If someone told the high school version of me that I’d end up being a data nerd at some point in my life, I would have looked at them like they had a third eyeball on their head. I don’t know when this side of me took hold, but there’s something about looking at data and making data driven decisions that really gets my juices flowing. This time of the year, my flood gates are open and I’m in data heaven.
Why you ask? It’s financial season of course!
Every year our Members participate in an annual program at the Academy called the Financial Database. Law firm owners willingly provide their Profit & Loss statements from the prior year along with revenue and case numbers that we take and put into a standardized format that serves two primary purposes.
The first of these is to do an individual analysis for the firm. The Practice Building Coaches (PBCs) analyze opportunities unique to the firm to increase revenue, reduce expenses, and identify actions that will help the firm meet or exceed their goals for the year. As part of this process, we also look to see how a Member’s numbers align with our Academy Financial Benchmarks.
The second reason is to compile the information provided from the firms across the country, to develop an anonymized peer-based benchmark and summary report. Owners use these reports as a frame of reference to see what’s possible either from a revenue or expense standpoint by looking at the collective data of the Membership. We slice this data two ways, by firm size (based on number of employees) and tenure in the Membership.
This whole process culminates with a session at our upcoming Spring Summit where we’ll ask a handful of Members to willingly share their information with their peers and talk about their information for the benefit of others. The vulnerability to share this type of information with others is what makes Membership in the Academy special. It’s that unspoken collegial spirit that’s hard to find in a Membership organization.
Just imagine the possibilities that you could learn from this type of information! If you’re a current owner and you’ve never done anything like this, what would it have been like for someone to be able to come in and tell you whether or not your numbers are healthy and help you create a blueprint of how to change them if they’re not. It takes the guess work out of running your business.
This year, we’ll be doing a deep dive to look closely at how COVID-19 impacted our firms’ businesses. As an example, we’ve been talking for years and years about online marketing strategies and this last year finally forced many of our hold-outs to take action.
For those who have done online marketing, this probably comes as no surprise, we’re seeing marketing expenses trending 3% lower in 2020 than in 2019. Time will tell if it stays this way as our firms streamline and systematize webinar marketing, email marketing, and start to realize the benefits of being able to achieve a vibrant prospect pipeline through drip marketing.
I can’t wait to see what else we discover when we sit down to look at all the data in the next few weeks. If you haven’t participated in the Financial Database, you are seriously missing out — talk to your PBC on your next call about running your numbers.
For non-Member attorneys receiving our blogs, if you are interested in learning more about these reports, ask us for the details by emailing us at Questions@aaepa.com! If you’re in an area where we need a Member, you may even be invited to join our upcoming meeting at no charge and with no obligation.
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128