Archive Page 2

Who or What Answers Your Phone?

Does a person or a machine answer your phone during business hours?

Do you think your clients care?

I put our best phone person on to the task of answering the phone and the results have really paid off.

This staff member loves to talk on the phone. Sometimes I think she thrives on it! This genuine behavior comes through over and over again as people comment about how nice it is to call our office.

Since she was originally hired as an operations person, she is able to handle most customer inquiries right on the spot without transferring the call. The experience of the caller is dramatically improved. They feel cared for instead of feeling like they are imposing.

Guide: A person connects with a person, not a machine.

Action Item: Put an enthusiastic voice who is empowered as your client’s first point of contact.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Software – Should you upgrade?

 

Upgrading software can be both painful and expensive:  the learning curve of new features can slow you down and the monetary outlay can make you scratch your head!

There are the costs: of purchase, the consultant, the training, the training materials, the resulting upgrades of software that work WITH this software such as add-ins, etc.

Upgrading as you go means you are not left behind and future upgrades are incremental instead of horrific.

So what to do?

I recommend you always upgrade mission critical programs that run your business.  Examples might include your CRM system, tax software or your planning software.  Optional upgrades might include email software or office applications such as word processors. 

However, make sure you upgrade anything that is no longer supported by the authoring company.

I am a big fan of staying as current as possible, but you might consider waiting for the first round of patches or hot fixes so you stay away from the “bleeding edge.”

Also evaluate the competitors’ products during an upgrade cycle.  If you are not really happy with your current tool, then it is time to consider changing vendors.

Guide: Software upgrades are generally a positive, adding capability and productivity.

Action Item: Strongly consider upgrading carefully.  Mission critical applications are usually a must purchase.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Travel Books – A Thoughtful Treat

 

You have just received a call from a client.  They are going on a trip!

Likely they have contacted you regarding a financial, legal or insurance matter for this trip.

Usually the conversation starts with, “Hi, I am going on a trip and I need…”

My first response is always – “Great!  Where are you going?”

After what is usually a pleasant conversation about the destination and addressing the reason for the call, I head right over to http://www.amazon.com and quickly search for “travel books (insert destination)”.

Once an appropriate choice is selected, I send it directly to the client with a cover note wishing them best and that we thought they might enjoy reading up on the destination.

The book arrives a few days later which has generally been followed by a big smile from the client and a very genuine thank you.

Guide: Clients work very hard and get very excited about a big trip to a special destination.

Action Item: Send them a travel book and let them know you share their excitement.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Can You Run the Machinery?

 

Are you over delegating? Is there really such a thing? Does it matter?

I recently read story of an business owner who found himself nearly out of business when three of his four staff people quit and left over a very short period of time. This mass exodus caused great strain on the operation of the business and caused great concern for the owner’s clients.

Are you and your small business prepared for such a possibility? What would you do? Could you survive? Why did this professional’s business nearly fail?

The author of the above referenced article suggested that this was a clear cut case of over delegation. Our business owner had become so far removed from the day to day technology and systems of his business that he was unable to run them in the absence of help. The systems were also of such a proprietary nature that temporary help wouldn’t work. In the short run, outsourcing was also out of the question. However, after immersing himself for a sufficient period of time, the systems were quickly learned and the business did survive.

Was the author correct or was there more going on here? The owner may have been over delegating or there may have been other possibilities might including: Understaffing. Poor pay. Poor employee morale. Lack of cross training or any number of normal employee issues

In the story, we never find out why the employees left but there are clearly some lessons to be learned.

Take a look at your business and realize that it is vulnerable to all sorts of risks and perhaps knowing how to “run the machinery” is a really good idea. Carefully consider your critical systems and ask: Can I run these?, Should I know how to run these?, Do I want to know how to run these? What training will I need?

Also ask: Should I change these systems so they are less proprietary? Can I get temporary help if needed? Can I outsource these functions if needed?

Realize that nothing can take the place of a well run business where your skills are best used where YOUR talents lie.Also, the “care and nurturing” of your staff can be as important as any other business function just like customer service or marketing.

Guide: Oil the machinery: take great care of the staff as well as the hardware, software and systems they use every day.

Action Item: Know which machinery you don’t know how to run and consider what you would do if someone else was not there to run it.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Pizza Time

Here is an idea I recently heard! What a terrific gift.

First I contacted all the pizza places in town and found the best super large pizza’s for the best price ($8.00/ per pizza which included tip).

I was able to do this because I told them I wanted to order and have delivered a pizza to every CPA and tax preparer firm in town.

Then I went to MSFT Word and found a picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger and I did a flyer that said “Take a break on us”, Compliments of myself and my firm. I took the flyer to the pizza place and attached it to the pizza box.

The pizza’s were then delivered and my telephone rang and rang with thank you’s from the CPA and their staffs. Referrals started coming in. It was a win win for the pizza place and a win win for me.

Guide – People remember and appreciate the gift of food, especially when they are hungry.

Action Item – Try Pizza Time in your town.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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The Social Security Breakfast Event

 

Here is a great event for your retirees and pre-retirees.

The Social Security Breakfast.

Clients and their friends are always interested in learning more about the Social Security system and how it can benefit them.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is always interested in helping citizens learn their options.  If fact, they are so driven to providing this education, they now make speakers available at no charge for YOU.

Go to http://www.ssa.gov/organizations/ and sign up for a speaker.

Arrange for a breakfast at the local hotel that provides a buffet.  This keeps the cost very reasonable.

Hold the event on a weekday morning,  This way you attract those retirees and clients who “don’t like to drive at night.”

Be sure and follow-up with an income analysis for each guest!

Guide – Clients want to learn more about Social Security.

Action Item – Start by contacting SSA for your free speaker.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

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Clients Want The Bad News Too…

 

As trusted advisors, we work very hard at doing the best work we can possibly do for our client. 

As the relationship progresses, we learn about our client’s needs, wants, desires, habits, beliefs and behaviors.

Eventually we know whether the client will be successful in their endeavors or if they will fail no matter what we do.

Imagine being a doctor and not delivering the bad news to your patient!  Do you think the relationship will be better if you spare the prognosis?

Is this fair to our clients?

I like to tell the following story –  “Thank goodness I am like the cardiologist and not the oncologist.  Most or many of the oncologist’s patients don’t make it long-term. For the cardiologist, most patients do make it.  The oncologist says that you have X time left.  It is very sad.  The cardiologist says, I am not worried about you right now, but, if the current behavior continues, I am very worried about you in 15-20 years.  You need to exercise, eat right, drink less, lose some weight and drop some of these dangerous behaviors.  If you do, you should be fine.”

Clients need to hear the bad news.  They get it and more often than not, if you are the trusted advisor, they will alter their behavior.  Why?

Because they want to succeed!  That is why they hired you in the first place.

Guide – Clients want to hear the bad news along with the good.  This allows them the opportunity to take corrective action.

Action Item – Tell them the story of the cardiologist and the oncologist.  Share the potentially bad news.  Be the trusted advisor.

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