A lot of times, we’re told that the way to grow a business is by growing your revenue or cutting your expenses. And while those are both key components, there are ways to generate greater health for your business by increasing the amount on the bottom line – in ways we’re not taught to think about.
My guest today is someone who thinks and focuses her practice on helping small law firms scale their businesses using sound financial policies. Her name is Danielle Hendon, and she is the founder and CEO of 4 Corners CFO, LLC. With more than a decade of experience working in corporate finance and accounting, and a passion for people that rivals her love of numbers, Danielle brings the benefit of big business financial analysis to entrepreneurs on a scale that fits both their company AND their budget.
In this episode, we discuss:
- Ways to generate greater health for your business by increasing the amount on the bottom line
- How to plan – and ultimately fund – your growth before you get there
- Your time is worth more for your growth than you’d like to pay a bookkeeper
- Looking at the bottom line is going to be the key indicator of the health of your business.
Contacts – Social Media
Danielle Hendon’s Website: https://4cornerscfo.com/
SEE THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Allison Williams: [00:00:06] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here, your host of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos and business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:26] Hi, everyone. It’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. And welcome to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, where today I have a very special guest. My guest is somebody who talked to us today about finance and in particular we talked about what I consider to be a very small sliver of the piece of financial education that small law firm owners need that we rarely get to talk about, which is really the idea of profit margin and the importance of understanding profit margin and how to drive profit margin through some very, very key but very small levers in business. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:01:05] So a lot of times we are told the way to grow a business is by growing your revenue or cutting your expenses. And yes, those are both key components, but far less important than you might realize, there are ways that you can actually generate greater health for your business by increasing the amount on the bottom line. How much is left over after you pay your expenses in ways that a lot of times we are not taught to think about.
Danielle Hendon: [00:01:30] So my guest today is somebody who thinks about it and focuses her practice on helping small law firm owners to actually scale their businesses through using sound financial policies. Her name is Danielle Hendon and she is the founder and CEO of Four Corners CFO, LLC. She has more than a decade of experience working in corporate finance and accounting, and she has a passion for people that rivals her love of numbers. Danielle brings the benefit of big business financial analysis to entrepreneurs on a scale that fits both their company and their budget.
Danielle Hendon: [00:02:06] Now, instead of helping corporations to increase their share price, Danielle gets to help business owners increase their personal livelihoods so that they can leave a legacy and a lasting impact on their community. So what you’re going to find when you listen to this episode is that Danielle is really down to earth. She’s funny. And we had a really easygoing conversation about how small law firm owners in particular, but really lawyers at any law firm of size can increase the amount of money that they take home. And increasing your profit margin not only helps you to increase your take-home pay, but it helps you to weather the storm of what may be coming ahead in terms of an economic recession, as well as how to plan your growth and ultimately fund your growth before you get there. So a lot of great nuggets for this conversation. I am happy to introduce you to our guest, Danielle Hendon.
Allison Williams: [00:02:58] Danielle Hinden, welcome to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast.
Danielle Hendon: [00:03:03] Hi, Allison. I am so happy to be here.
Allison Williams: [00:03:06] I’m happy to have another conversation with you. So it’s really interesting. I’m going to give everybody on the in our listening audience a little heads-up. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Danielle through somebody who had already been on our show and I had been on her show, and typically when someone says, Oh, you got to meet this person, I’m always like, eye roll, I don’t have time to meet another person. I know I’m not supposed to say it out loud, but I’m just being honest. And yet when I had the pleasure of meeting Danielle, I was so 100% on why we definitely needed to meet because you very much share the same philosophy that I do when it comes to lawyers and in particular the need for strong financial guidance, advice, understanding organization in a business. So I gave everybody that little heads-up so that the expectation is really high for this episode, no pressure.
Danielle Hendon: [00:03:59] Numbers are always fun for me. They aren’t always fun for everybody else. So set the bar really high.
Allison Williams: [00:04:04] You’re right. They’re not always fun for everybody else. In fact, I was talking to Wolfgang, who’s one of our coaches here at Law Firm Mentor. He’s our financial coach. And, and he was, he was talking to me about some stuff with our clients earlier today. And we were kind of getting into the nitty gritty of numbers. And I was like, Oh, this is so, so, so, so above my pay grade. I was like, knock it down a peg. Okay, leave calculus, get to addition. Like, that’s where I am.
Allison Williams: [00:04:30] But in all seriousness, one of the things that kind of kicked off the conversation was talking about bookkeeping. And I know that for a lot of small law firm owners, bookkeeping is not a fun, sexy topic. I just did a whole series on the importance of bookkeeping, but I’d like to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Someone with your financial expertise, Why do you recommend to small law firm owners that they have a bookkeeper?
Danielle Hendon: [00:04:52] The easiest answer your billable rate is worth so much more than you would ever pay a bookkeeper per hour. You don’t want to be in the details. And most bookkeepers really enjoy what they’re doing and they love being in those details. So you are giving somebody the opportunity to do what they love and saving your time and billable hours for work that you love and need to do to grow your business.
Allison Williams: [00:05:16] So that can be 100% true for the lawyer who is anti-math and anti-numbers. But what about those people out there that say, you know, I do know my own numbers and I need to know my numbers to feel confident in making business decisions. Shouldn’t this be something that I keep in-house and not have that extra bill unnecessarily every month if I can do it myself?
Danielle Hendon: [00:05:36] No, because I’m going to give you a couple of different reasons. The first one goes back to what I said. Your time is worth more than what you would pay somebody to help you with that bookkeeping. That’s all. When it comes down to numbers, math is math. And that’s just the truth. Your time is worth more than you would pay a bookkeeper. Yes. You need to know your numbers. No, you don’t have to be doing the numbers. And this is the second reason I’m going to point to. So often and actually later on my social media, I’m talking about bookkeeping, horror stories. And this is one of them. When you have something that you are doing yourself or you have a one-stop shop doing all of the finances, you lose the checks and balances that allow you to catch when things get quirky. If you are doing the books and constantly in those numbers, you don’t get to take that 50,000-foot view and step back and say, That doesn’t look right because you are so in the weeds of it.
Allison Williams: [00:06:32] Wow. So I never really thought about it from that perspective. I would actually think that being in the weeds would make me more knowledgeable. But what you’re saying is like having an objective view becomes harder if you’re in the, in the thick of things.
Danielle Hendon: [00:06:44] Yeah. Because you think you’ve got it all done. You knew exactly what you booked and where you put it, and that’s why that’s there. And you don’t get that step back of, Hey, wait, something’s off here.
Allison Williams: [00:06:54] Yeah. So reading reports, I would imagine, is something that you do recommend that the business owner actually do, even though somebody else is doing the actual data entry and reconciling the books.
Danielle Hendon: [00:07:05] 100%, you should be looking at your reports. Don’t get overwhelmed by the millions of numbers that show up in them. You want to make sure you’re looking at the right numbers in those reports.
Allison Williams: [00:07:13] Okay. So let’s talk about which reports. What, what are the reports that you would recommend that a smaller business owner, let’s say someone who has a law firm with 500,000 or less, what should they be looking at to keep themselves informed about the financial health of their business?
Danielle Hendon: [00:07:28] The number one thing to look at and it’s going to surprise all of you because you’re expecting me to tell you revenue, and that is not the answer. The number one thing that less than 500,000 firm needs to look at is called net income or net profit. That bottom line, not the top line. The bottom line is going to be the key indicator of the health of your business.
Allison Williams: [00:07:49] Okay. So tell us why.
Danielle Hendon: [00:07:52] It is. So a lot of times people are like, oh, my revenue was 500,000 and that’s great. But how much of that you are able to put back into your business or into your own pocket is based on that bottom line number. That net income number reflects how much you’ve paid for people to help you run your business, how much you’ve paid for the rent at your office, the licensing fees, the part, all of the things that go into running a successful business are reflected in that bottom number. And at the end of the day, if that number is negative, you’re not able to put back into the business to grow it and you are definitely not able to put more money in your pocket.
Allison Williams: [00:08:31] So these, the net income number, we know that that number can be found on your income statement.
Danielle Hendon: [00:08:37] Mm-hmm.
Allison Williams: [00:08:37] And so for a business owner who says, you know, I’m not sophisticated in terms of my numbers, right? I know I should be looking at top line. I should be looking at bottom line. But all those numbers in between my eyes just kind of glaze over. How do you help a person to even understand what they are looking at when they when they pull out an income statement and say, what is my net operating income?
Danielle Hendon: [00:08:58] Yeah. So you’re going to break things down into three categories when you’re looking at that income statement. And actually, the income statement does it for you. If you’ve got a good bookkeeper that’s categorizing things the right way.
Danielle Hendon: [00:09:10] Your revenue, which we all know that almost everybody is looking at revenue, you can usually spit that number out real fast. Then you’ve got your what I would call cost of goods sold or the cost of running your business and earning that revenue. A lot of times for lawyers, that’s going to be your paralegal. Sometimes you’ve got Va’s that are doing service-related work and those are going to go into the cost of providing services to your clients.
Danielle Hendon: [00:09:34] And then you have the cost of running the business, your operating expense. That’s your third category. What is your rent? What are your licensing fees? What is your CLA costing you? What are you, what are you paying in that operating expense? And honestly, operating expense is where we usually have the most wiggle room. It’s where we can go and categorize things to say what is a required expense in our business and what is frivolous or what I would call a personal perk that you’re running through because you can and I’m not telling you not to, but that’s kind of part of your owner’s comp. And then we’ve got investments in your business. Everything else that’s sitting in that operating expense needs to be making you money or making you time or it is not a good investment.
Allison Williams: [00:10:17] Right? Money and time. Those are two of my favorite things. And that’s what we help lawyers with here at Law Firm Mentor. So if someone is saying, my, my, I can look at a report and I can see that I have those three categories of expenses, so I know what’s revenue, I know what is an overhead expense, and I know what are the cost of goods sold or the cost of delivering the service. Now how do I use that qualitatively to improve the condition of my business? Like, what should I be doing with that data once I have it and I understand it?
Danielle Hendon: [00:10:46] Yeah. So we talked just a minute ago about those operating expenses and kind of classifying and categorizing them once, you know, if it’s required, frivolous, or an investment, you can start to analyze how it is or isn’t benefiting your business. But the other one, and I don’t want to lose sight of is those costs of providing the service. Those go into a calculation that we call gross profit. If you take your revenues minus the cost of providing that service, that is what you are actually earning in your business on that service. For lawyers, this often means sitting down and saying, How much time does it take to do X? A lot of businesses, a lot of lawyers are trying to move to these flat fee services. And in order to do that in a way that actually benefits your business, you really have to understand how long it’s taking everyone to provide it.
Allison Williams: [00:11:41] Yes, you are speaking my language here, and that I love when we have this conversation about flat fees versus hourly because there is what I would consider to be a movement of trying to get lawyers into talking flat fees because of the feeling that a lot of lawyers have that they don’t like the kind of push-pull of knowing that I have to work more in order to make more and my client feels like they are disincentivized from reaching out to me or engaging my services when they need it because they don’t want to get billed. Right?
Allison Williams: [00:12:11] But I always tell lawyers, you know, you can’t really price out a flat fee service appropriately if you don’t know what it would cost you if you were delivering an hourly. So we kind of have this conundrum inside. So many people say, once I get the flat fees, I’ll be free of the billable hour, but you still need to be tracking the time. So qualitatively, you’re not really going to be free of it. You’re just going to have a basis economically to price out your service.
Danielle Hendon: [00:12:37] 100%. I was just working with a client through profit margins and that very same thing. We sat down with all of her flat fee services and all of the people that provide input to that service and said, okay, how much time do you think your VA is spending on this? How much time is your associate spending on it? How much time is your paralegal spending on it? And adding those up and then communicating back to the VA, the paralegal, the associate. We need to keep track of our time by these client matters so that we know if we’re hitting expectations. And this is not a judgment of the, the paralegal, the VA, or the associate, it’s are we taking on clients that are taking longer than we thought they would? And why? What is the what are the things that we can identify here to make sure you’re getting what, what one author calls your champagne clients You want the ones you know you can do in that time frame.
Allison Williams: [00:13:29] Right. Well, and the other thing is, I think it’s really helpful that a lot of lawyers overlook is the value of having a baseline to start from so that you can really look at the differential of value that a person brings to your business. Right? Because if somebody takes 3 hours to do something that it only takes you an hour to do, well, that might be a qualitative difference in how people evaluate. That might be a skill deficit. That could be a training issue. There are so many different ways you can use just the very basics of knowing those numbers, knowing how long it takes that I think a lot of us are just a little too you know, they were thinking too far up the, up the ladder here and not far enough into the weeds to actually figure that out.
Danielle Hendon: [00:14:09] Oh, and trust me, I like coming from a CPA firm. I get that I don’t want to ever track my hours again thing, but there is so much value in those numbers.
Allison Williams: [00:14:19] Yeah, absolutely. So you mentioned profit margins, and I do want to go there because one of the things that I hear a lot from lawyers is that they don’t really understand profit margins. They understand the idea that if I have more money left over from my revenue after I pay my expenses, that I have, quote, profit. But I don’t understand what a profit margin is. I don’t understand how to use it in my business and how to do it how to engage in different behaviors to improve that number. So talk to us a little bit about that.
Danielle Hendon: [00:14:48] So there’s a couple of different types of profit margin, one being that net profit margin, which just like we talked about earlier, net income is going to drive your net profit margin. That is, after all the expenses, you want that number to be 10 to 15%. That’s the ideal range for a business to run a net profit. And that gives you what you need to put back into the business to continue to grow and scale the way that you want to. The gross profit margin that I mentioned just a minute ago is going to be your revenue minus the costs that go into providing that Revenue service. And that is going to I always recommend everybody calculate this based on the different services they provide because you want to know what is your most profitable service. In theory, all training’s going well, all times coming in the way you want. You’re pulling the clients you want. What is your most profitable service because that’s the one you want to sell the most of.
Allison Williams: [00:15:46] Yeah. So I think that that’s a really valuable piece of information when you start talking about what’s most profitable, because a lot of people, their chart of accounts doesn’t actually differentiate it. That’s, that’s one of the first things that we do when, when clients move up from our lowest tier program is called B.A.D.A.S.S. Up into the Momentum program. We actually look at your chart of accounts and we will oftentimes see, you know, family law is X dollars and it’s like, well, wait, wait, wait. There’s a lot of different family law. Is this a domestic violence case? This is a child support case? Is this a custody case? You know, same thing with criminal defense, Right. What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor or a petty disorderly persons offense? Like if you don’t differentiate those in your chart of accounts, it becomes really challenging for someone to give you qualitative advice about what is making you the most money and where you should be spending your time.
Danielle Hendon: [00:16:35] Especially if you have, one of my clients does estate planning, probate, and wills, but they so part of it probate is, is still hourly because there’s just not a good easy way to make that flat fee. But an hourly is mixed in with your flat fees, so there’s really no way to tell what your profit margins are coming in at if you’re mixing those hourly and flat fee revenues in the same account.
Danielle Hendon: [00:16:59] So like you said, one of the first things we do is what can we split this down to that makes sense on the chart of accounts? And then how can we dig deeper when we get into those monthly financials using Clio and looking at or whatever legal practice management software you use to dig into what are the details of those, those different practice areas, and figure out how can we break this down to know what your profit margins are?
Allison Williams: [00:17:23] Yeah. So in terms of profit margins, I would imagine they vary from not just business to business, but also size of business, right? So if someone were to say to you, I feel like I have enough money to run my business and I’m able to make investments when I think it’s appropriate, but I’m told that my profit margin is not good enough for a firm this size and I want it to be better. What would you say is the right profit margin or a good range of profit margin for a company that’s say under 250, maybe 250 to 500, 500 to 1,000,000, and plus?
Danielle Hendon: [00:17:57] So it’s also going to depend on your legal structure. If you are running a sole proprietor and you’re just starting out and you’re in that under 250, you’re kind of running it all so low and you’re not using the S Corp format and taking a payroll, then your profit margin needs to be significantly higher than it would be if you were taking payroll. You’re going to want something in that kind of 50% range so that you’re actually taking home what you need to live on.
Danielle Hendon: [00:18:25] However, if you’re an S Corp, I know it can vary by size and it will vary actually the number gets smaller as you get bigger because 5% of $1,000,000 is a lot more than 5% of 100,000. So that number does vary. Usually it’s the 10 to 15% range is ideal. If you are in high growth mode, you want to be aiming for that 15% profit margin so that you’re able to start setting aside what I like to call your cash runway to build and grow and scale in a way that’s not going to create any. I’m losing my words today. It’s not going to create constraints.
Allison Williams: [00:19:08] We’re here in the business of crushing chaos. So of course, chaos is the first word that came to mind. But I think it’s so valuable that you drop the number that’s 10 to 15% because so many people have learned that super, super old school model back before we as lawyers were even allowed to advertise of a third or third or third. Right. A third to compensate a third for overhead expenses and then a third of profit. And when people come into my coaching community and they say, Oh my God, I don’t have 33% profit, I’m failing as a business. I say, oh, let’s, let’s, let’s take a look at this. Let’s not let, let’s not use kind of old school nomenclature to advise us and inform us as to what we should be doing in the real world that we live in today. And I think it’s really helpful to have some type of guidance from a financial professional who sees brass tacks, what different, what different firms are doing.
Danielle Hendon: [00:20:00] And the third, I think when you’re talking gross profit margin, that 30 to 50% range is ideal for gross profit margin, but then you’ve got to pay the rest of the bills, including yourself.
Allison Williams: [00:20:12] Yes, you do have to pay yourself, and ideally you should be paying yourself on payroll. I say that all the time because lawyers love to omit themselves when it comes time to figure out what the compensation model is going to be for the business.
Danielle Hendon: [00:20:27] But it is the easiest way to make sure that you prioritize yourself in your business. I know what it’s like to be a busy business owner, and if you don’t have that payroll, I can’t tell you how many clients I have that forget to pay themselves.
Allison Williams: [00:20:39] Yeah, yeah. In fact, we have we know a lot of lawyers, you know, both in our community and even lawyers that we’ve spoken to that are just interested in coaching. And they’ll get on the phone and they’ll say, you start asking them questions and kind of get under the hood a little bit. And it’s very common that people don’t put themselves on payroll because they believe, you know, technically all of it belongs to me, right? So after I pay the things I have to, I get what’s left over. And I said, you know that leaders EITs, last mindset is not particularly helpful when you are trying to develop yourself into the type of leader, the top, the type of business owner that is going to create wealth and success for yourself and others. Right? If you’re just existing, you get what’s left over is not so bad. But when you really start thinking about involving a structure and a process in your business where you are scaling yourself and others, it becomes very problematic that you don’t have more of a concern for yourself in that process.
Danielle Hendon: [00:21:32] Well, and think about the habits you’re building if you’re putting yourself in your paycheck last. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a $500,000 business or a $5 million business, you’re not building the habit of prioritizing your paycheck and your profit. Are you really getting what you wanted out of this when you started?
Allison Williams: [00:21:51] Yeah, right. Well, getting what you want out of this is something that you’d be surprised how few lawyers actually consider until they’ve gotten to the point of crisis in their business. But we’ve been talking about profit margin. We’ve been talking about it from the perspective of lots of different sizes of companies. But I want to now focus on what I consider to be kind of our, our Mastermind-level clients, right? So in order to be in our mastermind, you have to have seven figures as a business owner. And we are now really focusing on financial strategies for the seven-figure business owner and our Mastermind is growing in that regard. One of the things we were talking about recently is a book by Greg Crabtree called Simple Numbers. Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits.
Danielle Hendon: [00:22:35] I am in the middle of that book.
Allison Williams: [00:22:38] Oh. Okay. So, so you probably know where I’m going here, but, you know, this is like what I refer to as the squeeze, right? Like when you, you said it earlier. When you’re small and you start to grow, that profit margin goes down because you need a smaller percentage of a larger number to have a still-high significant income or revenue available. But when you start growing to a certain size, right, it’s almost like it compresses, right? You, you grow, it gets smaller and then you get profitable and it gets bigger again, but then it gets smaller again as you start growing up. And that 2 to $5 million range is typically where a lot of lawyers will stop growing because they feel that squeeze of I’m putting so much into the business for infrastructure, for management, for organizational support that isn’t producing revenue, right? It’s making the business stable. It’s making the business a better business, but it’s not directly impacting the bottom line that I’m afraid if I keep growing, I’m going to eat up all my profit. So how would you help a lawyer that says, you know, I’m ready to grow. I want to take it to the next level, but I don’t think I can afford to and I don’t want to continue to eat my profit. I don’t know what to do.
Danielle Hendon: [00:23:49] So first and foremost, it is not an exponential growth. The expenses don’t just keep growing. There is a certain amount of overhead where you hit an economies of scale and things just level out, but you have to be able to get there. You have to survive that squeeze. And I know Greg has a different word that he uses in the book, but I like to call it the cash runway. To me, it really it’s your runway to launch. You’ve got to maintain that 10 to 15%. To the best of our ability to be able to set that aside and get to that next level, If you’re fine where you are, be happy in your space. You don’t have to grow. But if you want to grow, you’ve got to be able to build that cash runway and have that profit set aside to put into the infrastructure the additional employees, the C-suite that needs to, to become part of your team in order to get you where you want to go.
Allison Williams: [00:24:45] Yeah. So it sounds like then you’re really saying you have to build the right habits before you even get to that point so that by the time you’re at that point, you have already gotten into the habit of socking away enough to keep yourself flush as you are growing through that, that cash runway or that squeeze or whatever you refer to it as when you start having to put in more infrastructure.
Danielle Hendon: [00:25:07] And it’s not even just about the numbers. Part of building that habit is building the habit of thinking outside the box. If you’re saying I’ve got to hit 10% in my profit margin and I’m not right now, how can I? Where do I go find revenue? What in finance, we call them profit levers. What levers can I go pull that’s going to get that number to go up? When’s the last time we raised our rates? Oh, my gosh, I can’t tell you. I had a conversation the other day with a lawyer that had recently looked, and I’m going to botch this. I’m sorry, guys. Wherever it is that the bar posts like the regular rates for an area and she was like, I am so undercharging and I will like why?
Danielle Hendon: [00:25:48] The Bar is literally telling you this is the average, go do it. So raising.
Allison Williams: [00:25:55] Go ahead. I’m just going to say that is like that’s like the classic like, yeah, the amount of conversations we have to have to convince lawyers to raise their rates is it’s not a small amount. And, you know, it’s one of the things that really frustrates me about kind of the public perception of lawyers. There’s this idea that lawyers that we’re just these money hungry, grubbing, you know, out to take every single cent that we can. And yet prolifically across our profession are people who, under bill, they undercharged for their time. They don’t raise their rates. Even though we are experiencing catastrophic inflation, everyone is feeling a squeeze of inflation, yet. Lawyers ar well, I can’t possibly raise my rates because and I’m like, okay, well, you can’t stay in business if all of the expenses are going up and the expenses are going to eat up what’s left because you’re staying at an income level, that’s not consistent with the marketplace. And that is one of the great challenges that we have, is we really work with lawyers on what we refer to is not just crushing chaos, but the making more money. Right? There seems to be something on the other side of systematizing a business.
Danielle Hendon: [00:27:04] Well, and it’s I’m sure you come across this on your side. It’s the fear that you’ll lose clients. I’m not going to get as many clients if I raise it by $100. But you don’t need as many clients if you raise it by $100.
Allison Williams: [00:27:16] Very true. And the best part of that, if you think about that, that was like a golden nugget Danielle. If you really think about it, you’re actually going to be better if you are serving fewer people. Right? The scale that you want should not be stacking your own deck. It should be having the ability to add more people to the plates of others that are serving alongside you so that ultimately you have time to be that genius that’s leading the business that’s steering the ship. Right? You don’t have time for that when you are hustling all the time, serving the next person. So if you cut your load by a third and raise your prices by a third, you immediately have both time and money, right? Yes, both contemporaneously.
Danielle Hendon: [00:27:55] Yes, that is one of my favorite levers to pull is, is the, is raising the rates for your profit. The other one we talked about earlier is where can you cut the costs? How can we get creative if you’re not hitting your 10 to 15% profit margin? What, how, how can we get creative about where we’re spending on different things? I know so many lawyers in the early years that share offices that do all kinds of things to get creative with those costs.
Allison Williams: [00:28:22] Yeah, well, you know, creativity with cost is one thing. But I will tell you, you know, every time that we talk about COVID in the world that we’re in now, we talk about all of the negative outcomes that faced us as a result of the global pandemic. But I always like to remind people of the things that came out of it that were those silver linings to the dark cloud. And one of the most wonderful silver linings we’ve seen is the idea that lawyers now see I can practice wherever in the world, right? As long as I have a VPN and I have access to a computer, I can be working wherever I am, my clients can still access me, the courts can still access me as they need to. And that means no office space or much less office space. So that’s one of the ways that we definitely know that maximizing profit is just kind of come as an ancillary, almost like a thing that people never thought of until this pandemic gave them that insight.
Danielle Hendon: [00:29:15] Well, and I was just listening in to the Clio conferences these past two days. And one of the trends they talked about is clients actually like the virtual availability.
Allison Williams: [00:29:25] Well, you know, it’s interesting. When we first you know, luckily when COVID happened for my law firm, we had already set ourselves up to be virtual. Even though we were physically coming to an office, everyone could access the office out of, out of, physically out of the office. Everyone had a laptop, we had a cloud based server, all that stuff, right? And I remember my salesperson, Judith said to me, she was like, Well, you know, as soon as this is over, of course, back then we thought it was going to be two weeks, right?
Allison Williams: [00:29:52] And sometimes this is over. You know, I’m going to have to get back to the office because I can’t imagine that people are going to want to meet me virtually. That’s not really an intimate conversation. And now we are about to physically move our office space. And one of the things that I said to Judith is I said, well, don’t worry, You know, we made sure that you are one of the people that has a set office in the new space. And she was like, Well, why? You’re going to make me come back to the office. I said, No, we’re not going to make you. I was like, Listen, we are now like, It’s completely optional. People want to come in. They come in. If they don’t, they don’t. But I was like, You’re the one who told me that it was so important that we have an office for you. And she was like, Well, nobody asks for it. So, you know, I like being able to, like, go and walk the dogs in the middle of the day. I like being able to not get not put clothes on until I have appointments. And I’m like, Well, rock on, sister. We don’t have to have an office if we don’t want one. So…
Danielle Hendon: [00:30:45] And it is such a huge expense. I mean, people pay so much for rent.
Allison Williams: [00:30:51] It is. I mean, just to be fair, I am, I am situated in the richest town in America, like by census data. Sure. Short Hills is not an inexpensive place, but we are relocating and my rent is going down by $15,000 a month.
Danielle Hendon: [00:31:05] That’s huge.
Allison Williams: [00:31:06] Yeah, that’s huge. Now, luckily we were profitable without having those additional savings, but.
Danielle Hendon: [00:31:14] But think what that adds to your profit by just instantly.
Allison Williams: [00:31:17] Yeah, exactly. And I’m definitely taking it. I’m taking it 100%. But I love the fact that that was something that was just, it was something that it wasn’t something that I knew that I needed. It was something that was an opportunity that fell in my lap. And what I want this podcast to do and I want this conversation to do is encourage people to actually be looking for those opportunities, not, not, not wait for them to arrive at you, but really saying, how can I play with my numbers in a way that’s going to allow me to generate more profit? Another two or 3% adds up, and that adding ultimately gives you a lot more options when it’s time to grow, when it’s time to invest in yourself, when it’s time to take care of your family, all the things that you are in business to do.
Danielle Hendon: [00:32:00] It gives you that cushion for the squeeze.
Allison Williams: [00:32:02] Yeah, absolutely. I love that cushion for the squeeze. All right. Well, Danielle, we have been having a conversation today about how to ultimately be more effective in business. Right. That’s kind of the the punch line, even though we’ve been couching it in terms of numbers. And I know that in your business Four Corners CFO, you help people, you help lawyers in particular to do that. So if someone wants to get a hold of you, they want to learn more about how you help lawyers to maximize their profit, how can they reach you?
Danielle Hendon: [00:32:30] The absolute best way is my website. It’s going to be the NumberFourCornersCFO.com And there is email information contact forms right there readily available for me to get in touch with you. And honestly, it starts with a conversation. I don’t need to know all the nitty gritty details. I want to know you and your business and what you’re trying to do.
Allison Williams: [00:32:50] I love it. I love it. All right. Danielle Hendon, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You’ve been a wonderful guest. And everyone, thank you again for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. I’ll see you on our next episode.
Allison Williams: [00:33:10] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast to learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned. Check out our show notes and if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcast and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor everyone. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm by 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.