When I left legal practice it took some time to create a profitable business (as I am sure many of you remember if you started your own legal practice). About three years into launching my business my kitchen was falling apart. The cupboard doors were falling off, handles had been stuck on so many times that they had lost the will to live, and we really could not wait to lose the white floor tiles – white, in a kitchen!). It was time to bite the bullet and buy a new kitchen.
We do not have a massive kitchen by any means, but we had some very specific requirements when we started. We wanted:
- To have a place where friends could sit, drink and chat whilst a meal was being prepared;
- Patio doors into the garden;
- The cooker on the right hand wall as you walked in (so that the vent could go straight outside – the cooker was previously on the inside wall); and
- These ideas were immovable.
We ended up with:
- A place where friends could sit, drink and chat whilst a meal was being prepared;
- No patio doors
- Cooker on the left hand side
As the song nearly says, ‘one out of three ain’t bad’ (sorry Meat Loaf). You see as we saw more and more kitchen companies, our ideas changed. We were told the patio doors would not work in our kitchen as they would create a walk-through right through the centre of the kitchen (not safe and very frustrating if cooking and children are running in and out). We were also told that the cooker simply could not fit on the right hand wall, so it had to go on the left.
When the kitchen was installed the granite surfaces marked whenever you left anything wet on them. This was very stressful, more so because the granite man had no answers. Our perfect kitchen was far from perfect, until the granite man stripped the granite down and retreated it! Then it was absolutely fine, and still is some years later. We now have our perfect kitchen, it is just a very different one from the one we had planned.
The similarity between my now ‘Perfect Kitchen’ and your ‘Perfect Legal Practice’ are several fold:
- You have to begin with the end in mind: what does your ‘Perfect Legal Practice’ look like – if you do not know what you want it to be, how will you know when you have arrived?
- You have to change and modify your plans as you progress along the path to your legal practice. New obstacles will appear (your patio doors will be the Legal Services Act and new competitors (along with other things we can’t even think of yet)). You have to modify your plans to suit the changing market.
- Your perfect practice will appear one day, but it will take time and effort to make it happen and it probably won’t quite look like the one you had planned.
- Please don’t give up too soon.
To run a ‘Perfect Legal Practice’ now does takes more time and effort. Whereas clients used to stroll through your door because you were there, you now have to give them reasons to choose you. A client welcome letter and closing letter is not enough to generate a client for life. You have to provide your clients with reasons to use you every single month of their lives. The reason is simple, if you do not the time will arrive when they need a new solicitor and they will forget that it was you they used last time. Instead they will hop along to your competitor who has been talking to them for some months now.
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