One of the plusses about working from home is that you get that extra 5 minutes in front of the TV to have your cup of tea in the morning and yesterday that extra 5 minutes allowed me to catch an interview with Chelsea/Juve/Sampdoria legend Gianluca Vialli.
While talking about his new book, a collection of ‘inspirational stories’, he said something that immediately struck a chord. He said when you are faced with a crisis – his was a double bout of pancreatic cancer – it’s “only 10% about the problem and 90% about how you react to it.” The reason this struck a chord is that it’s 100% how we feel about how legal and accountancy practices are reacting (or not) to the current crisis.
No one’s is going to pretend that it’s easy at the moment. And don’t worry, this isn’t a hard line ‘now is the time to increase marketing spend not cut it’ broadcast on behalf of the marketing party.
It is however a reminder that all of this is temporary.
Moreover, the signs are that we may be over the worst so the end to temporary could be starting to get closer. This means that if your firm is going to be absolutely ready to provide your clients with the support, advice and service they’re going to need as soon as things begin to return to some sort of normality, you need to start planning for the future.
This won’t be an easy task. Confidence will be dented, money will be tight and getting your headcount, capacity and fees back to where they were at the turn of the year may have to be staggered over a significant period of time.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be ready.
In terms of the areas that will need to be tackled in order to create the plan you’ll need we’d suggest there are 5:
- Who are your key clients?
- Who are your key referrers?
- Who are your key contacts?
- Who are your primary targets?
- How do you make sure you’re first in line when these groups have a new opportunity?
2. Your offering
- What have you always done?
- What do you need to do differently?
- Where do you add real value?
- Where are your immediate opportunities? And how do you take them?
- How do you articulate and promote your message to create the competitive advantage you’ll need?
- Do you have the right people?
- Are they at the right levels to do the work profitably?
- Do you have the required succession, retention and personal development plans in place?
- Do you need to revise your remuneration, rewards and incentives?
4. Pricing and billing
- Are your free levels still viable?
- Do you need to improve your back-office processes?
- Do you need to explore alternative billing processes?
- Do you have the IT you’ll need to support the changes you want to make to your offering?
- Do you have the IT you’ll need to support the changes you want to make to the back office?
- Do you have the IT you’ll need to support how you want to manage service delivery?
- Do you have the IT you’ll need to communicate effectively internally and externally?
Once you have all those answers to hand and an agreement amongst the partners as to how you’ll need to address each tactically, you can start the planning process. More importantly, you can start making the vital changes that will ensure your firm remains relevant, competitive and profitable in what is likely to be a very different market with very different demands.
As Luca rightly said, when it comes to successfully surviving any crisis 90% is about how you react. In terms of the professional services, that reaction has to be purposeful, positive and now.
We are currently offering a free 30-minute Zoom or telephone meeting to help professional service firms begin the planning process. If you’d like to book a slot, please email us today.