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The CEO’s Guide to Running a Successful Litigation Support Service Business

The CEO's Guide to Running a Successful Litigation Support Service Business

Navigating the chief executive officer (CEO) role for a litigation support service business is more nuanced than most think. The industry is characterized by complex rules and regulations, cash flow mysteries, and professional relationships with the courts, each of which is subject to change.

It takes a special breed to make a company successful in this space, so we’ve gathered executive insight to help you influence, lead, and succeed.

 
Vision Crafting is Your Gig
 

Vision Crafting is Your Gig

It’s lonely at the top. But when it comes to setting a vision that guides company success there is room for only one: The CEO.

The most critical function they perform is establishing vision. It’s more important than setting strategy, shaping culture, or building the right team.

Don’t consider yourself a visionary? That’s OK. You don’t have to go to Mars or build an electric car to create vision and command a company.

You do, however, need to be focused and relentless in the pursuit of your vision. Distracted personalities need not apply.

 

Focus, Focus, Focus…

Creating a vision for the business and staying true to it is a matter of staying on course. That task is deceptively difficult in smaller organizations because seemingly urgent distractions pop up like mushrooms almost by the hour, tempting the CEO to deal with them.

This also known as “putting out fires”.

Smart executives don’t allow themselves to become caught in this trap and neither should you. Giving face time to these distractions won’t turn you to stone but it will wreck your capacity to execute on the vision.

Instead of putting out fires, you, as the CEO, should be laser-focused on what the company is trying to be. To reach that long-term objective, your attention must settle on examining the strengths you want the company to be known for. And making sure every aspect of the business makes steady progress toward the vision you’ve laid out.

If you’re wondering which aspects of your business will give you the best return for the time you invest, these are the blue-chip sectors:

  • Process
  • Service
  • Technology
  • Cash Flow
  • Court Relationships

Let’s explore what you, the CEO, can do to get the greatest return in these areas.

 
Process Consistency is a Superpower
 

Process Consistency is a Superpower

Inconsistency is the enemy of quality. Customers want high-quality consistency and reliability in every interaction with your company whether they’re buying physical services or electronic services. Whatever you do consistently—right or wrong—shapes your brand in the marketplace and in your customer’s mind.

You get a premium return from consistently delivering high quality products and services because it almost always earns points for customer satisfaction. It drives the creation and implementation of processes for everything successful companies do. Why? Because businesses rarely become successful without high levels of customer satisfaction.

Whether you’re Disney, DHL, or Dunkin’ Donuts, a high-quality experience is the secret to customer satisfaction.

 

Consistency Will Make You King

If you are skeptical about this advice, consider what high-quality consistency has done for the lowly cup of coffee.

For centuries coffee was unremarkable, cheap, and the taste was always a crapshoot. Starbucks changed all that in the 1990s by applying fanatical consistency to its processes.

The result?

What had always been a 25-cent-per-cup commodity was catapulted into pop culture stardom and Starbucks became a billion-dollar global powerhouse.

The moral of the story is: Be like Starbucks, be fanatical about consistency in your process.

 
Simplicity 101
 

Simplicity 101

While you’re engineering the business’s processes, do this for the best results: Keep them simple.

Do this because the more variation you allow into your processes, the wider you open the door to mistakes and failure.

But simplicity is tricky. Simplicity rarely happens on its own. It is almost always the result of engineers, designers, and UX gurus tearing out their hair every day for years to make it look easy. So, if you want simplicity but don’t have deep pockets for R&D, what’s a CEO to do?

Here’s an elegant hack.

Make it a practice each day to look closely at different elements of your service or company such as accounting, customer support, and fulfillment. Be sure each area has its own process for operating successfully and that those processes are spectacularly simple.

 
Risky Business
 

Risky Business

Fast forward: Your business is consistently delivering standout services and scoring high marks from customers. It’s time to flex at your competitors just a bit. Set your sights on becoming a leader and forcing competitors to play catchup.

This means you may have to take a risk.

Risk taking is not something to be feared, particularly if the payoff will improve your company’s product, services, or the delivery of service.

But before you roll the dice, carefully calculate whether a successful outcome from the risk you take will:

  • Improve the business’s process.
  • Improve the product.
  • Improve the delivery of the product.

A risk that doesn’t accomplish any of these is probably best to avoid. However, if you determine the risk is worth taking, remember this:

The services that litigation support service businesses provide can profoundly affect lives.

Full stop.

Before you unleash a risky decision, thoughtfully play out the potential outcomes and build “safety valve” contingencies. Those contingencies will act as guard rails to assure your law firm customers and their clients won’t be harmed if things go sideways.

 

Customers Are Like Oxygen

Like it or not, every CEO recognizes that he or she is a role model. Consequently, the CEO sets the tone throughout the company about how customers are viewed and treated.

To properly set that tone, memorize this axiom and evangelize it frequently: The customer isn’t always right, but the customer is always the customer.

It isn’t just a pithy meme, it’s a mantra to keep your public-facing staff members grounded and constructive during support encounters or while addressing customer complaints.

Use it to help staff members understand they are bound to deliver the service customers are owed regardless of whether the customer is at odds with the company. After all, customers provide revenue and revenue is oxygen to a business.

 
Hello, My Name is Cash Flow
 

Hello, My Name is Cash Flow

You may not know where the valet parks your car, you may not know which florist your executive assistant uses, but every successful CEO knows the finer points of cash flow.

That’s because 82% of businesses fail because of poor cash management.

Why do many small business owners struggle with cash flow? According to the CEO of a leading litigation support service provider, the chief reason is they don’t understand that cash flow and profit-and-loss are not the same thing.

An easy way to understand this critical difference is this:

  • Cash flow is what you have in the bank.
  • Profit and loss are what you have on paper.

Which one is more important to a litigation support service business?

Due to the great amounts of money litigation support service providers must advance to pay for court fees, cash flow is the far more important of the two.

 

How to Do Cash Flow Right

If you want to lead your litigation support service businesses to success, you must become a master of cash flow. Here are three time-proven practices to help you manage cash flow like a boss because, well, you are the boss.

 

1

Create the daily in’s and out’s of your business and scrutinize it day-to-day to understand how your cash flow can be affected. Typically, only a handful of levers can affect cash flow but it’s vital to monitor each of them.

2

Understand that the amount in accounts receivable directly affects cash flow.

3

Understand that growth affects cash flow negatively, not positively. This is especially true at the onset of growth periods when dollars going out of the business to finance growth exceed revenue flowing into the business.

 

Competition Isn’t What You Think

Is it important to crack the code on what your competition is doing? The answer is yes and no.

But mostly no.

Don’t look at competition as a business model. Instead, look at your competition and ask yourself the possibly uncomfortable question: “Does my business constantly scramble to offer the same level of products and services as our competitors?”

If the answer is, “Yes,” that’s a bad sign.

Your business should not be chasing other companies in an attempt to become a “me too” provider. It should strive to be the business that sets the bar for the rest of the marketplace.

But don’t make the mistake of trying to be all things to all customers. Apple Computer tried that approach in the 1990s when it offered a smorgasbord of unnecessary products none of its core customers wanted or needed.

That move nearly bankrupted the company.

Apple’s misstep is a cautionary tale about how doing (or offering) too much dilutes your efforts to achieve excellence. To be successful, stay inside your lane and offer well-defined services that play to align with your strengths.

 

Technology Won’t Carry You to the Top

Another valuable piece of advice time-tested by successful CEOs is: Don’t rely on technology to pull your business ahead of its competitors. There are two good reasons for this.

First, only in rare circumstances will you be able to acquire technology your competitors can’t get. In most cases any company can buy, build, or leverage a partnership to get the systems it wants.

Second, you’re unlikely to have control over any technology that you do get.

What you do have control over is your company’s processes, so this should probably be your focus of competitive differentiation.

 
Courting the Court
 

Courting the Court

If CEOs who become rock stars in the litigation support service provider industry know one thing, it’s the value of having good relationships with the courts. Specifically, the courts with whom their companies interact.

As your business’s chief executive, you’re in the ideal position to cultivate those relationships. Do so at every touchpoint throughout your organization and, once you establish those connections, do nothing to compromise them.

 

Relationship Building

If you’re new to litigation support services and working with the courts, you’re probably wondering how to build these relationships. The top recommendation from CEOs of the leading businesses in this industry is straightforward: Lean into any opportunity to support the court.

Here’s how to execute.

Be proactive in sending emails, making calls, or sending letters to court executives introducing yourself and asking if there’s anything you can do for them.

Let the court executives know you’re all in to help them spread news and announcements about the court or related matters to your shared customers or users.

Don’t stop at the court’s top-level employees. Use every situation that presents itself to get in front of court clerks, court executives, and administrators. Help them get to know who you are and understand that you’re on the same page.

 
All for One
 

All for One

Remember, court clerks have a tough job, too. Their days are fast paced. The work they do is stressful, consequential, and eFiling documents is only one component of what they do. For many court clerks their daily tasks also include dealing with:

  • Self-represented litigants
  • Indigent filers
  • Remote appearances
  • Courtroom schedules and availability

To maintain perspective, keep in mind that your business and the courts have a common interest: the customer—the person who is involved in a legal matter. That’s the person for whom your business and the court must work in tandem.

 

At the End of the Day

Successful leadership in the litigation support service business demands a CEO who excels in vision crafting, maintains unwavering focus, and wields the perfect amount of diplomacy to cultivate relationships with the courts. It’s a tall order but anyone who is CEO material should be able to use this guide to navigate the nuanced landscape of the industry.

To help you along, we’ve selected four resources as a DIY master class. Each is packed with tips, insights, and business savvy specific to this industry. Read them now and skill up for success.