One day, usually shortly after you have your phone line installed, your friendly local yellow pages account representative will come calling. If you have nothing better to do that day, take about 30 minutes to listen to his presentation – it will do your ego some good and occasionally you can collect some neat swag. But, before you sign on the dotted line and commit to that scary monthly payment, consider that effective directory ads aren’t necessarily expensive and the expensive package the account rep is pushing may not be effective for your particular situation. Here are 12 points from my crash course into the world of phone directory advertising:
- The general “Attorney” category is very competitive. Unless you can afford an ad that will be placed in the front third of this section, spend your money elsewhere.
- If you do place an ad in the front third, position does not matter, “first” ads are not called more frequently than “last” ads.
- Good ads will always get more calls (more…)
I was recently discussing the hardware requirements for a new firm with a colleague and we distilled the bare minimum hardware requirements to: a laptop with at least a 15″ display, a black & white laser printer, and an external USB hard drive at least as big as the laptop’s internal drive.
The laptop should be a desktop-replacement class machine. Leave the ultra-portables for another day, this machine is going to be your office workhorse and should have the computational “horsepower” (CPU speed, system memory, and disk space) to be able to run multiple applications simultaneously, and should have a full-sized keyboard so you can type on it comfortably for long periods.
In terms of print quality, speed, and longevity, single function, black and white laser printers shine. It is even possible to find black and white laser printers with auto duplexing, multiple paper trays and support for both envelopes and legal paper in the sub-$500 price range.
Combine an external USB drive and an on-line backup service like Mozy or Carbonite and you have the bare minimum for a redundant backup system. Use backup software like Retrospect to create a mirror image of your system disk on the external drive will provide immediate access to your data should your system disk pack it in. Regular incremental backups to an on-line service will allow you to keep a copy of your data in a relatively safe off-site location. It may take longer to rebuild from incremental backups, but at least they will be there should a catastrophy wipe out your office.
The deed is done, the shingle hung, and practice begun!
The weather conspired against a June 29th opening (when the crop is ready and the weather is right you harvest and all else gets delayed), but on July 8th the planets aligned and I opened the doors to my new office.
In no particular order here is what I’ve discovered about opening a practice:
- If a tape measure says the distance between your computer and the network port is 15 feet, use a 20 foot cable to connect the two.
- Telemarketers start calling about 3 days after phone service installation. The corollary to this is that junk mail is the first to find its way to your address, followed shortly by bills.
- The “new” wears off guest chairs after the 4th use or so – don’t get attached to unblemished furniture.
- There are two types of installers – those that say they’ll be there in 2 weeks and then show up in 2 days and those that say they’ll be there in 2 days and show up 2 weeks later. I don’t think this is due to the random nature of work – I think it is somehow related to how difficult it will be to fit a given time/date into my schedule
- Buy local – don’t always assume that you get the best price on-line and/or in the big town just down the highway. Paying for personal service often trumps paying for shipping and handling.
- Pens walk out the door with installers, delivery people, contractors, etc – make use of this and have your pens imprinted with your name and phone number.
- After all the preparation and the hustle and bustle of moving-in and setting up, opening day will seem like an anticlimax.