Six things that can keep firms from growing and how to remedy them

BHL Liberty Software

20 August 2020

Owning and running a legal or conveyancing firm can be challenging at the best of times. You might have a grand vision for the firm when it was established or even at the start of a new year. But the reality of the day-to-day, losing of direction and trying to focus on crucial tasks becomes the priority. Here are six things lawyers and conveyancers do that might be limiting business growth and how to fix them.

1. Failure to adapt to changing technologies and client behaviour
Firms that fail to make use of new technologies risk missing out on a significant chunk of the market, especially as client behaviour is shifting more towards online research and purchasing. Examples of this include not having a high-quality website, failure to utilise social media for business marketing and engagement, not investing into video conferencing facilities, and not having a robust digital strategy in place.

Firms also need to consider the internal technical challenges that decrease productivity and therefore, affect your clients. A practice management system (PMS) that lacks sophistication and appropriate connections to third party products will harm the business, particularly in the long-term.

How can you remedy this?
Innovative technology that integrates well with your existing systems can keep your practice up to date. Search products like InfoTrack allow firms the ability to drive up their efficiency when acquiring data, billing clients and delivering within deadlines.

2. Poor financial and cashflow management
Running a successful legal or conveyancing firm, like any business, requires rigorous financial management to ensure adequate cash flow to run the enterprise, pay wages and bills, and to remain compliant with the tax office.

Any firm, irrelevant of size, needs to put in place proper procedures and controls in place for bookkeeping and financial management. If these processes are failed to be put in place, it can result in stumbling into one disaster to another and being grateful for surviving the week. Firms also will run the risk of paying higher interest and penalties through falling behind on their accounts.

How can you remedy this?
Remedying this may require renegotiating the terms on finance, and ensuring they hire people with the right skills, and having the right PMS to manage their accounts properly and professionally.

3. Being too busy to work on the big picture
It can be easy for the Managing Partner to try to do it all themselves to save costs, which can end up leading to a focus on short-term results and achievements. You can't do everything yourself, and what you think will save you on costs will hurt you in the long term.

How can you remedy this?
Hiring the right people and delegating tasks to those who have the skills to perform will enable you to focus on the longer-term planning, focus on the bigger picture, and to keep an eye on the broader business landscape. This will involve letting go of control and trusting others to do the job!

4. Not meeting clients’ needs and expectations
Over promising and under-delivering or not delivering on what was agreed can be potentially disastrous for any firm! Reputation is everything in business and is even more critical with law firms that bare the owner's name. All businesses should have clients as their top priority, as without their customers, they would not exist.

How can you remedy this?
Focus on listening to your existing clients to find out what they want, monitor how their needs are changing, and to always deliver on promises. It's essential to capture this data and refer back, update and utilise these touch points to improve the client's experience.

5. Thinking like an employee instead of a owner/manager
Running a firm is a vastly different role to that of an employee. A valuable employee is concerned with providing the skills and services their employer wants, and with developing a career path.

Being the owner of a firm, on the other hand, involves thinking like a strategist and steering the enterprise in the right direction. It also means keeping an eye on the bigger picture and the external business landscape.

This can mean that the values held by employees are vastly different from management. It's essential that employees feel secure and valued to ensure that they not only stay with the firm for the long-term but more importantly be as productive as possible. By doing this, you will be able to achieve strategic goals that the firm will set.

How can you remedy this?
Building a vision that employees can see their value, their growth opportunities and how they fit into the picture is paramount.

6. Failure to adapt to a changing workforce
The way of work is changing, and not adapting could result in losing valuable employees. These days, many workplaces are embracing remote work, cloud computing, electronic communications, part-time work and flexible hours to meet the varied needs of different generations. Even highly successful large commercial firms can end up in deep water when they fail to adapt to changing business trends and customer behaviour.

How can you remedy this?
Listen to your customers needs, your employees on the front line and ensure that they and your grand vision are continually evolving to keep your firm effective and at the forefront of innovation.

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