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managing prof svc firm

Author: David Maister

Summary: To manage a professional services firm you need to align the types of clients, projects, and staff otherwise these will forever be at odds with each other, pulling you and your business apart

Notes:

  • Every firm has the same basic mission statement: great client service at a place where people can learn and grow
  • 3 Types of problems: “brains” problems that haven’t been solved before so clients look for the smartest firm/people, “grey hair” problems that have been solved before but are complex so clients look for the most experienced people/firm, and “production” problems that have a known problem and known solution where clients look for the firm with the greatest efficiency (leverage of staff)
  • “Super-pleasing” as business development: set aside time as part of your marketing budget in order to provide something extra to clients to help secure further business or a referral
  • Leverage ratios of senior to junior staff determine the business model and profit margin. They are different for each type of project, impacting what you need to charge

Discussion Takeaways:

  • Growth is required in order to create the postions for people to move up into, or else people are either bored or you have high attrition (or both)
  • No firm can be purely brains, grey hair, or production oriented – you need a mix of projects in order to sustain your company, but you can have a dominate type of project that influence your margins/business model
  • Ideally there’s no line between doing the work and selling the work. Both are targeted and require strategy as to what the client gets
  • Client Satisfaction Surveys can be great way to get feedback, initiate a conversation and understand your value