When the economic downturn finally turns upward the law firms who were most adaptive to the changing marketplace will be the ones left standing. These tips pinpoint ways to adapt your way of doing business and caring for your clients.
- As the corporate base for large firms continues to downsize projects or outsource to other countries, large firms will break into smaller firms posing even more of a competitive threat to solo, small and mid-size firms. Work on protecting your client base and solidifying important referral relationships now.
- Step up your communication with significant existing clients. Be sure that you are communicating with them and presenting information to them in the way that they like it communicated. This could be by letter, this could be by telephone, this could be by email. Find out what their preferences are and use them.
- Analyze your client development pipeline to predict upcoming business. Keep an eye on these leading indicators: the number of inquiry calls and the percent of calls who convert to clients. See if it’s going up or going down. If it’s going down: market, market, market.
- Explore complementary areas of law. Ask yourself these questions: 1) How long will it take me to learn this new area of law? 2) How substantial is the opportunity for new business? Once you’ve weighed the answers to these two questions, decide whether or not it’s a good move for you to use your downtime for additional training and this downturn to expand your offerings.
- Take yourself (and your partners, if you have them) on a marketing retreat. Prepare for the retreat by reading a couple of books on law firm marketing, giving yourself time to process the information. Then go away for a full or half day contemplation of the information so that you can ponder or discuss the new tactics you want to take. Hire a coach to accelerate the process and hold an “Economic Emergency Retreat” to strategize about reducing overhead and increasing marketing.
- Find out what steps your very best clients are taking to endure the recession and make sure you are a part of them.
- This is an opportune time to merge with law firms who offer expanded practice areas and who may be going cheaply now through no fault of their own. Be sure the firms are a good fit culturally.
- Be sure to articulate now more than ever the value you provide to clients. Do this verbally and with highly detailed invoices.
- Visit your major clients with recurring work and ask how they’re doing. Ask what changes they expect and ask what you can do to help.