Nobody wants to hear that the path to success looks more like an obstacle course than a garden path out of a dreamy painting.
Talking with attorneys about the “systems” that make it possible to be only a counselor and a CEO in their law practice always *sounds* good until you look closer at exactly what it takes to change a habit or system or to create one out of thin air. But a second look at “what it takes” can be helpful – it’s as simple as breaking it down into manageable pieces… starting with a clear look.
In my opinion the top three things you can do to adjust your course or impact the future of your estate planning law practice are:
October/November timeframe each year:
- 1. Review Your Strategic Plan. Pull out the ORIGINAL plan you had when you opened the doors once per year. It allows you to see how much of your vision has come to pass and helps you to focus on the specific goals to put into place for the coming year. It’s also helpful in the sense that you can CHANGE your vision… actually change the document that you’re reviewing. Sometimes your vision needs to be adjusted, for example, if you’ve added an associate with Elder Law experience, Elder Law work may not have been something you saw in your future a year or two ago, your strategic plan and vision for the overall firm needs an adjustment.
Helpful Tip: If you want a 3 or 4 page “form” we use at the Academy to pencil out your own strategic plan just let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’m happy to email it to anyone who wants it.
- 2. Create Next Year’s Marketing Planning Calendar. Setting the goals for revenue in particular categories will allow you to determine how many cases you need in those categories. Say for example that you want $425,000 in Living Trust revenue and your average trust fee is around $3,800 – you want 112 new clients who need that type of solution in the coming year (or 9-10 per month). Knowing this for each category makes the planning easy. The marketing activity that you’ll need to execute to generate 15 potential living trust appointments per month becomes more clear. You’ll know where to find people who need this type of help and you’ll schedule the necessary activity for each month next year before this year is even over.
Helpful Tip: You’ll review this marketing calendar again when last year’s financials are reviewed at the beginning of the new year, making adjustments that you need to make based on the actual numbers you’re wanting to influence. January/February timeframe each year:
- 3. Review Last Year’s Financials. Each year approximatley 60% of the Academy membership submits their P&L from the prior year. I have the immense privilege of being the person here at the Academy who gets to review these numbers with each law firm! We discuss all of the revenue, all of the expenses, and all of the compensation from last year. The next part of the discussion is about which specific numbers the attorney wants to change… followed by the discussion of how to go about changing those exact numbers! Year after year, I get to watch the growth in these individual firms and it is so completely awe-inspiring. (By the way, the law firm names are taken off, and all firm financials are entered onto a spreadsheet so each attorney who submits P&Ls can see other members P&Ls in a private meeting at our Spring Summits… the conversations are really something).
If you’re not a member of the Academy you can still structure that type of review on your own! Once you have the P&L, the analysis takes very little time. After the review of the past, your use the same information to project what you are on target for in the coming year and you have an opportunity to go with what you see or to make some strategic marketing decisions proactively… instead of waiting until you see blank pages in the calendar to spur the marketing into action.
Helpful Tip: Make sure when you review your own financials ensure that your accounting system is set up with the appropriate Revenue Categories. Each category (Living Trusts, Wills, Restatements, Probate, Trust Administration, Medicaid, etc) requires completely different marketing to impact that particular number. Knowing the number of cases and revenue that exists now in one category enables you to implement marketing efforts to change a specific number.
You’re Welcome to Join Us on our Upcoming Call. The founders of the American Academy will be covering these and other systems that you can actually implement right after our free call for non-Academy members next Thursday, February 25 at 2pm PST. Feel free to register and join the call www.7DeadlyLawFirmMistakes.com/sm
Director, Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.