On this week’s edition of The Law Firm Blueprint, Seth and Jay discuss starting a firm on your own, reminiscing about the origins of Price Benowitz and Ruane Attorneys in order to give advice to current upstart firms. They dive into topics such as where to focus your marketing budget, the importance of having a plan in place before starting your firm, and strategies for moving into a practice area that you want to be in. Plus, the duo discuss the current state of their firms and how to manage International employee holidays.
Hello, hello, and welcome to this edition of, a new edition of The Law Firm Blueprint. I’m one of your hosts, Jay Ruane, and with me as always, is my man Seth Price down there, DC, Maryland, Virginia, home of Price Benowitz and BluShark that you can see behind him. Seth, how’s your week going this week,
You know what, I feel like we’re getting some traction, I’m excited.
Good, good, I had my ass kicked this week, caught a little head cold, you might be able to hear it in my voice. And then we had a transition where we have a new lawyer starting, an old lawyer left and the old lawyer left 12 cases on a docket today in a courthouse close by. And the new lawyer, you know, doesn’t really have the experience in the mechanics of that courthouse. So I had to step up today, and sort of, you know, walk them through it. So I had 12 files down in criminal court this morning, nine consults in the afternoon to get it teed up for him for next week. So I’m exhausted. And I’m thinking, god, if I did this every day, I’d never get anything else done.
Well, look, I wasn’t not, when we started this podcast, you insisted that going to court was your secret business development sauce. So you’ve come a long way. But I think that the fact you’re going there, and probably dove tails something you want to talk about today. But I would say that it is telling that in the growth mode, there are moments and the good news is you have a person to take over. But it isn’t, like turnkey. And so that as you’re growing one of the roles of the founder, right above- besides if you decide to have a caseload, you don’t, not making a value judgment. But regardless, there needs to be enough bandwidth so that when shit bad happens, you are there. Now with time, there’ll be layers of people that are between you and that. But at the end of the day, until you add each of those layers, it’s you.
Yeah, and I mean, it’s crazy to think that, you know, I’m paying somebody, you know, a buck 25 to start, and they have no idea what they’re doing.
Well, no, it’s not that that’s that’s just what the market is what you can get.
I’m just saying, 10 years ago I could pay someone 50 and they knew what they were doing.
No no no, understoood, I am saying step back, like, psychologically, we all hear, we gotta be out of the business. And the truth is, I wish it for you. And I’m amazed with the steps you’ve taken. Right, I never had a caseload, you had a caseload till relatively recently. But what I think this is telling is, is that if you build and don’t have super redundancies that most people don’t want because it’s going to kill margins, there, what you are responsible for is the stuff that could fall between the cracks. Now, with time, you’ll either have excess capacity, where you’ll have a lawyer that can do that. And on other areas, you’ll have administrative help and things like that when somebody leaves. But as you’re building and growing, one of your superpowers is, hey, I’m not going to have that redundancy. I’ll replace somebody when they leave. But I know that it’s not going to happen instantaneously. And even if it does, that’s the piece that allows you to keep the lion’s share of what’s going on. Because you’re at the end of the day where the buck stops, you’re sick as hell. And yet, you’re still going to court because it has to get done.
And I picked up two new clients while I was there. Clients come walking out of court, and they’re like, man, you’re smooth. And I was like, yeah, let me get your number. And this is a learning lesson for my new associate. He said, Why don’t you just give them a card?
No, no, no no, we don’t do that here. We get their information. And now my people, and one of them closed, and one of them says they’re going to close on Monday.
That’s awesome. So now, you don’t tell me, look, so that doesn’t mean you’re going back to court?
God, no. God, no, no. I mean, I don’t mind it. I mean, you know, it’s interesting. You know, being in the weeds is kind of fun. I can’t imagine that I’d want to do it all the time. But select cases, I could see myself. I mean, I like cross examining cops. You know, that’s, I’ve always liked that. I will continue to like that. And given the opportunity. I think I’d jump in with both feet and do it some more. The opportunities became fewer. And so I found ways to scale my firm so that I could, I could make more revenue, because that was more of a challenge than getting it to court.
You have cameras in the courtroom?
No. Ah, well, they do. We’ve got that big gone girl murder case that’s going on in Connecticut, it’s televised, but-
No, could you get a camera in the courtroom with permission, could you record your cross examination and turn that into a video?
That’s a good question. I don’t know. I mean, I’m sure, I’m sure I could. I could do on the phone. One of the things I thought of was that news media is allowed into the courtroom. I couldn’t just send my camera guy in. But if I created a blog
or had a friend with a blog or what have you,
But what I’m saying is, it would be pretty cool. You’re telling me you walk out with two clients, they saw you there, imagine if you could scale that. And that was the that was the conversion factor when somebody came to the website?
Yeah, that would be great. That’d be great. So okay, so speaking of websites, there’s a topic that I’ve been thinking about that I want to talk to you about. And it actually came up in a forum that we’re both part of. And it comes down to your solo, and you just launched it. Now, we’re pretty far from those days. But I think we have some wisdom. Looking back, you know, hindsight is 2020 type of thing. And I want to walk you through a number of different price points, where you are solo, and you’ve hung a shingle, and now you’re at your marketing budget, if you even have one other than the dollars that are in your pocket, is $1,000 a month. What do you spend your money on as you start a new firm? Let’s assume you already have a website up.
I gonna say, look, I A) can’t really remember that. Right? I was different time, different place. And I don’t want to, I can’t, I don’t want to cop out and say, I literally can’t put myself there. But I think it’s the wrong question. And you’ve discussed this before. If you’re starting a firm, and you want to scale versus just take whatever comes in, yeah, you’re single, you’re on Main Street, you know, a few people. But if you, if you, if people start you, this is your words, not mine. What is the business plan? And how are you capitalized? And this isn’t like you need like a inheritance. But if the answer is I want to scale, and I got $1,000 a month, there’s not that much.
No, but come on. I think you’re missing the point here. I am. I got pissed at my boss, or I just said, I can do this on my own. So I hung a shingle, I have a website, it’s got 10 pages on it. And I’ve got a small amount of reserves and I’m hustling, business, I’m hustling a family law case, a criminal law case. You know, I don’t, I know I want to do PI. Or I know I want to do family, or I know I want to do criminal but right now I’m doing doorway law. Right? It comes in, it’s a house closing, I can do it. I can pick up $750 I’m going to take it because that’s feeding my family, paying my bills paying my rent. I know my ideal is to scale and get up there. But right now, I need [inaudible].
Door law, the thing I don’t do, you go to enough BNIs, some, some more comes to you. Okay, I mean, there’s that, right. There’s the sweat equity, you know, to me, and we talked, remember that we had that whole discussion a number of years back, months back maybe, of website versus a Google Business Profile?
You got your website, you got your 10 pages, you can’t afford SEO, I would say I would spend that $1,000 figuring out how to get reviews, not nefariously. But you know, whatever it was, buying people coffee, you know, having having meetings with them, the thought is there, it is such a limited amount of resources. You know, on the PI side, the average cost per case at scale, can go anywhere from 1000 to 6000, depending on the market. Right? So it’s not like you’re gonna get anything at scale. You’re saying, hey, for doorway law, I think that a lot of the stuff that’s in your DNA, which is hitting up everybody, you could I spend the, the I’d spend the day on LinkedIn, and or Facebook, if the people are connected with you, and hit every person, you figure out what they do, and what you, you know, what you do and what they don’t do. And you make direct asks, and you know, there’s a lot of stuff out there that people don’t want a referral fee on that they need. You know, again, I don’t like this as a scalable model, civil lit, at least in my market, there’s nobody raising their hand for small dollar civil lit. Now, it’s not a free lunch, you gotta kiss a lot of toes, some people don’t have money. But, you know, there are plenty of places that there is more work than there is anything else. My gut is if you need cash quickly. It’s, it’s you know, it is in my market family law. There are many, there are many fewer lawyers, and there are there plenty of cases, less qualified lawyers.
So would you invest that $1,000 into LSAS? For family law cases?
I mean, I think my opinion is take that first $1,000 say, you know, January February, March, you know, you’re gonna have a grand that you can spend each one of those months, I’d hire a VA to help get me reviews. You know, for $250 a month, maybe call-
Calling that’s the problem. You just started on your own. But at that point, you’ve got more time than money. You can ping, you text each your clients, they’re on your phone.
No, no, I’m just saying let’s let’s be real. It’s the unless you have the technology set up to text people, the emails don’t do any good. It’s only texts that really convert. So you’re personally doing that. Again, there’s no bad idea. But the idea is, hey, it’s playing your network as hard as you can, for starters, and then I think again, give it, if it’s doorway law where I stand, the most convertible, with the, the most convertible thing would be low to medium dollar family law from where I sit in that criminal does not work as well with LSAS. As we both know, it’s hit or miss, right depends on the market depends a lot of factors. You need money to be there, people are willing to pay money to get out of a marriage. And if you are responsive, it is such a difficult area of law. There are rockstars at the highest level, like my good friend, Sue Moss in New York, right? Who are these rock stars, but there are, you know, in the in the trenches, there are a lot of people that if you can walk and chew gum, you will beat out the sort of dinosaurs that are bitter and jaded. And to me, again, off the top of my head, anything that can make money the most quickly. And that if your dream is PI, once you have some cashflow, investing in a sustainable marketing budget to get PI, but that, you know, the most people I know who broke out to do PI is, you go to your local Trial Lawyer dinner, you say hello to everybody and say I want your scraps. And they all have them. And they make money. And you get to know them. And you’re not threatening to them. And to me, that is the, it’s not marketing in a traditional sense. It’s there is always, I don’t say an underbelly, because it sounds bad. But I know plenty of people that showed up at trial lawyer dinner, got those things, and they are now on the listservs putting those multimillion dollar verdicts up. Because once you know, once they got critical mass, somebody else took those bottom cases and they didn’t need to do that anymore.
Yeah, I’m just you know, my whole thought on this is, you know, I never went into my practice planning on doing doorway law. But that was, that first year, year and a half, I did a residential real estate closing, I did a divorce. I, you know, but I wanted to be a DUI lawyer.
Correct, and I-
And so I was, but I was like, you know, I’m hungry this week. And-
So, you know, but that goes back to when you say you’re ready to go. Like, when is that? And let’s say if you’re looking at how long it’s going to take you to get to sustainability. If you go too early, it’s going to take you longer than if you have some, tremendous savings. But if you’re if you’re saying to me, where do you spend 1000? Versus where do you spend 10, 20 or 30,000. I mean, within reason, if you have no resources, and you’re struggling, in your firm.
That’s my history, right? I hung a shingle with zero to dollars and zero cents.
Right, and what I’m saying is, my better, my wish is not for somebody to be independently wealthy. But for somebody to have some rolling start of some sort. Because the faster you go to that silo of what you want to do, the quicker you’re gonna make real money.
Of course, but what is the what about the person who has no bank roll and literally has five grand in their bank account and says, I’m going to do this and just launches?
There’s no there, you know, and so what do you do with that first five grand?
And that to me, Look, there’s there’s a bunch of we’ve sort of, I think, hit them. But I think that the first establishment of the firm besides a basic website, which is not expensive, besides the GMB that’s free, besides getting reviews, which is sweat equity, when it, when you start, it is hitting your network as hard as you can. Because the great thing about doorway law is everything is monetizable versus right now, if I get a bankruptcy case, an immigration case, we don’t do those things, they don’t monetize. And so the sooner you can, and the only way to not have a broken business model, it’s like we talked about what the average lawyer makes in this country. The reason you’re doing this is to do better. It’s really pushing yourself towards, away from doorway law as quickly as you can because while it feel good, and there’s some dollars, it’s just not scalable.
Oh, I don’t I don’t think it’s scalable or sustainable. But I think you know, the reality is, is that when you’re faced with the I lost my job, and am doing this, I got no safety that I’m just doing it.
Understood. But that’s I guess what I’m saying is you were saying somebody makes a decision. I think that when you make that decision is you like- you know
But it’s also it’s also like having a baby man. There’s never a right time to have a baby. There’s always something else. There’s always you know, I, you know, when, in my my opinion, there’s there’s always going to be a reason not to take then leap.
Well, yes and no, I’ll go with your analogy: at 19. Is there a reason not to have a baby?
There’s plenty of reasons.
No, no, what I’m saying is, and when you’re 25 a number of those reasons have dissipated. There are still some.
And new ones may have occurred.
Correct. And when you’re 35, a lot have dissip- this so the question is, is there a sweet spot? That doesn’t come with the teenage mother concept? Right? And look, there are people there. They have their kid. They’re empty nesters and 38. Maybe they’re the smart ones. Right? Right. But it’s similarly, are there things that you pick up? I mean, think I’m looking at my own track, right? I joined a law firm, as a, as a dysfunctional associate, not their fault, my fault. You know, for two and a half years, I learned a fuck ton. Even if I wasn’t like the greatest associate ever. I flex my muscles doing something entrepreneurial, the things you pick up before you go and make that leap, are significant, and may, in fact, put you on the path to being way more successful than just saying, You know what, I’m 19 years old. I don’t see a reason not to have a baby, you could, and you know what? There are a bunch of 19 year olds that are amazing moms, and doing, dads who do incredible stuff. But how many of those 19 year old couples make it through the first five years of child rearing together? Not, not a ton.
Absolutely. And that’s and that’s why I’m saying there’s almost never a perfect time to do anything.
No but I’m coming back and saying I think there are times where statistically it is less likely. And history is written by the victor, if it’s great, great. But how many of the 19 year old couples end up working out? And I’m just saying, statistically, I mean, again, I’ve always wished that somebody would put out these studies, what are the correlations to staying together? Is age that you get married, is same religion, you know, race, like any, what could we say that would take our statistics up? And I don’t know.
I think well, they say that the number one thing that people fight about is finances. So I think it’s money mindset and financial security.
I have a ton of rich friends that get divorced. You know, the other end, you know, you see people that make a ton of money, and then they have the freedom.
Oh yeah, well, and they get divorced, because they can afford to get divorced.
It’s true, very true.
You’re just like I’m buying myself out of this relationship.
Right, when you have nothing, it doesn’t matter. You had nothing before, you have nothing after. So I guess what I’m trying to say I’m trying to take back your analogy, which is, I think sometimes the starting of the firm, come, you know, can you like let’s say 25, you finished undergrad, you’ve got a grad degree, you’ve estab- or you’ve, you’ve started yourself in, in working to a point where you know, you’ve worked in an office, you know what you’re doing. Are there steps that should be done? Because we can give advice. Yes, given the person that’s got nothing and $1,000 we can have that academic argument. But I think the better answer is, what do you, and this was your question from a couple years back, what should you be doing to start a firm? Why are you doing it on a flier? Why is there not a business plan? Do you know what it’s, like, you know, asking after the kid is coming, what it takes to raise a kid versus you know what, I’m good. I know what it’s going to take, and I’m comfortable with it, fine. But the idea of I have a kid and I got 1000 bucks what I do now, versus to have a kid, I’m going to need this much income. And I want to wait till I get there. Now. I’m not saying never have kids, because you don’t have it. There’s an argument not to do that. But assuming you’re on a trajectory in life to get yourself that. I feel that like, I don’t love the like, I’m happy to answer. We’re happy to have this academic conversation. But I think that as I develop the firm the way that I see it now, and I look back, the more you have a plan and a vision, rather than I’m fighting for survival, and there are people that make it with fighting for survival, but there are plenty. There’s a reason that that number of $60,000 a year or whatever the crazy number that lawyers make is nationally, is so low that I would ask people, hey, this isn’t like you should wait indefinitely. But and there are people I’ve met, there’s an amazing power couple of met out of Atlanta started this thing right out of law school, you know, but look at the market. It’s not a coincidence. If you plant your flag in Atlanta for PI, there’s things that happen there that probably aren’t going to happen in other markets.
Good and bad, so.
So, I’m, I’m wondering then, in light of all of this stuff, how many law firms do you think launch with a business plan? I’d say fewer than 10%
A few, but with a vision of any sort, and I look, and I broke my own rule it, wasn’t like I sat there with a vision I needed to make a buck, but I also came, I came with a fuck ton of education. I brought somebody, partnered with somebody who knew how to litigate, like there were pieces that were in place. You didn’t just take a flyer and I know weird stuff happened with, with, with your dad, but you you had a launch pad. It’s not like you should be a nipple baby. You can’t run a firm if you’re not. But What is your what is your advantage so that you’re not sitting there? It may be your wife has some inheritance, you put that towards it, whatever the permutation is, or you’re like, look, I just, I know that there’s nothing, I’m going to, I’m going to see, I have the personality of walk door to door and get some cases, build, and I’m gonna get there. But the idea that you’re asking after it’s launched, how do you spend $1,000? I think it’s, yes, we can talk about it. But the better answer is, what was the plan before you jumped in.
I’m saying most places, don’t have a vision other than I’m going to be self employed, and don’t have a written out business plan. They just say,
Of course, I barley have a-
I mean that’s the majority of the people that are in our audience, right? They just say, Hey, I’m taking this leap. Let’s do it.
No but if we surveyed our audience, most had some form of an angle. They’d apprenticed under somebody for a while, they had refer- they had people that loved them. You know, if you do something, if you work for somebody for six years doing a type of law in a community, you’ll have the ability to flex out even if you weren’t the generator of people, right? The point is, if you just say, I’m putting a shingle out without not a written business plan, but what is the model you plan on following? It can work, but like we talked about the number of businesses that fail, what are the odds that you’re going to be in that? If it’s not, again, forget about a written out business plan. But do you have resources to which we talk about, you know, people come to me very often, I’m in a competitive market, I’m doing a highly competitive area of law. You know, what does it cost? I’m like, well, this is what a website costs. But the reason that I didn’t want to do a low dollar thing for BluShark was, there are people that ask you to do stuff that are upside down. Then we got our buddy in New Jersey doing trusts and estates, he, he did stuff for a long time. He’s a personable guy had some gray hair, he knew how to run a business, you know, business plan, no, but he was in a noncom, he did something that other people weren’t fishing in as much, a cheap website could pop, great! If that same guy said, I want to do PI, with no resources coming out, it’s going to be much tougher. So the idea is, does your skill set, experience and resources, forget about a business plan? Does that allow you to get a couple steps forward? And I don’t want to stomp on anybody’s dream, but the likelihood of success is so much stronger? How many times do you get a memo that says, an announcement on social or what have you, I’m going I started my own, now going back into a firm.
Oh, I see that all the time.
No shame in it. But had somebody sort of calculated some of the stuff up front, would they be in better shape to make that, and where you go for the J-O-B, with thought of this is my stepping stone, a guy sent me a resume, one of my professors from law school, sent me a kid’s resume. And I think his cover letter said, I want to open my own firm, I’m like, well, look, I love the gumption, that’s not the guy I want to hire. Because I want a guy who’s going to sit and do the widget [inaudible]. All of that said, if you know you need that, we did have a guy that came as a junior associate. He had this crazy blog about marketing and operations, like he had this. And I say this, like I looked at the early blog posts on it, it was craziness. He was review, he had never owned or used software, but was reviewing software on a blog. He has turned this, he was a junior associate with us, moved to another state blog, got improved. He built a website. I remember he came, he could only afford a website, we got him a website when he when he moved on his own. He then, you know, had some success up, added SEO slowly but surely built it to something, that like that was a with thought and purpose. His J-O-Bs were there to help him launch. It wasn’t a J-O-B and one day, he said, screw it, you know, I take this job and shove it I’m on my own. It was methodical as far as how that’s a on ramp to what you want to do. Rather than I don’t like working for somebody. Here’s my shingle. I think that’s mu- because as you said, as you talk, look, let’s put this back to Jay who’s, who’s dealing with legal talent within you. There are people there that could go out on their own. And there are people you know that if they do, they’re likely to fall on their face. Now you want them to stay with us. You wanna make it worth their while. But you know, from afar, so I guess what I’m trying to do is reformulate the question, which is, as the wedding singer would say, information I could have used yesterday. I’m trying to put that out there that like, I don’t want to have the discussion of what to do with $1,000. You could spend time on it. But to me, what’s more, much more interesting is what can you do with that 1,2,3 or four years before you pull the ripcord to make it so that when you do you’re in the best possible shape because that’s a hell of a lot more powerful than whatever $1,000 You’re gonna throw at something.
Oh of course, of course. So then here’s the, here’s the follow up question I have for you on that. And, you know, for me, my vision really hasn’t changed. You know, we’re focusing on the area of law that I want to focus on. I enjoy getting us to the point where we’re scaling and we’ve got redundancies and a lifestyle that I like, when do you revisit your vision? Because your vision started with you and David, you know, in a, you know, just hanging a shingle and going for it? Did you always have this vision of multiple verticals? You know, 8, you know, mid eight figure law firm? Was that always your vision? Or when do you revisit the vision? And then, you know, as your law firm now, and how many lawyers you have in your firm now, 40?
44 or something like that.
Ok, you know, your vision, I think needs to be communicated to them to some extent, right? Or is it not communicated to them? Because they’re there to do their work? And that’s it? Because I would think that you want people to last they need to buy into your vision for the future. When do you revisit? You know, this is, we were talking, you know, the first part show we’re talking about before you launch. What’s your vision? What’s your plan? That type of thing. Now, let’s go on the backend. You’ve been doing it for 20 years, right? Your start, your you’ve scaled, you’re moving, you’re doing what you like to do? What point do you start to revisit the vision for the next way that the firm is going to, and I hope you’re involved in that conversation.
Right, so I think that we, as, in the time I’ve known you, I’ve gone from without any coaching to a lot of high quality coaching. I mean, I went with, I don’t know who I’d ever trust, to meeting people like Knockhazel and Biggs and people like that. So I feel very blessed. I’ve added systematized meetings and created a C suite, I think one of the benefits of EOS, and I don’t want to just say it’s the only way but any sort of making an org chart, and it just and writing everything out. Regardless of what system you use, and figuring out you may be just you, and a person sitting in your office. And you’re like, okay, well, I got me and an office assistant that office assistants doing the accounting. Where are the seats, do you want to get to? Right? And if the question is you, may be, within five years, I want, you know, the, there again, it’s not for the sake of this, but I’m going to have the scale at $5 million, I’m going to be able to have people in each of these seats on the way up, you can’t. You’re doubling up, tripling up.
But, on the way up. I mean, the accounting when you only open two files a week, the accounting work takes 15 minutes.
Right, and depending on the type of law, and as that gets more complicated, but it may be a $200 dollar a month bookkeeper? You know, it’s nothing. But it’s God willing, it gets more complicated. So I think for me, if you ask me personally, I, my eyes have been open to the power of the meetings, the power of delegation, realizing that for two reasons, one, I may not be best at it. I’ve gotten older, crotchitier, the ADHD has gotten worse. So I’m not, I don’t have patience anymore. Not that I ever did, but it’s gonna get worse as you get older. So that by really forcing myself to work with direct reports, it’s frustrating because it’s not as good as if I did it myself. But at the same time, it has allowed me to scale. But I think it’s having that team, right. And I watch like Mike Moore’s a step above me, where he really can like disappear for two months. And not, and everything goes fine. You know, I’m somewhere between that. And you know, we have a C suite. I’m involved. But part of it was was necessity, I started the firm because I needed money. As it built and grew. And I had the responsibility of another organization like BluShark. I didn’t have that 40 hours a week for the organization. I had 20, what can you do with it? And the truth is, I think I’m probably, the firm runs better, because I’ve allowed it to scale with other people. And I actually have an issue within our firm right now, we have one person at a senior level, who doesn’t want to give stuff up. In fact, they’re grabbing stuff that’s not even theirs and bringing it in. And it’s fascinating because I can see in somebody else what I couldn’t neccisarily see in myself, which is, hey, go spend the money on the ops person. The last piece for me is a person doing the marketing position. That’s like the last piece that I don’t have genuinely set. And so I’m trying my very best to fill, to spend the money to fill those slots, so that it actually runs like a business and force others at the firm to do the same. But as that happens, the next chapter is, you can work on other verticals, you can work on tweaking things. What I’m trying not to do is micromanage and dabble. We have an amazing recruiter. Let her do her job. Feed her information, but try not to be the frenetic idiot who’s calling, why is this not filled, rather, having your cadence of meetings and working, and knowing that it’s not going to be perfect, but that you’re going to follow, as we say at BluShark, trust the process.
Yeah, you know, getting out of the way and letting people do their job is one of the most difficult things I think, for any law firm owner. And you know, it’s funny, I just booked, I just booked a flight to go out to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. Well, I didn’t book it, I had my assistant, I said, here’s the information, book me on this flight, you know, provide me with the options, book me on this flight, that sort of thing. And, you know, I gave her my preference for isle seat, and all those things. And then I got the, I got the thing and I call I’m like, let me check out the reservation. Okay, well, I think I’d rather be in this seat. Now. I’m on the, you know, I’m in the seat three, not seat two or-
I believe I get this better than anything, we’re gonna lose some people on this. I went between BluShark and Price Benowitz, as you know, I’m on the road a decent amount. We found a guy in the Philippines, who’s a former United agent, I love the reservations. I still will chain, he knows he’s now 98% there. But you know what, I’ll say, you know what, I feel like being back a row, I have no problem changing a seat. But the fact that I’m not doing the research, and you’re not the same way, for the cheapest flight for the best chance of an upgrade, you don’t play that game, I do. He’s do- but, all the stuff that I used to suck up time on, he is taking care of. Frequent flyer stuff, we get all these points for living our lives the way we do. And it is a full time job booking points vacations. The fact that somebody else can sit there, do it, let me know that you know, the, you know, the game. This summer, it was a 20,000 point upgrade to get from Emirates business to first at the airport, I had a full cheat sheet from this guy on everything that I needed to do, how to do it, where to transfer points, he took-
That’s your next business for law firm owners.
Nobody wants to pay for it. I wish they would.
I’ll pay for it, I’ll pay for that right now.
But, that is the, look. That’s why travel agencies died because you can do it yourself, right? And then so if I said to you, that’s great. But it’s $500 a month to use this guy, I’m making that up. Whatever it is, right? You’re like, yeah, yeah yeah, but I like doing it. And you’re gonna do it, like that’s the issue is that when there’s something that, it’s what we used to call C tasks back in the day. Ordering from Staples way, way back, you check the box, it felt good, you know, if you can get rid of that nonsense. And the problem is I now see my management team struggle with the stuff I struggled with, which is how do I make sure they’re not doing that. So they’re working at their highest and best use. And that’s partially where and thanks, to you in large, no small part, the International layering of people has been great because it allows other people to then push things down. And that has been, I think, what’s allowed certain things to flourish. My IT department is playing at a place I could never be at before. Accounting. I- this is you know, I could never find people in my home market who would work for the going wage of $60,000 plus-
And numbers are universal. So that’s a good thing. You know, there’s no nuance with numbers.
It’s not a free lunch.
No, never, but-
So okay, I go, sort of gone on this tangent, I’d like to sort of come back because I have a final thing for you. January 21. We went, we went. We went, we started building out a virtual team. Approximately 35 right now, Price Benowitz and BluShark, Latin America. It came up in my L10. And this is also a question for the weekly meetings. In some respects. I don’t like being blindsided. But in one sense where else would they do it. They bring it up there. They’re like, hey, there’s pushback right now that we give paid holidays to all our domestic people. And we don’t currently have the paid holidays for our international people.
See we changed that policy at our annual meeting last December, everybody International and stateside, they all get the same amount of time. International we identified here are the holidays in America, you get the same number of holidays. Like for example-
Do you do holidays or-
So, so we have-
So let me just come back we’ll go, we’ll go into it in one second. But this, we’re going to add this to the mix. The issue du jour wasn’t just being richer, which we should be right, continue to be competitive, which now see people trying to pill for people offline. But what I’m starting to, what they were seeing was, hey, let’s say that Thanksgiving is not a national, is not a holiday in their country.
But of we’re closed intake needs two people, they don’t need 25 people. Maybe one person needed in accounting to support, but it’s a fraction and all of a sudden, people are being told not to work on a day they want to work. And so like, there’s no doubt we need to up our benefits and we’re doing that, right? Because you want to retain if you don’t, you know, I always my thought was when we started, pay more per hour, and people won’t care. And I think what’s happens is, over time, you know, its, people are gonna want both over time, they want competitive pay plus benefits. When I started, I think the world would, like less people were at the game more people are fighting for these people now. So the question is, like, yes, we need to do, we need to up the benefits, so they don’t feel like second class citizens. But more importantly, my question to you is, how do you deal with days, do you give floating holidays? How do you deal with days you don’t need them working, but they don’t necessarily want off.
So we have basically level one and level two holidays. Level one is the firm is closed, and we are not working. And you know, and so fourth of July, we’re not working, we’re closed. Christmas, Thanksgiving, we’re not working, we are closed. There are level two holidays. And whenever we onboard, we ask them what culturally specific days, culturally relevant days in your country, are days that you would like to have off, and we try to match it and say, hey, look, there are five floating holidays in the United States that our people generally take, but you have five that you can apply to yours, and you just gotta let us know. It’s not hey this year, it’s in March, and next year, it’s in October, if this is the day that you guys use, then this is the day that you’ll always use. So that’s how we do it. But we you know, we want to make sure that everybody has the same number of paid holidays.
You do, you do your US five plus five, floatin?
Something like that.
No no, but look, and part of it is, this is a great example. You know, there are a lot of different ways to do this, right? If you were through a third party service, that books, I know you have some each way. But those people are generally making substantially less than the people you direct hire.
So my attitude was, hey, I’m going to pay somebody, they’re essentailly contractors, that higher rate, not that by US standards it’s that high. But I’m going to do that because it sort of builds in, that in, and what’s what’s sort of what I’m finding is the irony, and this is the piece where it’s hard to just do a blanket, you built that into your pro forma, you’re giving somebody, I’m making this up, let’s say the average person from one of the namebrand services is $5 to $6 an hour, they’re getting after you pay them, whatever you’re paying them. If we’re paying $7 to $9 an hour, for some equivalent person, and then granted, I get a deal because it’s going direct, so maybe the answer is shut up. You made your margins. But, now add this in, as I’m saying it aloud. But in theory, they’re getting 60%, more 45 to 60% more than what somebody would if they went to one of those other organizations is, you know, do you need to do both. I think the problem is, if you don’t, it just looks bad. Even if monetarily, it’s as good or better.
I mean, at the end of the day, I want all my people both stateside and remote to think themselves as part of the team. I don’t want to give my remote, remote people fewer days, paid days off than my American people. We do paid days off, paid time off based on how long you’ve been with us. So if you’ve been with us as a receptionist, that’s living in Jamaica. And that’s, you know, that’s, you know, we found you and you’re not part of an agency and that type of thing. We are, we’re giving you the same number of time if you are a paralegal from Connecticut.
And I think what struck this is, as you start doing this, you made your early mistakes, we now have people going on, you know, in their third year of service, just want to make sure that we’re doing something that makes it competitive.
Right, right. And I think, you know, for me, at least, we not only want to be competitive stateside, we want to be competitive internationally. I mean, some of the best employees I’ve gotten are referrals from existing employees.
They said oh I worked with this, I worked with this woman at a call center for Comcast. She was great. Everybody loved her. I’ll call her and see if she wants a job. And next thing, you know, you’ve got two rockstars working for you.
No, no 100%. But then the question becomes, you know, usually you look at attrition as your bellwether if somebody’s leaving for more money, right. And that hasn’t been the case. But maybe the question is, do you do this preventatively to make sure you’re not there. Because that’s, that’s the stuff that as business owners, is tough, because if you’ve already paid for something, you never, money never comes back, right? You’re never, you’ve never, you know, nobody’s ever taken less money because they’re less productive. It’s you create floors as you go. What I find facinating here is, you know, it’s moving somebody from a contractor mentality, which is how he started, into an employee mentality. And I think part of it just may be, hey, you know, as I think aloud, it may be okay, you know what, my second year, there’s enough added value that will, that will bump that there. And maybe the first year is more of a probationary period, and then it jumps into that. So that’s I just, that’s my light bulb for today.
There you go. Alright, folks, that’s going to do it for us this week, on The Law Firm Blueprint. Thank you so much for being with us. As always, you can take us on the go wherever you get your podcast by searching up The Law Firm Blueprint podcast, of course, join our Facebook group and be sure whenever you’re suggested to, give us a five star review on any of the podcast platforms. He is Seth Price, I am Jay Ruane. We’ll see you next week. Bye for now!