Excerpted from Steve Ellwood's comments to the team at our our annual meeting Dec 2008;
Steve is explaining what he has called the 'ellwood experience'. A client of the firm should be consistently impressed with the firm, it professionalism, its competence, its reliability.
The ellwood Experience
Each division needs the others. Our contact with our clients requires that we have answers and capabilities that draw on all three departments.
We work for law firms. We understand them, we look like them, we bill like them, we feel their pressure and we are responsive to them on the 24/7 schedule that they might need us.
Our work doesn't matter- it's our client's work that matters. Helping them accomplish their goals is the only focus we have.
- Keeping them productive is our goal.
- Staying out of their way is key.
- Our best position is 'invisible support'.
- Non-intrusive, effective, reliable.
Everything we do flows from these ideas.
Aaron says we are butlers. That's close. A butler might be interchangeable with another butler, what we want to be is a trusted, long serving family retainer; butler yes, but an indispensable one.
Professional - none of you have professional degrees. We aren't lawyers, accountants, doctors, most of you don't have a four year University degree. But we are professionals.
The only thing that communicates and confirms our claim to 'professional' is our demeanour and our performance. You are a professional. You are entitled to respect, you are not a door mat. The client is in a 'give and take' relationship with a firm of highly skilled, reliable, 'indispensable' and needless to say 'expensive' professionals.
The quality, tone and quantity of our communication sets the relationship up. They know they can count on us, they feel secure in that belief and they know what's going on. They know what to expect and they like what they are expecting.
Professionals are not:
- Geniuses capable of fixing every problem with a single glance.
- Know-it-alls that have a deep knowledge of technical matters and force their learning on others for the sake of impressing them
- Cocky - arrogant - rude
- Super stars / Rock Stars - professionals don't give the client the impression that they are there to 'save the day'
There are some general rules that I expect from professionals:
1. They aren't late for an appointment- they are not so out of control of their agenda that they can't be where they say they are going to be. 9AM is 9AM not 9:20AM. If you can't get a simple thing like getting out the door on time, or anticipating traffic or knowing where you are going for an appointment, how can you possibly give guidance, support and reliability to a client prepared to pay hundreds of dollars an hour to you?
2. Tell the truth- Good people lie. They lie to cover up stupid things that they did or that happened to them, usually things that they could have avoided if they weren't stupid. A professional doesn't offer excuses that 'excuse' the inconvenience they have imposed on someone. Fess up, explain it, and explain how you are not going to allow it to happen again -and don't let it happen again.
3. Do what you say you are going to do- this is simple. Don't under promise, don't over promise. Listen to what they want to achieve. Set the client's expectation as to what you can accomplish and when. Then do it. Simple.
4. Be polite- say please and thank you. Show respect for each person. Manners 'make' the man. A professional is in control of his schedule, his obligations and his temper. They have time to be patient, kind, and courteous. It is fair to be clear about needing to proceed to the next thing and not hang about for idle chit chat (professionals limit chit chat to a minimum - they have things to do) but polite courtesy is essential.
-Be on time
-Tell the truth
-Do what you say you are going to do
That's a professional.
ellwood associates is a professional firm. I am a professional in my field and everywhere else. This firm will drip professionalism.
The 'ellwood' experience should be so positive that clients can't help but share their experience with others.
I'm proud of all of you. We don't advertise at all, ever. In 25 years we have not placed one ad or set up a booth at one trade show. Our clients are the only marketing force we have ever had. They honour us with their comments to friends and with their support.
The 'ellwood Experience' has come to mean a great deal. Think about about it when you are out there, you are building a legend that will last.