You are here

QualitySolicitors wants a firm in every town

CEO aims high and says legal franchise had great but poorly executed ideas

16 July 2014

Add comment

QualitySolicitors' CEO has admitted the franchise's faults and vowed to continue improving the brand's ethos following criticism of its early strategies and the high-profile departures of several member firms.

Eddie Ross, who took the reins in January, told SJ: "Fundamentally, everything we are doing now, at its core, is about the customer. There has been a shift away from the sense that we at the centre of QS tell all our member firms what they need to do and if they do it things will improve.

"I don't mind saying that that was completely the wrong strategy. I don't think that fundamentally things have changed since QS started, I just think that is was previously not expressed correctly. We have 100 firms in 200 locations. That is where the power is: in the individual high-street firms.

"There was this feeling a few years ago that if you joined QS then magically your business will do better and it will all be part of a big success story. But there is no such thing as a free lunch in this world. My message is that this is hard work. It takes working together and reflection on what you are doing in your own firm and embracing new ideas," he said.

However, opinions remains split within the profession.

"I look at the history of QS and I find it quite puzzling in a way," Ross continued. "Why does it generate such polemic? I think the reason is that the whole marketplace has gone through tremendous change and people are nervous. Regardless of what anyone says, the most important thing, as in any marketplace, is the customer and the customer is changing. Now customers are empowered, they have more access to information."

On the need for marketing within the legal profession, Ross said: "Lawyers are very comfortable with lawyers. Marketers are not particularly good at law. There is no reason why lawyers should be good at marketing. In the same way that you need a lawyer, I think lawyers need marketers. They need to listen to people who have more experience."

Ross believes it is important for firms to consider the current marketplace. "With everything that has happened over the last ten years, lawyers need to recognise that they are running a business. That means that you have nasty scary things called customers who expect stuff from you."

He continued: "On the high street, I think things are going to change radically in the next ten years. There are going to be some real winners and there are going to be some people who don't do so well. Every high-street firm needs to have a strategy. One of those strategies could be to join QS, another could be to be absolutely crystal clear about what it is that they do best. Or it could be to merge with others. But I do not believe that just bowling along will be good enough."

Innovative idea

Some strategies do not always work out as planned such as with QS' high publicised - and much criticised - tie-up with WH Smith. "It was a pretty innovative idea," said Ross. "But as Napoleon once said, 'Strategy is easy. Execution is the hard part.' I think QS has had some great ideas but they may have been poorly executed.

"To take something like legal services and put that into an environment like WH Smith was a risk. If it had been done by people who genuinely had experience in that sort of thing, and in a slightly different way, then it may have been more of a success. It was actually a lot more successful than a lot of people think."

For Ross, the WH Smith deal is history and clarifying what QS can provide its members is the priority. "We have really been defining our proposition. What we are trying to do is be clear about what it is you get when you become a member and then foster a collaborative spirit with all the firms working together to share and provide good customer service."

Essex firm Fisher Jones Greenwood, Hereford- based Gordon Lutton and Scottish firm Inksters were just some of the high-profile firms to have quit the group in recent months. Many who left have cited the desire to build their own brands away from QS.

"I don't want anybody to leave QS but I always respect those that leave for good reason," said Ross. "Firms typically leave because they have sat down and decided that they would be better off building their brand locally. If they are going to do that then I wish them all the very best of luck."

He continued: "The secret of brand building is that there is no magic. It is a hard process and to be part of a national brand, over time, will be more powerful than however good you may be as a local brand."

Ross wants to see a QS firm on every high street and sees national coverage as a distinct possibility. He is confident of adding a further 35 to 40 firms to the QS ranks by the end of the year while maintaining a high quality of service.

Categorised in:

Business development & Strategy