I used to take my car to a garage where the man on reception used to smoke cigarettes at the counter while serving me. There were a couple of dirty, oily chairs that you did not dare to sit on and generally I could not get out of there quickly enough. You were not allowed anywhere near the mechanical areas as the pits were dangerous and generally there was debris everywhere.
Fast forward a few years later and I now sit in a ‘state of the art’ Audi garage that is more like a show house. You can see from the picture above how clean the working area is for the mechanics. Gone are the pits, now replaced with hydraulic lifts for the cars (probably many lawyers fault for suing following falling in etc). The floors look like you could eat your dinner from them. You are served fresh coffee and biscuits while you wait. It is now a pleasant experience to go to have your car serviced (and good for me as the comfortable desks allow me to have some uninterrupted writing time which I always enjoy).
The same ‘radical’ change has happened in many other industries; it is true in cinemas where uncomfortable chairs having been replaced with luxurious seating. Even if Jaws from James Bond decides to sit in front of you (as he usually does just as the film was about to start), you still now have good visibility due to better design.
Corner shops which used to keep limited opening hours have been largely replaced by 24hour supermarket giants with an abundance of choice. Opticians who used to charge a premium have been replaced with High Street chains that offer ‘two for one’ deals.
Even the legal profession we are all well aware of changes, as seen by the likes of Quality Solicitors providing a nationwide ‘brand’. Whether they can actually create a brand with so many different equity owners who want to do their own thing remains to be seen, but the point is that they and the firms that have joined them realise that the times are indeed a changing. That being said, I still think there is an excellent future for independent law firms, and I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to join Quality Solicitors if I was an independent law firm. If you are thinking of this, spend three hours with me and let me show you your alternative, brighter future.
Back to change, my suggestion for you is to think how you can offer radical change before the Market dictates that you provide it. When it comes to commercial work I firmly believe that this includes much more fixed fee or legal expenses backed work. In terms of the traditional High Street practice I believe this means a much more complete service, tying the delivery of your service in with other businesses for example in the field of conveyancing this might mean linking your service with removal companies, estate agents and financial advisers rather than providing only the legal services element. The important point is that you must keep control of the client as it is this power which will make you useful not only to the client but all of the other service providers who become dependent upon you.
What else will change? What about these aspects of your service (to set your mind thinking):
- Extended opening hours
- Work from home staff giving you national coverage without national overheads
- Those same staff being paid based on a percentage of the fees that they generate allowing you to share the risks and the rewards with them
- More use of technology to host meetings online
- Annual sales of your services at traditionally quiet times of the year
- A free wash and blow dry with every Will (just playing)..
These are just meant to start you thinking. What I would urge you to do (if you have not yet done so) is spend at least one day a month/quarter away from your office asking these types of questions to ensure that you stay ahead of the chasing pack. You know that you must do more unlike many of your competitors who still keep doing what they have always done hoping it will be enough (which it no longer is).
The times they are a changing; we all have to keep adapting and changing with them.
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Please call 0117 290 8555 to arrange a mutually convenient time for a telephone discussion, Email me or complete a Free Online Enquiry. There is no cost or obligation. We will have a chat about where you are and where you would like to be and I will suggest some things you can do to get there quickly.