Now this is a story all about how
My life got flipped turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there..
And I’ll tell you what life has been like for AJ Fleet and HF Financial Strategy over the last 10 weeks.
I remember very clearly how it really started for us and when our clients started to see the impact of COVID .
The first call from a client started with
“ I just wondered if you had any advice?”
“On what?” I asked
“Just in general on what we should do in our position.?”
He started his business back in August last year ,had a phenomenal start until COVID happened when his biggest client on a significant retainer was one of the first sectors to be impacted. Having got off to a flyer he was stopped in his tracks, nervous about what the future held , how to manage cashflow and the fact that he had just recruited two new members of staff.
Over the next few days what quickly followed was many calls like this;- one client losing two thirds of their revenue in the space of five days, others being impacted more gradually and then when lockdown came a number of clients in retail losing all their revenue .
That first period was tough, it was the initial shock for everyone and I’m talking the week before lockdown when I think things started to happen at a pace that took peoples breath away. By the time lockdown was announced we were all expecting it and I think mentally were ready for it. Andy and I spent a lot of time on the phone with our clients, talking them through options, forecasting cashflow but mostly listening to their worries and their plans to cope with the unimaginable. It was really hard, it was draining but I can tell you it was ruddy rewarding too.
As the government announcements came through we spent time thinking what it meant for our clients and trying to get it over to them in easy to understand formats. Their brains were shot with worries both professional and personal so we wanted to take some of that strain. I sat in front of the TV with pen and paper waiting for Rishi and the last time I did that I was learning the words to China in your Hand by T’Pau. We created flowcharts, easy to use tools and webinars to do our best to get them through this hideous time.
Business challenges aside some of our clients lost family members during this period and when you know someone behind just one of the deaths as they release the figures each day it reminds you how hard this time is for so many.
For us life went from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye in professional terms and that was before the schools closed and we had to plan in to our day schooling our 5 and 8 year old boys. I don’t know if people think accountants are immune to recession or that we don’t worry when times like this come along. The truth is for us personally it was the same as for everyone else, we looked at our cashflow, we looked at how much of a buffer we had and we looked at how we could alter our personal spending.
We’ve found our own way during this time. Schooling is done in relays, I take the spelling and the fractions (god I love that part) and Andy takes the drumming and the Horrible Histories. We try and find time for exercise but our ability to converse at the end of some of these days has been limited.
We’ve had so many comments about our work during this time from clients and others. It’s made me realise I’m pretty calm in a crisis, that we explain everything really simply and Andy’s friendly and approachable nature shines from the rooftops. I like to think we had strong bonds with our clients already but having been through this together we will never forget it.
For me and Andy we’ve faced it head on and I’m so proud of how we have handled our clients and the schooling amidst all the personal worries about elderly relatives. There is a light at the end of this tunnel but fortunately for us it hasn’t been as dark as it has been for others.
According to FIFA the main purpose of VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made. So with Russia 2018 in full flow how can law firms use VAR to prevent poor decision making and consequently improve their financial performance.
I’m not suggesting videoing board meetings and re-watching them as often sitting through the meeting the first time was tough enough. I would suggest using it as a prompt to drive improved performance. Here’s how…
Do you know how your firm is performing and not just headline sales and profit but what is really driving them? As an illustration do you know how your business is performing in terms of
Profile of work
Profitability of each work stream from both a client and product perspective
Current level of capacity
Taking that a step further how does this compare to how you need to perform to achieve your goals.
Ultimately you need visibility through accurate, relevant and timely information to drive behaviours.
As one of my clients said recently “you have given us greater visibility of our performance which in turn gives us confidence in our decision making “
Once you’ve set targets and started to measure them do you do anything with the results?
Any good analyst can create a pack of information with pretty graphs but unless you do something with it is worthless. It’s vital to spend time on a regular basis to review your performance, set clear actions and follow up on them. If your team know that actions will be followed up then you can be sure they will be done.
No accountability for failed actions will lead to ignorance of any actions set.
If you set clear targets, measure yourself against them and then take actions both to rectify the problems and promote the positives you will achieve the desired results. As a couple of examples in my experience this has led to
-Improved profitability on fixed fee work
-Better informed pricing decisions
-Timely recruitment meaning you get the right people and not just the people available right now
-Income growth due to innovative pricing offerings
Visibility Accountability Results
Having spent the last eight years in the legal profession I know many of the issues you face and the key drivers to target improved financial performance. I currently work with a number of law firms to achieve this and if you want a chat about how I can help you then please drop me a line at email@example.com or give me a call on 07960 564 203.