5 ways to approach and 10 top tips to efficiency in your private client business
Benjamin Franklin famously said “Lost time is never found again.” This is so true. What would it mean to you if you could recapture time that you waste on non-value added activities? Life is fast-paced, constantly changing and the workplace is no different. We are all asked to achieve more in less time, to be more productive, to be efficient. But how do you even start?
There is a quality tool I have kept coming back to over the years that is a really good way of squeezing more into less time. It’s called MEDIC, and I’ll explore how it works before sharing my top 10 tips for improving efficiency – to try and help you hang on to that precious ‘lost time’.
How to start looking at efficiency:
Plot your processes and client journey– start by mapping out your internal processes and mark up where a stage adds no value to your business or your clients. There are plenty of areas where we waste time – re-keying client data, sending something by post when it could be emailed, a complicated payment process.
Plot your client journey – what does your client see and when? Are there long gaps where you client doesn’t hear from you or know what is happening? How long was it from the 1st call to sign off? Is time wasted keeping precedents up to date?
Review recent cases – look at your last 5 cases. How many times was that document reviewed? Were there any manual errors? Were names taken down correctly? Did you receive all the correct information from the client in one go? Did it need peer reviewing? Did the client need to change anything? Did it go back and forth between instruction taker and drafter or between solicitor and admin? Did it go to the wrong person initially as it was a more complex case? Were you not aware of the complexity of their situation before the interview? Are there ways this could be improved? Were you happy with how it went? Be critical.
Review a week of your time – keep a time log of what you do throughout a week – and get your team to do the same? This timesheet needs to be kept – not by work done by client – but by whether you feel it was adding value to your client or not. What percentage of the week was adding value? What tasks have there been that are strictly unnecessary? What percentage of your or your team’s time is using knowledge and experience? What was non-productive time – i.e. word processing, respacing and renumbering, re-keying data from one system to another, printing and posting? Are you spending time doing things like re-keying or data input where someone more junior could be doing it – or even the client themselves?!
- Evaluate/Explore – taking the answers from stage one (M), start plotting what the art of the possible is – can you easily cut things out ? What are the easy wins? What might take a bit of investment? How can you win hearts and minds of the team? Be aspirational – shoot for the stars here and explore if it is possible and the solutions that exist to help.
- Describe/Define – stage 3 is to set out your stall. Describe your vision to the team, define what the key steps are you are going to take what the future can look like if you follow these ideas – and what benefits will follow.
- Implement/Improve – it takes time but put those plans into action. It is worth investing a bit of time and money now for gains in the future. Keep the goals in mind – an increase in the number of client meetings, improved client satisfaction and turnaround or a better work/life balance.
- Check/confirm – a stage that is often overlooked. You might implement change but if you never check to see if the results are coming through you may not establish with the entire team the new ways of working. It is hard for some people to accept change so this needs to be managed.
Now you have a structure for your efficiency project – here are my 10 top tips for efficiency gains:
Top 10 tips
- Plan – always have a plan! If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there
- Review – always review the plan regularly and that everyone is following the plan
- Re-keying – one of the quick wins is to look at how many times you are re-keying data – look to see how you can capture that data electronically and move it through different systems
- Workflows – control new processes by implementing internal workflows that are automated where possible
- Digitise – look at the client journey and where possible digitise it – many clients are willing and able to do work digitally, and this has become more the norm during COVID – digital fact finds, for example
- Empower – leave the high earners to focus on high earner work, use the lower paid staff to do as much as possible. Technology can help and guide. The high fee earner can charge for giving out tax and trust advice but a secretary may be able to draft straightforward Wills with training and technology. Automate as many low-level tasks support staff have been doing and empower them to get more involved in your business to free you up for the more lucrative and specialised opportunities.
- Sell-in – for any efficiency plan to work, it must achieve buy-in from all the staff. Paint them a picture of what they could achieve – everyone likes being successful and be part of something transformational.
- Early-adopters – we all know the individuals that, if given the chance, will help sell in an idea. Is there a tech-savvy millennial that has grown up with technology and can become your key user to help others while they upskill and become familiar with new processes?
- Communication – internal communication is important to ensure sell-in (see tip 7), but the holy grail of efficiency in allowing clients to find information themselves before they even come to you. Use your website to communicate the key information required and even enable clients to create a straightforward Will themselves if appropriate.
- Report – set up regular reporting to measure what efficiencies you are achieving and where you can go next with your business transformation!
Arken.legal has a range of products and services that can help you improve the efficiency of your private client business. If you would like a no-obligation, introductory call or demonstration of our solutions, please select a time and date suitable for you. We love getting under the skin of your processes and seeing where we can help.
Happy efficiency hunting!