Its still a challenging time for professional services firms. But many are now starting to look ahead
Markets have changed or even disappeared and client needs in the future will be different. To prosper, firms need to ask themselves: “What kind of firm do we really need to be?”
I’m seeing a number of firms doing this but I do worry about the direction of some of the efforts, being intrinsically “internally” driven. There’s little point in defining a firm that looks great in the insight but doesn’t drive value for clients and referrers, isn’t realistic as far as the market is concerned, or doesn’t differentiate the firm from its peers.
To get a realistic answer to these fundamental questions, firms should listen to, not only existing clients, but also prospective clients and those who regularly refer work to them. That will define the nature and required levels of its future performance for it to successfully compete, by:
– providing input into its strategic thinking with a view to expanding what it provides to, and the share of business it wins from its current clients;
– ascertaining how it is perceived by clients, referrers and the market place;
– identifying any clear requested improvements or gaps in its capability against what its market needs, both currently and in the future, or competitors are providing;
– identifying any significant strengths and weaknesses against relevant competitors;
– understanding levels of client awareness and receptivity to current services and how these may need to change.
Consider the following – would better knowledge about any of the following areas help you further secure your firm’s future?
- What are the most profitable opportunities?
- What is the potential demand for new specialisms?
- Where should the firm position itself and build capability to gain more profitable business?
- How is the firm perceived by key clients and referrers, and how does it compare to key competitors in fulfilling these needs?
- How can more revenue be generated from the current client portfolio?
- How can you evidence a robust revenue stream when talking to potential new partners, mergers or investors?
- How can you reduce client loss and create more predictable and sustainable billings?
- In which of your clients is there untapped potential for more work?
- In which of your intermediary relationships is there untapped potential?
- How can you improve the return and revenue from marketing and BD efforts?
- How can you ensure all of your investments – including training and CPD – help improve revenue growth and profitability?