Monday 17 June 2013

What conveyancers can learn from Gordon Ramsay

Following on from my post Do you have a preferred conveyancing client? I see similarities between a conveyancing practice and a restaurant.

A savvy restaurateur might build up a fine dining, a silver service high- priced venture. Or he might build up a successful business selling fast food meals at the lowest possible prices. Or he could make a success of Indian, Chinese, or Italian cuisine. Each would attract a following. Customers would come expecting a specific kind of meal. However, with all his skill, he could not possibly build up a clientele if, one day he served the costliest meals, the next day low-priced ones, and then, without warning, served nothing but sushi.

So too with Conveyancing. The owners of a practice have to decide on their preferred clientele. What end of the spectrum do they want to concentrate on?  Is it the equivalent of fast food--factory conveyancing--or something analogous to a fine dining restaurant where the experienced and qualified lawyer caters to bespoke--a la carte--service?

Like top property law firms, fine dining establishments sell a pricey product in a fragmented, crowded and largely undifferentiated market. But some manage to stand out and earn a reputation for adding value to the dining experience. There are some valuable lessons for conveyancing firms to consider.

1. First impressions when you walk into a restaurant. A conveyancing firm often makes its first visual impression through its website. What kind of experience does your firm’s website promise? Does it effectively preview what it’s like to do business with you?  Can visitors easily get to where they want to go? Does your design showcase important content or overwhelm it?

2. The personal touch.  Sophisticated law firm clients, like sophisticated diners, come in with an idea of what they do and don’t want.  If I tell you I don’t want sweetbreads, I won’t be happy if you serve them to me, no matter how well-prepared they are. If I tell you that I am not interested in case tracking because I want to be able to deal with you personally, don't palm me off on your assistant to update me on my case. 

If you give me a meal I could have created at home, it will feel like I didn’t get my money’s worth. Successful conveyancers really hear what the client wants—and then use it as a jumping off point to provide better service and more results than expected. That’s the kind of value-add that makes clients line up to pay premium prices--both in restaurants and in law firms.

Creating a “one-size-fits-most” pitch packet is not getting personal.  You can bet that it will not make your prospect feel special, important or well served by your firm. 

3. Give a little bit.  A good restaurant might on occasion give a small dessert for a tasting to group so that they might order desserts all around the next time they dine there.  So, ask what can you give away as a taste of what's to come, either through your website or face-to-face? A Trust deed where the clients are buying as tenants in common? A bound file of copy deeds ? A draft Will?  Everything you give away should preview what it’s like to do business with you.  Set the stage for what’s to come—awaken the palates of your prospects and clients.

4. Educated cross-selling is  the cure-all for the hard-to-grow law firm business.  Everyone struggles with it, and sadly, it is frequently ineffective.

Good restaurants know how to cross-sell, for example, a series of wines perfectly paired to the courses. London restaurant, Oslow Court is renowned for having an Egyptian dessert waiter, Neil,  an institution who spoils each customer by suggesting desserts to each taste.  Because of his cross-sell, very few people leave without having ordered dessert.

Imagine if lawyers knew this much about their partners’ practices before trying to cross-sell them. You’d have a trusted source actively participating in the sale instead of just saying, “You should meet my partner so-and-so; she really knows about Wills.” Building—and using—an experience database for your firm can make this kind of cross-selling raw material easier to come by.

Differentiation works. It just takes care and diligence and, most of all, courage to make it pay off.

Food for thought.

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