How retail is teaching law firms key lessons in strategy

How retail is teaching law firms key lessons in strategy

By Sally Calverley

As 2013 got underway, headlines announced the death of the high street. HMV, Jessops, and Blockbusters followed Woolworths and Comet to an unglamorous end. Threats from out of town shopping centres, online shopping and the predominance of the supermarket big brands have all added to an extremely challenging trading environment. Retail vacancy rates stand at 10% and the government commissioned Mary Portas, Queen of Shops to produce a report on how to revitalise our city centres.

Why should lawyers care? Don't you have enough of your own problems to worry about?

Maybe. Except for one small thing. Those shoppers who stopped buying from HMV and Blockbusters are also your clients. Their expectations of service and how that will be delivered is, whether you like it or not, shaped by their experiences online and in store. Good and bad.

The young mum who comes in to discuss buying their first home probably has an iPod, chats online with other mums on Mumsnet and likes her favourite stores on Facebook. She probably leaves her children in the crèche at Westfield, buys organic baby food and has her teeth whitened by her dentist. She isn’t used to being kept waiting. Oh and she may be the major breadwinner, she's on maternity leave. At work she's the FD of a bike repair chain who are doing very nicely thank you since they combined bike repairs with coffee and cake.

She's clued up, probably more than you are, on how to buy stuff online. She downloads books onto her Kindle and has her Waitrose shopping delivered. She'll use her smartphone Apps to compare prices whilst actually in the shops. She will check the online price against the store price and buy online if she can get a better price or free delivery.

And then she meets your residential conveyancing team. She probably has already found out what the standard process is and checked you out online. She'll have used formal and informal ratings to find out whether you are any good. She may even have found out what your competitors charge. And she has already been waiting in your reception for five minutes, and her baby is due a feed.

At this point, your young mum has already decided what she thinks about you. She h

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About the author:
Sally Calverley runs Richmonte Wells, a business consultancy for ambitious SME law firms. Her clients are forward thinking, entrepreneurial and welcome Sally’s fresh approach and no nonsense attitude to legal business. She trained at Norton Rose, was a partner and Head of Commercial Litigation at Capsticks, a management consultant and then Commercial Development Director for Bevan Brittan. Since then Sally has been continuing to help clients build their businesses in a time of change and opportunity.