I'm a big believer in lifelong learning. In fact, along with my exercise regime, I believe it's what keeps me young (and has many people believing I'm Ed's little brother.)
Maureen Broderick's new book, “The Art of Managing a Professional Services Firm” is a great example of the impact lifelong learning can have on an old salt like this blogger. One might think that after a millennium of working in public relations, I know all there is to know about running a professional services firm. But, One would be wrong. So, very, very wrong. (So, shape up, One!)
Broderick's book* has opened my eyes to any number of new strategies, policies and procedures that I think will benefit Peppercom (and, any professional services firm for that matter). Here are just three:
– Several advertising agencies have created formal onboarding programs for new clients. One boasts a highly structured, seven-part discussion document that introduces the nascent client to the agency team, its work policies and procedures and reporting structures. Written program outcomes are also put in writing by both parties during the onboarding meeting. (Note: This process is repeated WHENEVER there is a staffing change on the client side, thereby lessening the chance a new sheriff will make an immediate agency change. That's so simple, but SO smart.)
– A top engineering firm manages its client portfolio by categorizing accounts in four ways: strategic (these are the largest, most profitable clients,) core (these are the most loyal ones,) emerging (accounts with the greatest growth potential) and opportunistic (one-off projects.) The firm uses a chart containing this information to drive their growth and staffing discussions and decisions. Again, elementary, but wicked smart.
– An integrated marketing firm has created a five-question e-mail evaluation form that is automatically sent to each and every client on a quarterly basis. Any score that comes back with a 'satisfactory' or lower rating is immediately forwarded to a member of the senior management team. One of them will then pick up the phone and call the client asking for a meeting to address and fix the issues. It's turned out to be a superb early warning system that's saved countless relationships. As one of my old dotcom clients used to say, “It's an elegant solution.”
There are scores of other tips and best practices, but you'll have to read the book yourself. I may be a lifelong learner, but, I'm a selfish, self-centered one who only thinks about making my own firm the very best it can be. That said, I can guarantee adopting one or more of Broderick's principles will improve your firm's image and reputation with all constituent audiences. And as The Who put it, “I call that a bargain. The best I ever had."