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In 2009 Slater and Gordon opened a permanent Frankston office to cater for the legal needs of the growing population along the Mornington Peninsula coastline of Victoria.
Stuart Le Grand, who at the time was a MVA Senior Associate in Melbourne, was assigned to Frankston to head-up the MVA division of the office. This opened up a tremendous opportunity for Stuart to broaden his skills beyond the law and one he has wholeheartedly embraced.
‘For me, taking a leadership role here in the Frankston office was equivalent to starting a business,’ says Stuart. ‘It has given me a greater appreciation for how a small business is run. Business development and marketing is important but there are so many other ancillary factors to consider, such as the general upkeep of the office, security and other tenancy related issues.’
After committing to a permanent office in Frankston, Slater and Gordon expanded its premises to take-up two floors of a prominent building just 200 metres from the Frankston foreshore. Since 2009 the office has grown to 10 staff, three of whom are lawyers, handling predominantly motor vehicle claims and WorkCover claims. Melbourne lawyer Chris Forster also offers a visiting service for Family Law clients in the area. During the past three years the office has seen a steady increase in direct enquiries, which can be attributed to its quality of service and savvy local marketing.
‘Since relocating to Frankston office I have noticed a lot of investment in the area directed towards new developments and infrastructure,’ he says. ‘This is a thriving little town with great amenities and it is growing rapidly. I’ve learned to embrace the community spirit that comes with working in a regional office and I am on a first names basis with many of the local business owners.’
In a regional area like Frankston Slater and Gordon is not only vying for business against other national law firms but also local practices with deep local roots. In an attempt to increase our firm’s presence in the local community Stuart keeps an eye on council websites to see what upcoming local events could be linked to local marketing opportunities. He also offers his services pro bono to local sporting clubs when he can. ‘You don’t get work sitting at your desk,’ he says. ‘I’ve been out there doing a lot of handshaking and face time with the local community.’
Forging ties in the local community is paramount when building up a regional office. Stuart is grateful for the resources that the firm has put at his disposable to help him develop the local office and to learn the required business and marketing skills.
Stuart has signed a number of sponsorship agreements with local sporting clubs and marque events. Slater and Gordon Frankston is now the major sponsor of the Cranbourne Football Club, the Frankston Dolphins Football club and Cranbourne Racing Club. We also sponsor the local radio station, Casey Radio, which offers us a regular segment on its radio program and air our advertisements on a weekly basis.
These sponsorship agreements have opened the door for Stuart and his team to meet players and executives at membership events. ‘I enjoy working with the local clubs which are the heart and soul of this community,’ he says. ‘Everyone knows someone from the club so it is great way to promote your business.’
For the past two years our firm has also sponsored a race at the Cranbourne Race Meet known as the Slater and Gordon Stakes, which is held annually on Good Friday Eve. Our team in the Frankston office attended a dinner function on the night with key executives and other local luminaries.
‘During my time working in Frankston I’ve become attuned to how the town ticks,’ he says. ‘The law is the law and we still do what we do in terms of file work but I am always thinking about what opportunities are out there. But given the short time that I have been here, I feel that we have only scratched the surface. These things take time.
‘I am excited about where we’re heading. We are now starting to see the benefit of referrals such as those from local rehabilitation providers and physiotherapists. To obtain these referrals you need a reputation and that can only be earned by continually delivering a high quality service to our clients. Ultimately, this is what it’s all about.’