05 Oct The Dreaded Question: “What do you charge to file bankruptcy?”
How to tackle the tough topic of price with your customers
You’ve all been in the dreaded hotseat before. You answer the phone. A potential customer expresses interest in filing bankruptcy and immediately asks, “What do you charge to file bankrutpcy?”
You didn’t expect this question to come so soon. You’re pulse increases slightly. You’re tone becomes nervous. You stumble for words, debating what to say, and finally decide to tell them that you charge $1,500 for a Chapter 7 and $4,000 for a Chapter 13, in addition to court filing fees. Shortly after, the customer pauses for a while and says, “Thank you” and then the call is promptly over.
If this common nightmare situation has happened to you, you’re not alone. Price is one of the most challenging items to discuss with potential clients. Sooner or later, you have to have “the price talk” with your customers before they file. If you approach the subject effectively, you will not only avoid awkward conversations and lost client interest, but you will turn price into a positive conversation that will lead to increased clientele.
Why is price such a touchy subject?
Even if you’re buying things that you really want, such as a big screen TV, riding mower, or jet ski, it still stings when you have to write the check or fork over cash. This pain is even harder to bear when buying products or services that you don’t want, but buy out of necessity, such as life insurance, root canals, or bankruptcy. Bankruptcy in particular has unique traits, such as the following, that make price especially difficult to approach.
- People that file bankruptcy are already feeling immense financial pressure, and many have little (if any) discretionary income.
- Attorneys often compete heavily on price, which forces prices downward and makes price a top source of competition.
- Bankruptcy attorney fees are pricey. Even if you had $1,500 in cash, it is still tough to give that up.
- Those that file bankruptcy often only see the costs of bankruptcy without seeing the benefits.
How can you have effective discussions about price?
Price discussions are only as awkward and difficult as you make them. Here are some tips for discussing price more effectively.
- NEVER avoid the issue. When someone asks about price directly, don’t give them the runaround. When you say things like “Well, it depends on….” or “We don’t give prices over the phone”, customers immediately think that they are getting taken advantage of (like that stereotypical sleazy used car salesman) and that you must charge astronomical amounts. The fear of the unknown when it comes to price is one of a customer’s greatest fears. Make sure to always give them a clear, direct answer when they ask about price.
- Bring up prices at an opportune moment. You don’t want to discuss prices when the potential customer is feeling nervous, hesitant, or scared. As you get to know customers and establish a bond, you should bring up price when you feel the timing is right. When you bring up the topic of price instead of having the customer initiate the discussion, you hold the upper hand in that you can control the tone of the conversation. You can keep the tone light, positive, and upbeat. If the customer brings up the topic first, you face the possibility that you are caught off guard and the conversation may easily become negative or awkward.
- Defend your prices. First of all, your prices should be fair, competitive, and justified by quality. If you charge more than your competitors, you should be able to justify why. Explain to customers that you give higher quality, better results, etc. This will help them justify in their minds why you charge more than the guy down the street. If you charge less than your competitors, use it to your advantage! Tell them that if they go with you they will save $X off what your competitors charge. If your prices are somewhere in the middle, explain why. Customers often understand the tradeoff between price and quality, so they will feel comfortable if you are in the mid range of prices.
- Help them see bankruptcy as an investment. At first thought, $1,500 sounds like a lot to give up just to file bankruptcy. Help customers put these fees in perspective and see bankruptcy fees as an excellent financial move. For example, if the customer has $25,000 in dischargeable debt, you could say something like, “Yes, $1,500 sounds expensive, but once you’ve filed, you will eliminate your $25,000 in debt and get a completely fresh start. Essentially, you’ll be saving $23,500! The money you spend on filing will set you down a completely improved financial course.” See how that tone is much more positive and focuses on the pros of attorney fees instead of the cons?
- Offer payment plans and price discounts. Consider allowing customers to pay in installments over time. $1,500 sounds a lot worse than $300 for 5 months. Sure, you run additional risks by allowing customers to pay over time, but it will likely increase how many people file with you. Also, if you run price specials, this will likely increase your conversion rates as well. For example, “$150 off filing from customers who came from our website,” or something similar, will improve your results.