Creating the Environment for Success with Mike Frantz
By George Dise
What is success? How do you achieve it? According to Mike Frantz, a company like Starbucks maintains success through brand awareness and loyalty. Mike believes that since a single negative experience stands out five times larger in the mind of a customer than a single positive experience, the number one most important thing to consider is consistency of service. Well-picked co-workers tend toward providing positive service, but can occasionally lapse or make a mistake; the key to customer satisfaction is consistently providing the same service on a bad day that you’d provide on a good day. While it may be difficult to maintain consistency throughout an entire brand, let alone a single franchise, it helps to formulate products and train employees to provide services that are always positive. This is especially important for law firms like Frantz Ward- think about all the times people complain about “the lawyers” on TV. “The lawyers say we have to do it this way,” “the lawyers say we can’t do this.” Like every business, law firms have to avoid being tarred as the company of no. That’s why Mike thinks of- and advertises his services as- “figur[ing] out ways to get things done, not throw up obstacles.” His firm exists to promote new ways of thinking to help clients get things done –to avoid obstacles.
Mike thinks the best way a lawyer should act in order to create an environment for success is as a “consigliere,” or trusted business advisor. As a consigliere, he focuses both on what a client expects, and what a client needs. In some cases, expectations may not meld well with needs, and clients need to be advised so they receive the maximum possible benefit from your company’s services. In these cases, you have to give clients what they need packaged in a way that it appears to be what they want. That requires a service provider to actively listen and figure out what keeps a client awake at night, then take an open-minded reconnaissance of the marketplace to figure out what other options are available. With a thorough understanding of possible options, service providers need to take efficient and effective steps to resolve the issue. Even if your client never figures out that their expectations and needs didn’t coincide, if you served them effectively, they’ll still ultimately realize that they did the right thing by hiring you, because your services provided a lasting benefit.
Mike considers a lack of clarity in the definition of success an obstacle. At Dise & Company, we occasionally see this ourselves when we present a slate of candidates that are overqualified for a position, which has caused us to reassess our search criteria. We now expect this to happen when we conduct searches, and we find we serve our clients best by quickly sending in a relatively broad slate of candidates and then narrowing our search criteria as we get feedback from our clients and develop our understanding of both the marketplace and the company’s expectations.
Hiring the right people is essential to developing an environment for success. Frantz Ward’s first consideration, when adding to their team, is to ensure a candidate has enough experience in a given field of law, since law practices tend to be highly specialized. Though it’s important for a candidate to have the intellectual capacity to practice law at the highest level, candidates must also function well outside both the office and the courtroom. When hiring the firm considers how the candidate will add to the culture rather than detract, and won’t do anything to damage Frantz Ward’s reputation as a great place to work. The bottom line: employees need to feel that they are being treated with respect so they can work well together as a team. The best way to give them that feeling is to hire the right people in the first place.
The final thing Mike gives us to consider is his advice to make sure your firm is on the short list of great service providers in your field. That way, any time a prospective client starts researching the services you provide, there will be a higher probability that your name will be given as a referral by past clients. There’s no way for a law firm to be the perfect choice for every client, and the most you can hope for is to be considered, period. If you fail to land an account after giving your best pitch, at least you made it into the boardroom, and you know that people are hearing good things about your business practices. What more can a trusted advisor ask for than the opportunity to leave a good impression on a potential client?