Growing your professional services firm can be hard work, but one of the worst times is when you’re getting busy. Busy enough to cope, but not busy enough to deal with little extras and certainly not busy enough to take on another member of staff.

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It’s a common story! You’re successful and you’ll be able to take on somebody else…..but not yet. How will you keep growing your firm without driving yourself into the ground or letting clients down?

The phone keeps ringing

OK, that sounds good, but think about it. Each time that happens you’re getting disturbed and unable to do chargeable work – but it’s worse than that!

You deal with the call, just about coping with the fact that

  • you can’t see your diary
  • you can’t access their details on the practice management system
  • you can’t send them the promised email whilst talking to them
  • or maybe your pen doesn’t work!

It’s OK, as you know that you will write down every vital detail after the call.

That’s when disaster strikes! As soon as you put the phone down the phone rings again; it’s a potential client. Your day continues its helter-skelter of client calls and meetings. You never get round to thinking about that first call (let alone strategy and important things) and it erases itself from your mind. It could be really embarrassing when they chase you up (or turn up); client service has just gone out of the window!

Too busy for client service

Many professionals I speak to love the idea of writing to their clients (or the important ones) periodically. Some really successful firms even send out small gifts from time to time, when it’s appropriate. At the very least they want to send out some useful tips on an email (reinforcing your position as is a separate subject in its own right).

But when you’re too busy to cope and not busy enough for a member of staff is the real danger time.

Outsourcing works for you too

Outsourcing is something you would probably advise your clients to do, and yet it’s often avoided by professional service firms (“it needs to be just right”, “I’m not a control freak but…”, “all of my calls are different”, etc etc).

Selective use of outsourcing is probably what you need in order to ease your transition to getting your next member of staff. How might selective outsourcing work for you?

  • Phone answering (even just at the times you’re busy)
  • Virtual receptionist (even just at the times you’re busy)
  • A mailing assistant. Set up the program for a few months and let them get on with it
  • Social media (Hmm, I’m not so sure about this one, but it can help)
  • Content writing (Blogs are great marketing, but….)
  • Bookkeeping (It may be a while till you can take on a bookkeeper, but a strategic alliance with a local bookkeeper could help you)
  • What other small things could you outsource selectively and strategically?

It doesn’t have to be permanent, but you do need to think about how you’ll have the time to grow your firm consistently. It’s one tactic to help prevent ridiculous amounts of fire-fighting.

How will you deal with that difficult stage while growing your firm?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access