Here at cj Advertising, we know that there are many factors that determine the success of your Personal Injury law firm. However, there is one major thing that each and every firm can, and should, be doing to maximize growth: conduct annual (at least) planning sessions.
Do not wait until the end of the year to compile and review your year-to-date data for the first time. If you’re a cj client, you know that we highly encourage you to check in on a series of stats daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Annual planning sessions, however, give you an opportunity to dedicate a time to look at the big picture and deeply dive into the most important numbers that tell the story of your firm’s health, assessing where you have been, where you plan to go, and how you will get there.
A successful year of growth starts with your strategic planning session in Q3-Q4 of the current year. In the strategic planning sessions that we run at cj, we conduct and review: the Profit and Loss Analysis, the Pipeline Analysis, a Pareto Point Analysis, and oftentimes we also jump into a STaRS/Fee Center Analysis. We’ve found that these reports afford us with enough information to get a read on the firm’s current vital signs. From those analyses, we know what practice areas and departments are functioning especially well and where there is room for improvement. They also give us the background information that is necessary to aim for establishing accurate budgets from an honest, realistic mindset for the upcoming year.
The Qualities of a Successful Planning Session
We aren’t going to sugarcoat it, annual planning sessions require a great deal of work and often evoke some combination of blood, sweat, and tears. When you are caught up in the hustle and grind of the day-to-day tasks of running a law firm, it can seem like a Herculean task to get all of your key players together in one room, in person (preferably), for 4-8 hours. However, making this planning session a priority is worth it. Here are some key characteristics and recommendations to consider:
- Your planning session needs to be conducted by an outside consultant.
When everyone in the room is too deeply involved in the firm and too close to the project, it can inhibit the overall productivity & process in regard to the big picture view. An outside consultant ensures that there is a non-biased/less-biased presence in the room. Most would say it’s absolutely essential to have an outside voice who can point out things about the way that your firm functions that you wouldn’t have seen yourself and prevent those in the business from sliding down time-consuming rabbit holes.
- Your planning session should be centered around a 3-year plan to double revenue.
Keep this as your principal goal when conducting your planning session. This goal will give you a lens with which you can look at every other number, and determine what you need to do to make that goal a reality.
- Your planning session needs to be focused on creating specific goals.
We’ve all fallen into the trap of a vague goal before. Here’s the issue with vague goals: they don’t become a reality. As you are going through your planning session, create a spreadsheet of goals that includes: what needs to happen to make this goal feasible, who at your firm is going to quarterback ensuring that these action items occur, and the timeline for when each action item on this goal needs to be completed by. Continue checking in on these goals each month to make sure that you and your team are staying on track.
- Your planning session should be built around accomplishments from the year to date.
When reviewing your numbers for the year, make sure to take note of what things worked the best. Did you see a major spike in leads after starting a new TV schedule? Did a new intake process significantly improve your conversion rate? This data can provide the framework for your next year. Make sure to celebrate all that you accomplished and create a plan for how you can scale those things into future years. After the book closes for the year, check-in on these reports again to make sure that you are taking the entire year into account.
By the end of the strategic planning session, you should have accomplished the following:
- A thorough review of the past year.
- Discussion of the biggest problems the firm is currently facing.
- Creation of a game plan for addressing the firm’s inefficiencies.
- Determining your goals and action items for growth in 2023.
Questions? We’re Here to Help
If you have any questions about strategic planning sessions or the reports that we suggest you include in these sessions, we’re happy to help. I have participated in several strategic planning sessions with my clients over the past six to seven years, most notably & historically with DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers. For more information, or if you are interested in having us conduct a strategic planning session at your firm, please reach out to your strategist or to email@example.com.