Role and company:Managing Partner at Gordon Brown Law Firm
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):£3m
Employee numbers:75 staff
Growth forecast for the next three years:We are looking to expand our turnover to £5m over the next three years.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:We are law firm who ‘gets’ customer service. We are real people, but also really great lawyers, who aim to treat each individual client as we would want to be treated ourselves. We don’t take our clients for granted – we like to build relationships and retain them for the future.
What’s the big vision for your business?We would like to grow our residential property business to become a top 10 ranked firm. We are currently in the top 70 based on current Land Registry figures. We also wish to promote and grow our other legal service offerings to ensure we have a diverse and balanced firm. We see the use of IT as being critical in this growth strategy over the next few years.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations:Our business is UK based, however, a key aim of ours is to increasingly act for clients who are based abroad buying properties in the UK. Using IT will be a key factor in developing this area of work.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:As with any career, I’ve had a few ups and a few downs, but luckily less of the latter and more of the former! I can’t say there have been any major setbacks along the way. I am generally a very positive person and I feel strongly that, when it comes to this industry, people buy people, and a down to earth, no-nonsense attitude and approach can help you go far.
What makes you mad in business today?Rigidity in the workplace and short-sightedness. Sometimes you have to be creative and flexible, particularly if you want to attract the right people – both in terms of personnel and clients.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?Two notable changes spring to mind. Firstly new entrants to the legal market, for example Saga, The Co-Op, and The AA who are all able to complete on a major scale and already have huge client bases to market to. Secondly, how consumer’s access legal services will change – it will become much more internet based and price sensitive.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?Accessing finance has become more difficult for Law Firms in the wake of a number of high profile casualties in the last few years. In order to access finance you need to fully demonstrate a real business case, be doing something diverse/different and be able to forecast real financial rewards for your endeavours.
How would others describe your leadership style?I like to make sure I have good people managing in the right places. I am always accessible and ready to listen to my team. As a firm we have seen the founding generation step aside to allow a fresh new outlook to be developed, in terms of how we deliver our service offering, especially in process-driven areas, so that each individual within the business has the opportunity to have input into and benefit personally in our future. I believe it is essential that business messages are communicated up and down and at all levels within the company so everyone has a voice – regardless of their position.
Your biggest personal extravagance?Probably clothes and make up, if I’m honest. I’m also a keen rock fan and a Newcastle United supporter, so I often splurge on concert tickets and going to football games.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:Two things; the need to be able to access finance and grants and that the taxation system needs to be simplified – I could rant for a good minute on each of these issues! By Shané Schutte
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