Small Business Culture


The past two years have been full of learning and adapting to the great resignation. However, for the small businesses reading this there are a few upsides from what we have learned so far. First, in the world of remote work, opportunity has never been greater to pursue a new career and job regardless of where “home” is located. On top of that, culture has never been so important. In years past, people were more likely to put up with poor workplace culture as long as they were paid okay. That is no longer the case. Demand for higher wages and better work environments is on the rise because of one major reason: they have options. One upside that most small businesses have that big corporations don’t (typically) – a good workplace culture. Use this to your advantage!


Culture is defined by many things, but often trust, communication and engagement are almost always in the discussion when labeling. By being a small business, there are less steps to the ladder, making all of the above a quicker, practical and convenient process compared to Amazon’s 1.6 million employees. By taking time to establish clear lines of communication, bulletproof procedures and a solid onboarding process your culture and organizational value can be more appealing now than ever before. In the past two months alone, the number of job candidates that I have talked with (when interviewing) have started asking what the culture of the organization is like. I was never asked that question in my first YEAR or doing phone interviews.

If you are looking to improve the process within your firm, schedule a coaching call today with Julie Steinbacher or a call with me to learn more about how MDS can help you with her recruiting and talent management needs. Julie started her firm as a one-woman show in her garage and has grown it to over 45 employees across the state of Pennsylvania. She has experienced over 20 years’ worth of challenges to get where she is today, and is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience as you navigate the next “rung on the ladder” for your office..

Dom, Director of Operations


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Value of a CELA Certification | Julie Steinbacher

This week’s blog video features MDS President Julie Steinbacher showing the value of having a CELA certification!

Presidential Leadership – HR Edition  

There’s no doubt, when discussing presidential candidates (both past and current) I have heard time and time again how important it is for the leader of America to be a good communicator. When most people think of President Obama, they picture his warm and persuasive tone when addressing the crowd. With President Reagan, he carried an opportunistic or motivational flow throughout many speeches. What’s the point here? As leaders in our field or our offices it is of utmost importance that we communicate well.   


Organizations should hold themselves to a similar standard. If we want top prospects to join our company, then why do so many organizations leave out key details in the job posting? A study by found that money was the number 1 motivator for 67% of those looking for a job. The same study found that 71% want to see the salary in the job posting or in the first conversation with a recruiter. In addition, those I have personally talked with about the recruiting process all had one similar suggestion – benefit transparency. When you have a quality product, you advertise it to your clients. Why don’t we take this approach with our benefits? By listing some of your benefits in the job posting, you can appeal to a larger pool of quality candidates, and it only takes a few minutes to highlight!  

I encourage everyone to add these to their hiring process, but I also urge you to reconsider what benefits you do offer. Many organizations found themselves revisiting what benefits they offer in hopes of increasing the desirability of their offices amidst the “great resignation.” If that’s you, consider what employees rated as the top 10 financial wellness benefits in a recent survey by

  • High quality 401k/retirement option 
  • 401k matching program 
  • Wellness stipend (home gym, equipment, etc…) 
  • FSA or HSA account with company match 
  • Employer sponsored emergency fund 
  • Childcare support 
  • Budgeting and savings tools 
  • Access to a live financial advisor 
  • Student loan assistance or repayment programs 
  • Employer sponsored 529 plan (college savings plan) 


If you are looking for HR recruiting and or onboarding services, email me at and get your free initial consultation started today. 


Dom Loffredo 

Director of Operations   

Julie Shore | Enhancing Your LinkedIn Profile

Julie Shore walks us through how to enhance our LinkedIn profile for better networking opportunities for your firm!

Make Their Day

I was on my way to the airport when I got a call from my cousin, Jackie.  At the sight of her name on my phone I tensed up.  “I hope Aunt Bebe is okay”, I thought.  I
answered the phone and could not even register what she way saying.  My Aunt Bebe – my person- had been admitted to an ICU in El Paso, Texas. Immediately, I called my husband and said, “I have to go to El Paso as soon as my conference is done.”  He agreed.  I spent a sleepless night thinking about my wonderful Aunt Bebe and carried the weight of that concern throughout the conference.  

The Dementia Focused Practice conference was great – for those of you who did not attend, you should listen to the recordings. There were fantastic presentations!  

On Sunday after the conference, I got up early to an email that my flight from Phoenix to El Paso was delayed.  I worked on my computer in my hotel and then went to the airport – very early but I felt better being there.

I again worked ….and my flight was again delayed. I finally made it to El Paso around 4:00 that day.  Jackie picked me up and treated me to my favorite local dish – Chilli Rellenos…A rare treat since the Pennsylvania Dutch of my area just do not know how to make them.  Then, I finally got to see Aunt Bebe.  As the nurse came in to explain the procedure, she was facing the morning – Aunt Bebe remained calm, prayerful, joking…she had such strength.  Levi, a grandchild of my Aunt Bebe came in and visited. We don’t often get to see one another, so it was wonderful to catch up.  Leaving that hospital room was hard… really hard….

Jackie took me to my hotel.  I chose to stay at a hotel by the airport because my flight was leaving at 6:30 am.  I checked in and was surprised to hear that the shuttle did not run that early.  The front desk person assured me that she would order me a taxi.  I was not sure if I could trust that.  I went to my room and took a shower – trying to calm myself. The concern for my aunt was combining with the realities of flight and drive home the next day. The weather forecast said it was expected to snow in PA tomorrow, and I had a 4-hour drive home from the airport.  

I awoke at 3:38 am – just could not sleep well so I got dressed.  I made a cup of coffee. The restorative nature of coffee is a much-needed staple for me each morning.  Since I was coming from the conference, I had two rolling suitcases.  I put my pocketbook on my back and tried a few times to pull the suitcases while holding my coffee.  I couldn’t get out the door.  I tried again.  I thought to myself, “Julie you are going to spill that coffee on yourself – just put it down.”  But I really wanted the coffee.  I tried again – no go.  So, I begrudgingly threw out my coffee.  I grabbed my suitcases and went downstairs. 

At the front desk, I was greeted by the nicest night clerk.  He was watching the luggage of another traveler waiting for an Uber to the airport.  He asked me if I wanted coffee…..Yes, he offered to make me a cup of coffee. It was miraculous. I sipped that coffee all the way to the airport, as I stood in the United line, and enjoyed the rest of it before heading through security.  

That coffee shifted my focus.  That night clerk at the Marriott truly made my day with this kind gesture.  In that moment, at the start of what I knew would be a long, hard day, that coffee was that important to me. It’s small acts of care that can make a huge difference. There is a special moment, when what you read and what you experience collide in a moment of clarity. This coffee was an example of great customer service. As I had been preparing for the conference, I had been reading two different books in which this was a central teaching – the importance of making the customers day.  

“Fish!” is a book about what goes into creating an atmosphere of positivity and motivation. In the book, the protagonist is stumped by a workplace slump in her financial office. She ends up finding inspiration at the most unlikely place; Pike Place Fish Market. There she learns an inspiring management philosophy. Secret number three stood out to me: make their day. Customers should feel good about the office environment, and the easiest way to do that is to engage them. Happy people are more likely to be receptive to your suggestions and services. I know that this approach will make my firm more connected and effective. 

A quote from “Love Works” by Joel Manby similarly stood out to me:  “Every time you walk past someone, you have an opportunity to make their day better or make their day worse.” This is one of his seven principles of effective leadership.  

Having had my day made by a simple cup of coffee, I was reminded how important this principle is for the way that I want to approach my work. People come to my office with the world on their shoulders, facing difficult decisions. By greeting them with kindness and compassion, regardless of their attitude or circumstance, my team can turn their day into a positive one.

I encourage you to engage in small acts of kindness every day. Compliment an employee, share one of these inspiring books with a friend, share a cup of coffee. It can be the tiniest way of showing care, but it can make a huge difference to that person. 





Digitally Magnifying Your Law Firm

This week’s blog features Julie Steinbacher explaining how to digitally magnify your firm by transitioning into an online environment!

Referral Marketing

There is a central truth to business: you are only as strong as your network. For many of us, the past two years has been spent working on adapting our businesses to the ever-changing needs of the pandemic. During these transitions, maybe your business has put off creating new and maintaining old referral relationships. Maybe you have pivoted. One thing is certain, there is no better time than now to focus on your network. Referral marketing is a crucial long-term strategy, but it can take time to develop a relationship with a referral partner. In order for a professional referral relationship to become fruitful, both parties have to trust in each other’s abilities to serve the client well. To help you start this process, I have compiled a list of best practices to keep up with referral sources.  


  1. Keep an updated contact list. Make a contact card and note details about every contact you have and add them to your email/mailing list. Adding this valuable information to a CRM is important, but if you are just starting out and you can always use Excel sheet and move the list later. Think of the time spent maintaining your contact list as an investment in continued and future business. The money is always “in the list” – why would you buy cold mailing lists when you aren’t using your existing contacts?
  2. Make an effort to consistently follow up with your contacts. At my office we send a letter with newsletters. This works out well since it something we are already doing. It provides our contacts with useful information without adding additional work.
  3. Design an easy referral system. Provide materials to referral sources that will attract potential clients. At my office, our newsletters include our contact information as well as engagement opportunities such as free seminars. Educational documents are a wonderful resource for referral sources.
  4. Remember to send a thank you for each referral. Each time we get a referred client, a staff person sends a thank you card to that referral source. We track referrals and if one person sends 3 referrals, we send them a token of thanks like a fruit basket.
  5. You must share your knowledge, especially about changes in the law or your area of expertise. For instance, for law changes we always jump out in front of the proposed change and provide articles in our newsletter and timely educational webinars. We also keep them up-to-date with interesting changes. For instance, the fact that the average monthly nursing home care cost went from just over $11,000 to $14,500. That is an interesting fact to many of our referral sources. (That is a 25% increase in one year!) 

 Those are five simple ways to cultivate referral sources and maintain relationships. As we move into the transitioning of COVID-19 from a pandemic to an endemic, we must resume building our referral network.  For some, this will look different. Civic organizations, non-profit boards and professional groups now meet online rather than in person.  This allows participation in groups without having to accommodate travel time.  For our office, we were able to collaborate more with referral partners through webinars which was highly successful for both our office and their business.  I urge all businesses to take time to evaluate their referral network and make a conscious effort to add new referral sources and to interact with those already in their network.  This may look different since COVID but there is no need to wait – pivot now for a more profitable practice! 

Matt Paxton | The Importance of Growing Contacts

Former Hoarders host Matt Paxton shares with us the Importance of Growing Contacts

Box of Chocolates

We’ve all heard the famous line from Forrest Gump, “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” While that philosophy may hold true to an unlabeled mixed assortment from Russel Stover, I would argue that many chocolate brands go out of their way to set expectations on their quality and experience. For instance, you know exactly what you are getting when you pick up a bag of Hershey’s Kisses at a drug or grocery store. For $8.25, you get one pound, roughly 100 Kisses to share individually wrapped in foil. If you want a more unique experience, you can spend $105 on a golden 70-piece, one pound box of chocolate from Godiva. And if you want to be truly luxurious, you can spend $285 on a one pound, 54-piece box of truffles from Debauve & Gallais, a renown Parisian chocolatier. 

So what is the difference between these chocolates? The experience of all three will be different. Quality packaging and branding are all important to the experience they are selling. But who is the consumer? Hershey’s is a PA brand beloved by old and young alike. You’ll often find a bowl of Kisses at parties or as Halloween and classroom Valentine’s Day candy. Kisses are an everyday sweet, available everywhere. But who are Godiva and luxury chocolate brands marketing to? They aren’t easily found at any store. Often, they are marketing this as the ideal gift for the people that you appreciate in your life. They aren’t marketed as something you get yourself because they are expensive and indulgent. Wonderful to receive, but certainly not an everyday purchase.

In my business, I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to successfully market. Estate planning can be pricey, and often people are hung up on the costs. However, if you reframe the same service as an investment in a loved one’s peace of mind, it is seen as a wise and meaningful package. There are many ways to sell estate planning as the high-value commodity that it is, you just need to think about the
values and concerns of your customers. 

Estate planning is like a box of chocolate, there is value in the type of experience you are selling. Just like chocolate, to an extent, any amount of estate planning is good. If a firm is selling Wills and Powers of Attorney as necessities, that’s fine. That’s the Hershey’s level of marketing. It’s foundational, and there’s nothing wrong with that approach. But, if a firm is saying that the real reason that individuals invest in an estate plan is as a gift to their spouse and their children, that’s a different level. That’s a Godiva standard. You’re changing the motive to protecting loved ones. That’s a package you can sell for more. You don’t have to offer every service if you aren’t prepared to. The package is as much in education of what is important as it can be about addressing each asset. It’s about focusing everything on the care and attention to detail.

It’s easy to get caught up in conversion rates, email lists and all of the details that go into running a firm. I urge you to think about your messaging and your consumer. Think of how to tweak your marketing to offer that higher level of service, that higher price point. As lawyers, we often think about the technicalities of our work, the documents that we craft with attention to detail. I’m sorry to say that your clients care less about your craft than how the end result makes them feel. You produce more than documents, you are in the business of protection, safety, and untroubled sleep. Godiva isn’t just a brand, it’s a quality of experience. Think about the experience and expertise you provide. Market yourself accordingly. 

Dedicated to Your Success, Julie Steinbacher