Preserving Your Practice’s Best Assets: Client, Employee Retention
Steven G. Kaplan
(County Bar Update, December 2002, Vol. 22, No. 11)

Preserving Your Practice’s Best Assets: Client, Employee Retention

By Steven G. Kaplan, Esq., submitted at the request of the Law Practice Management Section Executive Committee. Kaplan is the managing shareholder of Levinson & Kaplan, A.P.C., located in Encino. He focuses on corporate, transactional and entertainment matters. The opinions expressed are his own.

In any professional service practice, the most important assets are its productive, happy employees and well-satisfied, fee-paying clients. Yet many practices have difficulty retaining both. In our practice, we have attained an extremely low employee turnover rate and a very loyal client base by following specific strategies that have helped us preserve these valuable assets.

Appreciation. In the case of both employee and client retention, the consistent showing of appreciation dramatically impacts employee attitude and client satisfaction.

Whether it is complimenting employees on exemplary work or awarding employees with tickets to a ball game or a $100 gift certificate, these small exhibits of the firm’s recognition and validation of their efforts will reap significant benefits. Not only will your employees work harder, smarter, and faster, but also they’ll do it with a smile on their faces. They will return your showing of appreciation through their loyalty and dedication.

Clients are no different. We show our appreciation to our clients by frequent communication, thank-you letters, and gift baskets. We treat them with respect, kindness, and our best efforts on their behalf. They reward us by paying their bills in a timely manner and referring their friends and family to us for representation.

Listening. For both employees and clients, the ability of the firm to listen to their needs and concerns shows respect.

We frequently manage employee issues by addressing developing problems early and resolving them promptly.

In the case of retaining satisfied and happy clients, our listening carefully to them and representing them accordingly results in satisfaction for both the client and the firm. In our 10-year history, we’ve had very few billing disputes with clients. A primary reason is that we follow the adage that if we treat clients fairly, they will treat us the same way.

Service. We train our employees to perform excellent service for the client. In a service business, the key is Service, Service, Service. We act promptly, return calls within 24 hours, respond to e-mail quickly, and get the job done -- and done well. For our employees, we instill a sense of pride in providing a high level of service, which is reinforced by our showing of appreciation of their efforts. This in turn generates appreciation from the client, thus further reinforcing the positive environment that we create for our employees.

Don’ts. We follow certain common sense “Don’ts” in our practice. We don’t try to intimidate clients or employees by yelling at them. We don’t treat clients or employees with disrespect. We don’t create unreasonable or unattainable expectations. We don’t treat anyone unfairly.

Recent research links employee gratification with client satisfaction. From the top down, appreciating and listening to employees will, in turn, assist you in keeping clients as “raving fans” of your services.

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