Do you talk about how much money your estate planning law firm is bringing in every month with your peers? Have frank discussions about overhead expense ratios, bringing salary costs under control or finding ways to increase productivity without increasing spending? Some lawyers benefit from a peer group, where they can speak freely and candidly about the challenges they face running a law firm.
Downsize. If you are in rented space and have empty offices, negotiate with your landlord to get those spaces off of your lease. Consider moving to a less expensive office building or a less prestigious part of town. Class A buildings are terrific but can you do better on rent?
Look at your bills. Closer. If your office manager runs everything and you have taken a hand’s off position, spend some time reviewing your bills from 2016. If need be, make an appointment with your CPA before tax season takes off.
Look at your technology expenses. Do you have overlapping services from more than one source? Does your office pay one bill from the phone company and a second bill from an internet provider? Bundle what you can for discounts, and eliminate duplicate costs.
Accounts receivable. A good billing system should include a weekly or monthly report on what’s outstanding. Are you sending out invoices on the first of the month and checking for payment on the 15th or 30th of the month? If you don’t send out monthly invoices, do you have a schedule of payments as part of your agreement with clients? Get control of this process. It is where many law firms fall short. Striking a balance between getting paid and being last paid is not always easy, but necessary.
What does it really cost to do in-house payroll? Many firms have their office manager handle payroll, citing the cost of using an outside company. But that means your office manager is not doing other tasks. What’s the true cost and can outsourcing this function be more cost-effective?
Evaluate staffing value. Is your team operating at peak efficiency? Investing in a great employee with training and support makes that employee more valuable and more productive. At the same time, underperforming employees are costing you money and have an impact on others around them.
Benefits costs. Shop your benefits package to find out if you can cut costs. A local chamber of commerce or business association might be able to offer you a better package for less money. Are you paying more than a fair share of these costs for employees?
Budgeting. Do you have a budget and financial plan in place? If not, make 2017 the year that you bring more data and more financial accountability to your practice.