Tag Archives: Planning

Residential Conveyancers: Get focused on generating new business from your best prospects.

Define, agree and act on opportunities to improve performance and produce more profit from your residential conveyancing services … and your wider private client practice.

ConveyancersInpractice UK have partnered with TheConveyancingMap to deliver a tailored service to help conveyancers quickly and reliably set out a sound plan to develop their residential conveyancing business; also engaging the conveyancing team in the initiative to make sure that plans are put into practice.  This service is delivered by Allan Carton at Inpractice UK and Richard Hinton of theConveyancingMap – each with more than 20 years’ experience of developing conveyancing services in the legal sector.

Objectives

  • Define and implement an assured strategy to develop a more profitable residential conveyancing business.
  • Identify the weaknesses of your competitors and exploit them effectively
  • Generate more profitable private client instructions as a direct result of an increase in  your conveyancing business.
  • Engage your people in your plans for your business, by helping  them to understand it.
  • Establish a presence and effective relationships where they really matter to generate the conveyancing business you want.
  • Focus any spend on marketing and promotion where you can be sure it will target the people you want as clients.

Who is this for?

Any practice that provides conveyancing services will benefit from an objective review of the market in which they operate.  Conveyancers may also be interested in our specialist workshop on dealing with conveyancing quotes / enquiries and maximising referral opportunities.

WHAT YOU GET:

A:  Market Intelligence

TheConveyancingMap intelligence on transactions completed in your local area, including a clear picture of who is doing what,  This includes mapped distribution, volume and value of conveyancing transactions handled in your catchment area by:

  • Each conveyanConveyancing Market Intelligencecing competitor.
  • Each estate agent

B:  Expert Interpretation in Context

A preliminary report providing expert interpretation of this information in the context of your business, identifying key opportunities and potential challenges.

C:  Brainstorm with Our Experts – Explore Options, Agree Strategy & Plan

Up to a day of consultancy, working with your team on your premises to develop an agreed strategy and action plan to develop your conveyancing practice, most effectively to meet your objectives for your practice.  During this session, Allan Carton of Inpractice UK and Richard Hinton of ConveyancingMap will work with you to:

  • Explore the data and opportunities, and potential strategies
  • Identify best prospects and where they live
  • Define how to extend services with current clients
  • Develop, agree and refine a strategy and outline action plan to capture these opportunities.
  • Engage your key people in the discussion to build a shared view

D:  Defined Plan of Action

We then deliver a concise report recording the conclusions, strategy and plan of action agreed during the workshop session and any other recommendations.  This is to be shared and actively reviewed to engage the whole conveyancing team and to track progress; and to be adapted over time.

Optional Extra: We can “mystery shop” your practice and your competitors to add more intelligence to identify more opportunities to differentiate your practice, to make you stand out above competitors.

To find out more, complete the enquiry form on this page or contact Allan Carton at acarton@inpractice.co.uk or Tel: 07779 653105.

Simple steps to help your lawyers get back to “networking” effectively again.

Nathan Smith introduces some simple steps that many have forgotten about when it comes to networking to generate more business.

Why do it and what hinders?

Networking holds an important role one way or another in running any legal business.  It is the mechanism for establishing the foundations of new professional relationships as well as strengthening existing business relationships – and this is before you even consider raising the presence of your brand.

However, the pressure on time has meant that time for lawyers to engage meaningfully with contacts is being squeezed; networking events are increasingly becoming breakfast meetings, ahead of the working day, and often take place outside of regular working hours.

Long gone are the days when networking consisted solely of a round of golf, or luxury dinner with a client. Although events like this are great for building long term business relationships, nowadays there is greater pressure on time and emphasis on speed of making the connections; also, the number of online and offline channels for networking means there are now almost too many options to cope with, so decisions on priorities have to be made – and even that slows lawyers down in getting on with doing it.

Technological advances, changes to job roles and increased organisational pressure have all had an impact on the day-to-day running of business. While some of these changes have impacted positively, there are some aspects which many will argue have been affected negatively – one being how your people “network”.

So how can lawyers ensure they are getting the most out of their networking event?   You just can’t afford to attend every event in the neighbourhood on the off chance of meeting someone who is of some benefit to your business – although it’s surprising how often new opportunities arise from totally unexpected sources, so there is a danger in closing down options!

Plan – get some structure

  1. Exhibitions and networking events often take place at regular intervals throughout the year. For example, your Chamber of Commerce probably meets once a month. Often the dates for these can be provided in advance, and this can help you to create a content calendar to help systemise your networking diary.
  2. Plan a networking event ahead of time to ensure the important ones are not forgotten, that you aren’t overstretching and have a plan of action that fits for the event.
  3. Ask for delegate lists and updates – well in advance for starters.  Many organisers won’t provide them until you ask for them.  You want an update the day before if possible.
  4. Research potential delegates and their business on LinkedIn and Twitter if you know who they are in advance and share that knowledge with anyone else attending.  It makes a world of difference! And keep that information for future reference.
  5. Allocate certain events to specific members within your team to match the likely legal interests and needs of potential prospects attending – based on the content and/or context of the event.
  6. Although it might seem somewhat obvious, make sure you are attending the right events. Prior to booking your place research the event, its objectives, and the audience it is targeting- it may also be worth asking the event organiser for a list of delegates to be sure that this is an event you should attend. It is a simple saying but there is a lot of truth in ‘quality over quantity’.
  7. Always ask for a programme timetable; many trade and professional exhibitions span over a number of days so making sure you target the specific one that is of most value to you and your business ensures you get the most gains from your efforts away from the office. Do this for every event that you decide is important for your business and make sure that you attend at events fully prepared.

Follow up is where most lawyers fail most often

What can be done after any network meeting to ensure the business cards you have collected don’t just gather dust on your desk?

  1. It is vital to systemise the business cards you been given, connect with people via LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media channels.
  2. A few days after the event it may also be worth sending potential prospective clients and new business connections a follow up email, reintroducing yourself, the work you do, and ending with a short message regarding possible ventures they may be considering and how you and your business could help.
  3. If appropriate, arrange an informal follow up meeting with them where you can discuss possible opportunities.

These new contacts can then be added into your company’s CRM system if you have one. Here you can effectively systemise your entire network from one single solution. Systemising your networking can improve consistency amongst your client relationships, potential clients and business leads.

  • It is worth investing time in recording interactions you have and the outcome of them, where appropriate. This need not be complex and could involve a simple spreadsheet linked to a database which is shared throughout the company via the cloud. Again, this lends itself to consistency amongst customers, and also ensures you are able to maintain a healthy business relationship.
  • While networking events may predominantly serve to open the door to potential new referrers, it can also be a useful tool when looking to expand your client base.  Keeping business leads and client leads separate is good practice to ensure any future communications you have with them are relevant to them – target specific.
  • Get all departments within your business to operate from a single client/customer record. Investing in a system which allows for real time updates and amendments enables you to get an accurate account of a particular business relationship at any time. Single files ensure that contact is consistent and delivered at appropriate times throughout the customer cycle. Marketing teams for example, would not deliver prospective sales marketing collateral to prospects that are already about to embark on your services.

While these are just a small number of simple steps and practices you can take to ensure your networking is systemised and methodical, much more can be done.

By implementing and using CRM in your business, you can effectively track, update and record your business relationships and ensure that every time you meet a potential client, you aren’t constantly going over old ground with them.

Remember though, while CRM provides you with the technology to engage with your client base, it unfortunately does not give you the message you should convey; and so ensuring that this is cohesive and suitable for the target audience is key to best practice, and getting the most out of both networking and your CRM solution.

To discuss how your practice can adopt more of what is recommended here or in other ways to generate more business and make it more profitable, call Nathan Smith or Allan Carton on 0161 919 8355 or contact us here.  Happy to talk for 30 minutes for free if it can help.

Snapshot of the Current UK Economy from leading economist, Dr John Ashcroft

Dr John AshcroftFrom Dr John Ashcroft – Chief Executive of pro.manchester, a Director of Marketing Manchester, member of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Council and the AGMA Business Leadership Council. Also economics adviser to Duff & Phelps , the international and investment banking services specialist and authors the Duff & Phelps monthly financial updates.

It will be some months yet before interest rates begin to rise. Our current assumption is that rates will begin to rise in the second quarter of 2015.

40% of respondents in the latest Bank of England/GfK Inflation survey expect rates to rise over the next twelve months. No worries for the future apparently. Once on the rise, over 70% expect rates to be less than 3% in five years time. So much for the madness of crowds.

Clearly the general public have a much better grasp of the latest simulations of the “equilibrium real interest rate associated with a neutral monetary policy over the medium term” than is generally assumed. They must have been listening to the speech by David Miles last month.

Asked about the current rate of inflation, the median answer was 3.5% down from 4.4% in November. Excellent. So much for the madness and the wisdom of crowds.

This week the February Markit/CIPS UK PMI® surveys were released. The strong upswing in the UK manufacturing sector continued in February. Output and new business continued to rise at above-trend rates. The leading index at 56.9 was up from a revised reading of 56.6 in January.

In construction, the pace of expansion continued to rise sharply. The leading index scored 62.6 in February, down from a 77-month high of 64.6 in January. Still a very strong performance.

In the service sector, output continues to expand strongly in the month. The headline Business Activity Index recorded 58.2 during February, little changed on January’s 58.3 and indicative of a sharp rise in activity on a monthly basis.

Overall, output in construction, manufacturing and services suggest the economy continues to recover across the board at a very strong rate. The latest NIESR GDP tracker suggest growth increased by 3.5% in January. The Bank of England expects growth of over 3.5% in the first quarter. For the year as a whole, the consensus forecast is for growth of 2.7% this year.

We await the details of the latest GM Chamber of Commerce survey before raising our estimates of growth this year. The GDP(O) model is signalling growth of 3% for the year as a whole. The survey data will be a little more tempered, I suspect.

In the UK and the USA, growth is accelerating and the job market is “tightening”. The pay round will become more difficult by the end of the year. Earnings are set to increase significantly as critical job levels are breached by early 2015. Household incomes are set to improve and the recovery in spending will continue. There will be no “rebalancing”, whatever that ever meant.

Growth up, unemployment down, inflation down and borrowing heading in the right direction. Just the trade figures will continue to disappoint. If growth hits 3% this year, disappointment could turn to shock and alarm. Then all forward rate bets will be off.

Sign up for John’s excellent, readily digestible weekly “Saturday Economist” newsletter and more here.

Good, informative feedback here on legal costs budgeting.

Do you see a difference in approach in the courts you work with?  What would help the judges deal with this more effectively?

Nichola Evans reports here in the New Law Journal on the inconsistent application of the “new rules” in the county court

I sympathise with lawyers trying to get to grips with this, where some of the work we do on improving business process and implementing effective technology support would certainly help.  Being sure you can get paid fairly is clearly absolutely critical to any business, but how new costs budgeting rules and guidance are being applied by the courts – although well intended – is not working. There is therefore no incentive for lawyers to focus as hard they could to improve their internal operations to manage costs more effectively.

From discussions with lawyers and legal costs draftsmen, this article seems to confirm a fair picture of the attitudes among judges and court practice on legal costs management in the UK. Lawyers I talk to are so frustrated with the uncertainties here, they feel they can’t invest time in making changes – primarily because most of judges don’t want and may not be equipped to do this; so there is a very fundamental issue for the courts to address here and this is not going to be resolved quickly.

Allan Carton

Management & Technology needed to deal effectively with Mitchell, Costs Management and Form H

Claire McNamara BLPThis excellent resume posted by by  of BLP highlights the challenges that need to be addressed (not leaving lawyers to tackle them on their own) in what has now become a critical area of legal operations for most law firms.  How should  law firms developo the buisness to be able to cope with this and make it easier for the lawyers to get it right?

Cost management in the courts has been around now for some time. In the TCC, we have had extended pilots dating back to 2010 and, since April 2013, the new provisions courtesy of section II of CPR Part 3 and PD 3E have been in place.  

Read the full article here >>

Questions addressed:

  • The message from Mitchell and CPR Part 3.9?
  • So, Is it working?
  • Lack of Consensus?
  • Are the judges able to manage costs effectively?
  • Do judges have the time?
  • More proportionate costs?
  • Where does this leave us?

Insights to help lawyers grow and develop a sustainable, successful practice

NatWestUseful to reflect back on these thoughts from Stephen Mayson in October 2011, which are all still very relevant to development of new business strategies for law firms.

At one of Natwest’s thought provoking “Ahead for Business” conferences for lawyers in Manchester,  Stephen Mayson helpfully defined this list of 10 full or partial “Substitutions” that are happening now (with more on the way), which impact on how legal services can and should be delivered today.  It should help to focus your mind on those areas of the current business most legal practices should be tackling pro-actively; although relatively few are yet.

80% of work handled by law firms is NOT “reserved” to solicitors (regardless of the Legal Services Act opening the doors wider to new entrants), so anyone can deliver these services if they want.  With all the options for new entrants to maximise the potential of these substitutions, I believe lawyers now have less than 3 years left to get this new mix right.

I will be incorporating these thoughts in my discussions with lawyers in the future.  By focusing on this list of “substitutions”, you can readily identify where and how your practice could be more pro-active to define your response on each count, aiming to develop the more sustainable business that everyone wants for the future.

  1. Non lawyers for lawyers
  2. IT for human beings; virtual for physical
  3. Referrers for direct client access
  4. New providers for law firms (including legal process outsourcing)
  5. External for internal
  6. Corporate structure for partnerships
  7. Professional managers for gifted amateurs
  8. Differentiated rewards for net profit
  9. Equity for debt; capital for income
  10. Brand for Reputation

Of course none of this is absolute; there is a balance to be achieved in each area that varies on each point for each practice.  Effective implementation of the right mix in response should be the main challenge for management right now.

With Stephen Mayson’s list as a good summary, are you and your colleagues focused on each of these areas of your business to make decisions about how to respond (if at all) on each of them now?

How we support law firms on business strategy >>

£500 Introductory Offer – For legal practices employing up to 50 people >>

Allan Carton

FREE Online Time Zone Converter, Global Meeting Planner and much more – really useful!

timeanddateI’m sure more and more of you find that you are are setting up and getting involved in online meetings (telephone and webconferences) with people located in a variety of time zones around the world.  Personally, these now regularly range from the east and west coasts in the US to India, Australia, South Africa and even South America – in addition to Europe and the Nordic countries.

So this little online tool has been a great point of reference in co-ordinating people at Inpractice UK – and there are a lot of other useful tools here to help with meetings across time zones and travel – all FREE, even if you register for extended tools.

Please check it out here and let me know what you think.

Allan Carton