One of my goals this year is to examine each area of my life, look at what’s working well and what’s not, and discover what may be missing that would give me more power and satisfaction in that area. As a result, my relationships with family and friends have grown, and I am actively looking to invest in a new home. This got me thinking, what if we did a similar investigation into a business, specifically the legal business. So, stop for a moment and consider your response to this question…. What’s not working in your law firm as well as you would like it to?
Your response may be related to one of these common areas:
- Need for More Revenue
- Staffing Challenges
- Quality of Work Produced or Fulfilling Work as Promised
- Customer Service
Whatever your response, that is only a small part of a larger concern. It’s the tip of the iceberg, rather a small symptom of a bigger problem. Every part of your business is interconnected, so let’s take a look at what’s hidden underneath the surface.
We’ll examine the need for additional revenue for the purpose of this conversation. You could spend more money on marketing, run ads in the newspaper or radio, send out direct mail pieces, increase your budget for SEO, etc., to bring new clients in the door. But that’s just a Band-Aid solution. Before you know it, the same concern will pop up again, and you’re left scrambling to figure how to make more money during slow periods. Does this sound familiar?
In order to create a long-term solution, we need to explore a remedy on a much deeper level, which is looking at all of the systems in your business that will support this long-term revenue growth.
- Expenses – Numbers tell a story, but are you listening? We have benchmarks for expenses, such as rent, marketing, staffing, etc., that we review with Members on financial review calls, so they know where to trim when they’re looking to have a higher net profit. Where are you spending more than is financially required and why? The question of “why” is always the key to uncovering where an underlying problem could be.
- Fees – When was the last time you increased your fees? Are you charging enough for your services? Are you and your team working too hard for your money? Are you generating at least $160,000 per person (staff and attorneys included)? If not, it could be related to low fees and/or staffing and productivity concerns.
- Staffing – Are the right players on the team and are they operating in their individual areas of strength? Are there any players who can’t keep up with the rest of your team? This could have a dramatic impact on the bottom line if everyone is slowing down to that person’s speed. For example, if this individual is producing documents but can only generate 75% of the work in the time promised, you’re missing out on 25% of additional revenue.
- Personal Consultations – What percentage of the people you meet with decide to work with your firm? It should be 80% or more. This is often an area that is overlooked. Marketing, fees, staffing could all be working well, but if the attorney isn’t connecting with and retaining the people he or she meets with, there is an opportunity to increase revenue without doing anything differently, except attorney training.
If we look at what’s missing in all of these areas that may not be working as well you’d like, often the core cause is a lack of vision for the business. Having a thorough Strategic Plan that includes a short-term and long-term vision with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) outlined with specific milestones is critical. Picture this, what would be possible and available for your law firm and your life if you had a plan that includes:
- A clear Mission Statement and Primary Aim
- Specific revenue goals and by whens
- The fees you’re charging and projected dates for increases
- The multiple marketing strategies you’re using to bring in business
- A marketing budget to take action on those activities
- Descriptions of team members (not just job descriptions but the type of person who would excel)
- A complete training program for new team members
- Last but not least, a “Why” for the law firm that resonated and moved everyone on the team to fulfill on the mission statement and goals of the firm?
Inspiring isn’t it? So, pull your calendar out, right now, and schedule time to get started on your plan or revise an old plan that has lost its relevance. Planning is an ongoing process, and it’s working on the business, so be sure to make this a regular habit. Then ask someone you can count on to hold you accountable.
Practice Leadership Coach
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555