You know how you become a parent and one day you hear those same words come out of your own mouth that you heard from your own parents when you were growing up? There’s that moment of total shock when you realize that YOU’VE BECOME YOUR MOM!
One of my mom’s favorite sayings is “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Only now, as an adult, do I totally understand what she meant.
As an Implementation Coach, I am constantly coaching firms who, with the best of intentions, began a Relationship Management System, scheduling Synergy Meetings right and left. Perhaps they made a great first impression. They made a lot of promises, handed over a folder of materials, and … didn’t follow up.
Now, six months, a year, three years later the law firm must deal with a wounded relationship. They must decide whether to attempt relationship CPR or chalk the relationship up as a DOA and move on.
When the law firm is located in a smaller community, this situation is even more painful. There are fewer potential synergy partners in a smaller pond to pick from and, in a smaller pond, word can spread quickly that your firm doesn’t live up to its promises.
What can a firm do to revitalize a failed relationship?
Step 1. Determine the potential value of the relationship. Long ago you met with this professional. Were you impressed with their resources, business approach and openness to work with you? On a scale of 1-10 how did that first meeting – the Synergy meeting – end? Was the failure to move the relationship forward the result of lack of follow-through by you and/or your team, or was the failure to thrive a result of lack of follow-through on the part of the other party? If your take on the meeting scored fairly high and if the failure was a result of lack of attention on the part of you and/or your team, proceed to Step 2.
Step 2. Apologize. It’s amazing to me what a heartfelt apology can accomplish! If you see the potential in the relationship, and regret your lack of follow-through, then say so, ask for a second chance, and promise to do it right this time. Be ready to follow through – most people won’t give you a third chance.
Step 3. Keep your promises. Integrity is a matter of keeping your word, even to the point of never being late for an appointment and meeting deadlines. Honor your word, and you and your firm will become known in your community as a firm with total integrity.
These are all things my mother taught me, but life has continued to teach me. And yes, I hope that I will pass them on down to my own children…even if I do find myself sounding just like my mom!
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Nedrea Catale - Implementation Coach, Lawyers With Purpose