I hope last week’s message about how/where you spend your time provoked some thoughts … maybe even nudged you into a new or different course of action from what you’re doing now.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
Here’s another idea to consider. Where is your easy button?
If you’re looking to grow/build/improve your practice, start by making one thing easier for your prospects and clients to use or understand. Identify something they do, read, or experience in the course of engaging you or working with you and answer this question:
How could I make that easier?
Here are three things I’ve done:
- My engagement letters do not have to be signed/returned. Payment of the retainer constitutes the client’s acceptance of all terms and conditions. Check with your insurance carrier before you try this at home.
- I accept funds via PayPal, ACH payment, and wire transfer. It gives clients options, none of which requires clients to write checks. And the first option allows clients to use their credit cards and accumulate rewards.
- Clients and prospects can schedule calls with me by clicking on a link in my email trailer that shows them openings in my calendar. No more annoying phone tag or email chains trying to set up a call.
What can you do to reduce your friction costs?
I’m tackling the language in my engagement letter next. It reads too much like an attorney wrote it even though I did … but admittedly by modeling it after other engagement letters I came across, which were probably written/approved by attorneys :-/
My re-write inspiration came from a December 2014 blog post by Seth Godin that I copied below. (See, I am making it easier for you to read by reproducing the post instead of making you click on a link that takes you to it 🙂
Our connection economy thrives when people understand what to expect from one another. We’re more likely than ever to engage in interactions that involve an exchange, something that deserves a specific clarification. I’ll do this and you’ll do that.
More and more agreements are being made, because more and more transactions happen outside or between organizations. The question then: What does good drafting look like?
If the agreement starts with ‘whereas’ and continues along with, ‘notwithstanding the foregoing,’ and when it must be decoded by a lawyer on the other side, something has gone wrong. These code words, and the dense language that frequently appears in legal agreements, are symptoms of a system out of whack. It’s possible to be precise without being obtuse.
There’s actually no legal requirement that an agreement not be in specific, clear, everyday English. To do otherwise disrespects the person you’re hoping to engage with. There’s no legal requirement that even the terms of service for a website can’t be clear and easy to understand. In fact, if the goal is to avoid confusion and the costs of the legal system when conflicts occur, the clearer, the better.
Consider this clause, which can change everything: ‘Any disagreements over the interpretation of this agreement will be resolved through binding, informal arbitration. Both of us agree to hire a non-involved attorney, submit up to five pages of material to state our case, and abide by her decision.’
The best thing about this clause is that you’ll almost never need it. Mutual respect and clear language lead to agreements that work.
You are choosing between two professionals to provide a service. They are both equally technically competent, and you are confident they both will get the work done. They both cost the same. Wouldn’t the deciding factor be the person who makes it easier to work with?
In real life
It amazes me how concerned we are about being technically competent. Not that technical competence is unimportant. But when is the last time we lost an engagement because we lacked the technical chops? Maybe it’s the soft skills we need to work on.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.