Archive for the 'Keeping Clients' Category



Client Event Idea – Shredding Day/Week

 

How can we add value to our client and center of influence relationships, help them, and do good works?

Make Thursday, April 22, 2010, Client Shredding Day!

Oh, by the way,  This also happens to be Earth Day.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Clients properly dispose of  papers with personally identifiable information
  • Reduces the risk of identity theft
  • Encourages clients to tell their friends
  • Encourages your COIs to tell their clients
  • The shredding truck charges by the hour, not by volume
  • Promote it in the community as a “Green Event”
  • It is not very expensive
  • Partner with the shredding company – You are promoting them too
  • Create a press release for the event and get it in the newspapers
  • Make it a “Community Shred”
  • Leverage “Earth Day”
  • It should be easy to find sponsorship that may defray some of the cost
  • Invite local law enforcement to take part
  • Invite other community organizations to join you
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Drive traffic to you

You get the idea.  An event that is easy to leverage!

Guide – Great client events can be fun, easy and not too expensive.

Action Item – Hold a Shredding Day in Your community on Thursday, April 22, celebrating the end of tax season and Earth Day.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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For Tax Season – The Record Saver Envelope

 

As the holiday season winds down and the calendar turns, we await the next season – TAX SEASON!

In order to prepare for tax season, there is a something very easy you can do for your clients.

Whether you are a financial advisor, tax preparer, CPA or attorney, we all have to help our clients prepare for the work associated with this not so festive time of year.

The immediate task ahead will be gathering and harvesting the end of the year data – information that is so important for the preparation of the tax return.

Most clients find the task daunting so how about something to make it a little easier?

Enter the Record Saver Envelope.  Here is a link for the one we use: http://tinyurl.com/y8ed2wc

We mail this envelope to each of our clients every year, usually the last week of the year, along with a simple cover letter and our address stamped on the Saver.

They use it each year, lug it around to the other advisors and eventually it ends up on the desk of whoever prepares their return.

Guide – Help your clients with an easy to use tool to gather their tax records for the year.

Action item – This is just another example of a simple value add you can provide. Send out the Record Saver Envelope with your info attached!

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Client Segmentation & The Service Matrix

 

You’ve heard it  – Segment your client base!  But do you know why?

First there is the 80-20 rule: 80% of your revenues come from 20% of your clients.

So the first step is to determine who those 20% are.  These are your top clients.

In our firm, we use an “old school” naming convention – A, B, C, D & F – just like in grade school.

Others may use Gold, Silver, Bronze, etc.

Consider using a bell curve methodology.

Client A – 3%

Client B – 13%

Client C – 68%

Client D – 13%

Client F – 3%

But what is the point?  Why is this useful business information?

First, you may want to know which clients are profitable and which clients are not.

Clearly your A-client will be very profitable; your F-client may not!  You could actually be losing money on the F-clients.

We used to say that an F-client is your most profitable client until you do ANYTHING for them, then they quickly become your biggest money trap.

Can you really afford not to know this information?

Now consider this.  You have an A-client that pays you a fee of $10,000 per year and an F-client who pays you $500 per year.

You know the F client is costing your firm money.

How do you think saying this out loud would sound? “Dear A-client, thank you very much for paying me so much money that because of your subsidy, I was able to retain some clients that are not profitable and your service suffered because of it.”

Does that hit you in the gut?

How do you deal with this problem other than firing all your small clients?

The answer comes in the form of a service matrix.  You cannot deliver the same level of service to all your clients.

A-clients deserve the highest level of service, then B-clients and so on down to F-clients who, perhaps, should get the legal minimums.

The service matrix needs to be communicated throughout your entire organization no matter how big or small.

This needs to be a written matrix so that everyone is clear as to what should and should not be provided and why.

Develop rules, policies and guidelines that reinforce your matrix.

Practice what you preach.

If certain clients expect a higher level of service, they need to pay accordingly.

It will allow you to focus your efforts where they need to be focused and your staff’s efforts where they need to be focused.

If it helps, find someone who will hold YOU accountable to keep to the system.

This is a fair system.  Fair to you and fair to your clients.

Thank you and Happy Holidays to all.

Guide – Client segmentation is a valuable business tool that can be used to develop your service matrix.

Action item – Segment your clients with clearly defined profitability measures. Work with your staff to develop a well thought out service matrix to match.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Holiday Gifting – Some ideas

So you want to do some giving but you are not sure what to give and who to give too.

Here are some ideas for consideration.

The theme is to let people know they are appreciated and you are thinking of them.

It is also very important not to offend.

First  we need some grouping-vendors, Clients and those who sent referrals during the year or really helped you out in some way.

Vendors – These are the easiest as these are the folks who usually send you something. Consider a gift that they can share with their family.  It makes it a little more personal for them.  We normally give chocolate. You can give any kind and plenty of it.  We give very large jars of Hershey’s and our vendors usually pick theirs up so we can save on shipping and we get to say “Hi.”

Clients – Now you may consider segmentation, but everyone gets a holiday card.  We sign every one!  Each year we have been sending classical music CD’s and helping build our clients collections.  Note that we do not send holiday music as not all our clients celebrate the same holidays.  We gift wrap every one along with a note card describing the composer or the piece.

Referrers – This gift is a fun gift and meant to make a statement.  Each person who sends a referral during the year (that becomes a client) receives a 6-gallon tin of gourmet popcorn.  I love to send this gift for several reasons: first, most people like popcorn (even those on diets), second, is that it is big and usually makes a mess (easy to clean up though), so they think of you for a while, and finally, the tin is a keeper.  It can be used for many things and we suggest they use it to store holiday decorations for next year as they put this year’s away.  We know of some who have 6-7 cans of ornaments alone!

Holiday giving is both fun and rewarding.  Do it because you want to, not because you feel you should.  Try to give within the spirit of your holiday.  Remember that it is as much fun to give as it is to receive.

Drop me an email or a comment if you would like the names of our gift providers or specific gifts.

Thanks and Happy Holidays to all.

Guide – Holiday giving is fun and rewarding.

Action item – Give within your means and remember that not all people celebrate they way you do so give thoughtfully. 

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Don’t Talk! or Please Listen?

Most advisors spend too much time talking and not enough time listening?

True or False?

Of course the answer is… It depends.

Some recent examples I have experienced:

I was teaching a workshop of 16 advisors and one young man did not find it necessary to listen but found it acceptable to chat throughout the entire workshop to his friend. I am thinking that this was not a worthwhile meeting for him because he certainly did not listen to what I had to say. It would lead me to believe that this same advisor has a hard time listening to his clients or prospects. He wondered why he wasn’t closing!

I met a recently widowed woman who came in with a trusted friend. I asked “How can I help”? She then spent the next two meetings telling me her story, how the other advisors told her what to do and what she needed. At the end of the second meeting I asked if she would like to be a client and she said “Yes, because you listened”.

Now without citing lots of statistics, we know that most people like to talk about themselves and do not like to listen to stories about others. I would suggest that advisors who spend the time to listen will develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with their clients and prospects.

A deeper relationship will mean more loyalty. More loyalty means better retention and better retention leads to higher profitability.

Think of it this way, how would you feel if the doctor gave you the prescription without listening to you first?

Guide – Allow people to tell their story and how you can help them. If you ask them, they will usually tell you if you let them.

Action item – Try to spend much more time being an active listener. Really pay attention and take notes. Let them know you are listening and most importantly, don’t interrupt – It’s rude.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Presentation Presentation

 

How do you present your presentation?

Back to basics.

Many have made presentations over the years but, putting content aside for now, how do yours look?

Here are some common methodologies:

  • Stapled
  • Paper Clipped
  • Laminated
  • Clear Folder
  • Manilla Folder
  • Colored folder
  • Colored Pocket Folder
  • Custom Folder
  • Three Ring Binder
  • Three Ring Binder with clear Jacket for inserts
  • Custom Three Ring Binder
  • Bound in house with:
    • Plastic Comb Binders – Black
    • Plastic Comb Binders – Color Matched
    • Wire Binding
    • Velobind
    • Thermo Binding

I realized there are significant cost differences between these methods.  Here are my minimum guidelines:

Colored Pocket Folders that coordinate with your letterhead – Customized by the local print shop with your logo. Solid color folders that are printed with a single color ink should cost under $1 each – You ARE worth it!

GBC Binding Machine with Comb bindings – Purchased from Staples or Office Depot, prices start at $200 with colored combs at $10 per box.  You can use clear transparencies as covers to get started with letterhead underneath.

These two additions to your supply closet will make your presentations look substantial and presentable.

Guide – Present every presentation as if it was being shown to your largest prospect ever.  It might be!

Action item – Purchase the materials you need, folders and a binding machine, to create a minimum level of professionalism.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Are you clients having a great experience?

 

 
As I was searching for my topic this week, my wife, Kathy, reminded me of the awful experience we are going through with our own local community bank.

Let me share my client? (or just a customer?) experience.

We wrote a check from our home equity line of credit (HELOC) for a planned purchase.

The first letter arrived and asked us if we were having trouble paying our bills because our home equity payment was late.

We had just sent in many thousands of dollars.

Ok, fine….

The second letter arrived and said that our loan was due in full.

Ok, fine….

I called my “personal banker” who very nicely informed me that our line HELOC had expired.

She let me know that they had honored our draw-down even though “they were not supposed to” and informed me that the loan needed to be re-written.

My personal banker delivered the paperwork to be completed but it was all blank.

Ok, fine….

Two days later, my “business banker” from the same bank called to introduce himself as my new business banker.

He is called to TELL me that I needed to refile my annual paperwork for my business line of credit.

He faxed over the cover letter of requirements and a blank (fax of a fax of a fax) form for me to complete.

Ok, fine…

We submitted everything (I was just slightly peeved) and they called to schedule a closing.

I requested that we have the meeting at my office and they agreed to meet in two weeks. Two days before the appointment, there was a message on my HOME answering machine informing me that they would be late.

Ok, fine….

Both loans were underwritten and approved. We had a closing that lasted about 10 minutes and they were all smiles as they went on their way.

I requested a copy of the appraisal for review which they promptly faxed over. Turns out I live in a 2 story home with 2.5 baths. (Neither was accurate!)

Ok, fine….

The following week we made a very substantial payment towards our HELOC and back in the mail came a loan statement.

On the statement was a handwritten note: “this is the wrong acct#”

Ok, fine….

So my spouse said “If we ran our business like this we would be out of business.  I would like a new bank please.”

Here is my summary of what should have happened in my humble opinion (Of course I assumed we were a valuable client of this bank):

  • A call letting us know our HELOC was expiring and needed to be re-written.
  • A completed set of populated forms arrive for our signature.
  • A call updating us on the process as we went through it.
  • A call to our office to reschedule or at least ask if it was ok if they were going to be late.
  • A call letting us know our account number would be changing or has changed.

Don’t treat YOUR client like we were treated.

  • Communicate the process – Even it is negative (your mistake OR theirs).
  • Remember to say please and thank you.
  • Remember that they are the client and you want their business.
  • Provide an extraordinary experience and they will be loyal advocates for years to come.

 

Eliot

 

Guide – Client service is about the experience and not just the result.

Action Item – Make sure your clients are getting an experience better than they expect. This will make them advocates, not just customers.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

 

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