Business Insights

How adopting a ‘people-first’ approach drives success

Matthew Fretten Frettens Solicitors

This interview with Matthew Fretten, Managing Partner of Frettens Solicitors in Christchurch discusses the importance of a good team and company culture for a businesses long-term strategy and why a strong brand can set you apart from your competitors.

Full Interview Transcript

Ian:

Welcome to Business Insights with Dorset Chamber.

We are going to be out visiting business over the whole of the county, really getting behind the scenes and finding out what makes these great businesses tick.

Today, I am really pleased to say I am here in Christchurch to visit leading law firm Frettens Solicitors and I am really looking forward to meeting Matthew Fretten to find out more about this business.

Matthew:

Well welcome Ian, the firm was founded in January 1978 by my father who set up above a shop in the centre of Christchurch on his own with my mother has his secretary and the business and grown from there.

Ian:

Obviously the legal profession is quite a competitive one, how do you stay ahead of the game and really differentiate yourself from your competitors?

Matthew:

We have worked very hard on developing our culture, our brand. We are relatively young by comparison to some of our competitors. We are also very, very focused on our clients and providing client service which is above and beyond what perhaps you would expect in some of our competing firms.

Ian:

So Matthew, two years ago I know you went through a rebranding exercise and I think the brand looks absolutely fantastic, I have to say. Tell me, what was the thinking behind that? What did you learn as a business in going through that rebranding?

Matthew:

It was a big decision for the firm, but we got to a position where we didn’t believe that our previous logo, our previous brand, reflected who we really were as a business. We have, over the years, invested hugely in technology we’ve invested in our staff, we promote and encourage a can-do attitude a very customer focussed attitude, which is perhaps missing in some other firms. Our old brand didn’t necessarily reflect that. It was more traditional.

What we really are saying is that we are bright, approachable and that we are a modern forward looking law firm.

We’ve had an incredibly positive response to it, there’s always a worry when you change things that some people will react negatively, but actually people have embraced it, and I think that they have agreed that it reflects Frettens as a law firm, as a place to work, as a place to do business, far more accurately than our old branding, which was far more traditional in style.

Ian:

Let’s talk a little more about the workforce. The economic survey is telling us that it’s quite difficult to find good staff and to keep good staff. I know that you place a huge amount of stock in looking after your staff. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Matthew:

The reality for us is that our business is based on people. Without the best possible lawyers, without the best possible support staff, the best possible managers in place, we can’t deliver the service we need to deliver to our clients and that our clients demand from us.

If you look after the employees, they’ll look after the clients. We’ve taken that on board. We’ve developed genuine flexitime for our staff, we’ve developed a flexible approach to working, which in today’s world, is absolutely required in terms of recruiting and retaining the best staff.

What they actually want is a place to come to work where they feel valued, where they are comfortable, where the culture is positive. It’s can-do and also it fits in with their other family needs or their lives outside of work, and getting that balance.

Ian:

And the re-branding has played a really big important part of that in terms of how the firm looks to someone who wants to come and work for you.

Matthew:

The key is to be approachable, not just from a potential staff point of view, but also for clients. The main issue some people have is that they are terribly reticent about approaching a lawyer. Well, at Frettens, we’ve encouraged them to do just that, without fear of getting a huge invoice for a 20 minute conversation.

Ian:

So Matthew, we know that there’s quite a bit of uncertainty in the economy, certainly that’s what our members are telling us, What’s your view on things, and where do you think businesses should be focussing their priorities at the moment?

Matthew:

I think it’s been a hugely uncertain time for all businesses, including ours. I work on the Corporate side of the business so I’m dealing with owner-managed businesses every day, and the feedback we get from our clients is that it’s business as usual, but with a surrounding layer of great uncertainty in terms of the European situation, Brexit, what it will actually mean for everybody, and what it will mean for the British economy.

To be frank, I don’t think anybody is really certain of the future over the next year or two, but I get the feeling that our business community will carry on doing business, because that’s just what they do.

Matthew Fretten
Matthew Fretten
Frettens
Matthew Fretten is the Managing Partner at Frettens Solicitors a modern firm based in Christchurch helping people to deal with the big issues that they face.

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