Marc Taylor is a founding member of Taylor English Duma. In the seven years since its inception in 2005, Taylor English has grown from four to 120 attorneys. In this interview with Raising the Bar business development coach Robin M. Hensley, Taylor talks about how he has helped his partners grow the firm.
How would you describe the Taylor English model?
We run a value-driven, as compared to profit-driven model. Our firm's primary directive is to deliver value to the client, not maximize our profit on a yearly basis. If we stay true to that mission, over the course of five, 10 and 20 years, we will develop lasting relationships with great clients that will yield terrific returns.
What are your thoughts on leadership?
Sam Walton [founder of Walmart] preached 10 rules for running a successful business, which are just as relevant to running a service business like our law firm as they are to running the world's largest retailer. All 10 of his rules are applicable, but the ones that resonate with me include the fact that we must commit to our business model, which we have done without waver. We must share the profits of our labor with our associates and staff -- those whose efforts help make us successful every day.
We must control our costs better than our competition and use that cost advantage aggressively in the marketplace. We must always exceed our clients' expectations. And we must swim upstream -- if our competition does it one way, we need to carefully examine whether that is the only way to address the issue -- whether that be in the staffing of matters or the structuring of fee engagements.
How do you, personally, develop trust with your clients?
I focus on three swing thoughts -- none of which are particularly original. First, I always try to sell what my clients want to buy. In other words, I listen to their needs and focus my sales efforts on those needs. Simply put, I do not chase business I cannot get.
Second, I always try to make it easy for my client or prospect to say "yes" -- whether it is the acceptance of a first meeting, a sit-down meeting to discuss a specific matter or a discussion of handling all of their work.
Third, and most important, I always focus on building trust with my client contacts, prospects and referral sources. Trust is the ultimate currency of client development because if there is no trust, there can be no sale.
What is branding to you?
To me there are two brands to consider -- my personal brand and the brand of our firm. Brand enhancement is delivering excellent legal services for value, making sure that the reputational quality of our lawyers is such that when a client, prospect or referral source has a potential matter that we are automatically on their list of potential firms to consider.
Do you use a database?
I have approximately 2,000 contacts in my database. At any given time, approximately 50 of those contacts are active clients. I try to visit every one of these clients in person once a quarter to discuss where we are on the matters that we are handling. I'll ask them to carve out 15 minutes from their schedule and I'll bring their favorite coffee by the office. I always try to be mindful of their schedules when getting in front of them.
I also have approximately 150 contacts who are solid business prospects and potential new clients. I try to communicate with each of them once a quarter by telephone or email.