In 2018, Rainmaker conducted a national survey of 59 practice leaders to learn about their greatest concerns and challenges. It comes as no surprise that topping the list of what keeps these leaders up at night was practice growth. In fact, 34% of them named growth as the greatest concern for their practice. Growth was followed at some distance by client service and billing, each at 25%, staff development and retention at 22%, staffing at 19%, marketing and client retention at 17%, and finally service offerings at 8%.
Each of these challenges are real and need to be explored and discussed. Over time, we will work to address all of them and provide tools that can help practice leaders in their quest for answers and success. But first, we’ll start with the greatest worry: growth.
The following are three strategies to consider in the pursuit of the practice leader’s number one challenge.
3 Steps to Practice Growth
Many of the concerns of practice leaders can be relieved, at least in part, by following a three-step approach to your growth efforts.
First, identify all ‘A’ clients in the niche and find ways to super serve them. These clients will typically account for the bulk of revenue generated from the practice area. Taking stock of the current client base will allow you to create a powerful service plan for this list of clients. An intentional 90-day Client Action Plan is a terrific step to take, as it provides direction and accountability for each team member to play an important part in elevating the service provided.
Hopefully the practice has established a true baseline for what constitutes an A, B, or C client based on revenue, timeliness of payment, ease of working with them, etc. In Rainmaker’s work with firms, we often come across practice leaders who do not have a good understanding of the statistics of the niche practice, and, in some cases, their firm does not separate out revenue by industry or prominent service lines. Yet without this current state of knowledge, successful growth of the practice cannot be quantified. Thus, if this baseline is not in place, go ahead and establish, definitively, where the practice is in terms of revenue, client numbers, realization, profitability, and whatever KPI’s are important for the team to track what success looks like.
Second, compile a list of ‘B’ clients in the practice and identify a good target list that can be elevated to become part of the A-list of clients. Perhaps there are many solid clients only using 2-3 services, yet their business profile clearly shows they would benefit from using more. Junior or Non-equity Partners and even Senior Managers can be given the task of targeting these clients for additional revenue, which can then become a part of their goals and ongoing performance evaluations.
Third, investigate the market and identify a target list of prospects that look very much like the ‘A’ and ‘B’ clients of the practice. In most cases, there will be lower-level clients that will need to transition out of the practice in order to make room for the activities involved with following this 3-step approach to practice growth. Time is always an issue, so if transitioning clients needs to happen so that more attention can be directed towards top tier clients, then that’s the right thing to do. Lower-level clients will end up being better served and the team will be freed up for more interesting, profitable, and, in some cases, likeable, clients.
All of this is easy to say and seems very intuitive and straightforward, but it is not intended to paint the picture that practice growth is easy. It is most certainly not. Business growth is a cultural mindset that takes consistent, determined effort from many people working in tandem, with a strong accountability system inside the team, to make things work well. Training and development in leadership and business growth will also be necessary before setting expectations of people who have never been asked to be accountable to leadership or practice growth activities.
Start today and replace the term ‘Busy Season’ with Opportunity Season’ and consider each interaction with a client as an opportunity to understand more about their business and potential ways to better serve them by solving their problems and alleviating their challenges.
For more information about Leadership development skills and how to best employ them in your role, please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your Firm, Grow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.