If you want your solo or small practice to grow and thrive — and who doesn’t? — there’s no magical elixir to get you where you want to be. It takes some effort on your part, and perhaps a new way of thinking about your firm, but the formula for success can be yours.
If you’re stuck in a pay-the-rent mode, taking in any client who will pay a bill so you can keep the lights on, you’re on a path to burnout. You work late each night and on the weekends, running yourself ragged just to keep your firm afloat. You have no time for friends or family, a seldom-seen ghost in your own household.
The clients you get? They’re all pretty marginal — at best — right? To turn your practice around, you need to focus on the “A” and “B” clients and divest yourself from the “C” and “D” clients. The latter monopolize your time, have unreasonable demands and as often as not they don’t pay on time or at all. They’re vampires, sucking the life blood from your firm.
When you focus on obtaining and keeping “A” and “B” clients — but especially “A” — your practice will be healthier and more profitable. An aggressive intake process can help you weed out the bad clients from the good; consider doubling your initial consultation fee as a way to winnow your client prospects, focusing only on those who don’t blanch at the price or try to negotiate a lower fee.
To obtain those clients, focus on the referral sources who consistently send you good clients and keep in touch even if they haven’t sent anyone in a month or two. And when you have a client who could benefit from their services, send them along. A little reciprocity goes a long way in building business relationships.
Now that you have better clients coming into your firm, it’s time to stop doing the administrative tasks in your office. Delegate. You should concentrate on complex legal matters that require your expertise, not ordering more paper for the copy machine.
In addition, you need to spend more time marketing your firm’s services, whether it’s taking a contact to lunch or morning coffee or nine holes of golf. We can’t stress this enough. If you make one marketing contact a week now, it should be your goal to make three contacts. Instead of 50 or fewer contacts in a year, you’re making 150, which will boost your bottom line and profits. Guaranteed.
Finally, don’t skimp on the technical side of your firm. Stay on top of the latest technology that can help you streamline processes, making your firm more efficient and, yes, more profitable.