Archive for the 'Time Management' Category

Stop the Madness – Fire a Client

 

The two biggest stumbling blocks to high productivity (being in the zone) are stress and lack of confidence.

So I will ask, Do you have a client that calls and when you hear their name or see it on the caller ID, you immediately feel nausea or a pit in your gut?  If you are like most advisors, the answer is YES!

This client is likely a good source of revenue, but a high source of anxiety and energy drain.  You want to like him or her and try to please them, but each time that darn phone rings or that email comes in, you feel sick.

Consider this.  The amount of life force this relationship takes from you and your staff is equal to 7-10 great clients you enjoy.  These wonderful relationships, not to mention family and staff, are suffering as a result.

There IS a solution.  Fire them.  Let them go.  Say goodbye.

Yes, you hate to let the revenue go or admit failure, but fear not, it is for the best.

So how do you do it?  You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling or ruin the relationship with a referral source.  But be assured,  the client knows it too.  So here goes…

Depending on how you feel (yes, feel), this can be done by letter or over the phone. 

Here is a sample conversation:

“Joe, I realize that you have found our relationship to be less than satisfactory, which both I and my staff have sensed from your comments and behavior.  I believe that you would be better served by another advisor.  We will cooperate and aid in any manner we can in the transferring of your relationship.  I have appreciated our work together and this decision was not reached without careful consideration.  This is not something I wish to discuss further.  You will need to speak to (insert staff person’s name) to give your instructions where you would like your accounts and/or file sent.  Please hold on and I will turn you over to them now”

Push the hold button and BREATH.  You did it.  Cherish the moment and remember the feeling of stopping the madness.

Guide – The stress of one bad client is equal to the energy it takes to support 10 normal relationships.

Action item – You are a good person.  Free yourself from the oppression and fire this client.  You know who they are.  You will be better off.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Top Ten Things to Do in 2010

 

1.  Delegate 10 things that you know you should not be doing.

Nothing will free you up mentally like not doing the “junk” you know you should not be doing.  Just stop!

2.  Fire your nightmare client.

The stress of this account is killing you (perhaps literally).  The energy used to maintain this client is equal to 10 great clients.  Stop hurting yourself and your staff.  If you are not sure which one this is, just ask your staff or spouse.  They will tell you and support the decision.

3.  Treat your staff to a treat.

Practice random acts of kindness.  It feels great and will help everyone be more productive.

4.  Call your top 20 clients and make a non-business only date.

They want to know you.  Visit them at their home, take them out for a meal, invite them to a show, etc. – They really like you.  I call it “go deeper, not wider.”

5.  Spend 3 hours with your best center of influence.

A quick lunch is not enough.  Following the theme of #4 above, really getting to know these people is key to any lasting relationship.

6.  Improve a technology system to make it do what you really need.

Does your CRM system really crank?  Why not!  Spend a few bucks and make it sing.  Find a consultant or some add-ins to help it along.  A great productivity enhancer.

7.  Rework your website and brochure.

Gosh, they get old fast.  Do a short run digital version of the brochure from now on and run fresh ones every 6 months.  Consider purchasing a wide-format color printer and do them in-house.

8.  Redecorate your office.

Yup!  Spruce it up and feel better.  New throw rugs, a fresh coat of paint, and some new wall hangings all help to create a more professional enviroment.

9.  Volunteer.

Giving back somehow, someway gives you a chance to recharge and feel good.  You know you should!

10.  Take time away with your spouse or partner to discuss the direction of your business.

Your loved one is a great sounding board.  They put up with you and listen to you moan all year long.  Sit down, tell them your goals and plans and then shut up and listen.

Guide – Each of these is designed to reduce your stress and enhance productivity.  All proven winners.  Good luck!

Action item – Write these down or print them out.  Post them and knock them off.  Each one stands on its own, so the order does not matter.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

The E-mail Time Suck

Pavlov let us know about stimulus response. Ring the bell, get food.

AOL gave us “You’ve got mail!” Check your email.

Microsoft gave us the envelope indicator, the ding and the translucent indicator sneak peek. Hurry and check that email.

Ok? Now some of the following is an idea I first got from reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss so I am giving credit where credit is due.

Email has become one of the greatest productivity reducers in the American workplace.

It dings and we look. It dings and we salivate. It dings and we immediately respond.

Is this really productive? Is this really responsible?

First of all, most of the mail is junk (spam or e-zines).

The second batch are notifications of information that may be important but certainly not urgent.

The next batch is the batch we care most about. Personal correspondence.

But does this personal correspondence need to be answered immediately?

More importantly, is it BEST answered immediately?

Perhaps it should sit and be thought about? More importantly, how many of you find yourselves having email conversation?

Is this good? I would suggest no. Conversation is BEST had face to face. Body language counts.

The next best way to have conversation is likely over the phone. Tone of voice?

Can you recall an email conversation where one of you misconstrued what the other had said or intended? Did that work well?

Did you ever wish there was a sarcasm font?!?!

So what do you do about all of this?

Step one on the road to recovery. Turn off your email notifications.

Yes! Turn off the little envelope. Turn off the ding. Turn off the translucent tease.

Step two. Only check your emails at consistent and regular intervals. Now I know this sounds hard, but I have been doing it for over a year now and boy do I feel better.

Don’t engage in email conversation anymore if it involves your customers or clients and you have a relationship with the person. I believe professional advisors do have, and desire to have, relationships with their clients.

PICK UP THE PHONE! Yes, talk to them. This is actually more productive as less time is wasted. How many times has it worked trying to schedule a meeting by email? Does settling a complaint work via email?

But you want people to know you are not ignoring them, right? You want them to know you received the email and you care?

Most email programs have given you a great little tool to deal with this. It’s called the OUT OF OFFICE notice.

And here is mine: (edited slightly)

—–

I am in today AND normally checking e-mail around noon and 4pm on weekdays.

Because of the VERY high level of client contact we provide, I am responding to telephone calls first.

If you are emailing me about an investment or planning matter, please CALL me and leave a detailed message if I am not immediately available.

If this is an administrative matter, please contact staff as listed below.

It is VERY important to me to speak with each and every client who would like to talk. I will contact you.

If you need immediate assistance, please contact our office at 860-677-8808.

If I am unavailable, please speak to my assistant xxx or xyz or abc or email them at:

mailto:xxx@theadvisorscenter.com

mailto:xyz@theadvisorscenter.com

You may also contact xxxxx at our Client Services desk directly at 800-647-7378

Thank you for your understanding. This helps me accomplish more to serve you better.

Sincerely, Eliot

—–

This out of office message is on pretty much all the time. It allows clients to know that the email has been received but if it is urgent, please call and why they should call.

Guide – Instant responses to email are killing your productivity and taking you away from the things that are really important.

Action item – Using an out of office message or a response rule alerts those to the new procedures and actually creates better client relationships. And of course – Use the phone!

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Time vs. Energy

 

Do you spend time working when you have no energy?

At other times, do you have energy and think, “This would be a good time to be working?”

Here is an idea.  Schedule your day so the energy for certain activities actually matches the times when you have the right amount of energy for the task.

Let me give you some examples:

  • It is Friday afternoon and you are running low on gas.  Is this a good time for you to meet a top client or is this a time when you can meet effectively with a vendor?
  • It is Tuesday in the middle of the day and you normally have lots of energy.   Perhaps this is when you should schedule your “tough” client meetings?
  • Do you work well at night being creative on case design?  Schedule that work for then.

Biorhythms are real but different for everybody.  Track yours carefully using pencil and paper. 

After a few weeks, a pattern will emerge for the best times to meet with easy clients, difficult clients, and vendors—or just doing some computer work.

You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to do the right task at the right time.  Schedule accordingly!

 

Guide – Your body’s rhythms are real.  Pay attention and schedule your week accordingly.

Action Item – Begin tracking the best days and times to do particular tasks. Ask your assistant for help.  You will be thrilled with the results as you feel less drained.

 

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

 

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