“Growth is terrific, but good, sustainable growth is much better. It’s much harder to grow well than it is to just grow.”
–Brian Hamilton, Sageworks (via Forbes)
It’s the problem every attorney hopes to have: Your law firm is growing to the point that you’re running to catch up with it. New clients sign up by the day, your calendar is filled with new appointments and the money is starting to roll in. Great news, right?
Not so fast. Seriously.
“Growing too fast” is a real thing. Small Business Trends lists “expanding too quickly” as one of the top 10 reasons companies fail. If you find yourself inundated with more clients than you’re equipped to handle, the chaos can lead to making critical mistakes, neglecting clients, losing sales, endangering your reputation for excellence and possibly causing your whole firm to implode.
What are some signs your law firm is growing too fast—and more importantly, what can you do about it?
Increase in Client Complaints
When the number of complaints spikes, it’s usually because your clients feel neglected in some way—most likely because your staff just doesn’t have time to accommodate the needs of every client.
Possible solutions: Automate repetitive office functions so your staff has more time to interact with clients, or hire and train more staff to accommodate the inflow.
Expenses Outweigh Revenue
When a firm grows, so do the costs of expansion. If you have more business than you can handle but you’re still ending the month in the red, it’s a sure sign you’re not prepared for the growth.
Possible solution: Cut back temporarily on your marketing budget and allocate those funds toward expanding your infrastructure; resume marketing when you’ve regained equilibrium.
We assume that more business means we are busier, but if you and your team are feeling burnout, you haven’t developed the systems you need to handle the new clients you’re taking. Left unchecked, this problem leads to increased employee turnover and chronic fatigue.
Possible solution: Automate, automate, automate. Almost any repetitive function can be automated to free up time for other tasks.
You definitely want your law firm to grow, but you also want to make sure your growth is sustainable. Take a step back and regroup so your firm doesn’t collapse under the weight.