An elephant balanced on a small ball, a tightrope walker, a ballerina en pointe. I am continuously amazed and impressed by balance. To me it denotes focus, grace, concentration, skill, practice, dedication and a sense of victory. After all, what is balance but a victory over gravity achieved by dedicated hard work?
After 15+ years’ experience as a team member in a number of law firms, and the past eight months as a CC&I coach to several dozen firms, one of the most striking differences I’ve noticed between successful firms and struggling firms …. is balance.
What does that mean?
LWP strongly advocates a 40/40/20 split of firm time, held in place by a time template that is honored. This means the firm spends 40% of its time on specific client-related activities, such as appointments, drafting, reviewing and processing. Anything that has a client name on it goes into the 40% client pot. Notice that I didn’t use the word “prospect.”
Anything done to encourage a prospect or prospects to become clients is allocated to marketing, not including the Vision Meeting or Initial Consultation. The rule of thumb here is for the firm to spend 40% of its time finding prospects, getting its message out, and enrolling clients into workshops (and then into a Vision Meeting) or initial consultations. This includes your weekly marketing meeting, time spent developing and cultivating your RMS process, involvement in community events, development of blogs, your website, newsletters … wherever your firm has decided to invest its resources to attract clients.
The remaining 20% of your firm time template should be reserved for firm administration. This includes your weekly staff meeting, paying bills, filing, bookkeeping, cleaning off your desk, taking out the garbage, and whatever needs to be done to oversee the mechanics of your operation.
A firm that sacrifices or neglects its time template to meet client demands is one that endangers itself and its operation. It’s just that simple.
I’ve had team members argue with me that the restrictions of a time template limit their ability to meet their clients’ needs.
A few days ago I was on a commercial airline and heard again for the zillionth time, the instructions that if an air mask drops down, the passenger should first put on his own air mask, THEN assist others. The underlying message is that you’re not going to be much help to anyone else if you don’t see to your own reserves first.
Firms that do not honor a time template that is balanced with these three disciplines are recognizable by these outcomes. See if any are relevant to your team:
- Embarrassing mistakes are made in client documents and handling client matters.
- Team members are tired, unorganized and discouraged.
- Team members must constantly interrupt each other causing productivity to sharply decline.
- Revenue can fluctuate wildly from month to month.
- Long-Term goals and projects are not completed or are abandoned.
- Weekly staff and marketing meetings are hit and miss, often hijacked by more pressing issues.
- The firm operates in high-stress mode, focusing on what is urgent and demanding, often overlooking critical, but less urgent issues.
- Your RMS process suffers from neglect and prospective synergy partners lose faith in your firm and its promises.
If your firm is not operating under a firm time template that has an effective 40/40/20 allocation and you would like help in structuring a more efficient environment, drop me a line at email@example.com.
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Nedra Catale - Coaching, Consulting & Implementation, Lawyers With Purpose