Service at the highest level (Part 1)

by Mandy | Jul 9, 2019

As financial advisors, we tend to treat all our clients the same. They come in periodically for meetings, we check in with them occasionally and we host a couple of events every year. Everyone gets this treatment, no matter how much or how little business they do with us.
It doesn’t have to be this way. All of your clients are not the same, so you should not treat them all the same. Plenty of other businesses have multiple levels of service – why not financial advisors?
If we’re honest with ourselves, part of the reason we don’t offer a higher level of service may be a self-limiting belief that tells us we’re not worth it. If we offer more – and charge more – won’t our clients leave for someone cheaper?
When it comes to price and the value you provide, it’s helpful to think of different levels as illustrated by
other industries. If you want Hershey’s chocolate, for example, there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s very good. If you want Godiva, though, you know you’re going to pay a premium because it’s a much more upscale chocolate in terms of both quality and packaging.
The Marriott Hotel brand is another great example of offering various levels of service. Marriott actually includes more than 30 hotel brands, all designed for specific types of travelers. The company has been very successful offering the right value at the right price to their customers.

Let’s look at three separate levels among their offerings – low-value, mid-tier staple and highest-end – to learn from what they do and see how we can apply that learning to the financial industry.
Fairfield Inn
Fairfield Inn is Marriott’s low-price, high-volume value offering. The chain includes 950 locations worldwide. Their average price is $100/night. It only takes seven or eight employees to operate a Fairfield Inn because it runs under a simple model that’s very efficient. They just need employees to clean and turn over rooms and someone to run the front desk (the same person also sets out the simple free breakfast each morning). Fairfield operates at a low-price, low- effort, low-service level.
The Marriott brand is the staple offering of the Marriott stable. There are about 555 locations around the world, with the average price at least double that of Fairfield. Each hotel requires many more employees because the hotel offers room service, a restaurant and bar on-site, large meeting rooms, ballrooms for events and much more. The hotel rooms are nicer as well. The amenities are much better, so the value is higher and the price is also higher to reflect the better value customers are receiving.
The Ritz-Carlton is Marriott’s highest-end offering, with maximum value and price. There are only 96 of them worldwide. The price is double or more the average Marriott price. Almost as many people work at a Ritz as stay at a Ritz because amenities include everything you can think of and then more. In fact, guests spend almost as much on additional features such as food, massages, room service, etc. as they do on the room. You never have to leave a Ritz if you don’t want to!
Ritz-Carlton hotels offer the highest level of value for the highest price, but their service is only for a very small, select number of customers. This model works because they generate so much profit per customer – in fact, the Ritz is the most profitable of all the Marriott brands.

This is the first post in a two-part series on servicing clients. Stay tuned for the next installment later this month.
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