies for Nurturing Referral Relationships with Brian Glass

Jim (00:00.814)
Welcome back to the Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I'm Jim Hacking.

Tyson (00:03.941)
And I'm Tyson Mutrix. What's up Jimbo? I am livin' it up man, what about you?

Jim (00:06.862)
Tyson, how you doing my friend?

Jim (00:11.758)
Well, I know you're glad you got that coat and tie off, so I guess you started your way back to Columbia.

Tyson (00:16.741)
I did, yes. I'm not strangling myself anymore, so I'm pretty happy.

Jim (00:23.214)
Nice, well I'm excited for another exciting episode of the Maximiliar Podcast. Our guest today is Brian Glass. Brian, how are you doing?

Brian Glass (00:29.493)
My friends, I am wonderful. Thank you so much for having me.

Tyson (00:32.677)
So Brian, that's fine. Yeah, so Brian, rather than me doing intro, I think I'd rather just have you tell your journey. So tell us your story, tell us about you and how you got to where you are now.

Jim (00:33.422)
Sure, so yeah, sorry Tyson. I jumped Tyson's thing. Go ahead, buddy.

Brian Glass (00:52.085)
Okay, cool. So I'm Brian Glass. I'm a personal injury lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia, and I am constantly confused for my dad, Ben. So my story is when I graduated law school in 2008, I was absolutely trying to avoid that. So I went to work for anybody else. And I spent the first 10 years of my career, you know, practicing in the similar area of law as him in the same city and really competing with him.

and then joined his company in 2019. We came together. We're now co -owners of Ben Glass Law. He now operates our long -term disability space and I operate our auto accident practice. And then, you know, within the last year or so, I've become more involved in Great Legal Marketing, which is our coaching consulting mastermind program for owners of solo and small law firm owners. So that's kind of my story. I've been married for 15 years.

three little boys who keep me active and I'm trying to build a practice where I can leave at four o 'clock every day and go coach youth sports, because that's what really excites me.

Jim (01:56.75)
That's awesome. Yeah, so I would not be where I am today. There probably wouldn't be a maximum lawyer. My law firm wouldn't have grown from me and Adela to now over 50 people if it weren't for your dad. I remember I came to Great Legal Marketing on a free ticket from Tom Foster at Foster Web Marketing. And that was the time that your dad convinced Dan Kennedy to break his rule and come hang out with a bunch of lawyers.

Brian Glass (02:16.885)

Jim (02:26.734)
And I mean, I sort of understood your dad and I remember Dr. Peter Wishney was there and I remember he talked about having a dashboard that showed your stats on your law firm and I was like, what the hell is this? And then Dan Kennedy came and he was talking about all this marketing stuff. I didn't understand any of it. So I owe your dad and I've told him before on this very show, I owe your dad pretty much everything I have.

Brian Glass (02:52.629)
awesome. Yeah. Yeah, right. Back in the old days when nobody was on a CRM and nobody had dashboards. And still, I think, in your experience, maybe the same, but for the vast majority of people who are still discovering organizations like yours, we actually don't have these things. Most solo and small law firms don't have anything near the sophistication of the lead dockets and the case peers and the file vines. In fact, the firm that I was at for the first half of my career, like

we were managing everything on a running Word file. Like each file folder, which was still in Microsoft, you know, whatever that platform, Windows platform, it had its own, we call it the activity sheet. And every time you did something, you typed in what you did in the running Word folder, right? And I only left that for them in 2019. So there are many, many people out here who have not heard the message.

that you guys are espousing on your show about how to run your firm like a business. So I think you're doing a great service here.

Tyson (03:53.573)
You know, Brian, you mentioned something just briefly. So you have your dad, who he is. He's in the legal space legendary. But you said that you have been confused for your dad quite often, and so you've done everything you could to kind of prevent that.

I guess what was that like? Yeah, it was a blessing because I'm sure your dad's passed on a lot of great things on to you, but I'm sure in some respects it's been a bit of a curse. Will you talk a little bit about that?

Brian Glass (04:26.869)
It is, it depends on the month, honestly. Like for the first part of my career, the whole intention was I'm gonna make my own friends and my own reputation and my own way of doing things. And honestly, since I, I can count probably on one hand, since I've come over here, the number of clients who have said, no, I don't wanna talk to you, I wanna talk to Ben. And actually most of those people were.

prospective clients who didn't become clients. And that dynamic, you know, as much as you learn, like, boy, it's a setback every time somebody says something like that. And so you you really as a as the next generation, you have to balance the gratitude of I have been taught and learned and given a lot with like the little insult of but but you're not been. So that is it's something that I'm constantly working on.

And it's been a while since a client has said, no, I'd really rather talk to him. Now, either he doesn't tell me or nobody says, I'd really rather talk to Brian. But I'm curious and I'll have to ask him when we're done here, whether he has that experience.

Jim (05:40.43)
Let's talk about four o 'clock. Let's talk about why that's important to you. Let's talk about how lawyers construct things. You know, so many people think they are the center spoke and I guess a lot of times they are. They think to themselves four o 'clock, what in the hell is Brian talking about? You know, I'm lucky if I get home in time to have a quick dinner before the kids go to bed. So talk us through that please.

Brian Glass (05:55.317)
Mm -hmm.

Brian Glass (06:03.029)
So my oldest, well, my kids are, let's see, 11 and nine and six, almost six. And so I coach the 11 year old soccer team and I coach the nine year old's baseball team. I do not have the temperament for six year old little boys. So, so I, he'll have to wait a couple of years till he's older. But you know, Jim, this is, it's really about like understanding what is normal to you and normal to me.

was having a dad that was there at every family dinner and every family soccer practice, right? I mean, my dad, when he was running his firm and there were only five of us, there's nine of us now, kids that is, when there were only five of us, he was leaving. And I think at one point he was coaching three soccer teams, living in, working in Arlington, Virginia, commuting back out to Fairfax and being on a soccer pitch to coach three different youth soccer teams. I don't know how he did it on Saturdays.

but that was just normal to me. And so, you know, I kind of want that to be my experience with, with my kids is that I'm there for them to coach for as long as they want me to coach. we did Cub Scouts for a while. Cub Scouts really was not my thing. I'm not the outdoors camping dad, and I was totally out of my element. So I'm glad that we've pivoted over to sports. and you know, you asked about, well, how do you do that?

To be honest, like the personal injury practice really lends itself to that because it's not as though that hour between four and six or seven is something where I'm losing billable hours or anything like that. And so as you build the practice, it's like how in the injury space, like how can I go out and find larger cases and work them more efficiently and increase your effective hourly rates so that you can leave at four o 'clock? So one of the things that

that is just always blocked on my calendar every spring and every fall is 4pm on Monday through Friday. Just enough people know not to expect anything from Brian after four o 'clock. And now I get back on the email and back into the case management at night, spot check anything. Most of the stuff that we're doing can wait till the next day, right? But people just know that after four Brian's not available.

Tyson (08:21.061)
Alright, so Brian, a couple weeks ago, you and I were talking and Becca, we were talking to the three of us, you, me and Becca, and you said that you all have turned off all of your digital marketing spend and you've diverted all of that money into referral marketing. Will you talk about that? Because I think that a lot of people that are listening right now and…

Brian Glass (08:41.333)
Mm -hmm.

Tyson (08:47.173)
I didn't see Jim's face, but I'm sure internally he's probably thinking, what the hell? So talk about that, and talk about the results that you've seen since making that shift.

Brian Glass (08:57.909)
Yeah. Yeah. So we are right now running a law firm that's kind of in the messy middle. Like we'll do, we'll do about 4 million in revenue this year. And that size is a strange size to be at because you have a choice. I can put a whole bunch of money into digital marketing and flood my firm with calls. But when I do that,

We better be damn good at answering the phone and getting clients signed up, especially in the injury space, right? Our space is just so hyper competitive that if you are not answering the phone, solving people's problems and sending them a retainer often on that initial phone call, they're just onto the next one. And so we thought, well, how, how could I extend and give my team a little bit of grace, right? Well, the way to do that is somebody who's referred to you is going to wait long.

because they haven't just found your name on Google. And so we made this real play. And the other thing that we did is we looked at where our cases were coming from. We signed on with Lead Docket maybe a year and a half ago, and that gave us really good data on where cases and money had come from. And what we learned is 65 % of our cases and 80 % of our dollars had come from a referral from a real live human being. And so, you know, we're screwing around with this small…

PPC and small LSA spend that wasn't enough money to really make an impact, but was enough money to be really aggravating, right? When you spend four or $5 ,000 a month and you get one case, right? Well, the reason you only get one case is because you're not getting to the phone calls quickly enough. And so we said, well, what if we just turned that off, right? So if we're spending $5 ,000 a month, it's $12 ,000 or $60 ,000 a year. What if we just diverted that into

like a referral relationship management person, almost like a pharmaceutical rep whose job is to nurture relationships with people that might send us cases. We deliberately in the auto space have not been trying to nurture cases with other lawyers because I find that for a practice like mine, that is the most expensive case acquisition costs that you can have. Right? There are guys that do this really well, guys that parachute in.

Brian Glass (11:21.845)
and try big cases, that's not who we are. And so for them, it makes sense, right? I can acquire a case in another state, they'll bring me in and it'll be a million dollar fee. Awesome. That's not my practice. If I have to pay a third of a fee on a 50 or a hundred thousand dollar case, that's a really, really big spend. And so what we did is we just targeted who are all the other people that touch my auto accident clients before I get involved. And usually it's chiropractors, physical therapists.

auto body shops and insurance agents, right? That's kind of the category of people. And for me, the highest leverage was chiropractors and physical therapists who are in what I call like small mom and pop style businesses. So as, as venture capital money is buying up more and more practices in medicine and systematizing them, you were losing the ability to do this. But we just, so what we did is we sent a mailer to all of the,

smallish physical therapy and chiropractic practices that we could find in a five mile radius of our office. And we said, let's, let's go to lunch and just tell me what kind of problems you have. Right. And so what are you here? Problems is, I don't like working with lawyers because the cases always take too long. Lawyer never tells me what's going on in the case until the end of the case, when he tells me I have to take a significant reduction in my fee because the case isn't any good. And he didn't tell me this for the first 12 months of the case. Now,

The problem that most lawyers have in generating referrals from chiropractors is that they expect it to be a one to one relationship. You send me a case, I send you a case. Well, if you're not attracting a whole bunch of digital leads, then you really don't have that capability. So I said, I said to these people, I'm not going to solve that problem for you, but I will solve the problem if you were running a good practice and you just are getting screwed on the back end of these injury cases by lawyers.

I'll be a better mousetrap for you. So why don't you send the cases to me? And that has worked out. The thing is, it's really hard to run the business, do the work and maintain all those relationships. So that's where the referral relationship management person comes in. We had a front desk woman who we promoted to director of happiness for a while because that's just what she is. When she walks into the room, everybody lights up and said, you would be awesome at curating these relationships with.

Brian Glass (13:48.469)
outside providers. So she thinks of what's a gift that they could, we could send them, you know, based on going through their website and looking at their, looking at their interests. She takes care of setting up the lunches. She takes care of doing all of the little things that we do. Like when we sign one of those cases, we make sure they get something. So you get a little dopamine hit, thanking them for having referred the case. So I mean, I'll stop that rant.

there and give you guys a chance to ask some questions. But for us, it's like, all right, we know this is where the cases and where the money is coming from. So let's turn off this aggravating spend and try to build an asset in the firm, right? Because now I'm paying a person to build relationships. And it's just a space that I don't think many law firms are playing in.

Jim (14:39.15)
So I want to pick up that thread and go right to that that woman the relationship manager is she doing The initiating of context with new people or she's following up with people that you guys already knew and then how does she sort of spend her day?

Brian Glass (14:53.333)
Yeah, so both. So, you know, periodically we say, here's like, let's draw a circle and let's find all of the people within this circle and let's reach out to them. And we have a three -part mailer that goes out to them, inviting them to reach out and do some kind of introductory thing, either a zoom call or better yet a lunch. And then as new cases come in and as we, again,

back to practice management software. As we look at our practice management software, if we've put in a new provider that we've never had any contact with before, there's an outreach to that doctor. Hey, we now have a mutual patient client, right? And then the last thing that I'll say about that is something that I started doing early in my career is that every time I settled the case, I made a point to hand deliver the outstanding balance check to the doctor in those small practices. Because it's something nobody else is doing. It's a way to put a name with a face and it's a way…

to just continue the conversation and continue the relationship. What else is she doing? You know, we've, she's nurturing the relationships within that practice and we are trying like hell to get her out of being rollover answering the phones, right? Cause she's good at that and she's a go getter and she just wants everybody who interacts with us to have a great experience. And every week you have to come back and be like, no, that.

I just want you to be in this box and to just meet these people and leverage these people. So she's working on restraining that. She works with our marketing director to put together what we call our dream 100 list, which is a Russell Brunson and a chip somebody concept. Like who are the hundred people that touch your clients before you ever see them? And then those are the people that are important for us to market to not necessarily the end user.

Tyson (16:49.925)
So I've got a pretty specific question and there may not be a good answer to it, but I'm very curious. So one of the things that we have, a policy that we have is that we won't work with a chiropractor unless we've met with them because we want to make sure that they practice conservative care because a chiropractor can screw up a case in a heartbeat just by not referring them out for the MRI, not getting them to pain management, not referring them out whenever they need to be referred out. So how do you solve issues like that? Because that,

That could be a real problem.

Brian Glass (17:22.901)
Yeah, great question. So I built that into our case management system. So we use case peer and I built in a deadline that's 12 weeks from the date of the crash where somebody on my team calls to get a treatment update. And if they, we don't direct care, right? But if they haven't got an MRI or they haven't been referred out, then we suggest that that happens. Right. And then if that doesn't happen two weeks later, then we're following up again with the patient.

Because you're right. I mean, how many times have you put your head in the sand on a case where you didn't have the capacity to do enough updates with the client and then you find out that there's six or eight months of chiropractic care, you know, with no benefit and with no objective studies. Yeah. So we just built that into our system.

Tyson (18:06.277)
Yeah, because we've had before and it's just where the chiropractor just outright refuses. And then we have to sort of guide the care a little bit. And they end up going to someone else who gets them out for an MRI. And they've got significant tears or some other serious injuries that are not being addressed. And so.

Those are my types of concerns when it comes to getting referrals from chiropractors because you're kind of stuck with them. But yeah, it sounds like you all are on top of it though. And listen, if they're not going to refer them out, then I guess you just won't work with that chiropractor anymore.

Brian Glass (18:47.093)
Yeah, that's right. I mean, listen, there's 75 chiropractors within 15 miles of my office. How many of them do I need to refer me cases in order to have a thriving auto accident practice? Right. I probably need five. So, so the world is large. And honestly, Tyson, like we just have that conversation up front. Like I'm not going to refer you cases. I expect that the, not I expect, but, but Hey, here's the things that we've noticed is like,

On my end, the problem is some of chiropractors, not you, I'm sure, but some chiropractors treat people forever, right? no, no, no, we don't do that. We at six weeks, whatever, right? Okay, great. Well, so just so you know, in my system at 12 weeks, clients getting a notification that maybe, you know, in order to continue getting this care paid for, we got to have it blessed by somebody with an MD behind.

Jim (19:39.854)
So, switching gears off that for just a second, one thing that I've really noticed about your dad and you is that you…

sort of take a look at where everybody else is doing and maybe doing something differently. And can you talk about that mindset for us, Brian, because I think so many people just say, I gotta start my firm. I gotta get Google LSAs. I gotta do Google Ads. And your dad has always been sort of in a kind of class and saying, let's think that through first.

Brian Glass (20:10.869)
Yeah. So the hard part is you've got to do something differently and you have to be right. Because sometimes everything everybody is doing something the same way, because that's the way to do it. So, you know, there is like, when everybody else is zigging, you need to zag yes, but zag needs to be correct. And so I think it's just constantly thinking through what are the processes that we have in place.

is that yielding the result that we want it to yield and then having an ethos within your firm of listening to the team when the team says, this is not the right way to do this. So one of the things that we have in our firm is we call it brain boost every other month where the whole team gets together and we share something that's working for us and we share a roadblock that we've hit. Because at this point we've got

think 20 people in house. And almost all of the problems that somebody has in a silo, somebody else has solved somewhere. And then the question is like, okay, does is that a one off solution? Or is that something that should become part of our process? So the other thing that has been really helpful to me about thinking differently and about operating the business differently is to get out of rooms of lawyers and spend time with people who are in.

either another practice area or in another industry altogether. So I'll give you an example. I'm in a mastermind called GoBundance. It's entrepreneurial men. Almost all of these guys own a company. And I was on a call with a guy who owns a roofing company. And I said to him, how do you assess your sales guys? Because they're going out in a one -on -one context and they're having conversations and some of them are good at selling and some of them are not good at selling. How do you QA that? He said, well, we…

I have a team that comes behind them and we have the checklist of things that the sales guy is supposed to do. And so we just ask the prospect, hey, in some of these cases, we need to fly a drone up to the roof. In some of these cases, we need to take pictures from the inside. I just want to know did the guy do it in this case? And the thing is that it's supposed to be done in every single case, right? So now you know who's operating your system and who's not.

Brian Glass (22:34.389)
And just that idea of like, man, we can have somebody go behind and do the QA, either listening to the calls or calling and following up is an idea like you wouldn't think most lawyers would be looking to the roofing industry to grab these ideas. But when you're in rooms with other business owners who have systems that lawyers have never really thought about, you get ideas like this.

Tyson (22:58.437)
I think it's brilliant, it's a great idea. I love that. All right, Brian, we do need to wrap things. Before I do, do you want to tell people how to reach out to you if they want to get in touch with you?

Brian Glass (23:11.605)
Yeah, so I'm most active on LinkedIn. It's just Brian Glass. And then every other social it's the Brian Glass. You can check us out at Ben Glass law, which of course is different, and a great legal marketing also.

Tyson (23:24.485)
Love it. Really good stuff. All right, we're going to wrap things up before I do. I want to remind everyone, join us in the big Facebook group. Just go to Facebook and search Maximum Lawyer and you'll find us there. Apparently, Siri thinks I'm talking to her. And if you want to join us in the guild, go to maxlawguild .com. And while you're listening to the rest of this episode, please give us a five -star review. It helps us spread the love. We would greatly appreciate it. Jimmy, what's your hack of the week?

Jim (23:56.398)
So I'm reading a book by Cy Wakeman called No Ego. It's a great little book. And the shocking lead is that most managers spend almost 30 % of their time dealing with the drama. And Cy Wakeman is sort of dedicated towards trying to cut down on workplace drama and instead coming up with solutions.

There's a lot of stuff about gossip and about all, you know, just sort of unnecessary emotion at the workplace It's it's a really good book and our friend Bill Farias recommended it after some drama at his shop So I highly recommend it

Tyson (24:34.597)
You know what we found is that the more we hire A players, the less drama we have. So it's worth spending the extra money on A players. That's been a big, big solution to that problem. But I have heard that book. I don't think I've read it before, but I'll have to check it out. Brian, we always ask our guests to give a tip or hack of the week. It could be a book, a quote, podcast, you name it. What you got for us?

Brian Glass (24:58.421)
so I'll go to book, I just finished Michael Easter's The Comfort Crisis, which is about how comfortable we have become with our air conditioning and our heating and our three meals a day and all the snacking in between. And about how if you had just a little bit more pain in your life, you probably would be better off. So that's a good book to check out The Comfort Crisis.

Tyson (25:22.789)
Yeah, I do sometimes think about like some of the most successful people in the world have gone through an enormous amount of pain. So it's an interesting thing that you do have to kind of force yourself through a little bit of pain. But it's interesting. I'll check that one out.

For mine, so we do something called June is peep month, just so you all know, that's peep month. So we call our people peeps. And so each week we celebrate the qualities that we look for in a peep. So this week is passion. So my tip of the week is if you've got something like that, if you call your people a certain thing, there's certain qualities that you're looking for in your people, or you can use your core values, choose a month and kind of make it a big theme, make a big deal about it. And…

And every Wednesday what we're doing is, like this week, P -Passion, everyone talks about an example of them exhibiting passion for what we do. So if you want to, I recommend that you do something like that that's themed for, pick a month of the year and you all can kind of celebrate your core values or what you're looking for in an employee. And it gets everyone involved and reminds them of why you're doing this. So.

I recommend you doing it. Brian, great to see you, good seeing you. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing a bunch of wisdom. I really appreciate it. We'll have to do it again sometime.

Brian Glass (26:51.956)
Yeah, thanks guys.

Jim (26:52.974)
Thanks, Brian. Good stuff.

Tyson (26:55.301)

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