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

Owning and running a legal or conveyancing firm can be challenging at the best of times. You might have had a grand vision for the firm when it was established, or at the start of a new year. But the reality of the day-to-day and focus on crucial tasks becomes the priority, allowing the direction of the firm to slip by the wayside. 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, lack of investment into video conferencing facilities, and not having implemented a robust digital strategy. 

 

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 have proper procedures and controls in place for bookkeeping and financial management. If these processes are not put in place, it can result in stumbling from one disaster to another, and before you know it, you’re just grateful to have survived the week. Firms also run the risk of paying higher interest and penalties if they fall behind on their accounts. 

 

How can you remedy this?
 

Resolving this may require the renegotiation of terms on finance, ensuring people with the right skills are hired, 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 take on everything 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 might think would save on costs may end up costing more 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 long term planning 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 always deliver on promises. It's essential to capture this data and refer back, update and utilise these touch points to improve the client 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 is essential that employees feel secure and valued to ensure that they not only stay with the firm for the long term, but be as productive as possible. By doing this, you will be able to achieve strategic goals set by the firm. 

 

How can you remedy this?

 

Employment is a give-and-take arrangement – building a vision in which 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 the needs of both your customers and your employees, and ensure that they (and your grand vision) are continually evolving to keep your firm effective and at the forefront of innovation.