Inspect what you expect Part II

In every business three things are happening:

What the business owner wants to happen.

What the business owner thinks is happening.

What is actually happening.

So, how do you ensure that what you want to happen matches up with what is actually happening?  You must inspect it.  What should you inspect you say?  Everything!  How often should you inspect you might ask?  Regularly, with consistency!

The key to sustained success in business is inspection and the key to inspection is regularity.  Different inspection points require different regularity but each must be run like a military bunk inspection.

First let’s discuss what should be inspected.  The way I like to look at this is through the view of what I like to call the Perfect Client Life Cycle.  This gives us a 30,000 foot view of the process.  The first stop is Lead Generation.  What needs to be inspected?  For every lead source, we must know the Cost Per Lead, Cost Per Client and Return on Investment.  That means depending on the lead source we’ll need to inspect the cost of the lead source, the number of leads the lead source generates and the clients who were retained as a result of that lead source.  For this, the best tool is:  This section can be inspected monthly.

The next stage is Setting The Appointment.  The way you inspect this is to first determine how many appointments you are setting in relation to the number of leads you created in that time period.  Then you have to measure the people answering the phone.  You need to regularly listen to their calls and identify how many calls they made and received and the amount of time they spend on the phone.  The best tool for this is a VoIP phone system, we use Vocalocity.  This should be done daily.  Just yesterday I worked with a client who by most definition was successful but never focused on inspection of the phones, until two months ago.  As of today, they had to open their office for night and weekend appointments to accommodate the capacity issues.  That’s the difference a properly run phone room can make.

Now you have to get the prospect to show up.  In order to inspect this stage you must first identify the ‘show rate’ of your practice by dividing the number of people who showed up to the office as compared to the number of people who set appointments.  You’ll need to inspect that the reminder calls are being set, the shock and awe packages are being sent, and yes, return back to listening to phone calls to ensure your phone staff are building relationships on the call.  This should be done weekly.  The same firm I referred to in the above section, was forced to open on nights and weekends because they were booked solid for 30 days, 45 appointments a day.  When this happened their show rate plummeted.  We had to find a way to increase capacity and create ‘glue’ that would inspire clients to show to their office.

Once they show up you need to convince the prospect to hire your firm.   You must first identify the ‘hire rate’ for the practice by dividing the number of clients by the number of appointments who showed.  The best way to inspect this is to record the consultation process.  Have them transcribed and inspect them vs. the script you expect to be used.  This should be done monthly.  I worked with a client just last month whose staff was closing less than 15% of the prospects they met with.  That meant that 85% of all qualified prospects were walking out the door!  After putting regular inspection policies in place, we increased their close rate to 50% in just fewer than 30 days.  Now that’s a reason to inspect!

After they become a client you’ll need to inspect the work flow.  The best way to inspect the work flow is to identify the buckets that the work should flow from/to and then inspect how much work is left in each bucket at the end of a period.  The next inspection point is client satisfaction.  And the best way to measure that is via a survey.   These should be done weekly.  Some clients I work with have no problem getting prospects to hire them, but they do have a problem getting the work done.  In 100% of the cases we find the reason for this is the lack of a work flow system and inspection process.  As soon as we establish a process, the staff gets more work done and the atmosphere in the office becomes incrementally better.

Finally, you’ll want to turn those clients into referral machines.  For this you’ll need to identify how many referrals you receive per client and you’ll need to inspect that the culture of referrals is actually in place and that all your communication reminds the clients that you expect referrals to be sent your way.   I’ve worked with a client in the Phoenix area whose referral rate was about 20%.  Not bad, but not great based on the number of years they’d been in practice.  With just a little attention to this matter and regular inspection of the culture of the practice we were able to increase their referral rate to just fewer than 40% in one year.  That means their referral rate doubled, I’ll take it!

I promise you, two things.  First, inspection requires discipline and is mundane and not exciting, but it must be done for as long as you own the business.  Second, if you currently don’t have an inspection process in place for every stage in your client life cycle, and you begin to establish one, you’ll see remarkable results.

Building a better business, one inspection at a time..

Building Better Business Systems For Law Firm Owners