As regular readers of this blog and my e-zine know, I often pick-up my laptop and work from a little restaurant around the corner from my office.  I find that getting out of familiar surroundings where I have absolutely no responsibility for anything enables me to relax and be creative.  Or maybe it’s the jolt of caffene.  The bottom line is that I probably spend around $300/month eating out for breakfast and the restaurant likely enjoys at least another hundred or so because I sometimes meet clients and friends there too. 

In case you’re wondering how this practice fits with my position about not taking clients to lunch etc. there is a difference.  First of all I’m not talking about prospective new clients.  Second of all when I do invite a client to meet me for breakfast, it’s only when we have something specific to discuss that won’t require us to handle documents and that isn’t going to be sensitive in nature – let’s brainstorm about how to reorganize your business so you can spend more time out on your boat vs. we need to analyze your financial statements, billing records and your weekly score cards  to figure out which clients you need to fire. And last but not least, I have taken the precaution of converting my regular table into a sort of remote office where we have alot of privacy and the waitstaff has learned to leave us alone when I’m with someone.

Anyway, my regular restaurant recently taught me a valuable lesson about how to lose a client.  Or in this case, a regular customer.  I’ve said it before & apparently I’ll be saying it again that satisfied clients are dangerous to a law practice, or any business for that matter.  They’re dangerous because there’s no real way to tell how satisfied they are.  Maybe they’re just marginally satisfied and will jump ship for a relatively minor or unexpected reason that you would address if only they would complain.  This is why you see some big law firms crashing & burning much more quickly than you’d expect, by the way.  In case you are not aware, the legal industry is full of cautionary tales of 50 lawyer firms imploding into 25 lawyer firms practically overnight.

Ok, so the lesson.  Well, it seems that for the past year I’ve been pirating a nearby internet signal which I had thought came from the restaurant.  I learned this today when I couldn’t get online over my eggs & toast.  When I discussed the “problem” with the manager, she declined to accomodate me by plugging in a wireless router to the internet connection in her office.  So I offered to give her a wireless router.  Still no interest in accomodating this formerly regular customer.

Bottom-line is that I’m now typing to you from my new regular place a block farther away. 

LESSON FOR LAWYERS READING THIS: get into the habit of making sales calls on your current and former clients to proactively discover what they do/don’t like about your services before your competitors beat you to those discoveries and walk away with your clients.