The Practitioner: Can the firm make hay while the sun shines?

by Kevin Reed

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20 Aug 2014

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THE SUMMER has been one of the warmest in my memory; not being old enough to properly remember the heat-wave of 1976. Or was it 1975? As I said, I can't remember...

The heat has certainly caused issues within the office in terms of productivity. Not only do people seem to be working at a slower pace, but clients, bank managers, solicitors, all appear to be out of the office more than normal, so trying to get work in, processed, and out of the door is proving tricky.

Like the majority of practices in the country, I imagine, we don't have air conditioning units and therefore the 'conditions' in the office haven't been ideal. I can sympathise - slightly - now with working practices in hotter countries such as Spain and Italy, where work seems to be carried out at a slower pace. How on earth they ever get anything finished and filed on time I have no idea.

The sunshine after the Spring has definitely brought with it an overall good feeling economy wise, with more clients enjoying profit increases, clients winning more tenders, and more staff are being hired. The good times appear to be back.

Fees up to realise potential

I sat down last week with a business coach who is helping the practice to realise its potential, and one thing that came from the session was that we need to increase fees; having not implemented a fee increase for three years.

It's easier said than done, and I know it's a test of a client's loyalty whenever a fee increase is mentioned. One idea is for us to carry out a survey of clients beforehand. Another is to carry out a mystery shop of local competitors to ensure our fees are still competitive.

A small measure that we have already put in place is to charge for the preparation and filing of annual returns. Historically we have only re-charged for the filing fee of £13. Given the amount of time that some Returns can take we have decided to add a £50 administration charge for filing the return on the client's behalf.

So far no-one has complained.....

As far as a blanket fee increase is concerned maybe we should announce this while the sun still shines...

The Practitioner's uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice - having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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