Important Marketing Rule for Lawyers: Be On Time

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Last week a lawyer invited me to lunch.  He wanted help with the marketing for his firm.  Since helping lawyers with marketing is what I do, and since I like eating lunch, I accepted the invitation.

I am a bit of a fanatic about appointments.  I tend to get everywhere early.  Fifteen minutes early is my standard but it is not unusual for me to get somewhere 30 minutes before the scheduled meeting time.  This is not just because of my obsessive personality.  I always allow extra time for traffic, the need to fill the car up with gas, a meteor crashing into my route to the meeting venue…you get the idea.

So when the day arrived for my lunch with this lawyer, I got to the restaurant about 20 minutes early.  This gave me some time to read the newspaper while I waited.  Not necessarily a bad thing.  When I completely finished reading the front section of the paper I looked up and noticed that I had been sitting in that same spot for about an hour.  This means that the lawyer was already 35 minutes late.

I folded up the paper and was about to leave when my lunch date arrived.  He offered no apology and when I confronted him with the fact that I had been waiting for half an hour he simply replied: “There was a lot of traffic.”

Needless to say, I did not accept this man as a client. Here’s why:

A lack of time integrity is an indication of an irresponsible person.  Being late is a sign that you do not take commitments seriously.  We set a specific time for the meeting.  Honor that commitment.  To account for the traffic, leave early.

If you do not respect my time, you will not respect the advice I give you.  How seriously can you take what I say when you don’t think I am important enough to show up on time?

People who are chronically late lack personal pride.  If you do not care about your image enough to be on time for a meeting, you obviously do not care enough to represent yourself well.  I certainly do not want to work with someone like that.

I realize many people will think this is harsh. I also realize many people will wonder what this has to do with lawyers marketing their law firms.  Unfortunately, the world is a harsh competitive place.  Since marketing for lawyers is all about helping them get the best clients, and time is an essential element of the execution of marketing tactics, a lack of time integrity kills the marketing process before it even begins.

If you think I should “give people a break” because “stuff happens” you are involved with the wrong guy.  My feeling is that smart people anticipate the stuff that is going to happen and they adjust.

Be on time.  It will help you get more clients.