Pricing Predicament

How can I figure out how much to charge for my product or service? What is the highest salary (raise) I can ask for? Talking about money is a thorny issue. Everyone has opinions about it but those underlying concerns are:

-Did I set the price so high that no one will buy? (Is the salary I asked for so outrageous that they will hire someone else)

-Did I give them such a low price that they question my value or did I leave money on the table? (Is the salary I asked for so low that they wonder if I know what is going on in my field?)

This month I had three different experiences that involved pricing.

First my mother showed me a pair of shoes that she got through Medicare. (She is a diabetic and evidently Medicare will pay for one pair of shoes a year.) She told me she would never order them again. Why? Because the doctor charged Medicare $500 for the shoes and she thought that was far too much money. (She watches the government’s money like her own!)

Next a friend told me most of her colleagues were telling her to charge more for her services. She was adamant in her stance that no one was worth what they were telling her to charge. In fact her colleagues were in the same business and commanding the fee they were recommending to her.

Finally in the news once again one of the presidents of a large company here in the US (Exxon) was reported to have negotiated a huge retirement package.

Finding an appropriate price is not easy. There is a lot of psychology in pricing along with some mathematical computation. Sometimes people forget to think about the mathematical piece. The cost of delivering the product or service including the time of the deliverer is important. If you do compute your actual costs you can then add a percentage on top (margin) to give you your profit.

Seems simple but now you’ll need to see what others are providing. How does your product compare with those it competes with? This is the market research part of pricing. If you are negotiating salary for a job, you’ll want to know what others who do similar work get for that job.

Now here is where the psychological factors come in. Price something way above what the competitors charge and you could price yourself out of business – maybe or maybe not. Perhaps your product is like no other that it competes with. In my mother’s case maybe there is only one manufacturer of shoes for diabetics and each pair must be made individually to that person’s specifications? The price may in fact be justified.

Price something way below what the competitor’s charge and it is possible you will be very busy. If you haven’t done the cost analysis, you may find yourself losing money though. Another possibility is that potential customers may question your value. “Why are you so cheap?”

Justification – that is what is necessary. In your sales pitch you will need to tell the potential buyer what makes your product so special. (Why you do charge so much or so little.) If my friend doesn’t really believe that she is worth more than she’ll have a hard time convincing others that she is. Clearly Presidents of large corporations have no problem with their sales pitch and are really good at convincing boards of directors to pay them huge sums.

“Whatever the market will bear” is often the philosophy you hear. It certainly must be the justification of the presidents and CEOs who get big salaries, bonuses and pensions. In my opinion the answer lies somewhere between my friend who doesn’t think she is worth that much and the big company pay outs. That is a place where the business owner gets what he/she is worth and the consumer gets the value he/she expects. For me there is also integrity involved in pricing not just what the market will bear.

Take Action

1. Assess your own work situation. Where are you undervaluing yourself? Write down a list of the benefits you offer to your customer (employer).

2. Check your competitors. What do they offer? How do they price their offer? Compare their offer to yours. How are they alike? What is unique about your offer? How do you tell your customers about that uniqueness?

3. Not unique? Why would your customers choose you instead of your competitors? If your uniqueness is price alone, you are on a slippery slope because there are always others ready to price below you.

Project Planning for Lawyers – Upping Your Game in a Chaotic World

In nearly two decades of practicing law, I have tried numerous systems to manage projects, stay on top of tasks, and delegate work to team members. The following is the simplest, most effective method I have discovered. For those of you who are Getting Things Done by David Allen enthusiasts, you will recognize his inspiration.

Master Task List

Writing all your tasks down to get them out of your head and stored in a reliable place is incredibly liberating. I have found that inputting all those tasks into a single list is a valuable habit to engage. Of course, half the battle is getting everything into a single list so you can decide what is the highest priority to tackle, which tasks you can delegate, and other ones that can be scheduled for a later date. I have also found that if you give in to the temptation to spread the list across multiple systems or people you are inviting anxiety about the list. So put them all in one place. Fight that temptation.

The list can be maintained in a simple spreadsheet or specialized software like Basecamp. We use proprietary project and task management software that integrates with our client and CRM systems. Because most of us work in a team environment, it is usually a best practice to designate an admin to maintain the list.

In addition to the name of the task, owner, and deadline, we have found tracking the following information to be helpful: task assignor, project manager, priority, client and matter, and practice area of the project. We also distinguish between deadlines (externally imposed obligations like a USPTO filing deadline or a court ordered date on a scheduling order) from a “next action,” which is what we call a task we wish to complete to move a project forward. Requiring the task assignor to include the deliverable requested (80% draft memo, key cases with passages highlighted, etc.) is also a valuable practice as it improves team communication.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep all tasks in a single list maintained by a reliable person or system.

Project List

Like a Master Task List, the Project List keeps track of all the various projects you either manage or have delegated. It also serves as a good reminder during the Weekly Review, and helps brainstorms next steps. For purposes of this system, I define a “project” to be anything requiring two or more next actions. A single task would be included in the Master Task List.

We track projects by client, matter, project manager, project team (people assigned to the project), and practice area. This allows for sorting and reporting in a variety of helpful manners. For example, I sort the overall Project List by practice area (litigation, trademarks, e-commerce) as well as by project manager. It is also important to distinguish between the projects you own as project manager, those you are assigned, and those you have delegated to others as that affects review and work flow.

Weekly Review

The Master Task List and Project List both should be updated dynamically throughout the week. I have found a few practices that dramatically increase efficiency. The first step is to periodically clear your head of all the tasks and things floating around. This includes emails, client requests, correspondence, etc. Basically, anything that needs attention and resides in your head needs to get out of your head and into the Master Task List. A daily clearing is helpful but not always practical. So I set aside time mid-week and as part of the Weekly Review. Second, I dedicate an hour or two per week to go over the Master Task List and Project List to ensure everything is updated. I have found doing this outside the office or on weekends is most effective because it requires uninterrupted focus. Finally, a weekly or bi-weekly project review session with the team is highly efficient in keeping everyone on the same page. For this session, we sort the Master Task List by project and we also separately review a list of tasks with upcoming due dates in chronological order.

Daily Focus

This last step is bonus points for any adoptee, and will really accelerate your performance. Like Texas Hold ‘Em, this step is simple to explain, but takes seemingly a lifetime to master. Based on the three above tools, you spend five minutes each morning planning the three most important, high-leverage actions to get done that day. Write them down to up your commitment, then create space in your day to give those three actions your highest priority. If you commit to that focus, you will achieve amazing results and start each day with a series of wins. The problem you will face is that the world (clients, opposing counsel, staff, even your own internal thoughts) does not share those priorities. This struggle largely controls your personal effectiveness, and is truly where rubber meets the road.

For more information and articles regarding law firm culture, please see our Culture Counts blog.

Careless People Paying For Their Recklessness in Personal Injury Cases

All the civilised nations believe in one common thing and that is the deliverance of justice to the innocent ones. Along with this it is also made sure that the guilty ones should pay for the wrong they do to others. For this purpose have come many legislative reforms for the help of the poor sufferers. Personal injury claims are one such reform that has been refurbished keeping in mind the point of justice being done. Through this medium, the guilty ones are being made to pay for their carelessness and recklessness that causes great harm to others.

These responsible parties can be anyone ranging from reckless car drivers to irresponsible employers and malpractitioners belonging to any profession who do not keep in mind the safety of others and try to get away very quietly and cleanly without acknowledging their faults and mistakes. Through the channel of personal injury claims, all those who are made to suffer by these careless guilty persons, can file the compensation claims and ask them to pay for the physical pains and mental anguishes along with the property damages.

Though these responsible and guilty ones have their insurers to protest them but if a case is being filed in the court then they really can not do much. The very first option that they keep is the lowball offer that they make to the claimants. These insurers offer a very low amount of compensation asking the claimant for an off the court settlement. This works at times if the claimant has not much time and finance to go for the court room proceedings.

But those claimants who have strong cases against the responsible ones and they have a specialist lawyer to represent them either going for a settlement or court proceedings, then theses guilty ones have to pay what the claimant asks for. The professional lawyer makes them to surrender to the demands that are very righteously made by the claimants for the physical and mental pain and suffering. This the purpose of these compensation claims where it is made sure that the guilty ones should be punished for the wrong they have done which they do not want to own.

Through this medium, they have to pay for the medical expenses and the financial losses a claimant goes through as a result of the accident. These monetary charges are being charged from them to provide a relaxation especially the financial one that is being caused by the specific accident. In this manner, the neglect and carelessness of these irresponsible persons is made to be paid in form of the monetary compensation; the justice being asked by the innocent victims.

The contents of the article are provided for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended for a legal advice.