Chuck Kegler knows the three requirements for success in a service business like the back of his hand.
“You can say it 100 different ways, but there are three things you have to do simultaneously,” says Kegler, director with Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter LPA and a member of the firm since 1968.
“One, you have to provide outstanding service to your customers and clients. That is measured by what they think. Usually it is that you either have a product or service that is helpful to them. You are helping them be successful. If you don’t have that product and the people to provide it, you are not going to be successful.”
The second thing is you want to be able to supply that service in a way that provides professional satisfaction for yourself — and sometimes even personal satisfaction to people with whom you work.
“The third thing is you have to do it in a financially successful way,” Kegler says. “You have to charge enough so you can have the absolute best people provide the best service.”
If those three requirements aren’t in place and operating simultaneously — or just one of them is missing — you have a problem.
“If any one of those doesn’t work, you can’t charge a fee,” he says. “Then you won’t be able to hire good people, you won’t be able to have a good staff, you won’t be successful. It doesn’t mean that you have to charge high fees at all, but in that respect, you have to have enough sense of the whole business side of it.”
While, it may sound like you are writing a mission statement to just hang on the wall, those requirements, when put into practice, will help ensure the success of a project or company as a whole.
“It may sound silly,” Kegler says, “but you should make business decisions based on questions like these: Will this help us provide outstanding service to clients? Can we do it in a way that we will be economically successful or have a chance at least? Will we give our people professional satisfaction? Do you think they will be satisfied doing it, or will they be compromising what they are doing?”
It’s important that each decision feels right to those involved. If it doesn’t, then that’s probably a sign you should reconsider.
“Someone will say, ‘I want to do this’ and it doesn’t feel good,” he says. “If you are representing a certain kind of client who wants to do something a certain way — if it doesn’t feel good, then don’t do that.”
For example, if a client called you and said, “I want you to draft these four things exactly this way,” you might do it and they might be unhappy with the results. The reason is it didn’t satisfy his or her goals. But if you had been able to ask a few questions, it might have become something totally different.
“A client called and asked us to prepare a whole set of documents to raise money according to different concepts he had outlined,” Kegler says. “After about 15 minutes, I said, ‘You know, you can go this way, and it will cost you about $20,000 to $25,000, or you can do it 90 percent by yourself if you do it this other way. You just need to change what you are doing slightly. I think it will be more effective than some big complicated process.’”
Looking back, Kegler recalled how the advice of a college professor led him to his career as a lawyer. The professor, a Jesuit priest at Xavier University who was the head of the pre-med department, suspected Kegler really wasn’t pursuing the right field — medicine.
“He said I had difficulty understanding three dimensions,” Kegler says, remembering how astonished he was at the time of the comment, and the priest added, ‘Your fine motor skills are not very good. Surgery is not something you should be doing.’”
Still probing, the professor asked Kegler what he liked about his family doctor that got him interested in medicine.
The discussion revealed that he liked the office atmosphere and the advisory aspects of the business, so the priest advised him to do something that would help others.
Kegler took a year off from school because his basketball scholarship ran out. His family then moved to Columbus, and he transferred to Ohio State University and changed his major.
“I went into business and then law school,” he says. “My path was pretty clear then. I could see right away I enjoyed law a lot more than medicine. Pre-med is something I felt like maybe I should do or could do. I had enough skills to do it, but it was not something I loved.”
What he does love is the practice of law.
“I really like it,” Kegler says. “I love it. We are blessed to have wonderful clients, we are blessed to be in a great city, Columbus, Ohio.” ★
How to reach: Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter LPA, (614) 462-5400 or www.keglerbrown.com