Video: How a New Bankruptcy Attorney Can Network with Other Bankruptcy Attorneys

I received an email today from an attorney seeking to network with other attorneys in her area who said: Why should we teach you and have you take business away from us? This is a common problem that many new attorneys face and this short 7 minute video will solve that problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Free Tools to Save Bankruptcy Attorneys Money

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKODW2hfPVQ

This video covers a variety of free online tools that were developed specifically for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtor bankruptcy attorneys. These tools will save attorneys and their law firms money as well as provide as an excellent set of reliable resources when preparing bankruptcy petitions.

DO YOU ENJOY MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at the top of page

Video: What Bankruptcy Software Should I Choose for My Law Firm?

A review of the top three bankruptcy software programs; New Hope, EZFiling and Best Case. This video will help you to choose the best one for you and your law firm and includes a money saving tip near the end. Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret to Social Marketing with LinkedIn and Facebook

CONFESSION: I am guilty of using LinkedIn and Facebook strictly for marketing.  Boy, was I wrong.  My mistake was caused from the fact that I had prior knowledge from the old school of how to prepare a press release so that it is presented as a news item rather than an advertisement.  Therefore, I applied this same mindset to social networking on LinkedIn and Facebook.  Big mistake!!  And by writing this short article I hope to prevent you from making the same mistake I did.

First of all, posting news-type items in groups with a lead back to your website is still an effective way to market.  This form of marketing is called the two-step method.  Step 1: You hook the reader with an interesting headline and story; Step 2: they visit your website for more information.  While they are at your website they notice other products or services you offer and they become a customer or client.

The two-step method is highly effective for service businesses because a service business is much more personable compared to the retail world.  And, the two-step method is also essential in pre-qualifying customers.  Only people interested in what you offer will visit your website in the first place and only people who are really, really, really interested in your offer will place an order with you.  That level of pre-qualifying potential customers is often not achieved as easily using other methods of marketing.

However, after almost a year of heavy duty marketing on LinkedIn and Facebook (which means that I marketed 4-5 hours every day for almost a year) I had mediocre results.  I certainly wanted to know the reason why and correct the error, but where would I begin my research?

One day I was posting to my groups on Facebook and a warning message came up.  It said that I may be spamming and I needed to stop.  I did not understand what the message meant so I continued posting to each one of my groups.  Suddenly a new message popped up from Facebook telling me that I would be banned from posting to my groups for at least 3 days.  I did not understand what I was doing wrong. Facebook does not tell you that.  Even when I did a search in the help files of Facebook I could not find anything relating to my problem.  I left the Facebook website bewildered, addled and unaware of what just happened.

With LinkedIn I never received a warning message; so I continued to post to my groups and followers there instead.  One day I was reading messages that people posted from groups that I belong to.  I found a question posted by an attorney that I knew the answer to.  I replied and told her the source I used to solve her problem.  The attorney was very grateful and my answer became the Pick of the Week. It moved to the front of the group page and I received a 78% increase in the amount of traffic to my website compared to when I posted a discussion versus replying to a post.

This is how I discovered the secret to marketing on LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social networking service.  You must treat your groups in the same way you would attend a business meeting.  You enter the room (join the group), socialize with others (read and respond to posts) and exchange business cards (post a link to your website.)

Start utilizing this marketing technique and you will see the difference.  I wish you and your business the best of success.

Contact the Author

Victoria Ring is a Certified Paralegal and Bankruptcy Specialist. She is the developer of the virtual bankruptcy assistant field and the founder of MyBankruptcySchool.Com which provides training and support for attorneys and legal professionals working in the Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtor bankruptcy arena.  For more information visit http://www.victoria-ring.com

Pre-Qualifying Debtors for a Mortgage Cram Down

I had two attorneys this week send us bankruptcy cases where they wanted to propose a Cram Down on the FIRST mortgage and a Strip Down of the SECOND because the house was underwater. Unfortunately, both of the bankruptcy clients were not eligible for a cram down. I had to call both attorneys and let them know. They were shocked and were not aware that pre-qualification was necessary to propose a mortgage cram down and strip. This is when I decided to write this article to help other attorneys and their law firms. Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 7 Class Schedule for September 2010

Enroll at http://www.mybankruptcyschool.com

September 7 – Getting Started and Pre-Qualifying Debtors September 11 – Voluntary Petition, Schedules A and B September 15 – Schedules C, D, E and F September 20 – Schedules G, H, I and J September 24 – Statement of Affairs and Means Test September 28 – Miscellaneous Forms and Finalization Techniques September 30 – Marketing on the Internet

START CLASSES ANYTIME

The schedule above is for LIVE classes.  But when you enroll you gain immediate access to the online school.  Each class module is filled with training materials, videos and audios so you can get started learning right away.

However, during the LIVE classes you will be able to interact with the instructor, Victoria Ring.  You are also encouraged to bring problem petitions to the class so that everyone can learn through real world practice.

STUDENTS ALSO RECEIVE

** 90 days of free access to the online school after the graduation month ** 90 days of free access to future Chapter 7 classes so you can repeat classes if you miss one or need to review the information a second time ** 50 percent discount on private training services during the time you are enrolled as a student

VIDEOS FOR REVIEW

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39Knm0X6TTs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oInwBLMGvKA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ojn-TWS6aAA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bF3G8zCWmY

ENROLL AT http://www.mybankruptcyschool.com

My Bankruptcy School is for both attorneys, paralegals and legal professionals working for attorneys. We have attorneys sign up as individuals because they prepare their own petitions; or we have attorneys sign up with their paralegals.  We also have entire law firms of 5 or more sign up and take the classes together.  Regardless of whether you are a beginning or have experience with petitions, I hope you decide to join us and increase your current petition skills.

INSTRUCTORS

Victoria Ring – http://www.victoria-ring.com Sonya Banks – http://www.virtualpetitions.com

Pricing Your Services

Just like Sears would never ask JC Penny how to price their products, I cannot tell you what prices you should charge for your services.  The best advice I can give is to play with prices until you find the right price that works for you and earns your law firm or service business a profit.  Your overhead expenses and profit margins are different from mine and everyone else.  That is why YOU need to set your own prices and not rely on others to do it for you.  And also remember:  NEVER alter your prices just to make a sale.  Some attorneys and virtual assistants who are only interested in prices (not quality) will only be focused on price and paying the cheapest amount they can find.  These are normally not people you want to do business with or build your company with anyway.

Let me give you an example: I received an email inquiry from a law firm asking me to provide them with a price for preparing their bankruptcy petitions.

The first thing I did was to call the attorney on the phone and find out exactly what they needed. I was not able to speak to the attorney but I spoke to his wife, who works for him in his office. The attorney’s wife explained that their main petition preparer was going to be on maternity leave for a few weeks. They wanted someone who was skilled in preparing bankruptcy petitions to step in while she was gone.

From this information, experience told me there would be problems with the pricing. Most law firms are use to paying an employee $10 or $12 an hour; so quoting an attorney a flat fee of $500 or more was going to blow their mind. However, I was in the mood to present my sales approach to see what would happen.

First of all I explained the benefits of using my virtual bankruptcy assistant services. Not only would the petition be compiled, my services also included an online asset search, lien search, criminal search, client intake interview as well as amendments that needed prepared throughout the life of the case. After building up all the benefits and expanding on how my services were different compared to an in-house employee, I told the attorney’s wife the price would fluctuate depending on the assets and liabilities of the debtor. But as a ball park figure, the fee would be no more than 25 percent of the attorney fee.

Immediately the attorney’s wife said she would talk to her husband. I knew right then and there that she was not happy with the price. How did I know? Because if she would have been interested in my services she would have asked me questions and sought out details of how my work would be performed. Instead, as soon as she learned my price she dropped the ball and found an excuse to get off the phone. These are things you need to look for when marketing your service business.

Now, some beginners at this point would have felt bad. They would have felt compelled to lower their prices just to get the sale. One virtual assistant I met did just that. In fact, she lowered her fee down to $100 and the bankruptcy attorney took advantage of her. While the attorney made $2,500 for every petition, he paid her only $100 and she did all her work as well as the attorney’s work. This is modern day slave labor and an attorney who is dirty enough to do this is not an attorney I would want to be working for.

Did I feel bad when the attorney’s wife turned me down and never returned my call? Of course not. In fact, just to prove my theory I waited a week and sent the attorney’s wife the following email: “We spoke last week regarding your paralegal that is going on maternity leave soon. I wanted to follow up and see if you were still interested in my services of preparing your bankruptcy petitions while she is away.”

Her response was almost immediate and it was harsh; “We found someone much cheaper than you!”

This type of response told me that my first assumption was correct. I certainly would not want to work with someone with these major personality issues.  A remark like this told me the attorney’s wife was angry inside and wanted to inflict as much pain as she could on someone else in order to relieve that anger. But instead of inflicting pain, her response only revealed her true character. It was clearly evident the attorney’s wife was NOT a professional. Even if she was not happy with my prices, she would have thanked me for the follow up and politely told me they had decided to pursue another solution.  Or, if she was still interested in my services but thought the prices were too high, she would have called and attempted to negotiate a different price with me. This would have been professional behavior.

In fact, I had another attorney do the same thing to me. He said he could not afford my prices but asked me how much I would charge if I did not do any online searches or client intake interviews. This lowered his per petition cost significantly and we worked out a price that was fair and reasonable to accommodate him.  These types of negotiations are common in business and if someone does not try to implement them, it shows you immediately they are not business savvy people.

WORD OF ADVICE FOR ATTORNEYS

Even though I am a virtual assistant and I have written this article with a virtual assistant slant, attorneys can learn from this information also.  When hiring an employee to work in your office or a contract virtual bankruptcy assistant, never base your decision to hire them on price alone.  In a service business, when the main focus is providing service to clients, you need to find people who are personable, caring and eager to help others.  This will help your law firm to grow and prosper much better than hiring someone who will work cheap.

In addition, all attorneys need to price their services according to the complexity of the case.  Naturally a debtor with no assets, no mortgage, little debts and no lawsuits filed against them will be a much easier bankruptcy petition to prepare compared to one where a debtor owns 11 homes and all of them are in foreclosure.  Because attorneys price their services according to the complexity of the case, virtual assistants preparing bankruptcy petitions for attorneys should also price their services according to the complexity of the case.

MORAL OF THE STORY

Do a search in any lawyer directory and you will find there are hundreds if not thousands of bankruptcy attorneys in almost every city and town within the United States. As a trained, professional virtual bankruptcy assistant, you save attorneys a great deal of money and you have GREAT WORTH. You help to eliminate paperwork and deficiency notices. You assist the federal bankruptcy court in eliminating time and increasing their efficiency. Your skills are not to be discounted to a low grade level. As I said before, if an attorney chastises you for the prices you charge, this is not an attorney you want to work with. There are plenty of attorneys who will recognize the fact of how you will benefit his or her law firm and appreciate you for the professional you are.

Remember: Providing good services to good people is how you build a long-lasting career in any service business.

REFERENCE LINKS

Attorney Marketing Links Add Your Website to Our Directory Enroll in MyBankruptcySchool and Enjoy a Marketing Course Built Into the Curriculum

How to Market with LinkedIn

Many people ask me about marketing with LinkedIn when I train marketing. I put together three short videos that total about 20 minutes. They will teach you three very important marketing lessons.

LESSON 1 OF 3

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aooTjuUiu38

LESSON 1 of 3: This particular lesson shows you the importance of completing your profile and how to accomplish this as it pertains to search engines.

LESSON 2 OF 3

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUUcfhZw6ho

LESSON 2 of 3: This particular lesson shows you how to build your contacts and the reason why contacts are extremely important to your marketing campaign.

LESSON 3 OF 3

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGum922iLQ4

LESSON 3 of 3: This particular lesson shows you how the effectiveness of joining targeted groups, posting and communicating with members.

DO YOU ENJOY MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at the top of page

Advantages to Renting -vs- Owning in Today’s World

Problem: A debtor cannot afford their mortgage payments but is unwilling to give up their home.

Suggestion: Often, the reason for this behavior is because the debtor believes they are living the American Dream (by being a homeowner) and if they give up their home, they will lose their status and their dream.

One way to help them face reality is to give them a copy of the article below.  CLICK HERE to download the PDF so you can print it own and provide to your clients who need this information.

Also see:  http://www.businessinsider.com/15-signs-that-the-us-housing-market-is-headed-for-complete-and-total-collapse-2010-8

Are You Losing Your Home to Foreclosure? Things may not be as bad as you think

Less than a decade ago it was the American Dream to own your own home.  However, back then, no one heard much about owing more money on a home that it was appraised at.  Home values back then appreciated, not depreciated like they do today.  Therefore, the new American Dream has changed to “rent and save money.”

Warren Buffet, the financial advisor and billionaire, recommends renting.  In his biography entitled “The Snowball,” it states:

“Warren rented because he didn’t want to tie up his money in a house at that time, after all, he needed to live off of the interest on the stocks he owned.  This was highly unusual at the time, especially considering that even at 26, he would have been considered rich by most standards. So all of you renters out there that claim your way is the best… you might be right, especially if you have investing skills like Warren did.”

With this thought in mind, let’s uncover four popular myths surrounding buying a home:

Myth #1:  Renting an apartment is like throwing your money away

Renters pay for one thing every month: shelter.  Renters also pay a reduced rate based on national statistics.  Some could argue that homeowners throw their money away for the first five years they own a home because they simply give money to the bank for the privilege of borrowing money.  Many buyers in the past 5 years have seen little or no appreciation and in fact, the opposite has occurred.  Renters on the other hand do not pay interest to a mortgage company, do not pay property taxes and do not pay maintenance fees.  Renters simply pay r-e-n-t.

Myth #2:  It Costs the Same to Buy as it does to Rent

Examine what it costs to first buy a home.  The average buyer pays a minimum of 5% of the purchase price of the house to close the loan.  On a home that costs $150,000, that amount is $7,500. A renter generally pays the first month’s rent, last month’s rent and possibly a security deposit.  On a rental that rents for $1,000 a month, that total is $3,000.  The renter is already $1,500 ahead of the buyer.

There are also other costs a buyer is responsible for that a renter is not.  There is mortgage interest, property tax, insurance and maintenance.  These costs can add up and may even increase significantly over a period of years.  In addition, buyers are responsible for maintenance and repairs that could cost them thousands of dollars a year.

Myth #3:  Houses are a Good Investment

In the past 12 months there have been a record number of foreclosures in many states across the U.S with a high concentration in Florida and California.  This record-setting trend could possibly continue for some time into the future.  During the housing boom, many buyers believed that housing was a great investment.  For many it was.  But the boom turned to bust for millions.  No one at this point can foresee the future t o predict what will happen to the housing market.  However, by renting, you will not be at the mercy of the economy.

Myth #4:  There are Income Tax Benefits When You Pay Mortgage Payments

Mortgage interest can only be deducted from taxable income.  What this means is that for every dollar you spend on interest, you save about 28 cents.  Most buyers are going to pay more money for the principal, interest, taxes and insurance than they would for rent.  You can calculate the amount of money you can save with your taxes and then determine if this myth is fact or fiction.

Summary

There may be a time when it is better to buy a home than it is to rent but today is not that time.  However, if you can get a great deal on a home or a foreclosed piece of property, you should always take that into consideration regarding your decision to purchase rather than rent.  Until the economy returns to where it was, there are a lot of banks and mortgage companies willing to accept your money every month.

Video: Behind the Scenes of My Bankruptcy School

If the video does not automatically appear in the area above, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39Knm0X6TTs

MyBankruptcySchool.Com is the first online school developed for bankruptcy attorneys, paralegals and legal professionals to teach Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy petition preparation skills. This video walks you through the benefits provided to students who enroll in the online courses.

DO YOU ENJOY MY VIDEOS?

If you enjoy my short videos specifically designed for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MsVictoriaRing Click on SUBSCRIBE at the top of page