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Nov 19, 2013
Law Firm Geographic Expansion – Additional Offices
Our firm is an estate planning firm in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. We are a three attorney firm. We are a very "marketing orientated" practice and invest a lot of money and time into marketing and advertising. Still we are not getting the volume of work we need to reach our financial goals and targets. Most of our work is coming from our local city and a surrounding city or two. We are beginning to think that – for the most part – we now have all the work we can get from these communities and we need to expand and establish a presence (offices) in other target cities. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
For your type of practice this could very well be true. Spending more marketing time and money targeted in the same area won't help if there is no more work to be had. Here are a few thoughts:
- Do a little "do-it-yourself" market research on other surrounding communities. Go to the U.S. Census website or to local websites for the communities of interest. Review the demographics and growth trends and projections for the communities. Then review websites of law firms that serve these communities. Try to get a feel if there is room for you in these markets.
- Select a target centralized community where you want to establish a presence.
- See what is available for office space for new client intakes. Consider an Executive Suite arrangement (i.e. Regus). Another option might be an office sharing arrangement with a law firm that has excess space. Look for an arrangement that does not tie you into a long term lease.
- Resist the temptation to setup a "real office" – a production office if you will. Use your home office as the production and client communications center.
- Use the remote office for client intakes only and do not staff with support staff in the initial phase.
- If you have a VOIP phone system – have the calls from clients go to the main office and transfer any calls that may come in for an attorney working at the remote office.
- Use GoToMeeting and other electronic tools to communicate with clients after the relationship has been established.
- Use face to face meetings only when they are really necessary.
The cheaper you can launch and maintain remote (branch) offices the more markets you can expand in to.
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John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC
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