When it comes to managing your law firm and planning for growth, what are your financial habits? Do you know your firm’s most important financials by heart? Tracking, reporting and understanding your firm’s financials are the first steps toward growth and profitability.
For example, in my role as CEO of a national marketing agency, I keep close tabs on our vital financials. I know these numbers by heart, carry them around in my head and rely on them to help make decisions about everything from hiring new staff to introducing new services, attending conferences or funding promotions.
One of my go-to reports is the Previous Year Comparison. This report shows where revenue is now and where it was at this same time 12 months ago. Moreover, it gives me key insight into which products or services are most popular and generating, not only healthy revenue, but also healthy growth. I see at a glance where client interest is starting to wane and revenues are either holding steady or showing a slight decline.
This information is crucial in our strategic planning for growth. I don’t rely on a crystal ball or my intuition to forecast the future. These hard numbers do a much better job. They show what tomorrow will look like – if nothing changes. But the numbers do not determine the future.
Do Something Different
If I am not satisfied with the forecast, I can change it. By doing something different.
But it’s really hard to do things differently, to change habits. Whether it’s an exercise regimen or a client intake process; a simple switch to Daylight Savings Time, or a new sales process – all change is painful.
The Painful Truth About Change
Most change efforts fail. Harvard business professor Dr. John Kotter is the recognized expert on change leadership. His research identifies the top three reasons why most transformational efforts fail.
- No Sense of Urgency
Because every change requires effort, meets resistance, and involves pain, most efforts fail before they even start. Without a strong sense of urgency, we back away at the first pain point because our desire to avoid pain is stronger than our need for change. I see this often when prospects balk at signing a contract. Signing the contract with a financial commitment is painful. If the sense of urgency is very low, the pain of that commitment can easily outweigh the desire for change. Contract reluctance is an indication that the client is just not ready yet. If they don’t have a strong enough sense of urgency to push past the initial pain of commitment, they probably are not ready to make the organizational change necessary to succeed with a new marketing plan.
- No Buy-In from the Team
Kotter actually calls this failing to establish a powerful enough coalition. Again, because change requires effort, meets resistance and involves pain, even the strongest leaders need buy-in from their team. You can’t expect everyone on your team to go along, but you will need some strong team players who can help lead through the pain. I see this when clients come in for strategic planning retreats and don’t bring staff members along. The great ideas and plans hatched at the retreat can fall flat when thrust upon unsuspecting staff. If you’re serious about making even small changes, you are well-advised to get key team members on board in the early stages. One more caveat: don’t enlist your biggest naysayer yet. This is a common mistake. You hope that by bringing your naysayers on board early, you will convert them and avoid their conflict and push-back later. This almost always backfires. Choose your coalition members carefully and empower them to lead by example.
- No Vision
Here is what Kotter says about the importance of a clearly articulated vision:
In every successful transformation effort that I have seen, the picture of the future is easy to communicate and appeals to customers, stakeholders, and employees. A vision says something that helps clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move. Sometimes the first draft comes mostly from a single individual. It is usually a bit blurry, at least initially. But something much better emerges through tough analytical thinking and a little dreaming. Eventually, a strategy for achieving that vision develops.
The Summit 2017
This is what The Summit all about. We have brought together the collective wisdom of more than 500 law firms (and their data) to design a unique learning experience.
Attending The Summit will help create a Sense of Urgency about responding to the massive changes your law firm faces from disruptive technology, changing cultural values (and especially attitudes about wealth) and changing consumer behavior. We cut registration fees in half for team members, so you’ll be encouraged to bring them along. And we’ve planned activities that will help build that powerful coalition. Finally, we have designed a program that can help you discover and articulate a clear vision for your future. How? By following Kotter’s advice for a mix of tough analytical thinking and a little dreaming.
Free Webinar Wednesday
Want to learn more about The Summit? Attend our FREE Sneak Peek webinar!
Wednesday, Sep 27, 2017
12 noon CENTRAL time. (1 p.m. Eastern)
Your BONUS OFFER: Everyone who attends the live event gets a free download of the white paper, Reaching Today's Boomers and Seniors Online.
The Summit 2017
October 18-20 | Colorado Springs
Cheyenne Mountain Resort & Legacy Ranch