In past “On Balance” columns we’ve shared plenty of tips for kicking off a spring cleaning binge for your solo law practice. From updating your fee agreements, reviewing your marketing plan, reconnecting with your professional network, checking your CLE status, and taking a refresher course in your practice area — these are still great ideas.
But, inspired by the beautiful weather beginning to grace many of us, here are a few things to add to your practice’s spring cleaning list.
1. Check Up on Your Technology Spend
This is a great time to take stock of where you are spending your precious dollars on technology. This goes for personal and business expenses. In today’s world of subscription technology services, it is easy to forget that you signed up for a plan with an app that turned out not to work so well for you, or one you haven’t used as much as expected. Even if you are balancing your checkbook every month, if these expenses get billed to a credit card, you may not realize how much you are paying.
Take a month of bank and credit card statements and list out everything you are paying for. There are likely some apps you never use, or others you could cut out. The total spend will likely surprise you.
2. Evaluate Your Social Media Marketing Plan
Social media is habit-forming, as we well know. It is useful to periodically evaluate whether the platforms sucking your time are actually the best ones for your business. Perhaps you set your law firm up on Facebook and routinely share content there. But have your clients migrated over to Instagram? Are you active on Twitter but your network is more active on LinkedIn?
Learning to use a new platform is daunting, but wasting time on a platform that is not helping your solo law practice grow is a poor business decision. If you are using paid ads, then this is all the more important.
3. Check Your Ad Spend
Speaking of paid social media ads, exactly where and how much are you spending on your advertising efforts? Consider taking stock of this number now.
Your advertising budget is not just how much you spend to run paid ads. It should also include how much you are paying marketing consultants, writers or related assistants. It also includes the platforms you pay for photos or other content. You should also factor in your own time on marketing efforts, such as time spent writing or speaking.
If you are not already measuring the return on your investment in advertising, start doing so to maximize your ad spend.
4. Pick a KPI to Track
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are getting a lot of attention in legal circles, as well they should. Outside of the legal profession, businesses routinely track KPIs, and yet law firms seem to struggle to implement tracking systems. This spring, pick one metric to begin tracking. If you are already tracking KPIs, evaluate which metrics are actually useful to you and add some new ones.
KPIs critical to a solo law practice include ROI for marketing (mentioned above), potential client inquiries, consultations booked, representations obtained, and average client spend. There are many good resources to get started on your KPI journey, including Mary Juetten’s book “Small Law Firm KPIs: How to Measure Your Way to Greater Profits.”
It is intimidating to get started tracking data, but it does not have to be complicated. Pick a metric that is important to you, create an Excel spreadsheet where you will track it, and get started. It can get addicting, and soon you will likely be tracking more than you ever imagined.
Add Google Analytics to your website if it is not already installed, and start tracking website data. If you had it installed all along but never used it, use this spring cleaning tip to pull the historical data and work on interpreting it.
When you get further into KPI tracking, you can get more complex with your system, automating some of the tracking along the way. But don’t let the possibilities for a complex system fool you; a startup system can be extremely simple.
5. Plan Something Big for This Year
Spring is a time of awakening from the dark cold of winter and a launching-off point for the rest of the year.
There is no better time to refresh your practice by evaluating your spending, focusing on where you apply your energy, getting on track with tracking data, and planning to do something new with the active balance of the year ahead.