By Michael Brink, Transformation Guide
Michael Brink joined Dynamic Directions in 2016 as a Transformation Guide specializing in practice management, operations, recruiting and marketing.
Many people become financial advisors to gain independence from corporate America. They like the idea of running their own company and assuming responsibility for all aspects of their practice. When they make this move, they naturally focus on what they enjoy most – bringing on clients and providing them with a high level of service and sound financial advice.
Over time, these advisors who deliver fantastic client service and excellent advice discover they can be well-paid for providing this service. This financial success often comes as their practice grows organically through referrals from satisfied clients. In fact, many good advisors find they can’t help but grow.
As their practices grow, advisors spend more time hiring and training staff. They find it more and more difficult to control all aspects of the practice, and they end up spending more time managing day-to-day activities than bringing on and servicing clients. The practice may grow inefficiently this way as it seems they are always in crisis mode. Advisors spend little time on staff development and developing procedures. Gross revenue will continue to grow, often at an excellent rate, but profit margins may fall. Client service may decrease. Marketing initiatives fall by the wayside.
The longer a practice operates in this mode and the longer advisors do not invest time in staff development and processes, the greater the likelihood the practice will not produce the desired results. The most successful financial advice firms provide the best client service; the most profitable firms provide this client service at the lowest cost. When a practice grows inefficiently, it may begin to provide poorer client service at a higher cost.
Many advisors have difficulty developing the operational, human resource and financial systems to manage the growth of their practices. After all, many advisors got into this business to achieve independence and work with clients. They enjoy providing excellent service and advice to clients, so they find it difficult to transform their practice into a business that does not require their involvement in every activity.
Even when advisors do possess the skills, knowledge and will to develop systems that will transform their practice, is that the best use of their time? The inventory of the practice is the time of the advisor, so the more time the advisor spends on business administration, the less inventory the practice has available to sell.
In cases like this, advisors spend too much time on things they should not be doing because they are uncomfortable giving up control and delegating work to others. The answer appears to be easy, but it can be difficult to execute: advisors need to delegate control of day-to-day administrative activities to their staff while they focus their time and talents on activities that produce revenue and increase client satisfaction.
Changing from a successful, familiar role can be difficult, but it’s a transformation that must happen as a practice grows. Advisors have valid questions as they begin this shift, such as if their staff is ready and able to take on these task and responsibilities, and who they should trust to supervise the operations of their business.
To answer these questions and others like them, advisors often turn to outside coaches and consultants who can see the big picture of their practice. At Dynamic Directions, we have created an established process with proven results that will review your team’s readiness for more responsibilities while providing direction and training to facilitate the changes.
Don’t let the needs of your practice overwhelm you any longer – a transformation awaits!
This is the final installment of a three-part series by D2 CEO Travis Chaney on attracting ideal clients.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU BUILD YOUR IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE:
Who are the elephants you want to attract?
What are the pains your elephants have? How do your products and/or services ease the elephant’s pain?
What does the demographic profile of your elephants look like?
What signals and messages do you need to send out to attract the elephants?
What is the most efficient and effective way to distribute your message to the elephants?
How much do you need to earn financially on each elephant to be profitable and meet your financial objectives?
THE COMPARISON OF MICE AND ELEPHANTS DOESN’T STOP AT YOUR CLIENTS.
As your business grows and you build a team, make sure you are building a herd of elephants. Elephant team members show up on time, say please and thank you, do what they say they are going to do, carry a passion for your business, and have the capacity to grow with you. Elephant team members attract elephant clients – mice team members attract mice clients. And make sure you see yourself as an elephant. Remember, similar species attract like species.
In our last post, we looked at the traditional approach to marketing events and why it just doesn’t work. This week, we’re taking at look at the kinds of events that actually produce results …
HOLD EVENTS YOU WILL ENJOY
Most advisors view marketing as a necessary evil as opposed to an opportunity to enjoy themselves, show their clients a good time and funnel the right prospects to events for eventual client conversion. As you saw in the Traditional Client Appreciation Event, the extra work involved, little or no promotion on a one-on-one basis with clients, inviting the wrong clients, investing several thousand dollars with little or no return, and not developing a well thought-out game plan all led to a disastrous outcome. Your marketing does not have to be this painful.
When you put on an event that excites you, you will be willing to take the extra time in a review meeting with one of clients to personally invite them.Your enthusiasm prior to and at the event will be contagious to all those you touch. You will create an event checklist and timeline to guide your team to achieve a successful experience. Your guest speakers will be in harmony with the messages you want to send to your audience. You can simultaneously experience a great time and get results.
The Traditional Client Appreciation Event described above shows you (the advisor) sweating every detail and micro-managing the entire project, but you should not be involved with the details of the event – you should hand all those details over to one of your team members. If you don’t have a team, hire an event planner to manage all of the particulars. Develop check points for each event so you can touch base with whomever is managing the specifics of the project for you. In other words, do not micromanage the event. Use your time to focus your strengths on client relationships to boost attendance.
WHAT TYPES OF EVENTS SHOULD YOU HOLD?
If you don’t like playing golf, don’t waste any effort on planning a golf outing. Choose and plan outings based on experiences you would attend and enjoy. Consider conducting two large inclusive events per year and as many small exclusive events as you need to meet your revenue and client acquisition goals. The large inclusive events should have universal appeal for your Top-Shelf and Mid-Shelf Client base. These events are also an effective avenue to invite your Top-Shelf Prospects. Because you are trying to appeal to a larger number of clients, the larger events need to carry a broad base of attraction.
For your smaller events, you want to produce first-class exclusive offerings that limit the number of clients and guests who can attend. By limiting the number of participants, you are creating urgency for your clients to reserve their spot as soon as possible. These small venues are most effective when you create an event that appears private and difficult to get into unless clients or guests have an exclusive connection. With planning and effort, you can create marketing events that you enjoy and that bring spectacular results.
Contact Dynamic Directions for a more detailed strategy on how to make this kind of marketing work for you!
Do you despise holding marketing events and asking for referrals? Probably. If you are like most advisors, you may find more joy in reading the last 10 pages of an investment prospectus than in building and executing a well thought-out marketing plan.
Here’s why most advisors loathe marketing and how to bring the joy back!
THE TRADITIONAL CLIENT APPRECIATION EVENT AND APPROACH
In order to grow your client base, you and your manager decide that you need to put on a marketing event. With vague instructions, your manager points you in the direction of a wholesaler. The wholesaler will help you underwrite the costs and deliver an approved but boring presentation at a (usually) run-of-the-mill restaurant.
You tell your staff that the event has to be planned as a team. Typically, the staff has little to no experience in planning a client appreciation event. You realize you need to play the role of event planner and financial advisor for the six weeks leading up to the big client appreciation dinner. Although your team is capable of writing an invitation and getting it approved through the home office, you decide this is too important of a task to delegate. You continue delegating to yourself the activities of lining up the restaurant, dealing with a catering manager, choosing the menu, coordinating the plans with the wholesaler and any other administrative task associated with your big event.
Instead of having your clients respond to one of your team members, you note on the invitation to let you know if they will be coming. You receive several phone calls which you view as distractions before you realize your top assistant can handle these calls and inform her to take all reservations. In all conversations with clients (either with you or your staff), no one asks or reminds the clients they can bring a friend to the event. In your client review meetings prior to the big night, you forget to discuss the event with the clients you want to attend most.
You show up at the event and notice that 1/5 of your prayers were answered. Your attendance shot up to 60 with five more clients and five more guests from the two clients who bother you most. You look around the room after you visit the buffet to locate the best clients to sit by to at least make the night as joyful as possible. You notice all of your best clients are sitting next to your worst clients. Your instinct tells you to go break up these strange arrangements, but logistically you can’t separate everyone. You locate the solitary open seat next to the best client you can find.
As the wholesaler dives into his talk, he suddenly gives a forecast on the market that conflicts with the economic outlook you delivered to your clients over the last month. Clients seek you out with baffled looks.
At the end of the dinner, you try to personally bid goodbye to each guest and tell them you appreciate their attendance. What ultimately happens is that you meet the guests of the clients you wish would disappear. Three different guests tell you they do not need your advice because they spent all of their savings on a bass boat, a trip to Hawaii, and a 60” plasma television.
After the event, a few of your clients email you to say what a great dinner and presentation you orchestrated. Some clients who attended the dinner and had review appointments with you right after the event tell you they had a good time, but question you about the really different types of clients in your practice.
After all of the receipts are collected and the wholesaler signs the reimbursement form, you realize you are out $2,000 for the grand evening. A month goes by and none of the guests contact you about setting an appointment. You suddenly realize you lost money on the deal because you only heard from a total of six clients who enjoyed the night and the conversion of guests to clients is 0%.
Okay, maybe not all of the elements of this story happen to you in relation to your marketing efforts. However, the above story represents many of the reasons why advisors may abhor marketing.
Stay tuned for next time, when we’ll talk about how to hold events that you and your clients enjoy – and that bring you a return on your investment!