SWOT is not new to the corporate world, but for a lot of law firms, SWOT is the difference between keeping their practice alive and well and becoming yet another merger candidate, gobbled up by a multi-practice law firm that wants to have an estate planning department (even if they don’t understand what an estate planning practice really is).
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT is part of what IMS does when clients come to see us for a Strategic Planning Retreat. SWOT is a valuable tool to figure out not just what you should be doing to grow your estate planning practice, but what threats and weaknesses are lurking that could trip you up along the way.
In other words, a SWOT review forces you to take a long hard look at factors that are definitely out of your comfort zone. Yes, it’s way easier to focus on the positive, and in most cases we’re all about that. But when it comes to SWOT, you need to dig deeper and look at the potential for disaster.
What’s weak about your firm? Maybe nothing—right now. But what we do at a strategic planning retreat is go way past what’s working now. Do you have a paralegal who’s heading to law school in the fall who is beloved by a large number of your clients? What will happen when she graduates if she goes to work for someone else?
Here’s another one that’s often overlooked: how old are your computer systems? If you own, rather than lease, are you ready to take a big hit when your systems begin to degrade and the small fixes that you’ve been able to get by with no longer work? Cash flow is the first thing people think about but cash reserves are just as important.
Have you done a staff audit in the past two years? Do you know if your team is really with you, or if they are ready to jump ship? We know of a firm where the office manager of more than ten years was lured away by a competitor, bringing years of training and management with her. Are you protected in case such a lead player on your team should suddenly jump ship?
Do you know exactly what it costs to run your firm on a weekly/monthly/quarterly/annual basis? What often happens is that cash flow is good so the firm’s management takes a laissez faire approach to expenses. It’s all fine, until it’s not.
These are just a few of the weaknesses that are examined during a SWOT analysis. If you’re ready to take a look at your practice from all angles, call James at 877-352-2021 ext. 80, and let’s talk about how a Strategic Planning Retreat could future-proof your estate planning law firm.