Making sure my practice was continually developing was at times tougher than it should have been. At times, I found myself thinking that I was the only partner who understood the big picture and everyone else was stuck doing what they always did.
Now due respect to my partners… they most likely thought the same of me or thought that I was off with the fairies!
But what I can say for sure is what I see in the firms that I work with. That is:
If you’re not all on the same page with the same level of commitment to make it work, growth and development will stagnate.
4 Signs Your Practice Growth Has Stalled
You may be wondering if growth has stalled in your practice. Here are four tell tale signs that growth is not heading the way you want it to.
- Fees are reducing or only going up by price increases
- Profitability is eroding
- Deliverables are not getting met or errors are consistently showing up
- Systems are not been followed or worse, non-existent due to changes in technology or methodologies.
Case study: How Partnerships can Impede Growth
Recently a prospect called and wanted me to come in and do a Premium Practice Review. This involves me going in to find out what needs to be improved so they can start doing a) more value add work and b) move away from a dependance on compliance work.
We discussed a process to move forward and agreed upon a fee. Just when it seemed that all I had to do was say: “Great, let me send that through”, I stopped and asked: “What does Partner B think about this?”
My prospect’s response was “He’s thinking we are doing alright, that we just need a few more clients and maybe some better people”!
My partnership story from practice days was the same
This took me back to a certain time when I was in the chair as a partner. Our firm had write-off issues 12%, poor productivity 53% firm wide and low profitability 35%.
This despite the fact that we were working our butts off. Putting in long hours, consistently too busy doing and seeing all our clients and worse still, we were starting to get niggly with each other.
All three of us were committed. We all worked hard, and respected each other for what each of us did with our clients. Yet it felt like “Groundhog Day”. It seemed that whatever we decided to put in place to fix our poor performance failed to get the results we expected.
A Crucial Realisation Among The Partners
It was then we realised that we all rowed our own boats. Our mutual vision was clouded and any plan we had, was based around doing more of the same, with a few tweaks.
Things began to change when I decided to have a planning day. (We had to make it a Saturday mind you – it was the only time we had!)
On that day I realised we had not aligned ourselves to the same Vision, nor made the commitment as a team, to make changes.
How We Moved Forwards To Achieve 50% Profitability
For us, this resulted in deciding to part ways with a partner. We all realised that their views and goals were not going to work in tandem with the views and goal of the others.
Our future together looked like hard work. We could see it would involve consistent arguing over spending money or how we serviced clients, and about who did what for which partner. We even had a massive blow-up about how messages were delivered from reception – paper diary vs electronic!
It wasn’t pleasant, but thankfully it all worked out for the best. That partner went on to run a nice little practice on their own, and the remaining partnership did achieve more than we expected.
We Developed A New, Shared Vision
For the remaining partners we developed a vision and sought outside guidance to make sure a plan was put in place. (We realised that if it was left up to us alone, we simply could not make sure the plan was carried out.)
This was our premium practice plan: value add services of 40% and a goal for 50% profitability that we did reach.
You’re Not Alone If You’re Experiencing This
There are 1000’s of firms in Australia that are not achieving at the level they could be – and it’s obvious that their partners are not ‘all aboard’.
Signs Your Partnership Could Be Improved
Here is a list of indicators that your partnership may be under-performing and could benefit from help:
- Partners are doing different things
- No consistency in service delivery, or worse, in service offering
- Partners are too busy doing client work so ‘developing the business’ only happens when the market forces it, ie. due to IT automation
- Everything revolves around them, (they are the bottlenecks in processes and delivery)
- Partners are not embracing the changing marketplace; compliance is the dominate revenue generator
- Skill and experience, is being left on the shelf, (along with consulting tools purchased as the answer to VAS)
The Good News about Partnership Issues
The good news here is that once you identify partner differences, you are on the way to improving them.
Help is available in many forms, and there are dozens of simple actions that can get you started.
For us, we took a Saturday to sit down together, outside of work, discuss our individual goals and work out how we were going to accomplish them.
The hard work and commitment that we were putting into the business helped us tackle the problems head-on, and our confidence in each other enabled us to find a mutually beneficial resolution to issues.
Getting Outside Help Can Make a Huge Difference
After our initial planning, it was obvious to us that we needed outside, impartial and expert help to make the changes we wanted.
My own partnership transformation experience drove me to develop a consulting product aimed at achieving premium practice models for my own clients.
Premium Practice Review Full Day
This full day, in-house practice review is designed to: Identify Goals & Outcomes, Develop Strategies and the Next Steps.
The full day option is specifically designed to incorporate individual sessions with the whole leadership team so that all partners, principals and senior management are on the same page, and in agreement on how to move forwards.
Find out what your firm, your partners and you can achieve from a full day session by chatting to Andrew about the goals you have, and concerns around reaching them.
Use the timetrade link below to view available times and book yourself in.
(or copy and paste this link into your browser >> http://www.timetrade.com/book/6SWV1)