Danny Daniel and Jonathan Stark teamed up in 2000 to form Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers. Since then, they’ve grown to three fully staffed offices in Central Texas. Recently we spoke with Danny about the importance of strategic planning for the firm—not just marketing, but all aspects of the firm, from operations to culture.
Q: Why do you do strategic planning every year?
A: It’s important to detail exactly where we’re going and get everyone headed in that direction. Writing it down provides a road map that everyone can follow.
Q: How long have you been having these planning sessions?
A: We started planning in 2008. Prior to that, we developed a plan, but it was just Jonathan and me with a few employees. As we continued to grow and open more offices, it became more difficult to interact with everyone on a daily basis and keep them focused. So we developed a written strategic plan that we shared with all employees and then developed a rhythm of meetings to help keep everyone focused on our goals and priorities.
Q: Why is it important to have the session offsite?
A: Off-site sessions are critical. They get everyone out of the day-to-day and prevent interruptions and distractions. It’s important to get the executive team out of the office so we can think clearly about the company and where we want it to go.
“When we win, we celebrate big. 2012 is Broadway Bonus, and the reward is a trip to New York City.”
Q: Is it important to have an outside facilitator? What does someone like that contribute?
A: I have only used a facilitator a few times, but we are committed to using one for each quarter from now on. The facilitator allows me to spend my time thinking about the business rather than facilitating the meeting. He or she offers variety, organization, time management, and an outside perspective.
Q: Who from the firm should attend?
A: We involve the executive team in all the planning meetings (annual and quarterly). For the annual planning meeting, we also bring in a few key employees. This helps our support staff buy in across the firm and gives us a ground-up perspective.
Q: How do you communicate the plan/goals to the rest of the firm?
A: We go all-out with our annual and quarterly plans. We launch the annual plan at a big event. This year we did it in San Antonio on the River Walk. For the quarterly plans, we have a firm-wide meeting to communicate the goals and priorities for the quarter. Each plan has a theme, and we have a graphic designer develop a poster that we give to every employee. Each annual and quarterly plan has a reward attached if we achieve our goals. We reached our 2011 goals, and the reward was a trip to Vegas. We took all the employees and their spouses to Vegas in January and had a blast!
Q: What effect has communicating clear goals to the firm had on your growth?
A: The written plan is a communication tool that helps everyone understand our business model, and it keeps them aligned with our priorities and focused on our goals. We have daily meetings that last five to seven minutes to touch base on the goals. Our daily communication has been huge in employee retention and satisfaction. Everyone likes playing for a team that wins, and when we win, we celebrate big. The 2012 theme is “Broadway Bonus,” and the reward is a trip to New York City, including flight, hotel, Broadway show, and limo. So far, we are off to a great start!