My first store was about the size of a 711. It was in a barracks , in an Army barracks in Frankfurt, Germany. They just dropped me off and said Ok it’s yours. See what you can do with this. We had a lot of fun at that place because they had a bunch of guys that basically drove out in tanks for three weeks at a time and would come back in. They’d be hungry and want to buy stuff and we’d just give them what they wanted. They found that really refreshing and we basically increased in the six weeks I was there sales by 27% and that was because we were just listening to what they wanted.
We gave them what they wanted and it was fun for me. I went from there into the electronics business and I managed the second largest electronic store in Europe and I did that for a year and was then transferred to managing the largest electronic store in Europe. My claim to fame is that one store in the mid 80s actually made up 10% of all the profit of the entire European theatre. That’s how popular we were.
We were really popular. After I did that for a while I became a troubleshooter . I went to other stores in Europe and basically tried to improve their operations. The problem is with that is the European director was bragging about me to the Worldwide director and transferred me to Dallas. For a year before I went to law school that’s what I did. I rode around on a plane to various operations and basically told managers how they could improve their operations. That was a lot of fun. Had a lot of travel. The best thing that happened out of that experience was, I met my wife. She picked me up, she was the personnel manager in Detroit and she picked me up for a seminar that I was supposed to do. That was pretty much it, I got into her car and I never got out.
Just for a little background I have a masters of science and business from Boston University it specializes in what the call quantitative analysis which is mathematics. Something you probably wouldn’t expect from a lawyer. I also went to the University of Texas school in Austin. Which was one of the finest experiences you could possibly have. For three years I got to hang out in Austin and for about a year and a half I got to hang out in Austin with my wife.
I got a job out here in California as a Lawyer I passed the California bar and have been practicing for 21 years I do corporate and business transactions and litigation. That includes everything from employment, real estate, incorporations, LLCs that sort of thing. One of the cool things about me that you should know is of course I have my morning coffees. I invite people for morning coffee and that’s free and what do we do at morning coffee? We talk about you guys. We talk about people who come and have businesses that have issues and want to solve them.
What I do is I basically provide them with options, which is probably the best thing a lawyer can do. We don’t give you the solutions to life, we basically give you options. I think the better the lawyer is the more options they have to offer. That really all I do is I offer options. Another nice thing about me is I am one of the only lawyers who will perform a number of services for the client on a flat fee basis. What a flat fee? That means I will charge you a single amount and no more.
No matter how much time or effort it takes. I think this is great with an initial contact with a client because there are no surprises. There is nothing worse that saying yes I’d like to incorporate my business and someone saying my estimate is between $2,500 and $5,000. That’s not very good. Especially when you get the $5,000 bill and ask why is it $5,000 and they have this long explanation. I don’t think that for these types of services there should be a long explanation. I think that it should be one price and you should be able to do it. If you don’t know how to do it for that price then you don’t know what you’re doing. Another advantage you have is continual direct access to me and to your matter. How do I do that? I do almost everything I do by email.
For instance, if you are involved in a litigation and I’m talking with a third party, I am constantly copying the messages for the client. You can hear what I’m saying and you can hear what they are saying and what’s going to happen and why it’s going to happen and the cool part of that is after I send my spiel to the third party, I usually follow it up with an email saying this is what’s really going on. The client feels well informed of the case status. I do this on a daily basis and sometimes even four times a day if necessary. Why? Because it’s very important to me that the client understands why I’m sending these bills at the end of the month with all this money that I’m requesting. I can not understand how a client could be sending all this money to a lawyer and not understand for 30 days what is going on .
I know this to be true because a lot of lawyers won’t send a status letter to clients for months. They will still send the bills. I just don’t understand it. Another thing I try to do is, I try to keep the expenses on manners low. this is something important. Litigation can be very expensive and what I find unacceptable is that if I’m using a vendor to do a massive copy job for you. I will send you a bill for the copy job but I wont up charge it. This is something that’s very common that lawyers do is they up charge you. They will not only charge you 10 cents a copy but also the 10 cent per copy profit that they’d like to make on each copy and that’s not acceptable.
A lot of lawyers will charge you for faxes, they’ll charge you for sending letters and it’s kind of weird. I try to avoid all that by saying look it’s all passed through. As a result, when you do get my monthly bill, I send out my bills once a month. My wife is my office manager and she’s like a clock, she will send them right on the first. The nice thing is that when you go through all the fees that you’d got for that month that I’ve tried to keep you fully informed about. You look at the expense line at the bottom and you’ll see that it’s very short and it’s very clear and that is also something very different about me is that I try to keep expenses really low. Because we realize that we are a very expensive proposition and we don’t want people to be charged unnecessarily.
So what kind of clients would be good for me? Just about anybody who owns a business. I always preach about sole proprietors or anyone that works with contract and that includes the trades, right? Bruce said you should always read the contract. Where do you think my litigation comes from? It comes from people who sign contracts they can’t understand. If you are going to sign a contract of any importance believe me as a general service to the public I employ you email me or call me. Say Mark, I really don’t understand what this is or I don’t understand what they’re trying to get out of me. Can you explain what’s going on here and I am happy to do so. Why? Because it will save you from some heartbreak later on.
This happens probably 5 or 6 times a year. With people that go to these seminars. If you go to one of these seminars and they ask you to sign something. Never sign those, ever ever ever. Call me up even if it’s weekend at midnight and I’ll tell you don’t sign that. Why? Cause you’re going to get in to a lot of trouble and I’ll have to go through hell to get you out. I invite everyone to join me sometime for coffee and it won’t be unpleasant and we do serve good coffee or tea if you like that.
If someone converted there LLC to an Escorp? Is that something you would do as well?
Yeah but it could probably be done online with a form. That’s another thing about me when I give you your options one of them is how to do it yourself. If you can I say, rock on. If it’s complicated where you have 27 shareholders and they all have guns drawn and they’re standing at a table then we might need to work that out with a lawyer.
The Law Offices of Mark D. Holmes, APC specialize in the following areas of business law:
- Business Litigation
- Contract Law
- Corporate Law
- Real Estate Law
- Commercial and Maritime Law
- Business Transactions: contracts, buy-sell agreements, asset sales, incorporations, LLCs, employee handbooks
I offer free consultations; communicate often and in detail; accessible by email and cell phone; twenty years experience in business transactions and litigation; and I have actual business experience!