“There is really no comparison between American Giant’s hoodie and the competition,” wrote Farhad Manjoo wrote in Slate about American Giant, a San Francisco-based apparel startup that had perfected the hooded sweatshirt.
“When you wear this hoodie, you’ll wonder why all other clothes aren’t made this well.”
You would think that American Giant would be over the moon after being the underdog among apparel companies. Levi’s, J.Crew, and Banana Republic are among the big names in competition with such a little California brand.
Instead of becoming their big break, however, the Slate article almost broke the company apart.
After such rave reviews, Americans flocked to the web to order an American Giant hoodie. In just 36 hours after the story broke, American Giant’s founder, Bayard Winthrop, said the company had sold out of everything—its entire stock.
Backordered since December, the sweatshirt brand was really starting to sweat. But American Giant insisted that this was no supply-chain problem. Instead, it was a confidence problem. There’s a big financial commitment to assuming that orders will be consistently high one season to the next.
So, while Slate popularized the hoodie in December, who knew what next year’s fads would bring?
“The bottom line, for us, is that this wasn’t about the failure of the supply chain,” Winthrop said to Manioo in a follow-up piece.
“It was about planning. And if we plan correctly from now on, we should never be in that situation again.”
This means adequately predicting demand for your product and anticipating potential problems associated with it.
Law firms may not be distributing garments, but they do distribute counsel.
And high-quality counsel depends on the seasonal demand for legal services. It’s important that your law firm understand the dynamics of its community—the demands for divorce lawyers, patent attorneys, or estate planners–as well as possible new legal services trends.
Whether your firm offers general services or is specialized, it’s important to plan ahead for new legal tools, technology, or practices. Take, for example, the newer practice of fixed fees, as opposed to billable rates.
Do you know the rationale for putting fixed fees in an operating account versus a trust account? Should you keep track of your time even if not required for a fee petition just to substantiate that your flat fee is “reasonable”?
Before moving to fixed fee rates, your firm must answer these questions and more. Identifying the right price for your services shouldn’t be a “best guess” in these tumultuous times.
Although attorneys may operate best in a time crunch or high-stakes litigation in the courtroom, law firms operate best with proper planning for business cycles and fads.
Anticipate client needs and anlayse the pros and cons of your alternative billing arrangements (among other trends) before putting them into practice.
If you are a business or law firm, benefit from C4CM’s audio course, “GC’s Guide to Value, AFA’s, and Flat Fees- Getting the Most Bang for Your Legal Buck”. You’ll discover:
- Strategies to overcome the challenges companies face in an environment where both sides are being pressured to reduce costs,
- Specific ways to curb legal bills and build more transparency into the fee process, and
- Methods to mold flat and value-based alterative fee structures, and key considerations/clauses to include.
Success can come in the form of new clients or new demand for your legal expertize. However, without proper planning, policies, and best practices, you may become a victim of your own success.