Don’t look behind you to see the future: Forecasting attorneys books

Are you looking in the rear view mirror to determine your law practice's forward trajectory? That's what a lot of us are doing if we are using a cash flow report or looking at our financial statements from 2020.

No, I'm not saying you can't use those reports to help you determine your forecasting. But it's really only a piece of the data you need to figure out what your firm's growth path will be.

 Let's look at a couple of my KPI's or key performance indicators I like to see attorneys track and why I use QuickBooks Online Advanced's custom fields to track them.

Client Development Practice

Leads: these are tracked a bit different whether you're a small firm or a large firm. Smaller firms may want to implement technology like using HubSpot to manage their leads. Larger firms have the advantage of maybe a staff admin who could make the phone calls or take the phone calls to find out where the client or potential client found the firm. The accountant can then follow the client by using a custom field in QuickBooks Online Advanced to track if the person became a client and how profitable the client was.


Marketing Effectiveness

The first step is finding out how many potential clients are finding you. How are they finding you? You could use Google Analytics, but it's also more useful to have someone ask the questions or use a follow-up form via MailChimp if your practice is a smaller firm. Was the client referred to you? Are you using a program like 17 hats(which is my practice management tool) and have the question, "how did you find me?" right on the contact lead form.


Website

Another thing you may want to look at is your website. Updating your website at the beginning of the year is always prudent. Is it old-fashioned? Is it just understated and not dynamic? Remember, this is like your "for sale" sign in front of a house that is for sale. Have you ever seen one with a sign that looks like cardboard and falling? Do you even want to engage and look in the house if the outside sign is less than adequate?

 When you examine your goals, you need to look at them one process at a time.


Marketing

Look at your marketing budget. What can be measured?

Net promoter score (NPS)

Make this a data-driven process. NPS is how your referral system is working. It is your loyalty program. It is based upon a score from 1-10.

Promoter:

This client responded with a score of 9 or 10; these are the clients that refer you to others.

Passive:

This client responded with a score of 7 or 8. They are satisfied with your service but not likely to refer to your firm.

Detractor:

This client responded with a score of 0 to 6. These are dissatisfied clients that will not refer you.

Looking to the past has some merit but there are so many ways you can work towards setting goals and forecasting for your client’s books.

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Lynda Artesani

Lynda Artesani is the president of Artesani Accounting. Her firm specializes in working exclusively with the legal industry. She is passionate about helping her attorney clients migrate to modern cloud-based systems and become future-ready.​ ​ She is a Top 100 ProAdvisor, an alumni member of the Intuit Advisory Board and a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She also runs a Facebook group and a private group called The Accountant's Law Lab. It is a place where members can learn how to work with attorneys and law firms. Lynda lives in Southwest Florida. She is a registered yoga teacher and in her free time, you will find practicing yoga or walking on the beach.​