Born and raised in Crawley, LA, Kenny Habetz infuses southern hospitality into every aspect of his practice. By putting the client first, he ensures that personal referrals expand his book of business, month over month. Practicing law since 2009, the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member took the leap and opened his own practice just under a year ago. Intent on building a client first-practice from the ground up, he shares with us why small firms need a strong foundation of systems and processes to scale successfully, how to bring large firm owners into a network, and how to prioritize when new firm owners are pulled in a million directions.
- Put clients first. No matter the size of your firm, the care and keeping of your clients should be a top priority. A client that has a great experience can become a referral source that will help your business grow.
- Ask for help – from everyone. If you don’t ask, the answer is always “no”. Firm owners can learn from the triumphs and failures of existing practices. Stay open and learn something from everyone.
- Build strong foundations from the start. As a firm begins to grow, having processes in place allows for a more efficient practice. Work out the kinks from the start.
Kenny Habetz (00:01):
It’s probably overkill for a small shop, but I’m not thinking small shop. I’m thinking down the road.
Maria Monroy (00:07):
Is it scary?
Kenny Habetz (00:08):
Yeah. Anybody be the lying if they told you. Of course, it’s scary. But when you surround yourself with good people, mentors, business coaches, whatever it may be, and go based on a track record of success and knowing like, “Look, I did it.” When you look at it like that and you’re like, “I got this.”
Maria Monroy (00:32):
In law school, attorneys are taught to challenge everything, tear things apart, break them down. But the qualities that make lawyers great can be some of the worst for running a business. At every stage of growth, running a business and practicing law can feel overwhelming. And what happens when you try to add life and family to the mix? It can feel nearly impossible. You don’t have to do this alone.
I’m Maria Monroy, co-founder and president of LawRank, a leading SEO agency for ambitious law firms. Each week we hear from the industry leaders on what it really takes to run a law firm, from marketing to manifestation, because success lies in the balance of life and law. We’re here to help you Tip the Scales.
Kenny Habetz is a fierce advocate for his clients and has earned a spot in the multi-million dollar advocates forum. He has practiced law since 2009 and less than a year ago, he took a leap. He opened his own firm, Kenny Habetz Injury Law. Today, he shares his experience as a seasoned attorney and offers advice on how to successfully launch a firm. Kenny explains how he built a support network of heavy hitting attorneys as mentors and why small firms made a strong foundation of systems and processes from the start. Kenny is from a small town in Southern Louisiana. He grew up working on a farm where he learned the values that shaped the man he is today.
Kenny Habetz (02:04):
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had a job, worked on a farm with my uncle when I was very small, worked through high school and college, working on rice, crawfish, soybeans, stuff like that. It gave me the values, the work ethic, and if you work hard, you put your mind to it, you surround yourself with good people, you’re going to be successful. It all goes back to hard work.
So small town, went to LSU, go Tigers, and then started practicing law. And I think my first case, I was still in law school. I think I took a real estate class and the grade was made up of 50% on the midterm, 50% on the final equals your final grade, right? Well, I got that. I never went to class. Took the midterm, took the final, made an A, but the teacher said, “No, I never saw you in class. You get a B.” And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, you’re not going to mess up my grade.” The syllabus said 50, 50, whatever it is. So appealed it and went to the board and whatever, and I won. I got my A.
Maria Monroy (03:04):
Kenny Habetz (03:06):
And so that was my first case. I was in college. So it just started from there and I just helping people, and I thought about going to med school, this and that, and I’m like, “Well, that’s like 12 years if you want to be honest. 12 years.” I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. That’s not going to happen.” So went to law school, loved it. I’d go back to law school today because it was like, I was surrounded with a lot of great people, had fun, learned a lot, and where I am now.
Maria Monroy (03:37):
What was your first job out of law school?
Kenny Habetz (03:40):
I clerked for a judge, district court judge in back home, Opelousas. It was phenomenal experience. I learned so much. It was great. I owe a lot of credit to Judge Doherty. He was amazing.
Maria Monroy (03:52):
And after that?
Kenny Habetz (03:53):
After that, I went to work. Fortunately, went to work for a PI firm doing single event, car crashes, workers’ comp.
Maria Monroy (04:00):
And how long did you work there?
Kenny Habetz (04:02):
12 years, I think to the day, actually.
Maria Monroy (04:04):
Okay. And now you’re running a business?
Kenny Habetz (04:08):
Maria Monroy (04:09):
Did you learn how to run a business during your time at the firm?
Kenny Habetz (04:15):
Yeah, at mobile firm I did. I did a lot of the marketing, the business, the HR, I guess I was managing the firm without that title kind of thing, but I was spending a lot of time doing those things.
Maria Monroy (04:30):
What made you take the leap?
Kenny Habetz (04:32):
I knew I could do it better, and more importantly, I knew I could do it better for my clients. Every decision I’ve made from when I started practicing law is what’s the best decision for Kenny’s client? And if you can answer that in no matter what it is, you’ll be successful. You’ll stay out of trouble at the BAR, you’ll have happy clients, you’ll have repeat business. That’s how I’ve operated and everything I’ve done is what’s the best decision for Kenny’s client. It is the reason why I left is because in starting my own deal is I can do it better and provide a better service to Kenny’s clients.
Maria Monroy (05:12):
What do you mean when you say you can do it better?
Kenny Habetz (05:14):
I think no matter what the business is, if it’s law, if it’s a doctor, if you’re eyelashes or Botox, whatever it may be, at the end of the day, you’re providing a service to your client or customer, patient and customer service is priority number one for me.
Maria Monroy (05:35):
So did you feel that your past firm didn’t have the best customer service?
Kenny Habetz (05:39):
No, I wouldn’t say that. Everybody tries. Everybody, I think, has good intentions, and…
Maria Monroy (05:45):
But that’s not enough though. I mean, what if I told my clients we tried, they would be like, “Yeah, I don’t think so.”
Kenny Habetz (05:52):
I think that being able to systematize it is the most important thing, is doing the same thing over and over the right way. Building systems and processes and procedures to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Make sure that every person gets the white glove treatment. I may have a bunch of clients, but I want each client to feel like they’re the only client I have. And that’s a struggle. It’s hard. It’s tough, but that’s the focus that I have and that’s part of the reason I went out on my own and did my own thing is so Kenny’s responsible for this. Success or failure, it’s on me.
And making sure that my clients are treated the best. Because the book of business that I have is so many repeat clients, families, referrals, personal referrals, professional referrals. That’s where my bread and butter business is. And I know I put the time in of making sure that the clients are treated properly and going above and beyond on even the small case, the small case, the big case. It’s like stuff people don’t want to handle like I did, because I knew that it would pay off tenfold down the road and helping somebody when nobody else would help them.
Maria Monroy (07:13):
Got it. Now, you mentioned that you saw holes. So when you say you saw holes, did you feel like, “Well, I can fix them and fill them, but why not just do it for my own firm? Why not just start clean and do this correctly?”
Kenny Habetz (07:29):
Yeah, so that’s the big thing. It’s tough fixing problems. And I laugh all the time. My wife and she said, “What did you do today?” Fight fires. It’s like fight fires. We can do this the right way from scratch. We’re not fixing 30 years of problems or bad processes, bad procedures and things like that. We can start from scratch and build the best law firm based on the best client, customer service from scratch.
Maria Monroy (07:59):
You’ve had the firm for a few months. What have those few months looked like? What have you been working on besides taking care of your current caseload?
Kenny Habetz (08:10):
It’s tough starting as a solo, it is. And I encourage anybody that has that opportunity or thinks about it, do it. It’s a struggle because you’re pulled in so many directions, because you obviously have to maintain the practice of law, number one. So you’ve got that aspect of it. Well, then you’ve got to find office, you’ve got to get furniture, you’ve got to get a phone number, a website. There’s so many other things to where you’re pulled in a million different directions all at one time while you’re taking the leap of, “Oh my God, I’m going to go on my own and I got to be able to pay payroll. I got to be able to pay the rent and the light bills and things like that.”
But most importantly with that is you can do it and surround yourself with smart, talented people to help you get there. And I’ve been blessed with mentors, friends, family, my wife, everybody’s just super supportive. And when I tell people, “Hey, I’m on my own. I started my own thing.” And they’ve never been more excited. “That’s amazing. Congratulations. How can I help?” That’s a big deal, I think. Even on a competition, people that I compete with locally, they’re like, “Need anything. I’m there to help you.” I think that’s a big deal.
Maria Monroy (09:34):
So in the legal community, it sounds like you have a support system. How did you build that? Because I think a lot of lawyers are scared to network and to reach out, and maybe they feel like their competition isn’t going to help them. So how did you do that?
Kenny Habetz (09:49):
I think you got to ask for it. You got to build friendships and relationships. And I’ve told people before, being a solo startup or being somebody that’s doing $75 million a year in revenue, we can each learn something from each other. So I think that you just got to ask. If you don’t, your squeaky wheel gets degrees and be vulnerable and say, “I need help, or I don’t know how to do this, or I haven’t thought about this.” You’ve done it. How can you help me? And I think that learn from others mistakes, somebody that’s done it before, they’ll say, “Hey, I did X, Y, and Z, this didn’t work, this didn’t work, don’t do that.” And I think that’s important.
Maria Monroy (10:33):
So was it just intuitive and easy for you to ask for it and to create these friendships? Because I know that that’s not the case for everyone. I think you and I are both similar, we’re like-minded, but a lot of people are not, and they think that if they reach out, people are going to turn them down. So in order to be able to learn from someone else’s mistakes, you got to hear what those mistakes were, right?
Kenny Habetz (10:56):
Yeah. You got to be willing to listen. A lot of people want to tell you how great they are, but I can see how great people are. I don’t want to hear about how great you are, I want to hear about where the missteps were, where the failures were, where the problems were, because that’s where you really learn.
Maria Monroy (11:15):
But were you afraid to ask?
Kenny Habetz (11:18):
No, you can’t be. You can’t be afraid to ask you. No. How are you going to get help if you don’t ask?
Maria Monroy (11:31):
I don’t know.
Kenny Habetz (11:32):
Maria Monroy (11:35):
Maybe someone just shows up magically.
Kenny Habetz (11:36):
Maria Monroy (11:37):
No, they don’t.
Kenny Habetz (11:38):
No, no, you got to ask for it. You got to work for it.
Maria Monroy (11:41):
So this is a theme that I hear a lot, this idea of networking. And I know a lot of lawyers that, for instance, won’t go to conferences because they think that, A, there’s nothing for them to learn, which I would argue, and you said this yesterday, the learning happens during these after hours when you’re having dinner with a group of people and you’re sharing things, right?
Kenny Habetz (12:04):
100%. You’re going to learn something at a conference. No doubt. People put on these conferences and they’re great and always believed if you could take one, two, maybe three of your lucky things back home and implement them, that’s a success. But the most important thing is the cocktail hour after or the dinner or just, “Hey, at lunch. Where are you from? How are you doing? What do you do?” That’s where the value in these conferences are is just the networking the people you meet, from across the world, different, even different practice areas, whether it’s family law or personal injury, just how they do things differently. And you’ve always got to be willing to learn. You can’t stop learning, at least for me.
Maria Monroy (12:44):
No, I agree with you. Absolutely. And also not being afraid to ask, right? And just to make those connections. How long have you been doing conferences?
Kenny Habetz (12:57):
Let’s see, probably a year and a half, two years maybe.
Maria Monroy (13:01):
So not even that long.
Kenny Habetz (13:01):
Not even that long.
Maria Monroy (13:02):
And you know so many people already.
Kenny Habetz (13:03):
Maria Monroy (13:06):
What’s that been like? For all those lawyers that are curious about conferences, what has that been like for you?
Kenny Habetz (13:11):
It’s been great. It’s rewarding. I’ve got a network of people across the country. And again, it goes back to not being afraid. If you go to a conference and you sit at a table with either somebody, you just the only person or with nobody, you’re not going to get anything out of it. You have to be able to get out there, shake hands, meet people, “Hey, where are you from? What do you do?” That’s the benefit. And if you’re not going to do that, stay home, work on your business.
Maria Monroy (13:38):
Were you intimidated?
Kenny Habetz (13:39):
A little bit. In the beginning, yes.
Maria Monroy (13:41):
Of course. Yeah. So was I.
Kenny Habetz (13:43):
Yeah, at the beginning you’re like, “Man, I don’t know all these people.” They’ve got successful firms and…
Maria Monroy (13:47):
Everybody seems to have their cliques.
Kenny Habetz (13:49):
Everybody’s got their clique, everybody’s got this. And so it’s difficult. But then once you finally say, “Okay, look, they’re not going to bite me.” You rip that shell off and you just go in for it and make it a point to meet new people all the time, because you never know what kind of relationship you can build, how they can help you, how you can help them, the referral partner, stuff like that.
Maria Monroy (14:11):
No, the value is endless. Now, when did you know it was the right time to start your own firm? What was that moment where you were like… Because I know so many lawyers that really just need to go off on their own and they’re not doing it. So tell me, what was that moment for you?
Kenny Habetz (14:29):
On my old firm, it was great. I learned a lot. I’m fortunate to haven’t been blessed with that opportunity. And I learned a lot as a lawyer. And I guess, the easiest thing, and I laughed about this other day, when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. Kenny’s not going to let someone else control his future. Kenny’s going to do that. I’m going to sink or swim based on what Kenny does and the people that I surround myself with on my team, because it’s not just Kenny, I got to have good people around me, good team members and everybody that works with me. Wife, family, friends, that’s Kenny’s support, core support staff.
Maria Monroy (15:11):
Okay, going forward, you’re never allowed to say I ever again, I want you to refer to yourself in the third person. No, forever.
Kenny Habetz (15:19):
Right. It is a team. This is what I talk about.
Maria Monroy (15:21):
No, I want you to, instead of saying I’m hungry, I want you to be like, Kenny’s hungry.
Kenny Habetz (15:25):
Maria Monroy (15:26):
Okay. So you’re going to do that for me?
Kenny Habetz (15:27):
Maria Monroy (15:28):
Okay. I am very excited about this.
Kenny Habetz (15:29):
So I wanted to control, I know I’m supposed to say I, Kenny wanted to control his future.
Maria Monroy (15:36):
I’m kidding. I’m kidding. That’s what I thought. I’m just teasing you.
Kenny Habetz (15:36):
Kenny wanted to control his future and his destiny and how I could do things better for my clients, most importantly, and my family at the end of the day.
Maria Monroy (15:47):
And how are you going to do things better? What are you implementing? What is the vision you have? So you and I, when we see each other at a conference three years from now and you’re so happy, everything is going amazing. What will have happened between now and then for you to be that happy?
Kenny Habetz (16:05):
You got to have a work-life balance. I’ve got a 13-month-old, before it was Kenny and then it was Kenny wife. Announced Kenny as his 13-month-old. So you’ve got to factor that in. I don’t want to not be there for him and my family. So you got to balance that.
Maria Monroy (16:19):
Okay, so work-life balance.
Kenny Habetz (16:22):
Maria Monroy (16:23):
Kenny Habetz (16:24):
Work smart. I’m big on processes and procedures doing the same thing, the same way, efficiency. People think, well, you’re just a solo guy. You don’t need this practice management software. You don’t need this, you don’t need this, whatever. And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. It’s not just about Kenny being solo. It’s about build.” I want to build the foundation correctly from the beginning, and put everything in place. So when it’s a small firm, Kenny, till it’s a big firm, Kenny, we’re not fixing those problems or trying to create those policies and procedures and work plans and things when I have a crisis because now I’m like, “Oh, it’s too big and I don’t know what to do.” Like, “No, no, no, no. We built that day one.”
Maria Monroy (17:09):
Now, did you implement a case management software already?
Kenny Habetz (17:14):
I did. I did.
Maria Monroy (17:14):
Kenny Habetz (17:15):
Maria Monroy (17:16):
Kenny Habetz (17:17):
I went with Smart Advocate, and it’s been good. I think they’re all a pain, to be quite frank. Previous life I had experience with Faine and Lead Docket and things like that. And then you’ve got the big boys that play with, which is fine.
Maria Monroy (17:30):
Yeah, because you have to implement and it’s a necessary evil. So you implemented the case management software, you got a website up and running. Are you thinking of the future? So remember three years from now, right? So you have work-life balance, and you mentioned you have processes and procedures in place. Have you started writing out your standard operating procedures, your processes?
Kenny Habetz (17:52):
When you onboard people and when you know hire people, you’ve got to systematize that. So you do it once and it’s probably going to be overkill the first time of having the processes and procedures of how you do that and what’s expected and the job description and everything. But once you put the effort in for that one, the next ones work a lot better.
Maria Monroy (18:10):
What tool are you using for all that?
Kenny Habetz (18:12):
Well, I don’t know yet. I do, but I don’t.
Maria Monroy (18:16):
So I use Trainual. Jen uses Trainual as well.
Kenny Habetz (18:18):
That’s where I’m going with that. But even that, you got to build it out.
Maria Monroy (18:23):
Oh, it’s a pain in the butt.
Kenny Habetz (18:24):
It’s a pain.
Maria Monroy (18:26):
Okay, what I always run myself is I can either do this now or do it every single freaking time that I hire so much.
Kenny Habetz (18:32):
Maria Monroy (18:32):
And I don’t want to have to do that every single time. So you just do it once.
Kenny Habetz (18:37):
Yeah. And that goes back to what I was saying, it’s probably overkill for a small shop, but I’m not thinking small shop. I’m thinking down the road, let’s get it right now. So as we grow and as we move forward, it works. That’s the thing on everything, let’s overkill it now when we can get it right, get the processes and procedures in, and then as we grow, our systems are in place.
Maria Monroy (19:00):
So what are you prioritizing right now? Because you still have cases, right?
Kenny Habetz (19:04):
Yeah. No, I still have the docket of-
Maria Monroy (19:07):
And a 13-month-old and a wife.
Kenny Habetz (19:08):
Priority number one is my current clients. We’ve got to do a really good job for them. And that’s why I’ve been successful. That’s what I’ve done because we’ve achieved really good results for those guys. Priority from there is how do we continue that growth, and how do we continue my book of business? It has been so strong on repeat clients, personal referrals, referrals from medical providers, things like that. So I want to maintain that, but then reach out of that network because I’m convinced and has track record has shown that we do a really good job for our clients and we get great results, and those clients refer us, their mother, their brother, their sister, everybody.
So if I can get someone outside of my personal network, that person then becomes a referral partner that somebody, I didn’t have any relationship with that John Smith that found me on the internet, Instagram, TikTok, whatever it may be. When we represent them and we do a great job for them, they then become that referral partner. So that’s how I think it can grow exponentially.
Maria Monroy (20:13):
Got it. What has been the most unexpected thing that has happened since you started your firm?
Kenny Habetz (20:20):
It’s expensive. You’re hit left and from vendors, from everything. And I think that-
Maria Monroy (20:28):
I feel attacked.
Kenny Habetz (20:33):
It’s probably cost prohibited, I think that’s the biggest thing that people in my situation struggle with is making the leap and going all in because there’s just so many factors that you’ve got to put together. And it’s not only knowing what to put together, you know you need a number, you know you need a website, you know you need all these things, but you got to write the check for, so that’s the big, I think, barrier to entry and nobody wants to talk about it.
Maria Monroy (21:01):
Did you get funding?
Kenny Habetz (21:02):
No, I did it myself. Thankfully. Done well and you stack some money away and you just go in.
Maria Monroy (21:11):
So you are in a smaller market. So for a lawyer that wants to start his own firm in a market comparable to yours, how much money would you suggest that they have put away?
Kenny Habetz (21:24):
You probably got to at least have a year’s worth, at a minimum, maybe two. That’s a hard question to answer.
Maria Monroy (21:33):
You gave me a lawyer answer.
Kenny Habetz (21:35):
It is. It depends. We talked about it earlier.
Maria Monroy (21:37):
I know we did. I should’ve named the podcast. It depends, but that’s neither here nor there. I feel like, especially in the PI space, lawyers can be in a unique situation where they’re an employee, but because they’re getting a percentage, they are making all this money, but they don’t have any expenses. And when they go out on their own, now they’re faced with, “Oh, shit, I got to pay all this money.” Right? So initially I assume it’s a pay cut.
Kenny Habetz (22:05):
When you’re an associate somewhere, you settle a case, you get paid, you know what you’re going to get paid. It’s simple, it’s math. But when you go out on your own, you’ve got to think, “I’ve got to get paid, but I’ve also got to pay my team. I’ve got to pay my rent, I’ve got to pay my light bill.” And you also got to factor in, what do I budget for marketing? How do I continue to tell other people like what I do and why I do it well? So there’s a whole lot of other expenses that you’ve got to factor in.
Maria Monroy (22:34):
Is it scary?
Kenny Habetz (22:35):
Yeah, anybody be lying if they told you no. Of course, it’s scary, but it’s scary. But when you surround yourself with good people, mentors, business coaches, whatever it may be, and go based on a track record of success and knowing like, “Look, I did it. I can do it.” When you look at it like that and you’re like, “I got this. You can do it.” Anybody can do it if you are determined and you work hard and surround yourself with good people and always put your client first. I think anybody could be successful.
Maria Monroy (23:10):
You’re really, really big on putting the client first. Where did that stem from? Because I hear you say it and I believe you.
Kenny Habetz (23:18):
If I do a good job for this particular client and put them first, it’s going to pay off tenfold. Because if I do a good job and achieve a good result, they’re going to tell their friends and their family and their mothers and their brothers and sisters like, “Man, I was in a bad spot and Kenny and his team, they picked me up, they helped me, they did the right thing and turned a bad situation in.” And I tell people all the time, I hate that it takes a car crash or worker’s comp injury or something like that to bring us together. I want the day that we meet to be the worst day, and the day when we get the case settled or we get a verdict or whatever it may be, that’s the best day. And we part ways I can look back and say, “We made a difference in that person’s life and took them from a bad situation, made it better. And if we do that, it’s going to pay off, they’re going to tell their friends and family that we did a good job.
Maria Monroy (24:17):
Absolutely. And I love how you said earlier, if you just think about one thing, which is doing the best job for the client, everything else is going to follow because you’re going to set up your whole structure around that, right? What do I want my intake to be like? What processes do I need in place to make sure that the client is treated a certain way every single time?
Kenny Habetz (24:39):
E, everybody wants to talk about intake because intake’s a big deal. It is. And lots of your guests have, you’ve got great guests that have come on here and talked about intake problem that we have, and I think that firms have too is client communication.
Maria Monroy (24:51):
Oh, that’s huge.
Kenny Habetz (24:52):
It’s huge. And I’ll be the first one to admit I struggle with it, but you’ve got to communicate with the clients and it’s hard. It really is. When you’re building a practice and you’re growing and you have lots of clients, it’s difficult to maintain that client communication.
Maria Monroy (25:08):
So what are you doing to ensure that you are maintaining the client communication?
Kenny Habetz (25:12):
I think your practice management software can help you with that. I think that you’ve got to spread it amongst your team. You’ve got to put reminders on your calendar and the practice management software can trigger you so many days, 14 days, 30 days, whatever it may be. And a lot of times it’s literally Kenny going down my list of cases, texting my clients, just saying, “Hey, is everything okay? Just checking in. You make your doctor’s appointment. How you feeling? How’s your day?” That’s so important because I think people lose cases and lose clients because of lack of communication, and a lot of people-
Maria Monroy (25:46):
Yes. It’s the number one complaint, I believe.
Kenny Habetz (25:48):
I think so. It is. And it’s the number one complaint because I also think it’s probably one of the hardest things. It really is, if I’m being honest with you. It’s hard to stay on top of it and it’s a struggle, but it’s imperative it’s so important and it means a lot to me. I preach it, I say it, I teach it. That’s what we got to do. We’ve got to maintain client communication.
Maria Monroy (26:08):
Have you also thought about the culture that you want to create at your firm?
Kenny Habetz (26:13):
Yeah, I did. I have. That’s huge. You’ve got to have a culture based upon teamwork arising, tide floats all ships. We have to build each other up. It goes back to when I was playing football. There’s no I in team. We win and lose together. We are a part of it together. And I think in surrounding yourself with people and team members that share the same vision and passion for customer service and client satisfaction is the most important thing.
Maria Monroy (26:47):
What are you most excited about?
Kenny Habetz (26:48):
I like a challenge. They’ve always been a challenge. I fix things. I’m always looking for a challenge. And this is definitely a challenge. It really is. And I think that I look forward to our conversation a year from now.
Maria Monroy (27:03):
Kenny Habetz (27:04):
So we come back and we say, what have I done? Where have I failed? Where have I succeeded? The first case I ever tried, I lost. And my partner at the time tell me, “It’s okay, you don’t have to worry about your winning record.” You learn more or you learn a lot and maybe more from your failures. You’ve got to definitely recognized where you went wrong and what you did wrong and learn from that. And that’s what makes you stronger.
Maria Monroy (27:32):
I think you have a great mindset. I really, really do. I think you have the right mindset for what you’re about to embark on. And what I want to do with Kenny is follow him throughout the years. And so let’s start with a few questions. How many active cases do you currently have?
Kenny Habetz (27:49):
I have a right around 150.
Maria Monroy (27:50):
And out of those 150, how many have you generated once you started the firm?
Kenny Habetz (27:56):
We’re probably 15 a month.
Maria Monroy (28:01):
15 a month. Oh, that’s-
Kenny Habetz (28:03):
10 to 15.
Maria Monroy (28:04):
How are you generating those 10 to 15 cases right nw?
Kenny Habetz (28:06):
Right now, all personal referrals. Former clients, personal relationships, medical providers, friends, family.
Maria Monroy (28:16):
Kenny Habetz (28:17):
No, it is.
Maria Monroy (28:17):
How many employees do you have, if any?
Kenny Habetz (28:21):
One, I have a paralegal, my main man, and he’s fantastic. And then I have some outside help, fractional, whatever you want to call it, marketing things. It’s good.
Maria Monroy (28:35):
Kenny Habetz (28:36):
Very, very excited.
Maria Monroy (28:37):
Now, besides the expenses, what is your biggest challenge right now? What are you struggling to work on?
Kenny Habetz (28:49):
Biggest challenges is balancing Kenny, the lawyer versus Kenny, the business owner.
Maria Monroy (28:53):
I think that’s the toughest part about what you guys do. Hands down, because it’s really hard to be really good at anything. It’s really hard to be really good at one of those two things. And what you’re trying to achieve is to continue to be a great lawyer, but also be a great business owner. And it’s your first time owning a business, correct?
Kenny Habetz (29:14):
Correct. Yeah. No, that’s the tough part because at the end of the day, from start to finish, I’m a lawyer and I’ve got clients that I’ve got an answer too. That’s priority number one. But at the end of the day, I’m running a business too. So it’s tough. It really is tough. But it goes back to surrounding yourself with good people. When you think you’re the smartest person in the room, that’s when you fail. You got to learn from others. So that’s probably the toughest, is the balance between owner, lawyer.
Maria Monroy (29:43):
Do you think it’s going to be worth it?
Kenny Habetz (29:43):
Maria Monroy (29:43):
Kenny Habetz (29:44):
I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it was worth it.
Maria Monroy (29:46):
Well, why do you think lawyers hesitate to do it? I think there’s a lot of lawyers that want to go out on their own.
Kenny Habetz (30:02):
Complacency, maybe. Risk. It’s risky. You don’t want to be the person that says, “I’m going on my own.” And then eight months later you’re like, “Well, that didn’t work.” You know what I mean?
Maria Monroy (30:14):
We’ll see. Bob Simon and I talked about this. And the way that he expressed it was who cares? That’s like the worst case scenario is you fail and just go back and work for someone else, who gives a shit? That’s actually not that big of a deal.
Kenny Habetz (30:28):
Right. That’s what I’m saying. Your question was why don’t people do it? I think the fear they have, but you’re right, who cares? It doesn’t matter.
Maria Monroy (30:36):
Yeah, you might realize, I’m not saying you, but someone might realize, you know what, I don’t want to own a business. This is just not what I enjoy doing. And then you go back and now you got that out of your system. And now I forget what podcast I was listening to, but they were talking about the biggest regrets that people have had and one is not taking action on something, like something they didn’t get to do. And it really wasn’t any failure. Like that wasn’t one of the reoccurring themes. Oh, I failed at this. I took this risk and it failed it. The regret was always, I didn’t do this.
Kenny Habetz (31:14):
Yeah, that’s the thing. Somebody told me once, I’m like, “There’s no better day than the day. You should have done it earlier.” So if you’re contemplating it, do it. Take the leap. Make the jump.
Maria Monroy (31:26):
So right now, what does the day in the life of Kenny look like?
Kenny Habetz (31:32):
Well, it goes back to that business owner.
Maria Monroy (31:38):
So walk me through it.
Kenny Habetz (31:40):
Well, okay. Try to get to the gym. I normally at the office 8:30 ish, probably 8:30. But I’m normally up at 4:30, respond to emails, work on cases, do things early, go to the gym. Then get to my office 8:30, and then I probably at my office till probably 7:00, 6:30. Because there’s a lot. It goes back to lawyer owner. So I’ve got to compartmentalize my day of I’m going to do this as lawyer Kenny, this as business owner Kenny. And it’s tough, it’s tough. It’s a struggle when you’re doing everything. And that’s what, if you read any of the books, you listen to any of the smart people out there, you’ve got to get people in place to delegate that stuff to do.
Maria Monroy (32:26):
And when do you plan on getting more people in place?
Kenny Habetz (32:30):
Maria Monroy (32:31):
So you’re looking?
Kenny Habetz (32:32):
Yeah, I’m looking and we want people, we need people. We want qualified people. We want team players. We want smart people, young and hungry people that share the same vision and passion that I’ve got for growing and for helping people and doing the right thing. And so if anybody out there looking for a job, call me, email me.
Maria Monroy (32:54):
Kenny Habetz (32:55):
Yeah. Eight five, five go, Kenny.
Maria Monroy (32:57):
There you go. What are your top three priorities right now?
Kenny Habetz (33:02):
Number one is surrounding myself with amazing team. I need that believe in what I believe in.
Maria Monroy (33:09):
Kenny Habetz (33:10):
Priority number two is marketing.
Maria Monroy (33:14):
But are you scared to market? Let’s talk about that. And what are your plans?
Kenny Habetz (33:17):
I’m a small fish. I am what I am. And-
Maria Monroy (33:21):
You’re a small fish trying to get big fish cases.
Kenny Habetz (33:23):
Exactly. And don’t let that sound like we can’t handle the big cases. You know what I mean? It’s not-
Maria Monroy (33:28):
Oh, no, no, no, I know you can’t. It’s 100.
Kenny Habetz (33:30):
Right. It’s just that, you’re competing with a big fish. You’re competing with the 900 pound gorilla, whatever you want to call them. And I believe that there’s plenty of work and cases and thanks for everybody to do a job.
Maria Monroy (33:45):
Kenny Habetz (33:46):
And to make a good living and do right for their clients. There’s plenty.
Maria Monroy (33:53):
No, you have an abundance mindset. Absolutely. You do. Yes.
Kenny Habetz (33:54):
But I think where I can succeed is you got to be strategic. You got to be smart, you got to be nimble, you got to be… Sometimes when people get too big, they forget about small things and avenues where we can take advantage of. And I think being strategic and on a limited budget is great. I mean that it’s an advantage and an opportunity.
Maria Monroy (34:15):
So what’s going to be your first marketing channel?
Kenny Habetz (34:17):
Nowadays, you’ve got to go social. That creates its own vibe of weirdness because it’s like, “Wait, you got to be vulnerable. You got to put yourself out there. You worried about looking like an idiot, and you’re like, but you got to just do it and go all in.”
Maria Monroy (34:34):
Oh, I feel it.
I want to be able to spread awareness of what we can do to help people. And if somebody says, I look like an idiot. Okay, I’m sorry.
I’m sure someone has said that at some point about everybody.
Kenny Habetz (34:46):
Yeah, 100%. But I’m just trying to get in front of more people to say, “We can help you.”
Maria Monroy (34:52):
Absolutely. So one of the things that helped me as a person, this was many, many years ago, I don’t know who told me this or where I read it or heard it, but someone said, “Not everyone’s going to like you.”
Kenny Habetz (35:04):
Maria Monroy (35:05):
And I think that if you already know that, I thought it was the most liberating thing. I’m like, “Wait. Oh cool. I am totally okay with that.” And I think it just really applies to social media because if you already know I’m not going to be for everybody, then it’s like, “Okay, cool.”
Kenny Habetz (35:20):
Yeah, you can’t please everybody. You can unfollow me, unlike me, do whatever you want. And if you’re worried about somebody you went to elementary school or high school laughing at you making fun of you, they’re not going to hire you anyway. You know what I mean?
Maria Monroy (35:32):
They were not going to hire you in the first place.
Kenny Habetz (35:33):
They were not going to hire you in the first place. And I got a great group of friends, great group of people and clients and family and friends that support me and have been there for me. So I’m not worried about that. I kept my core group of people that know who Kenny is and know that we do a really good job and care about people and do the right thing. And I don’t want to say you’re supposed to do the right thing. So that sounds cliche kind of, but we mean it and we do it.
Maria Monroy (36:00):
And what’s number three?
Kenny Habetz (36:01):
And number three is the processes and procedures. Because if your team works, your marketing works, then you’ve got to have the ability, the function, the procedures, the processes to scale that. I think scaling is a really hard thing for people when you start to grow. Every time you double it, it presents more problems. And I think a challenge for me is with the scaling mindset, is Kenny’s a doer, Kenny’s a fixer. You know what I mean? I’m hands-on. I want to fix the problem and make it right. So you can’t do that as you scale. So it’s a challenge that I recognize that you’ve got to take a step back and put people in place to handle different aspects of my practice and things like that. So it’s a challenge, but that’s a goal is to be able to delegate those tasks to competent, smart people that share the same vision that we do to move this thing forward.
Maria Monroy (37:03):
And how are you going to hold yourself accountable? Because I hear everything you’re saying, but I equate it to parenting. Everyone’s the best parent until they have children. So everything you’re saying makes perfect sense, but now implementing it is going to be rough. So how are you going to hold yourself accountable? How have you been holding yourself accountable?
Kenny Habetz (37:25):
You got to be honest with yourself. You got to look in the mirror every morning and say, “What am I doing? What am I doing wrong? What am I doing right?” More importantly, surround yourself with good people to hold you accountable.
Maria Monroy (37:36):
You have friends that have really large firms. How did you become friends with these people?
Kenny Habetz (37:42):
It goes back to what we talked about earlier. Don’t be scared. You have to get out there and ask for help, make connections, talk to them. And I think that I see the potential for me and what we can build this into. When I look at my friends like Mike Morris and Jim Gore, Digger Earls, they’re all good friends of mine. I see what they’ve done and all of those that I named have been over backwards to help me and want to be there to support me, because I recognize the success that they’ve had and what they’ve done to do the right thing and build their firms and practice. I think they recognize the potential in me into what they can look back and say, “Man, I can help Kenny. He can do great things too, and I want to help him.” So I’m honored. I’m humbled, I’m blessed. It’s amazing. I can’t thank them enough.
Maria Monroy (38:35):
The client is at the center of every decision Kenny makes. By implementing systems and processes, each client gets the same service. Building a stable foundation may take more time on the front end, but can save time and energy in the future. New firm owners should not be afraid to ask for help. Almost everyone has something to teach. Often the best lessons come not just from the successes, but from mistakes. Ask about both. When pulled in a million directions, Kenny returns to three main priorities to move the firm forward. Building a team with shared values so he can delegate. Marketing to expand his book of business beyond his personal referral network and implementing systems so as the firm skills it happens the right way.
Thank you so much to Kenny at Kenny Habetz Injury Law for everything he shared today. If you found this story valuable, please share it with someone you want to see succeed. Subscribe so you never miss an episode, and leave a five-star review. It goes a long way to help others discover the show. Catch us next week on Tip the Scales with me, Maria Monroy, president of LawRank, hear how the best in the business broke out of limiting beliefs, overcame adversity and built a thriving purpose driven business in the process.