The end of the year can often be a hectic time for any business. From strategic planning to client appreciation and wrapping up long-term projects, it can be overwhelming to enter this quarter without a structured plan in place.
Instead of diving in headfirst, eliminate unnecessary stress and administrative tasks by sitting down and planning out your priorities for the end of the year. By cutting out the “should do’s” in favor of the “must do’s,” you can establish clarity about shared goals amongst attorneys and legal staff, and give your entire legal practice the gift of an easier end of the year.
Here are the steps you can take in Q4 for a strong wrap-up in 2022, and an even stronger start to 2023.
1. Check in with your business goals
Ideally, law firms should evaluate business goals every quarter, not just to see if you’re on track, but also to make sure that your current business goals still make sense for your firm. But time is a precious resource, and it’s normal for larger business goals to get lost in the day-to-day of running a profitable operation.
If that happens, then Q4 is the time to check in on the goals you set at the start of the year. Take a look and assess them to decide if they’re still applicable. Then, pick your path:
- If they aren’t, set them aside and craft appropriate new short-term goals for the end of the year
- If your original business goals are still relevant, identify what steps you can take in the next few months to achieve them
This process is a good opportunity to reflect on why achieving certain business goals ended up taking a back seat. What could you do next year to ensure that they remain an ongoing priority?
2. Review your KPIs
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics we use to evaluate success. Q4 is the perfect time to review how you’ve performed against the KPIs you set for yourself. Where is there room for improvement? Where did you go above and beyond, and what made that possible? What KPIs are unrealistic, or impractical?
Focus on the KPIs that matter, and make sure that you’re reviewing your firm’s performance against only the most relevant metrics, so you can gain a more accurate picture of overall successes or opportunities for improvement.
3. Identify areas to improve operational and administrative processes
Operational and administrative processes can be some of the most time-consuming (and least billable) tasks in a business. In Q4, take the time to review them and evaluate how you can increase efficiency while eliminating pain points or redundant manual work.
For example, tasks related to billing and calendar tracking are all too often pushed to the last minute, or late in the evening when everyone else has gone home. Consider billing management software that can automate these tedious tasks and sync data to cut down on administrative work.
For example, Tabs3 Financials are specifically designed to increase efficiency and improve accounting processes for law firms. With minimal setup and no workarounds needed to satisfy bar association compliance requirements, you can print financial statements, write checks, reconcile bank statements, and manage client trust accounts in one easy-to-use and fully integrated system.
4. Analyze growth goals for next year
Review your strategic priorities for 2023 and consider where you can cut down on costs or increase growth. Whether it’s ramping up marketing efforts, improving billing efficiency, or growing your client base, there are always opportunities to enhance existing processes.
For example, perhaps you want to focus on attracting clients that are a better fit for your particular legal practice. Teams can use the billing and collections process to improve your client base. Take a look at your best clients and consider how you can optimize a retainer to incentivize them to continue with your practice.
Alternatively, look at clients that regularly pose slow-payment issues, demand excessive discounting, or are otherwise disproportionately problematic. Are these clients the right fit for your firm? Or would letting them go free up time needed to focus on clients who are a better fit for your team?
5. Connect with your clients
Many people use the end of the year to review what’s working and what isn’t, and that includes your clients. Build a strong fourth quarter by revisiting your client relationships and seeing how they can improve. Now is a great time to follow up on past clients, check in with your current ones, and listen to their priorities for the coming months.
If you understand your clients’ needs, you’ll be better positioned to advocate for your firm and discuss how you can help with their upcoming issues. This time is also ideal for sharing new services or end-of-year promotions with clients.
Furthermore, connecting with your clients and listening to their feedback with an open mind is an important opportunity to learn what your firm could be doing better. Rather than just shaking hands and thanking them for their business, capitalize on this interaction to ask for their thoughts about your services. When done right, this will make your client feel valued and heard, and provide you with important considerations to take back to your practice’s stakeholders.
6. Plan for the holidays in advance
Q4 is full of holidays and celebrations, and it can also be the month of endless client gifts: cards, gift baskets, and other tokens of appreciation pile up on countless desks. It can be hard to stand out from every other business.
To ensure your firm isn’t lost in the crowd, don’t treat the holiday season as a rote chore. Start planning early to brainstorm, plan, and execute a holiday marketing plan that fits your goals and priorities. Rather than just mailing out a standard gift, be intentional with your holiday plans. Tailor your gifts and marketing to your clients’ needs and be sure to leave time for connecting with clients and other practices on a social level.
7. Start your 2023 marketing plan
Marketing is an important part of any business, and that includes legal practices. Use this time to realistically evaluate your existing marketing plan and how you can improve it in 2023.
You can examine your marketing through a number of different lenses:
- Are you exceeding or underutilizing your marketing budget? If so, why?
- Are you intentionally focusing your marketing efforts with a clear plan for strategic growth priorities, or are you just going through the motions?
- Are your marketing efforts focusing on the areas of your practice with the most growth or profit potential?
- How are you evaluating your marketing? What data metrics are you using, and are those the right marketing KPIs?
- Are your marketing efforts reaching your desired audience?
- How can your marketing efforts be more efficient and deliver better results?
These are all important questions to ask when designing an effective 2023 marketing plan and can help build a better strategic agenda in the coming year.
Kick off a successful Q4 with Tabs3
With a robust suite of practice management, time tracking, billing, and accounting tools designed specifically to meet the needs of busy law firms, Tabs3 Software has all the necessities to help you achieve your law office’s goals, both in Q4 and 2023.
Experience the difference that Tabs3 software can make! Schedule your free walkthrough demo today.