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The FALDP Docket -- Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers Monthly Newsletter
September 15, 2018

Florida Association of Legal Document Preparers

The FALDP Docket

Volume 8 Issue 9; September 2018

This is our monthly newsletter. We publish this for the benefit of FALDP members, legal document preparers, and friends.


Announcements


2018 Fall Conference

Get Ready. Get Set. Let's Go!

Its less than a month to our conference on October 13 in Cedar Key, Florida at the Cedar Key Community Center, 809 6th St, Cedar Key, FL 32625. Please check the site for ongoing updates. Our theme is:

BUILDING BRIDGES & BREAKING BARRIERS to legal access.



Conference Agenda

  • 9:00 - Ruth Tick, introduce the day
  • 10:00 - Presentation about legal access and how consumers are prevented from pursuing their legal rights
    .
  • 11:00 - Divide attendees into small groups to brain storm about legal access and strategies to overcome the barriers to legal access.
  • 12:00 - Lunch
  • 1:00 - Panel discussion about the unauthorized practice of law.
  • 2:00 - Presentation from groups about breaking barriers to legal access.
  • 3:00 - Presentation from groups about building bridges to legal access.
  • 4:00 - Awards, prizes, contests ... and more. We'll have an assortment of prizes, giveaways and contests. Plan on participating in our civics question and answer game - Are you Smarter than a 7th Grader? We'll give away a Road Warrior Prize; have a business card drawing; and other activities to wrap up the day.
  • After Party - we're hosting a get together at Pirate's Cove after the conference. Plan on coming to relax and get to know your colleagues better.

  • The $95 conference fee is the same as previous conferences. Cedar Key is a small tourist/ fishing village on Florida's gulf coast. Please check for places to stay in Cedar Key to get an idea of the variety of reasonably priced accommodations, ranging from less than $100 per night on up. Some are cottages that allow pets.

    We're switching up our conference format for the 2018 Fall Conference. Instead of having multiple guest speakers, we're going for a more collaborative approach. Attendees will be assigned to small groups to brain storm specific issues related to our conference theme - Building Bridges and Breaking Barriers to Legal Access.

    We assembled a panel of long time members who have been the subject of a Florida Bar investigation and lived to tell the tale. They have agreed to tell you their stories and answer questions about UPL and their investigations. We recognize that these investigations are an impediment to our businesses and a consumer barrier to legal access.

    We'll have an assortment of prizes, giveaways and contests. Plan on participating in our civics question and answer game - Are you Smarter than a 7th Grader? We'll give away a Road Warrior Prize; have a business card drawing; and other activities to wrap up the day.

    Expect lively interaction, a chance to meet your colleagues, and take away information that will benefit your business.

    The fee for the all day conference is $95. Pay the $95 fee if you are already a member. The conference fee plus new membership is $170. New members please don't forget to submit a Membership Application form.

    To learn more and register go to our Conference Info Page See you there!

    FALDP Members may pay at the door.

    We allow current FALDP members to pay for the conference at the door. Try to let us know you're coming, though, so we can be sure we have enough lunch and snacks for everyone.

    Marketing 101

    You can offer the best customer experience ever, but it won't do you any good unless you understand how to attract potential customers and how to sell them your services. Only then will you have the opportunity to give your customer the stellar customer experience that will make them want to tell all their friends and bring them back for more.

    Marketing is not just one thing. Its not just advertising, or having a great logo, or an attractive website. Its all of those things and more. Marketing means going where your customers are and making them aware that your business exists. Marketing is a constant effort, a consistent point of view. The consistent point of view is called the unique sales proposition or USP. Your marketing homework is to define what makes you and your business different from your competitors? How do you stand out? What is unique about what you have to offer. I see some document preparers establishing their uniqueness and being different from attorneys. And we are. But, frankly, we're not exactly even in the same field. We prepare documents, we're not some kind of junior attorneys that under cuts the competition. So, yes, of course you have to make it crystal clear that you are not an attorney and do not provide legal advice, but, what else? What else is different about you and your business? What will make a potential customer choose your services over another document preparer's services? If we are all plain vanilla, it doesn't matter, vanilla always tastes like vanilla.

    But, we're not the same. Dig deep and find the differences between you and your competition. Price is one thing, but should not be the only thing. Price points should be competitive, but I never suggest that document preparers should offer their services for too little. Do you offer services that your competitors don't? Do you have a special business model that benefits your customers? Every feature comes along with a benefit. Features are facts – services and products. Benefits are your customer's “what's in it for me”. And, you want your potential customers to lower their guard enough to come to your office or pick up the phone. At this point they're only reading your advertisement.

    Feature: I prepare Florida divorce documents using Florida Supreme Court approved forms.

    Benefit: The potential customer immediately relaxes knowing that I'm using official forms. He may already have the forms, and not have a clue as to how to prepare them.

    Feature: My price for a divorce is $255. and an additional $75 for divorces with children,
    Benefit: The potential customer relaxes more knowing the price in advance; and knowing its affordable. Some people will have already shopped attorneys and other document preparers before they find your advertisement. Pricing transparency is important to buyers, because many people suspect that they might be charged based on what they can afford. Its fine to offer a discount here and there. But there is no point in offering a discount, if your customer doesn't realize its a discount.

    Feature: My turnaround time is 7 days.
    Benefit: The potential customer relaxes knowing that he won't have to wait weeks for his documents. Some people want their divorce right away, they may want to remarry, or just eager to move on to their new life. More lowering of the guard occurs.

    See how the features and benefits work? Sell benefits NOT features. You can insert the benefit language in the same sentence as the feature. Like so: I prepare Florida divorce documents using Florida Supreme Court approved forms, giving you the peace of mind knowing that I'm using official Florida forms for all of your documents.

    Still, all plain vanilla so far. What's unique about my offer? I use a virtual business model, and I have extensive experience preparing Florida family law forms.

    And you might say it this way:

    We know you're busy. Because the document services I provide are 100% virtual - over the phone and over the internet, you save the time and avoid the inconvenience of coming to an office.

    And,

    I'm guessing that this is your first divorce. I've prepared hundreds, maybe thousands, of divorce document packages. Don't spend your time struggling through the arcane language of the form instructions that read like stereo instructions poorly translated from Chinese. I've worked with these forms for years and stay abreast of court rules and requirements.

    So, there you have it. One piece of the puzzle – Marketing 101.


    If you're an FALDP member, and not taking advantage of these 7 things – you're leaving money on the table.


    1. Uploaded your information for our County Member Directory. All referrals that we give out come directly from the Member Directory.

    2. Included specific types of documents that you prepare in the information you upload to the Member Directory so that you will be represented in the DOCS A-Z Directory.

    3. Uploaded additional information about you and your business for your Mini-Page. Consumers can learn more about you before they contact you, you can use the Mini-Page as your personal business page, and you can add graphics – your smiling face, your logo, your storefront.

    4. Become FALDP Certified. FALDP Certification shows the world that you're serious about your business, and that you've gone the extra mile to go through a voluntary certification process.

    5. Taken our two free Members Only courses - “Sales Secrets for Document Preparers” and “Building a Better Business”. The Sales Secrets course assumes that although members may know how to prepare documents, they may never have had a sales job in their life. There are real techniques to closing a sale that don't necessarily include being pushy and overbearing. Building a Better Business urges you to think creatively about how to establish your niche in the marketplace.

    6. Taken our “Avoid UPL!” course (which is mandatory by the way). For only $29. you'll learn how to avoid some of the red flags and catch phrases that can invite a Florida Bar UPL investigation. Ask anyone who has been through an investigation how distracting and intimidating these can be. The best thing to do is to avoid an investigation in the first place.

    7. If you have extensive experience preparing immigration documents, if you're not participating in our Get Documented Initiative, you may be missing some sales. When you can give your customers multiple payment options, you have a better chance of closing the sale.


    Amazing Specials

    Specials in effect through 10/12/18

    1. Turn Key Special - During the run up (through October 12) to the FALDP FALL Conference, the conference fee will be waived with the purchase of a $499 Turn Key Business Bundle. This is an additional $95. savings. FALDP Membership is always included with the purchase of either of our Turn Key Bundles. Our mandatory Avoid UPL! course is included with the Turn Key Business Bundles as part of the package. (This represents an additional $29 savings). Learn more about our

    Turn Key Bundles.

    2.Course/ Conference Special Choose any three online courses and pay only $499. And during the run up (through October 12) the FALDP FALL Conference the conference fee will be waived with the purchase of a Flat Fee Course Bundle. This is an additional $95 savings. Learn more about our course bundles Each course is a stand alone course, or can be bundled with other courses and by doing that - you'll save money!


    Mandatory Course - Avoid UPL!

    Most members have completed this course by now. If you have not yet taken this course, please do so as soon as possible.


    A - Z Docs in progress

    Our DOCS A-Z pages are still under construction. We're up to the “Documents – L” page. Each lettered page includes a touch to call phone number, name, and location for each document preparer who prepares that type of document. D for Divorce etc. But, in order for a member's information to be displayed at all depends on whether that member stated that he prepares this type of document on his county Member Listing. For example, if your listing shows that you prepare adoption forms and nothing else, your contact information will only be displayed on the “Documents – A” page. But, if you also prepare divorces, and show that on your county member listing, your contact information will also be shown on the “Documents – D” page. Conversely, if you prepare many types of documents, but only show one or two on your listing on the Member Directory, your contact information will only appear in one or two of the lettered pages.

    FALDP Foundation, Inc.

    We're making progress! Members if you come across someone who truly needs our financial help, please have them fill out a request form on our Foundation page We will then refer the consumer to one of our members for assistance. If we are able to assist, the document preparer sends an invoice to the FALDP Foundation, Inc. for payment.

    If you would like to support our efforts, please donate any amount that you are able. We offer a free T-Shirt for any donation over $10.



    FREE T-Shirt with donation of at least $10, mailing costs included for orders within Florida.


    Please sign and share!

    We have 268 signatures - help us reach 500!

    Slowly but surely, we're reaching our goal. Never forget about the story of the tortoise and the hare. FALDP published a petition asking the Florida Bar to do the following:

    1. Investigate UPL when there is consumer harm. Not when there is "potential" harm.

    2. If the Florida Bar demands that we follow their rules, make those rules clear, and set out in a fashion in which document preparers can easily find and refer to the rules.

    3. Lighten up on the investigation of document preparers altogether. We feel we are being bullied and harassed by an entity that does not supervise us. The Florida Bar is authorized to investigate UPL, but putting document preparers out of business is counter productive all around.

    4. Give us some recognition for what we do. We are part of the solution to the ongoing justice gap. Until consumers are being served fully, there is no need for us to be perceived as a threat to lawyers.

    The petition would not embed in this newsletter, here is the link to the change .org petition Every signature counts. We now have over 250 signatures. Please keep signing and sharing. Here are some of the comments:

    "Many people need help in the courts and cannot afford a huge retainer fee just to get any kind of justice."

    "Stop beating on the little people in the business,

    "Because most lawyers are greedy money hungry feet dragging blood sucking judgemental holier than thou wankers..
    "Attorneys are very expensive and there are many things that can be handled by an individual if they have the right forms."


    Certification Reminder

    Don't forget. To earn and maintain your FALDP Certification you need to complete at least 10 CEU's per year. CEU's can be earned in a variety of ways:

  • Complete FALDP online courses;
  • Comment on FALDP videos;
  • Post on FALDP Facebook page;
  • Attend the Annual FALDP Conference;
  • Attend conferences and seminars related to our industry;
  • Answering questions on our "Ask the Members" forum;
  • Assist FALDP by translating web pages, answering the 800#, spotting errors on our site;
  • Designing and creating a fund raiser for the FALDP Foundation, Inc.
  • Other activities that you suggest




  • Virtual Providers

    We posted a video within the Members Only about becoming a Virtual Provider. The Virtual Provider designation is an upgrade to your membership. For just $30 annually your information and services can be displayed in 66 of the 67 Florida counties. We exclude Miami-Dade because of their local form requirement, and the difficulty in serving consumers virtually there. If your business model includes assisting consumers over the phone and over the internet, advertising your services as a virtual provider will expand your reach and increase your income. Become a Virtual Provider here. If you have not renewed your virtual provider status since June 2017, its time to renew. Virtual provider status runs with membership, the time lines are the same. We will send invoices to current Virtual Providers in June.
    VIRTUAL PROVIDER - ANNUAL FEE $30


    Member's Announcements & Contributions

    Have something to share?

    We accept member's announcements and appreciate your contributions. If you have an announcement about your business, an expansion of services, moving your offices, or winning awards, please send us the information and we'll include it in our newsletter. Your announcement needs to be pertinent to your business, we are unable to include announcements about other trade associations, clubs or groups.

    If you would like to write an article, editorial, opinion piece, or web page please let us know. We are always in need of fresh information and insights.


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    FALDP Contact Information:
    Main number – (941)237-0951
    Toll free - (800)515-0496
    Email – staff@faldp.org

    PLEASE LINK YOUR SITE TO WWW.FALDP.ORG
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