So a few posts previous to this I promised we’d evaluate the last component of your law firm: your service model. You know – it’s that thing that facilitates the product you put out. A few weeks ago I asked you if you were Rolls Royce or if you were Toyota. Well, I think you can be both – take a look at the all new Hyundai Sonata (the safest car of 2011) and ask yourself if you can sell luxury, quality and safety at a discount.
If I’m to propose changing your service model though I must first ask where, if anywhere at all, are the inefficiencies? Is there a middle man in the room? Next, I must ask you what your goals are: are you trying to reduce cost, increase margins or increase customer satisfaction? Unless I know these answers I can’t possibly know what changes need to be made. I’ve provided an example of just three, random, components you can modify in your existing service model to better your bottom line this year. I’ve attached each with an equivalent and quite stereotypical New Year’s resolution of some sort.
You want your firm to reduce costs (lose weight)
- One of the single highest return investments you can make at your law firm is document automation. No – this isn’t merging tables in MS Word. I mean true, authentic document automation. This is where you enter client information once, click a few boxes of your choice and suddenly your magical machine spits out a single document that is a combination of twenty or more variables. Instead of searching through two, three or twenty documents for sentences and paragraphs that you liked from previous drafts it’s done automatically. Two hours turned into two seconds. Now if only losing weight was that easy…
You want your firm to increase margins (reduce your BMI percentage)
- Document automation – that’s a given – how about redundant data entry? What if you didn’t need to re-enter client information each time you made a time entry, billed that time and then accounted for that time? Two of your three steps being redundant means your margins are bloated – period. And you can resolve this problem by implementing a time, billing & accounting software package of any kind. You wouldn’t eat cake, pie and pudding if you just wanted cake, would you? It shouldn’t be any different when it comes to billing.
You want your firm to offer the client a better experience (treat people right)
- If you want happy clients you need to communicate with them. How about increasing transparency by sending itemized bills that provide brief summaries for each charge? Most legal accounting systems let you do this with relative ease. Let me put in perspective: I received my December gas bill a few days ago – it tripled from November. Naturally, I’m irritated because I feel my natural gas should be free so I go to Dominion Gas’ website and check out my last six bills to confirm the theft of my hard earned money. Sure enough, I tripled my MCF consumption and Dominion Gas was even kind enough to tell me, right on the bill, that November’s average temperature was 46° and December’s was 23°. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so bad anymore – and the reason for that is because communication was present.
I propose a New Year’s resolution: lets both you and I commit to making one positive change this year. One change that helps our firm either lose weight, tone up or improve some particular element of quality in the firm. What will your resolution be? Leave it here.