Last week, we talked about getting ahead in your business. About working on your business instead of in your business. To be honest, over the past several years, this has been a struggle for me. As a lawyer, I have worked in my business. I provide a service. As I provide the service more, I become better at it. What I was missing, until about a year ago, was the task of making the service better. Not only for the client (as I became more skilled at the service), but for the business. Making the service smoother. Making the service more uniform.
But, when I took a step back I saw things more clearly. I saw the patterns. I saw the holes in the system. I saw the path forward. I was able to find the client lifecycle. I was able to find the distinct components of the system. And, I began to build them.
Now that I have seen the path forward, I am excited to work on the business. To work on the system that will help my clients. To work on the system that will provide better legal advice and education to those who come seeking a service. To develop the system that will help my clients grow their business.
Here are the components of the service system I have discovered and continue to work on to develop for my clients.
Everything I do focuses on education for my clients and those who need more information about the legal that impacts their business everyday. Education is the foundation of all services I provide.
After education, when a prospect becomes a client, it is important to gather as much information as possible regarding the needs of the client. This part of the system needs the most work. There is so much information to gather for what seems like a simple task. But, to provide a service at a price that makes sense for the client, the intake system needs to be smooth. For first time clients, we need to know everything. But, after that, most of the information is more specific to the service requested at the time.
This is where so many service professionals fall short. It is a lot of work to simply do the thing for which you are paid. For many business owners, this is where their frustration with the service industry happens. There is no information. No communication. This is where I want to make my service stand out. This is where I want to give information about what is being done and why it matters and help not only educate the client but also know when they can expect the work to be completed. I am working on making the services fall on specific deadlines and to communicate with clients throughout the service. After all, clients trust me to provide them quality work. The work product, though it speaks for itself, can take a while. Communication during that time is key.
This is such a big deal in software. Why not in other services? This, after all, is part of the contract drafting process. Contract drafting should be a collaborative effort. The client should be involved in the process and understand the final product. If that is not the case, the contract may not cover everything it should. There should be a process for making sure the contract works. For making sure it covers everything. If the client is not involved in the drafting process, how will they be sure the contract works. How will they know they are protected from liability. Communication during the drafting of contracts is essential. But, it is so often ignored. In my mind, the acceptance testing of a contract is as important as the drafting. That is where it becomes a part of the client’s business. That is where you make sure that it works with the systems already in place.
Contracts can’t be drafted in a vacuum. They must be used. They will be given to clients, customers, vendors, and independent contractors. They will be used in business. What if the contract breaks? What if there is pushback on the same paragraph by everyone who sees the contract . With most lawyers, you can get it fixed, but it will cost you. What I have seen in my practice is that clients will often try to make the adjustment themselves to solve the problem. But, what if that makes it worse. Your contract may be signed. But, does it still protect you? So, I determined that a warranty was a necessity to make sure my clients are protected. 30 days. 30 days to use the contract. 30 days to make sure it is implemented correctly. 30 days to learn more about the contract. 30 more days of education.
Of course, with a focus on education, completing the service isn’t the end. Because that is not the end of a client’s relationship with the law. Clients still need to understand how legal impacts their business everyday. That is why the education continues long after the service is complete. With more knowledge of your business, we can discuss your specific needs and how legal can help protect your business for growth.
That is the service system I developed when I stepped back and looked at my business. Of course, I am still working on implementing the system. But, the components lead to better service for the client. It is harder to miss things when the service system becomes clear. Of course, that is the part of the system that the client sees. The other side of the service system, internal systems, are just as important and work to eliminate errors and ensure quality service each time. That is how clients are served when you take a step back and look at what you are doing in your business.