I don't mean portable for you to move on. I mean portable for others to take them from you. "What?!" you ask?
Always intriguing, attorney Dan Hull (pictured) over at What About Clients? says that if your associates can't steal your clients tomorrow, then they aren't involved enough and your firm isn't providing truly outrageous service.
Every day, the client service by associates and paralegals should be good enough to permit those employees to actually steal any client, and take them to another law firm...if they were to leave your shop tomorrow morning. Period.
Fact: that's what we want at our firm, and that's what we tell associates.
If you are not, in effect, willing to go that far with your own employees in instituting and daily demanding client service, you are neither confident about client loyalty (not to mention employee loyalty) nor really serious about delivering outrageous client service to your clients.
I've never heard it put quite like this, but I think Dan's got a great point. See Dan's whole post.
In the interest of a single lawyer or accountant trying to stay "portable" (read: uncommitted, silo'd), we frequently see a tendency away from involving others on their accounts. Not only is that profitability suicide (lack of delegation and training), it's also service suicide (more people means more responsiveness, more value, more "brains" on the job), and it's an associate retention disaster.
Behind the challenge: "can you steal the client?" lies the incentive NOT to. This is a culture thing and it goes hand-in-hand with what's at the heart of Dan's message: trust.
This much trust is a people magnet. Don't you want to work in a firm that has this much trust in people?
When there is trust in a firm, culture is strong.
- Trust that your partners and team members will do the right thing for the right reasons.
- Trust that associates and other team members will learn what they need to know.
- Trust that mistakes will be made, but will be handled gracefully.
- Trust that others will represent themselves effectively with "your" clients.
- Trust that time is well spent by everyone. (no micromanaging!!)
- And trust that your outward trust will come back to you exponentially.
Trust is awesome in that, for most people, the more you trust them, the more they deserve to be trusted and will work hard to continue earning your trust. It's a beautiful thing.
Do you want people to work for and with you?
If you don't or won't trust in these things, you might want to think about what it's costing you in client turnover and lost team members.