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Bar News - September 5, 2008

Keeping Business Up While Trends Are Down

The following is a series of tips for helping small businesses survive tough economic times, offered by the United States Federation of Small Businesses. Although not written specifically for law firms, the information is of value.

Show me the money: An important aspect of getting paid on time is clearly articulating expectations with clients. Boldly, but respectfully, emphasize what work was done, how much should be paid and when the money is due. Consider offering a pre-payment discount or incentive.

Tech-savvy: Use technology efficiently. Technology and frugality can go hand in hand. Consider Web-based accounting software and video conferencing. Embracing the Web can save money while simultaneously providing education on important tech advances in the business world. Similarly, use multi-tasking tech products like the DYMO LabelWriter Twin Turbo, a printer that prints both labels and online U.S. Postal Service®- approved postage.

Boost sales (while maintaining costs): Charge for services or expenses currently given away for free or consider raising fees. At the same time, focus on selling more to existing customers instead of prospecting for new ones.

Market smart: Save on time, phone bills and aggravation. Try using targeted e-mail client development messages. Additionally, spruce up the firm’s website. The virtual address of a business has become more important than the physical address.

Stay visible and helpful: Keep in touch with clients. Ask how their business is going. Confirm that you have been a helpful partner for them and then ask for referrals. Contact dormant clients and inquire about current needs.

Keep workers working: Cut down on unnecessary employee trips outside of the office. Purchase a coffee maker or buy soda for employees; it saves them $4 at Starbucks and the business 20 minutes’ of lost productivity time. Also consider streamlining common business errands: order office supplies online and take advantage of online shipping solutions, where the postal worker can pick up packages from your business instead of your workers having to take them to the Post Office. Additionally, there are now discounts available on USPS shipping costs for using online services like Endicia Internet Postage™.

Don’t cut the perks: As tempting as it may be, cutting little employee perks (free coffee and bagels, holiday parties, etc.) can make people feel undervalued and potentially lead to employees leaving. The small extras tend to be taken personally. Keeping perks maintains employee confidence in your business’s strength and can inspire them to go the extra mile.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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