Andrew Zihmer is the Vice President at Zihmer Law Firm in McMurray, Pennsylvania.
Prior to working with Tracy Zihmer to found Zihmer Law Firm, Andrew spent over a decade as an engineer and manager at Bechtel, Rolls-Royce, and Northrop Grumman. Andrew’s role at Zihmer Law Firm is to create processes and systems to solve complex legal problems. Andrew relies on years of experience solving problems related to the nuclear power industry, aerospace, and the naval nuclear propulsion program to help lawyers provide exceptional service to their clients at a reasonable cost. Andrew also founded and continues to oversee Voraus Consulting. Voraus Consulting creates custom marketing solutions for clients based on analytics and data science. Andrew focuses on getting the right information in front of the correct people for them to be able to make the best decisions at the executive level.
Learn from his expertise and what trends are helping grow his firm on this episode of The Managing Partners Podcast!
Erik J. Olson (00:01):
Hey everybody. This is Erik J. Olson. For another episode of The Managing Partners Podcast. On this podcast, we interview America’s top managing partners to figure out how they’re running their firms, how they’re growing their firms and how they keep their case pipeline full. And today I have with me, Andrew Zihmer. Hey Andrew.
Andrew Zihmer (00:21):
Hey Erik. How are you doing? Thanks for having me
Erik J. Olson (00:22):
Today. I’m doing great, man. Hey, I, I, I love the look, dude. I just, I love the look polished head. Just like me. Yes. It’s a good look. Little bit of little bit of Fu on the chin. It’s
Andrew Zihmer (00:33):
A winning, it’s a winning strategy.
Erik J. Olson (00:35):
Yeah. Yeah. Like it’s like looking in the mirror. <Laugh> well, Hey man. I, I, I appreciate you making the time. Can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do? Sure.
Andrew Zihmer (00:46):
So I’m Andrew Zihmer, Zihmer law firm. My wife and I own it we’re an estates and trust kind of boutique in the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania area. And what we kind of found was, you know, we made a lot of sense if that we could kind of work on some big vision and things together and then really keep Tracy in the legal space as much as possible, cuz she’s the legal brains of everything. And so I try to do a lot more of the day to day management. And then I found this unique niche in marketing and sales. And so most of my day is then spent in kind of the marketing world. And that’s what I do.
Erik J. Olson (01:18):
That’s a really interesting combination of skills and talent. So you, you are not a lawyer. No, no, but what’s great about it is that you’re, you’re partnering with your wife, right? You, you have the, the inclination the desire to grow the law firm, but you, you actually can’t like run the law firm yourself, right. Because you’re not a lawyer. So it’s an interesting concept with like law firms that, that you have to be a lawyer in order to run a law firm, but other businesses are not like that, but you need probably someone who’s not a lawyer in order to, to reach out to people beyond the referrals that most law firms rely on. It was that kind of your experience and your wife’s experience like before you came on board, that it was really referral based.
Andrew Zihmer (02:00):
It was so, you know, what she built at other firms then when she first launched Zihmer law firm was that it was fully referral based, you know, with, with her different, you know, the circles of influence yeah. And different people that she’d meet and very little trickle then of even returned clients and things. And so it was, it was a nice growing business. It did well, but as you know, there was all kinds of untapped channels that we were not getting into. And so that’s what I’ve tried to focus on then is kind of everything else.
Erik J. Olson (02:27):
Awesome. So what, what are some different ways that you, you try to get people attracted to your firm, people that aren’t referred to you?
Andrew Zihmer (02:35):
Absolutely. So everything from things that you’re very aware of. So, you know, search engine optimization through our website we do use Google ads and PPC a lot. Social media. We’ve had specifically really good luck with Facebook and Facebook groups with Tracy being a working mom that gives her a lot of clout with other working moms and parents kind of in the community. So we get a lot of clients then from Facebook groups. And then also getting more specific and intentional with trying to get back in front of old clients. We’ve been seeing now more and more people refer and we say, Hey, you know, where did you come from? So, and so that worked with you 3, 4, 5 years ago. And so that’s been building up as well. And so as we build that, that also then gives us the opportunity for new referral sources as well, where at times then they say, I want you to meet my accountant because you guys were, you know, I had an old attorney 10 years ago, you you’re way better. I wanna work with you and they should meet you. So then it builds new relationships for us as well. And it’s really just exploded over the past three or four years.
Erik J. Olson (03:33):
Very cool. That’s awesome. Actually, can we, can we dive a little bit into the Facebook groups? Yeah. So did, is this, do you have a group that you started yourself or are you mostly like tapping into other people’s groups?
Andrew Zihmer (03:46):
Yeah. Tapping into other people’s groups and they are the, a lot of communities have them it’s, you know, so we’re in the south Hills of Pittsburgh. And so they’re south Hills moms groups, Pittsburgh moms groups like for the different counties, the different school districts. And we’re, we’re just active enough in there, but it’s really a passive where someone will say, Hey, I need a will for my family, any recommendations. And all of a sudden of the 10 recommendations that come up, we end up being seven or eight of them. And so that right, that builds trust people call, or they then Google, they go to the website, they, they see something professional that explains what we do clearly and that, you know, prompts them to say, I should give these folks a call. And then once they’re there, they’re kind of into the sales funnel.
Erik J. Olson (04:27):
So let’s let let’s, let’s dive even a little bit deeper. All right. So let’s say that someone posts, Hey, I’m, I’m looking for some help with a will or something like that. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> now is this something that can you kind of explain the process, like number one, like, is this something that you’re like actively log like you or your wife are actively logging in and looking through all those messages, you have some software that will alert you.
Andrew Zihmer (04:50):
So we, we will manage it ourselves. I would say it’s a mix of us being in there to respond. But what we have found is when we kind of plug ourselves, you’re plugging yourselves. Of course you think you’re the best. It works so much better when past clients are in those groups saying, Hey, work with Tracy, go call or law firm. Here’s their website. Here’s an email address. And then we track a lot, the backend with cookies and how people call us. We use a tool called CallRail. And so that allows us to then see if someone ends up calling our law firm, which that’s primarily how people contact us. We can see the journey they took. We can see how they found us originally. And you’ll see it get referred out from Facebook. Yeah. Come in, maybe then a Google search. Right.
And then, oh my gosh. And you guys are the top estate planning law firm. You know, you showed up number, you know, in an ad in the map pack and then third organically. Wow. You guys must be great, you know, and it all builds this trust and you go, it’s not really any one thing. It all adds together. And when you put all that together, I think it builds trust. And that’s what gets them to come in. So it’s become passive. It was a ton of work on the front end. And now it’s a lot more passive. You have to still manage it and stay in. But it’s a, I don’t wanna say set and forget, but there’s a level of these things kind of function autonomously now.
Erik J. Olson (06:04):
All right. So a couple things I love about this strategy. One is that you’re actually getting referrals, right? Because like you’re, you’re doing the work. So you’re act, you know, most, most lawyers, what they’ll do is they’re just like, Hey, if, if a referral comes in great and they don’t do anything to generate referrals. So you’re doing the marketing work to scan these Facebook groups. Number one, find the groups that are pertinent, scan them on a regular basis. That’s active work. When you find one, then you’re act you’re actively going to your clients and your asking them to refer you on that specific comment, right? Yes. Yes. And what’s great about that is you are actively generating referrals. Now it’s through marketing, but most actually I’ll say probably just all of them, all law firms are not doing this. And we’ve interviewed over 200 managing partners and no one is actively generating referrals. It takes work. Right. And you, this is your full time job. So like this takes a lot of work to do this. I think it’s a fantastic system that you got there. I, I really like it a lot. Actually.
Andrew Zihmer (07:05):
I appreciate that. And it’s, it’s just, it’s allowed us to grow. I mean kind of from the grant Cardone thing, we’ve, we’ve 10 X from our first year and our first year was a wild success where we went, this is really functioning. Well it’s because we put this kind of work and you know, it’s frustrating. You talk to other people and there’s some low hanging fruit. Some of this, like some of this is really hard, right? People need someone like you to do SEO. This stuff gets complicated quickly, but there are some easy, easy wins to get you more clients. Yeah. And it’s just, when people don’t take advantage of it, it’s like, well, it’s just more for folks like us. I’m happy about it, but you feel bad for them. Like just, you could, you could get another a hundred, hundred 50, $200,000 of clients a year. Just like, without trying.
Erik J. Olson (07:43):
That’s amazing. Well, trying a little right. Cause like it’s active, right. It takes work and you’ve gotta, it’s just something else to do. Someone’s gotta do it. And maybe not, maybe not you or maybe not, you know, the, the actual managing partner. It could, it could just be someone go look in these groups. So I love it. But then also how it’s coupled with, so that that’s like what I would say, like hand to hand combat. And I think like Gary Vander, I know we follow a lot of the same people like Gary Vanerchuk says this all the time, hand to hand combat. So you’re doing that to generate those referrals, right? You find the, the potential client, you go to your customer base, your power base using grant Cardone terminology. And then you, you activate a referral. Right. But then they’re, they’re going to research you.
And this is what’s important as well. Right? So like we think most people think, and, and probably most of the audience thinks that the most powerful thing that can happen is is that you get a referral from a friend, family member or past client. It’s not enough. Right. People actually trust the internet more than they trust the referral. So if I get a referral to an estate attorney from my uncle, Bob, I’ll be like, eh, I don’t a guy drinks a lot and <laugh> let me double check this. Right? Yeah. So it’ll start the process, but I need to validate it myself. And if I don’t see that you have a new website or, you know, it’s like from 20 years ago or you’ve got some bad reviews or you’re not showing up. And if I can’t find you, like, if I cannot find you, I’m not gonna search very long. So what you, what you do is you do the old school hand to hand combat to generate those referrals. And then you do the digital marketing. You’ve done that already. It’s in place. I mean, of course you have to maintain it, but now you have the digital marketing to validate even further. I think it’s a winning combination. I like it a lot, man.
Andrew Zihmer (09:25):
I appreciate that.
Erik J. Olson (09:26):
Now, is this something you dreamed up yourself?
Andrew Zihmer (09:29):
Y yes, but through trial and error I’m an electrical engineer by my past career. And the upper downside of that is that, you know, I’m very convinced that I can solve any problem if you give me enough time and resources. And so, you know, as we were getting into this, it was a, well, I figured, let me, I can learn about websites. Oh, how does Google work? Oh, let’s go down the rabbit hole. Let’s start to understand it. Oh my gosh, there’s this thing called SEO. How does that function? You start to learn that well, how that paid ads work? Why, you know, why does it serve one up first, the other, Hey, how do I track across referral sources from the digital space of social media, email campaigns search. And I would just, I just started kind of going down the rabbit hole of it. I like fully immersing myself in a topic. And my kind of nature is if I go do that 40 hours, 50 hours a week for the next six weeks, I can learn a ton. Right. I can’t necessarily, I’m not number one, but I can probably be top 5% or 10%. Yeah, yeah. In, in a reasonable amount of time. And you go that that’s pretty high. That’s more than most folks. And that’s how I’ve just learned it and been evolving it over time.
Erik J. Olson (10:34):
That’s great. Fantastic. So I, I know I went like really deep on the Facebook groups, but backing up a little bit to like all of your different tactics and strategies. What is one that you think is working really well for you right now?
Andrew Zihmer (10:46):
Paid ads through Google. So, you know, the Google PPC Google AdWords stuff,
Erik J. Olson (10:53):
Let’s it. It’s hitting the mark. Huh. All right. Cool. Do you, yeah. Do, do you send ’em to your website? Do you send ’em your landing page? What’s your strategy there?
Andrew Zihmer (11:00):
Yeah. So then we create landing pages based on the avatar of the kind of person that we’re targeting. Nice. And so it’s, and so I, I think that’s always a big one is when folks send them back to the homepage, the homepage is so broad. Right? Right. The homepage to me is probably the least useful page that we ever have on a website. It’s really those niche pages of a bio. Cause I wanna learn about a person or a product area. I wanna learn about this specific product. Not every single thing you do. And so when we build landing pages, it’s like, oh my gosh, are you a young family with young kids? And you’re worried what happens if both of you pass away and you need a will. And then it’s like, man, there’s narratives just speaks to them because based on the search terms.(11:36):
And so I’m not getting grandma hitting that page, I’m getting grandma’s pages around, Hey, like I’m widowed, I’m, I’m concerned about who’s gonna help take care of me or about the kids thinking about their elderly parents. Like, what do we do? If, if, if yep. We build out the pages that way and it walks you through through this narrative story. I really love the book building a story brand by Donald Miller. Yep. And that taught me, like, how do you tell a story? How do you think about it and how do you transfer that into the digital space to convince somebody as they read it? Like my gosh, you’re speaking to me and if I’m not speaking to you right. Kind of then bounce and get out. Yeah. And that is that’s, what’s really worked for us. So it’s not just, how do I get the clicks into the website, but how do I use the website to convert?
Erik J. Olson (12:18):
I agree that that was a really strong point at the end. And I’ve read the book too. But, but very niched problem that you’re trying to solve. Right. So instead of just saying we do wills and, and estates for whoever may happen to come along then, no, no, this is for different phases of people in their, their life. Or maybe like, you know, different ages, different, different sex, different situations because you want, you want that person to, to think, oh my gosh, they’re they’re, it’s like, they’re speaking right. To me. Yes. Very, very powerful. Now the downside is you’re excluding everybody else. Right. So you wanna be very targeted with that advertising the marketing <inaudible> right. Yep. And you wanna have a lot of them and it takes time and that’s why you’re full time there. Right. This is a full time job for an engineer has to solve this problem.
Andrew Zihmer (13:05):
Yeah. Right. I don’t, I mean, if I look at something legal just to put my 2 cents on a contract or some logic in, in a clause once a week, that’s a lot for me. So I mean, I do virtually nothing to help on the legal side. My whole job is marketing sales, the funnel contact, you know, touch points with people. That’s what I do.
Erik J. Olson (13:25):
That’s great. That’s great. So, conversely, what is something that maybe used to work well and you’re like kinda walking away from that or you’ve already walked away from it.
Andrew Zihmer (13:35):
Yeah. it’s been a couple of campaigns. Yeah. I’d like to talk about one cuz you know, I do like to showcase failures as well. And so we had this awesome idea a couple of years ago for you know, when a minor becomes an adult, they’re an adult make their own decisions and their parents no longer have a say. And so we went, wow. And when kids go to college, it would be great if we could get them to get a healthcare power of attorney. So we did all kinds of, we hit all kinds of campaigns. We did digital marketing, Google ads. We came up with landing pages. We were on Facebook. We reached out to colleges, universities talking about it. We didn’t get a dang client. <Laugh> not one, you know, it was a total flop and it was like, the core concept was good. But sometimes that execution’s not there. You have to go back to the whiteboard. And so it’s not all just like, oh, I just turn it on. And it all functions. I mean we’ve had flops, so we’ve had things not pan out to me that was like an utter failure and someone else has probably figured that one out. Hey, that’s part of the game.
Erik J. Olson (14:30):
Yeah. Well probably college kids don’t have a ton of extra money besides for beer, right? Yep.
Andrew Zihmer (14:37):
<Laugh> I think that’s a big one.
Erik J. Olson (14:38):
<Laugh> awesome. So you, you, you’ve 10 Xed since you’ve been there, which is fantastic. That’s really impressive. What, what are your future plans? Like if you could project out three to five years. Yeah. Where do, where do you see yourself?
Andrew Zihmer (14:53):
Three to five years. We’re gonna be coming up on another 10 X. So guess a a hundred X from, from year one. That is the goal. We’re looking to expand, you know, in more cities and offices in, in Pennsylvania. And then we want to start moving into some other states strategically. So, you know, we’re kind of the vision border. The mapping out process would be, you know, by five years we should, Beri probably between four and seven offices total and, and coming up right around the 10 million a year mark give or take.
Erik J. Olson (15:22):
Very good. That’s awesome. Good for you. Congratulations. Thanks man. Yeah. And I, I am guessing that we Callio is a big play for you as well, especially with with all the offices that you wanna open up
Andrew Zihmer (15:32):
It. Right. It’s very geo geographic. We, we get, when you think about where we get our clients from you, you can kind of make this like heat map of most our, basically in our zip code, in our backyard. Yeah. The surrounding areas. Yes. Still like Pittsburgh is a reasonably sized city. We get them kind of from all over Pittsburgh and we’re kind of south of the city, but when you start getting, you know, whatever, 30, 40 miles away, they really trail off. And then when you get to the middle of the middle of the stage or up on the great lakes, we get one or two a year and I go, man, you, if I could plop them into different areas, based on certain, you know, just geographic details, then I can kind of pick that area back up. It worked with a colleague from engineering.
She got a degree in data science. And so her capstone project, she needed to do a big data science project. So she reached out and we were able to share, you know, the data that we were able to BA that we had. And she was able to write a, an algorithm that gave us contiguous zip codes across the US that mimicked the zip codes that worked best for us. So she was able to gimme a report of like basically every metropolitan area in the US, that’s similar to where we have really good success and it was not cities you would think. And so it was, you know, target Charleston, South Carolina, target, you know, these suburbs outside Cleveland, but you know, that Philadelphia is not one of them and she was able to do that. And so that’s kind of start, you know, the, the guiding point then to where do we want to go next?
Erik J. Olson (16:51):
That’s interesting. That’s I mean, that’s really interesting cuz you’re using data to inform your decisions, which everyone should be doing, but easy to say hard to do, right?
Andrew Zihmer (17:00):
Erik J. Olson (17:01):
<Laugh> good for you. Well, like I said before, we we follow a lot of the same people. We have a lot of the same network we do, but, but there’s one where, where we don’t overlap the lions den. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Like how you’re involved in that group, what the group is?
Andrew Zihmer (17:16):
Yeah. So lions den is an online coaching group kind of group I’ll get in more. So it’s led by Sean Whelan, he’s at a, the salt lake city area. He runs in apparel company. And he kind runs in those same circles as ed Mylet and Andy Frisella, you know, Grant Cardone. The, I Flaman some of these guys and so lines den is, you know, a weekly call where he throws out one of his, you know, four core principles, which are, he calls him power, production purpose. He, we all pissed off him and forget, but basically it’s focus on your business, focus on your relationships, focus on like your mindset, spirit and focus on your body. And if you have all four things in alignment, then you’re like, you’re, you’re gonna function well. But Hey, like if your marriage is in a terrible spot that affects your business.
If business in a bad spot, you’re bringing that stuff home, but then you’re not working out like you should, if you’re not working out, do you have the energy to put into these things? Right. So it all goes together. And so it’s a weekly call and then there’s kind of a platform it’s almost like its own little social media thing with like-minded folks then who are kind of, you know, inspiring people and trying to help. I like it. It’s, I think it’s affordable. It’s right around $300 a month. So I think for what you get, you know, I get all kinds of cool nuggets out. You can throw questions in. He, he really tries to answer everybody’s question every week. Again, I like it. I like the guy. I think he’s hardworking. I mean, he, he was a guy who was doing very well, went bankrupt in real estate kind of rebuilt himself.
he’s very open about his failures and his successes. I thought, yeah, I followed him for a long time. I thought the guy was had to be fake and the more I kind of watched and watched him, I think this guy’s the real deal and getting to know him some now more I’m like, wow, this guy’s really incredible. So it’s a neat group. You know, I think when people join it, thinking it’s going to just utterly change their life. No, you’ve gotta put the work in that’s. Right. But he has that, that group. And he specifically have really helped me with being intentional with my social media. You know, my social media a year ago was picture of the craft beer, the, the food of my plate. And he shifted me into the mindset of if this post was gonna cost you a thousand dollars to make, what would you wanna tell people?
And when I shifted to that now I feel like I, I provide value on the platforms. So that was a big one that I got from him. And then the other one was really how to map out to where I wanna be before I just sort of went, ah, like we wanna, we wanna double revenue now. It’s well, what will it specifically take to double revenue? What do I need to do today, tomorrow, next quarter, six months from now? And how do I really do that? I’ll be honest. I just kind of dumb lucked it before. And so that’s been a great skill set for me as well.
Erik J. Olson (19:51):
Yeah. Sounds like a great group. What’s interesting for me is that I’m, I’m, I’m only familiar with the group from, from Instagram, frankly, and, and I followed Sean Wayland for a while. I think I still do. But what you just said, it’s, it’s very similar. The concepts are similar to concepts that others say as well. Yeah. So like ed Mylet will say something very, very similar, right? Gary VA check says something very, very similar Grant Cardone and what’s what’s reassuring is that these, these very successful people they’re, they’re not giving you wildly different you know, requirements for success. They’re they’re saying that this is how I do it. And they’re all, they’re all pretty much the same and that’s very reassuring it’s and I’ve heard, I’ve heard many successful people say, well, when it comes to success in business in life, it’s, it’s very formulaic. You do ABC, D E F G and, and you’re successful. Cool. What, what are those steps? Right. And so if you can learn from someone who’s already been there, done that done that failed came back. Right. Very, very, very powerful. So yes, I, I think it’s a good thing for everyone to be associated with some sort of group like that. That one sounds really cool. It’s a cool name too. And what, what, what’s the what’s the, like the saying on the shirt?
Andrew Zihmer (21:12):
Yeah. So yeah, so it’s, line’s not sheep. And then the other big one for them is, you know, leader be led. Right. And so it’s kinda about being a leader, you know, kind of sticking your neck out a little bit, you know, doing, doing the hard work, doing what needs to be done. Sometimes it’s some old school values that I’m, you know, I don’t shy away from and things. And I think it’s a great group. It’s, you know, I’m happy to be a part of it. And I think it’s cool mission and a lot of great people I’ve met through there.
Erik J. Olson (21:35):
Very cool. Awesome. Well, if anyone has any questions about that or anything that we talked about, what is a good way for them to get in touch with you?
Andrew Zihmer (21:43):
Yeah. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn and Instagram. So especially LinkedIn, because it’s really easy to connect on there and follow and things, you know, gimme a follow connect, shoot me a message. You know, at that point then, you know, we can get you partnered up or see what you wanna learn more about. And I’m, you know, always happy to, to meet new people and help where I can.
Erik J. Olson (22:00):
Cool. And for those that are just listening, let me say it’s linkedin.com/in/andrew-zihmer. I’ll spell the last name. Z I H M E R. So go find Andrew on LinkedIn or Instagram. I’ll follow you on Instagram and now on LinkedIn as well. Yeah. Well, cool man. I’m, I’m really glad that we bumped into each other on Instagram. It’s it’s always neat to like, you know, like you fall. I mean, you’re probably like me, you follow a bunch of people on Instagram. Now it’s like more people that I don’t know than I do know. Right. And so it’s always interesting to like actually connect granted. I’ve never met you in, in person, but in the real world, which I would say this is right. Like we’re talking normal conversation. We’re just not in person, but it’s nice to meet someone in the real world and, and get like a little more knowledge about what they’re doing and exchange some ideas.
Andrew Zihmer (22:53):
Absolutely. And I think that’s the beauty of social media, right. You know, it’s easy to knock it and there’s a huge, ugly side to it. But the mm-hmm <affirmative> big one is that it lets you connect like, just like you said, us, you know, we never would across the paths. You’re probably not in Pittsburgh. I’m not gonna be probably down in the, you know, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake area, super anytime soon, let alone have crossed and met up at some coffee shop and bumped into each other. Instagram kind of lets you bump into each other follow, you know what, this guy’s doing something interesting or whatever, and start a conversation if it works, kind of keep that moving. And I think that’s the beauty of it. More people need to make sure they really take advantage of that.
Erik J. Olson (23:27):
Yeah. Another value bomb right there. And, and let me let, just kind of amplify that a little bit and then we’ll wrap up you know, especially like LinkedIn or Instagram, the, the two that we’ve been talking about the most, a lot of people consider those kind of like Facebook, where they just like connect with their friends. People they’ve met in real life and, and it’s, if you’re running any kind of business or you’re, you’re in business at all, I think it’s a mistake. You should treat it more like a networking event when you go to a networking event. If you’re like going with people that you know, and you stay with them, you’re really kind of like blowing the opportunity to meet new people. So you should consider it like a networking event where you go out and you actively try to find new people to introduce yourself, to, to have a conversation with and maybe something can happen. So, all right, Andrew, that was great. And I appreciate it. Absolutely. That was fun. Okay, bud, take care. Take bud.