This is something that gets your attention and makes your heart sink and race at the same time.
The idea of “cancer in a business” is somewhat dramatic and I am not even talking about certain people in a business who are “toxic.” I am talking about things in the business that are broken but can be fixed—sometimes easily. Many times these things are small and are not even noticed and they turn into “silent killers.” One leads to another and before you know it they are all over your business. Just think about some of the businesses you have used in the past month. I know that I walk away from at least half of the businesses I encounter wondering how they stay in business. Law firms are no exception.
Just yesterday morning I went into a bagel shop I do not regularly go to. I had an early morning doctor appointment and stopped in after the appointment. The bagel shop is in a small strip mall and parking is limited requiring you to take a ticket on the way in. The bagel was great and the atmosphere was comfortable. I get in my car and leave.
As I got to the parking gate the attendant asked for my ticket. I gave her the ticket and she asked for $3.00. I said, “I was here for 20 minutes, do the businesses here validate?” She said they did. I wondered aloud, “Why didn’t the cashier ask me for my ticket?” The parking attendant said, “They never do, I hear this all day long.” I showed her my receipt and she said, “Sorry, I will get fired without a real validation.” I paid her and went on my way. So what taste does that leave me with? Everything was done right up until the end. This is such an easy thing to fix. Some will say now you know to ask for the ticket to be validated next time. Sure, if I remember. The point is I should not have to remember!
I wonder what the owner thinks about this practice or lack of practice in his company. Does the owner even know? Hopefully, the owner cares.
Where is it in your business that you’re not asking for the ticket? It is all the little things in every business that create the experience the client has each and every time they come in contact with your firm. What taste do they leave with, who and what will they tell others. Make sure everyone in your firm knows what the standard is in your firm for everything. Most importantly, you need to look into it and check up on it. Also, one of the best ways to find out about the client experience is to ask them. Surveys are easy and invaluable!
There is a great book called, Broken Windows Broken Business by Michael Levine. It talks about all the little things in business and how critically important they are to the success of your business. Levine does, however, point out the worst “broken windows” may be people! The wrong employees can become a virus that can spread and infect the company. Focus on the easy things to fix first and get the ball rolling.