Bullet-point tips on the tough questions that need to be asked. This month: the business proposition

Is our key proposition, defined in our strategy document, still valid?

It may be just a year since your business proposition was clarified and documented, but the speed of change in the business world is such that fine tuning is likely to be needed regularly, and a “quantum leap” in approach may also be justified now and then. Review your proposition at least annually, for potential improvements.

What should we do about apparent gaps in our offering?

Having identified these, an analysis of the estimated value of current work being lost, and how this may grow in future, can better inform a decision on hiring new specialist help to plug the gap, or even considering a merger, to create value.

How about the firm’s vision – or what we strive to be?

Again this may need some subtle adjustment over time – it needs to be fresh, current and motivational. Ask yourself if this message still generates a buzz – if not, make it better.

Should we now just focus on the commoditised sectors, with steadier profitability?

The standardised sectors such as conveyancing rely on lean processes to generate returns, but higher value spin-off work should always be looked for as well, to enhance overall profits. The two models can easily exist side by side and cross-referral processes need to be slick. Will writing work might, for example, unearth financial planning or trust opportunities.

Should we assume that the service standardisation trend will continue?

Not necessarily – the market can sometimes evolve further and seek enhanced services once more (look at easyJet, who are now selling flexible-flight tickets – back to the future!). Be aware of evolving demands from clients, and tune into what they are most concerned about right now – that is your opportunity.

The Author
Neil Forrest, NRF Consulting Neil Forrest provides strategy and funding advice to the legal sector and other business groups. t: 0131 440 4118; e: nrf@neilforrest.co.uk
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