I recognise that I need to get help. I have taken on someone to help me write articles, tweet, post on Linked In and all the stuff we are meant to do to maintain our Google ranking. It’s good because it will force me to keep at it, and not just do it when I have time, which seems to be less and less often of late.
I do believe that it is important – we get a fairish number of enquiries online, so something is working. The enquiries are usually rather price driven but it is probably still worthwhile. The one I dread is the Friday afternoon caller, probably not much else to do and invariably looking for free advice without any intention of instructing us.
I love lunch so a lunch club seems a good idea, and a good title for a group which met for the first time recently. We all provide professional services. It was jolly, and we had a nice lunch sitting outside in the sun. We are finding our way: will it be useful, will it be enjoyable? If it ticks either of those boxes its good enough for me.
We can share tips on stuff like what IT systems to use, maybe help each other with problems and even possibly refer clients to each other. Who knows?
We are choosing to stay as a small group of 6 so that there is only 1 conversation at any time, and we will have to take care that no-one dominates. I would rather like it if each of us took turns to ask a left field question to get us thinking in new ways. I will put it to them next time we meet .
Welcoming clients and the way it is done is incredibly important I know. Some research on dentists revealed that patients care very little about the latest bit of expensive kit, or the fabulous qualifications of their dentist. What really matters is the quality of the coffee they get, if indeed they get any. I certainly don’t get any at mine.
Research on health and fitness clubs shows that the people most likely to re-join are those who have made friends with other members, so the effort put in to social events, coffee bars and so on is hugely worthwhile.
For us the welcome and the quality of the coffee are enormously important, I know. Anyway the team would all agree our Gaggia coffee machine is essential for our wellbeing.
The other area to focus on is the unexpected extra or free gift. The subject of another blog, perhaps!
Speaking with authority is difficult. I have recently been listening to the superb Atul Gawande Reith lectures. He talks such sense; most of the things he says you immediately think “of course” and feel you have known that all along, it’s just that you haven’t articulated it.
His delivery is slow, thoughtful, full of anecdotes and doesn’t use many more words than necessary. The overall effect is of great authority, whilst sounding like someone you might know, and would not be intimidated by. There is no sense in which he alienates his audience. His language is simple and clear.
If I can only learn to be a little bit more like him when I give talks I will be happy.
What is our competitive advantage? Well I have read what has been said about us on vouchedfor. (https://professionals.vouchedfor.co.uk/solicitor/BA6%208LT). The recurring themes are experience, knowledge, efficiency, friendly. Someone else said in response to a phone survey that she didn’t feel stupid whatever question they asked. That resonated with me. So often professionals have a lot of specialist knowledge and can unknowingly not appreciate when they are losing their audience. I stop listening/understanding shortly in to any IT advice. At that point my brain drifts off elsewhere and I have lost the plot to such an extent I never recover it. Not sure how IT advice can be made easier to understand.
The trouble with all the nice things listed above is that I feel they are a given. And it’s so easy for any law firm to say, and isn’t always delivered. I suppose the somewhat hackneyed way of communication the issue is to say that we have a 5* rating, our clients say all these nice things. But I still feel I need to find a slightly cleverer way of saying it. Any ideas greatly appreciated.
I suspect some people go through life never feeling they are properly grown up. I was with a lovely friend who has 2 adult children, a farm, and runs a highly successful organic food business. She also takes care of her staff, to the extent that she was “next of kin” to a 90+ year old former employee who died recently.
To my astonishment she referred to something as being “very big girl”, as if she wasn’t one herself. What nonsense! She is certainly a big girl.
I mentioned before I was looking for new members of staff. I met various people via my networks but I now realise there is a flaw in this method. If I reach out to someone and invite them to apply then they hold the balance of power. They probably hadn’t thought of moving, and they already have a job. So I was in the position of having to entice them away with a better salary, better holidays etc. This is not a particularly good start to a relationship so I am going back to the old fashioned method of posting the job.
Initially I am using the Government’s Jobsearch Direct site which has the great advantage of being free. A real person checks your ad. I was phoned to say I could not say I required 2-3 years’ experience as that implies that the person is young and is therefore discriminatory.
Hopefully I will get some good applicants. We shall see.
I was contacted by vouchedfor, which is a sort of Trip Advisor for accountants and solicitors. You contact clients and ask if they will give you a reference via the Vouched For site. So far it has been a fab ego trip as the clients selected by me have given lovely reviews. I am not sure if anything will come of it but what they say may be useful in helping me to understand what clients’ value about us – as per my blog on Competitive Advantage.
I have been trying to identify our competitive advantage. Most businesses think their advantage is one thing but when customers are asked they will think of other things altogether.
It is therefore important to ask customers why they chose us and then work out how to promote our competitive advantage. For example “95% of our business comes from customer referrals” not “95% of our customers are delighted with us” which is hard to prove.
We are in the process of carrying out surveys of our clients and I will try to work out what the clients specially liked and things I wouldn’t have thought about. For example one client loved us because we didn’t make her feel stupid and all her questions were treated seriously. I should hope so too.
Most lawyers like to have wealthy clients, and I now seem to be attracting quite a few. But what I really like is nice clients, wealthy or not. Luckily we have quite a few. I suppose there is a perception that we lawyers are money grasping bastards but actually we mainly just want to make a reasonable living and give a good service.
But how lovely it is when you meet people you like, you give them a good service, they appreciate it and also understand what it will cost. A true win-win.
I have just had a week on my own. It is the skiing season and that means that my colleague Beccy is away a lot. This week has been frantic with new work coming in at an unprecedented rate. I am not a great one for writing wills, which are a sort of jigsaw puzzle – all of the piece must be exactly right and fit together, and they can also be very complicated. They are also very important. Will writing is Beccy’s forte, not mine. However I have been forced to write 5, all of which I will get Beccy to check very carefully when she gets back.
Getting new staff is my current priority.
It’s a nerve wracking business. Will we get enough work to keep them busy and earn enough to cover their cost? Where will they sit? As usual I am resistant to change. We are comfortable as we are but our service is beginning to suffer as we get busier and I must (do!) have the confidence to believe that we will continue to generate more work.
I have been able to contact a number of legal executives through their local group and have met a few. There seem to be some very good people out there, which is really encouraging.
So it’s all change and exciting times.
Beating the competition was the subject of my latest business development session.
There is always lots of competition but one of my main competitors is DIY probate. I don’t blame people for wanting to do it themselves. BUT
- It doesn’t have to be expensive – shop around (to us for preference)
- It can be a huge amount of hassle – have you tried having a meaningful exchange with a share registrar or financial services provider recently?
- If it goes wrong it can be very expensive and a huge hassle to unpick
And this is not just self-serving spin, its true. I only need to find ways of telling people in ways that they can hear.
My new passion, which I tell anyone who stops for long enough to listen is an exercise class I am doing in Shepton Mallet OUTSIDE at 7am. There is something amazing about being in a park in the dark doing strenuous exercise. Though I often hate it at the time I’m back home for a hearty breakfast soon after 8 and feel brilliant, and also rather smug and pleased with myself. I am in the office by 9.
Unfortunately on the days I do the class I am also finished by about 4 pm but it seems a price worth paying. Get in touch if you want the details.
In my business we deal with the currency of death all the time. I’m inclined to use the D word, but lots of people prefer “passed away” or – in the US – “passed”. I struggled to find the right words on the website and talked about “the person who has died” rather than “the deceased” which is so pompous sounding and somehow inhuman.
I was heartened that on Thought for the Day yesterday John from the Iona community, who sounds very sensible spoke of his preference for talking about death in direct language.
Maybe I’m finely tuned to discussions about death but there seems to be a lot in the media about it at the moment – surely a good thing.