In today’s episode, Jim and Tyson chat with Becky Zobl! They dive into the journey of how to do marketing in a way that works. If you’re interested in learning more about the better way to market, the systemization behind it, and making actionable decisions, check out this week’s episode.
Becky Zobl joined the LaFleur team in mid-2018 as a project and account manager. A West Michigan native and graduate of the communications program at Grand Valley State University, Becky journeyed to Los Angeles and worked in the fashion industry after college. She then spent time at a law firm in Chicago before coming full circle and settling back in Grand Rapids with her husband and two young children.
As a natural problem-solver and agent of order, Becky loves to break down problems and come up with creative strategies that sweep them to the wayside. We recently sat down with Becky to get her take on L.A. life, the importance of humor in the workplace, and the gratification of helping others do their best work.
5:14 a system to it and a science to it
9:30 we come up with a plan
14:21 understanding our client’s full journey
18:51 we have an onboarding call
22:01 really understanding your clients
Jim’s Hack: Spend the necessary time to ensure your marketing is consistent across your brand.
Becky’s Tip: Be prepared! Block out time in your calendar to prepare for things, so you’re not flying by the seat of your pants.
Tyson’s Tip: When it comes to running a law firm, staying healthy is very important. Check out the Sweat Deck App. You hit a card and get random exercises to complete. You never know what you’re going to get with each card.
Watch the podcast here.
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Transcript: Singing the Marketing Song with Becky Zobl
In today’s episode, we’re sharing a presentation from AXA con 2021. Keep listening to hear chirofoam know as we share her talk, the power of letting go, how to let others do the work for you and feel good about it. You can also head to the maximum lawyer YouTube channel to watch the full video. Now to the episode.
Run your law firm the right way. This is the maximum lawyer podcast, podcast your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson metrics. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
So thanks, you guys. I’m Kira Fantino. And I practice in Birmingham, Alabama. I have built Oof. I think I’m on my fourth law firm at this point because I keep chickening out and getting jobs and stuff. But anyway, but I want to talk to you about something I’ve learned along the way of building those for law firms is about how to let go and to really delegate to make sure that you’re getting the most value out of your law firm. All right, so first, we have some audience participation. No one has gotten everybody into the crowd. So I have a 10 year old and she’s really intuitive stock and that has transferred down into me. And so we are going to do a tic tock challenge together. So everybody get your hands up. Okay hands. Has anybody done the Laura finger challenge yet? Well, today’s your day. Alright, let’s see how it goes. Put a finger down Max law addition, put a finger down. If you have a list of things to grow your firm that you want to get done, but haven’t started. Put a finger down if you excel at one area of your firm, but find that you need to learn another area to get to the next level. Put a finger down if you have trouble finding people you trust to do the work in your firm. Put a finger down if you find yourself consumed with clerical or managerial tasks, put a finger down if you suck at clerical tasks, put a finger down if you find yourself putting off the work you find meaningful because you’re inundated in mundane tasks. Put a finger down if you find yourself putting off mundane tasks because you’re inundated in meaningful tasks. Put a finger down if you find yourself working at times you should be with your family or friends. Put a finger down if you find that your growth is stagnant. Put a finger down if you sometimes feel as though the mountain of work you would have to do to grow your firm is insurmountable. Put a finger down if you secretly believe that people who are growing their firms have some secret sauce that you don’t. This you all that That’s you, right, you are finding yourself in a morass, you want to do better. You want to get to this next thing, but your task list is bigger than you are that anybody else feeling that way? All right. Well, it’s time to figure out the problem is you. The problem is you it is not the tasks, it is not the people you have to work with. It is nothing but you. And we really need to be thinking about mindset when we’re talking about delegation, right? Because in order to delegate in order to let someone else do something, we need to introspect about whether or not we feel good about the process of letting go. So let’s talk about it. I am not sitting on a mountaintop looking down as a person who has figured this shit out. Okay? I have not, that is my time for February. And if you look hard, it says I did 345 hours and 36 minutes worth of work in February. That’s stupid. That’s dumb. And the only way you get to doing 345 hours of work when you have a staff of five people in the Philippines, to lawyers who report to you and an admin assistant, is if you’re fucking up, and I was fucking up right there. Awesome. Okay, so a word about the word fuck. So there’s this really great scene in the wire. And they’re trying to reconstruct the same and they did the entire scene using only variants of the word fuck. And I really considered doing that because in the guild, I am known as the most profane person in that saw. But I’m not going to do that. Anyway, Cessna. So in looking at this, we know that we have the ability to work. I think all of the people who are here believe that they would get whatever needs to be done in their firm because that’s important. But the question you have to ask yourself is are you the best person to do all those things? And I’m here to tell you that if you think you are the best person to do all those things, you’re fucking up. It’s not right. Okay, so you’re here. Why do you think you’re the best person And I’m gonna say that if I think about it, I’m being very honest about who I am and about what I do. It’s because I’m equal parts overly confident, and fucking insecure. Okay, who else is that? That’s right. You believe if it doesn’t work, it’s your fault. You believe it doesn’t get done, you won’t get it done, you’re gonna get it done, no one else would do it. And some of us were raised that way. I came from a long line of strong black women, right? We can do everything. We can fry your chicken, we can cook, we can do all the things. And we don’t need anybody but ourselves. I think there used to be like a song or a saying like, I can do bad all by myself. Right? Yeah, you can do really bad all by yourself. And it’s time to understand that you need to go with a group. Okay? You are not perfect. Now, if you didn’t come from the black tradition, part of this comes from law school, right? We’ve all been this self selecting group of very smart individuals who generally at least until we got to law school and realize it was somebody who’s going to clerked for like a justice in the Supreme Court. And it wasn’t us. We’re always the smartest person in the room. And you started your own firm. So you’re scrappy, you’re independent. And some of that builds in us as level of confidence that’s not merited. And that tells you that if that you know the answer, no one else knows the answer. No one else is smarter than you in this firm. And that is simply not the case. You may be the smartest, probably, you know, if I’m being honest, I’m not the smartest lawyer in my law firm. I’m certainly not the best paralegal in my law firm. And I wouldn’t be the best person to mail a letter in my law firm. I know I can do those things. But am I the right person to do them? So we’ve talked about assessing your options, you want to think back to kind of business principles. We’re here in a business. We are we create law widgets, my law, widgets are racism, you’re allowed widgets might be state planning. But whenever I’m making a choice, when I’m making my law widgets about where to spend my time, I don’t need to be thinking about just what I’m doing right now. I need to be thinking about what I’m not doing right now. That’s opportunity cost. Everybody seen that? That term before? Okay, so if you find yourself in a moment, thinking, dang, I gotta send this mail out. And your first next thing is to go Neopost or stanford.com. And pull that letter together and put a stamp on it. What are you not doing? Because you’re putting a stamp on a letter. And those are the things that probably are going to drive more revenue to your firm. So anybody else think they may be ADHD? Little bit? Anybody been diagnosed?
Alright, right. Sometimes we put those stamps on the letter. So we all go do this other work? Because I want them I was like, Well, I can knock out five letters, I can put the stamp down here. I can do this and that. But at the same time, I know I got a summary judgment brief do why why would you put the letter in the mail? Is there not something else you could be doing? And if we if we allow ourselves to think about the letter that is not time sensitive, why we aren’t should be doing our brief, that’s gonna bring us hundreds of 1000s of dollars. We’re not assessing our opportunity costs well. So all right, so Okay, so I can say that, and that’s very esoteric and nice. And we can say, all right, that’s, that’s your opportunity cost. Think about what the highest value function is. Alright, well, some of us need to put it in terms. Okay. So here’s what I did, I made a spreadsheet, because I probably had a brief do, I made the spreadsheet for you instead. So but I can give this to you. And actually, as I was doing, I was like, let me keep this small, so I can put it on the screen. But there’s some other things we could put on it if we want it to. But if you think of your day, or any of the general tasks that you have to do in your office, as you know whether or not you should do those things, I want you to make yourself a spreadsheet. And on the first column, I want you to put the tasks down, just name what it is. And then I want you to estimate the time it takes to do it. That’s the second column. In the third column, I want you to put your hourly rate now when you put your hourly rate there, I don’t care what your hourly rate is, I don’t care if it’s $50 or $650. Put your hourly rate down, then I want you to estimate how much time it would take for you to acquire the skills necessary to do the task. So there’s two different types of tasks that you might have in your workflow, right. You’ve got the tasks that are just the things you need to do to keep the trains running for filing your briefs, answering the court drafting your complaints. And then you have the tasks that are going to drive your law firm forward, which is like creating a marketing plan, hiring a VA, taking some time to vision, taking some time to, you know, build out your automations, all the kinds of things that are nuts and bolts work on your practice things. And if you don’t have the time necessary, or you don’t have the skill set already built in, I need you to add some time into the column about acquiring the skills and I need you to be realistic. So you’re probably not going to learn everything you need to know about Google AdWords in 30 minutes. Right. And so if it’s gonna take you to take an online course about Google AdWords, and that online course is 10 hours, you need to put that 10 hours down.
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Then I want you to put your date needed, a lot of us are using 12 a year, you could use anything, you could just set an internal deadline. But if you say I need to hire a VA by October 17, and I want October 17. there that is a hard and fast date. Now that last column is your time cost. Now, if you don’t have that, if you look at that time cost, and you see a number that’s like, say for this one, creating a marketing plan $48,000. If you can find somebody to create a marketing plan for you for less than $48,000. You’ve just saved time. If you can’t find someone to create a marketing plan for less than that money, then you should do it yourself. But you really need to be honest with yourself and I oh wait, this is the first cop out, we’re gonna hear my hourly rate is $400. So that number is just inflated and it could be cheaper. Right? That’s some of y’all thought that right? It does not matter what your hourly rate is on that. Because if you’re spending $200 an hour on yourself, you probably should raise rates, but also that what you would spend on that particular item is probably lower. So it really the numbers are just fungible. And you can just kind of look at the numbers and say, All right, do I have a $10,000 time budget for this? Or can I spend $5,000 with a vendor? Or is there a person in my office who should do this, this isn’t just a exercises you do for yourself is an exercise that you should do with your staff. If you have a highly paid managerial employee, and she’s making those envelopes, instead of hiring the VA that you need or doing all these other things, then that’s not a good use of their time. If you could have someone from the Philippines doing it, or if you could have a runner doing it at $10 An hour instead of a $30 an hour employee, this same thing holds true. And so what you should probably do is come up with a matrix of all of your tasks, how much time it will take a particular person to do that. And then based on the cost of having that person, do it assign tasks. So use your skill sets, use their cost of employment, use what they know and then add that up and make that your guiding force and assignments now Okay, so we’ve decided we’re going to delegate everybody decides yes, we’re gonna delegate right? Everybody’s gonna delegate something You are not abdicating. There are two different things abdication and delegation. abdication loses your barcard delegation does not. When you give up a task, you have to give up the task, knowing that you will supervise that task that you’ve given clear direction about what you want from that task, and that you checking back in with the person who’s doing that task to make sure that they have delivered back to you. And that goes back to mindsets. When you become a higher earner or not higher earner, but just higher up in the food chain in your in your office, you now have to think about yourself as a manager and not the main Doer people are working for you, and you are working through them. So you delegate, now when you delegate, you also are giving people authority within your office, and that may be uncomfortable. But it’s also going to get them to be more bought in to your culture, and that you are driving down the same train. So giving up that control will also help you with your staff. So all right, I did not tell you to just get on I 65 and drive without any, you know, seatbelt or anything, there’s a couple of things you need to do in order to delegate appropriately. Number one is internal controls, particularly talking about things like your monetary operations, you need internal controls, do not give your secretary who may or may not have sticky fingers, the keys to the kingdom, put in make a financial operations manual that says if you write the check, I signed the check. If we spend $50 or more you need to get an approval, write out your policies so that you are not calling the bar saying what do I need to do to reimburse these people that money has taken been taken from, you also need to document your processes? If it’s all in your head? It’s easy to say, well, it’s just easier for me to do this. Or if a person makes a mistake. You’re like, why do I do this? If I have to just make you do it over because you didn’t do it? Right? Well, that means you didn’t do it right. You didn’t write down your processes, you didn’t walk through your processes, and ask that person to follow a clear process. So the work that you have to do on the front end and documenting that process is going to save you time later. But you have to do that. You also have to supervise it. Your law firm is not a Ron Popeil machine, you cannot set it and forget it. You have to be a supervisor. And working through others requires you to have some level of EQ. And it requires you to be present at some time. Does that mean you stand next, every person while they do they work their work? No. It means that you check in with them once a week, ask them where they’re going with it. Ask them if they have questions, and then set them free to do it. And you also need clear expectations. You cannot ask a person to do something if you don’t know what you’re asking them to do. And as lawyers, sometimes we get frazzled, we get busy, and we start thinking I just I just want you to know what I need. That’s not fair. You’ve got to tell people, here’s your KPI. Here’s your responsibility. Here’s your locus of control. And this is what I expect from you. And if you don’t do that, well, that’s not gonna work. Does anyone have questions? Have two and a half minutes?
Especially your folks in the Philippines to be checking in with them once a week? And have you been scheduled given the time?
So that’s a really great question. So one of the things that we have done, we do touch base meetings, we always have a meeting once a week with every group and I do it by group. So we’ve had we have an intake meeting and we have, like kind of core like substantive casework meetings. And they are every week and our firm when it was just me. We went through every case every week. I was wondering,
you mentioned KPIs, what kind of KPIs do science or somebody?
Oh, that’s a great question. So if you think about so I do a case kind of area that has a lot of their dedicated stages to it. So if I file a lawsuit, I know I have to do initial disclosures. I know I’ve got to do a corporate disclosure. I know I’ve got to do all those things. And so you can say, you know, we have a goal of filing 10 lawsuits a month, how many initial disclosures got out how many discovery responses got out? How quickly were your complaints served? How quickly did we get our responses? Do we have to ask for extensions? So there’s all kinds of things that you can set up that say, you know, if we do these things like if our EEOC charges are filed within five days of intake, what percentage of those so just all kinds of whatever you think about whatever your deliverables are, are, you can set a KPI to that. Anyone else? I got 48 seconds. We can cuss hunter.
I have higher than one and I’m scared shitless to make my first Hi, how do I? How do I say it needs to be done someone using?
Oh yeah, so do it. So one of the first things that you can do, and I’ll give you a story, so I was eight months pregnant. When I hired my first full time person, I knew I was going out on leave, like I’m big and pregnant. I’m sitting there a meeting with this woman. And I hired a person I was like, I don’t know how I’m gonna pay for you. Right? She started there a week. Like a week later, she came in and I said Your first task is to go through my billing and make sure I build everything. She found her entire year salary and unbilled work in the first week, the first week, because I was a shitty biller. Okay, all she did was go through my files and do that. And then we set up a process so that my billing would be done. When I came back from court, I would handle the file and she would queue injury and then when the case was over, she would take the file and was doing that. Find a way to make that revenue neutral. I think my time is up, so I should cuss now.