A confession: I have a reading disorder.
A serious vice that requires between 2 and 5 books each week to be satiated. I am a bookstore owner’s fantasy and my library’s least profit-producing cardholder.
On that note – while in my favorite bookstore, perusing the business section, I began to count the number of books that attempt to tell you how to grow your business. I lost count, then lost interest. Now I have spent hundreds of dollars and euros to own a good number of these kinds of books, and have read even more of them. If they’re good, they eventually get around telling you that the following 3 activities are key to growing any business.
1.Increase your caseload volume,
2.Increase your fees,
3.Increase the amount of repeat business.
Let me save you the time and money of buying or borrowing these books by explaining
how each of these apply to resolutionists.
Point number one reads “Increase your caseload volume”.
Clear and simple – promote your practice through networking, writing and speaking. These are the time and money-proven most effective strategies for a resolutionist.
On average a practice requires between 18 months and two years to build. Remember
that to be successful, you must consider yourself a businessperson first and a mediator second.
The same would hold true for any business. If you told me that because you’re
such a great cook you’re going to open a restaurant, my first question would be
“what do you know about running a culinary business?” You can’t have the second
(a mediation or arbitration practice) without the first (some business acumen).
Point number two reads “Increase your fees”.
Again – pretty simple, but will depend on a couple of variables (and perhaps one mathematical formula). If your background or current job is one in which you make money based on billable hours, like a lawyer or consultant, then you will want to charge at least that same hourly rate. Your time as a arbitrator / mediator is no less valuable than your time as a consultant or expert witness etc. It’s simply a matter of cost opportunity. Your IQ does not diminish as soon as you stop into a mediation. Your time is valuable – put a value to it.
If you have a job that is a salaried position, that is not in the field of law,
and you need to determine how much to charge – take the average fee charged by
local attorneys within your same practice area. For instance, if you have worked
for the State’s Health and Welfare Department as a psychologist and are now building
a practice with family as the focus, research the average hourly fees local family
lawyers charge. If it is less than you make on an hourly basis – keep your current rate.
Why on earth would you leave money on the table?
Or, if you just read the previous two paragraphs and are still unclear, try the following
mathematical formula. You have to get paid for the work you do, or you will soon have to
find some other way to make a living. Not only must you get paid, but you have to get
paid enough. How do you know how to charge for your services so that you get paid enough?
The economics of a mediation practice are so simple that they can be reduced to the following:
P= (H time B time R) minus C
H = total hours available
B = percent of those hours that are billable
R = hourly rate
C = costs
If you want to make more money you can lower your costs, increase the percentage of your time on paid work, or increase your rate. You can also work more hours – keeping in mind that as hourly-paid professionals we are all capped on how much our practices will earn unless we increase our rates. Why? Well there are only so many hours in a day dear reader. Once they’ve been billed out … where can you go from there?
Point number three reads “Increase the amount of repeat business”.
What’s that you say … just a beautiful theory? Wrong. They’re more than just a theory,
they’re the reality for many of us. Referrals are out there. You only have to ask for them.
Next time you find yourself in a networking situation, with someone for whom you’ve worked, or a friend or colleague who socializes or works within your target market, ask them for a referral. Ask them whom in their organization should you speak with about getting cases. Ask them if they know someone who could either directly benefit from your services or someone who could lead you in the right direction. You’ll be amazed at the results if you just ask.
So there it is. Growth in a nutshell. My miniature course on “Success 101” and all you had to pay… was attention.