Being able to run your business with predictable results, revenue, and client experience allows you to tap into additional growth. When your systems and processes are running, and your team has a standard pathway for prospects and clients, you can achieve what too few advisors ever get to: scale. With standardized processes and pathways, your business can reach 7 figure production with the same, if not less, effort than you producing 6-figure numbers on your own.
In my previous article, I introduced you to the importance of systems and processes, and why they are truly the difference between having a business that’s regular, or a business that’s a rockstar in the market. Today, I want to share some of the systems we use, so you have a starting point for developing your own – just copy mine and modify to fit your business!
Client Meeting Agendas
We create a written agenda for every meeting, beginning with the first official meeting we have with the client. More than anything, the agenda is for our benefit so we (1) remember everything we need to discuss with the client and (2) have backup evidence for the file that covers what we discussed in the meeting.
The client’s version of the agenda only shows broad categories and provides space for taking notes. The advisor’s version of the agenda has detailed notes from prior calls, meetings, or discussions to remind the advisor of important details he or she may not recall. For instance, the advisor’s copy will likely have the names and ages of all family members. There will even be notes on personal information the client has shared, such as whether there is a new baby in the family, an impending retirement or vacation, the death of a dog, whatever is important to the client. It strikes an amazing chord with the client, when you make mention of something that is vitally important to them.
Of course, there is no way any of our advisors can recall all those details for all their clients. The only way you can do this effectively is to create a system to serve as your memory.
You want to be sure the advisor is set up for success and doesn’t come out of the meeting without you covering all the important items with the client. The agenda keeps the meeting very focused. Anything that wasn’t covered in the current meeting will be moved to the next agenda.
Client Seating System
As mentioned earlier, consistency of experience is of utmost importance to us. Therefore, our conference rooms are always set up with water and a writing tablet with a pen at each seat. And, as I’ve taught on many webinars, if it’s a husband and wife, then we seat the wife at the head of the table and have the husband seated on the side of the table where he will face the least amount of potential distractions.
Two-Minute Warning System
We have our “two-minute warning” system for arriving clients. We have a bell that rings in the back of the office when the front door opens. We instituted this before we had an official receptionist sitting up front, and it serves us now if the receptionist is away from his or her desk. Once that bell rings, we expect someone to greet our guests within two minutes or less and lead them into one of our conference rooms. We don’t want clients sitting in our waiting room without having been greeted. It is office policy that every person on the team has to be listening for that door. If the receptionist is on the phone or in the restroom, it is up to another team member to get to the front door within two minutes to greet our guest.
Whoever greets the guests escorts them to the appropriate conference room and will also take their drink order. If they are already our clients, we keep track of their drink preference. It is also our policy that the clients are never left alone in the conference room. A staff member will stay there and chat with the client until the relationship manager arrives.
Who Will Do What by When?
At the end of a meeting, we always want the clients to know who will do what by when. We never want the clients to leave the meeting without knowing what the next steps are. We want them to know that we will contact them next and when that will be, or that the ball is in their court and we expect a call back from them. Generally, we won’t leave the ball in their court. We like to control the contact, so most often we’ll schedule the next meeting or call right then, while we have them in front of us. If the clients leave the office and it is not clear who will do what by when, the relationship manager will send an e-mail outlining the next steps.
Another system we rely on—to make sure we type up a good and accurate synopsis of every call and every meeting—is the “Download System.” Each relationship manager is responsible for providing a very thorough download of everything that happened in the meeting or on the call. The office policy is that within twenty-four hours, all meetings and calls that have taken place will be downloaded into our customer relationship management (CRM) system and become a part of the client’s permanent record.
The first part of the download lists who was in the meeting. The next section contains all the tasks to be completed. Some of those tasks are immediately assigned to others on the team to be completed. The relationship manager completes some follow-ups, but all are outlined in the download. The third part of the download provides a clear description of what took place in the meeting and any decisions that were made (i.e., similar to the minutes taken at any meeting). If there were investment products discussed, the download also includes any disclosures that were made regarding things like liquidity features, risks, fees and charges for the product, etc. The relationship manager can also use his or her download to help create the next meeting agenda. It is a body of notes that captures the essence of every call or meeting.
Answering the Phone & Greeting the Client
We try not to use voicemail. We try to catch the phone by the second ring. I hate voicemail and think it’s very impersonal, so we want our clients or prospects to be able to talk to an individual. We have a policy that we return all phone calls on the same day. We also have a policy wherein a client is always referred to as Mr. and/or Mrs. until they have specifically asked to be called by their first names. Even if they give permission for one person on the team to call them by their first name that does not imply any other team members have the authority to refer to them by their first name. Each member of the team has to be personally invited to call a client by his or her first name.
Covering for Team Members
We require everybody to have access to everyone else’s business e-mail. Hence, we ask our team members not to use their Botsford Group e-mail for personal business. This allows for ease in backing up team members when they are in meetings or out of the office. As often as possible, whoever serves as the backup checks the colleague’s e-mails. If they see an e-mail come in from a client, then we like to immediately respond to the client and say something like, “Mr. Smith, I see that you’ve sent Joe an e-mail.
Joe is in a meeting right now but I’ll be sure he gets your message or e-mail and responds to you in a timely manner.” Clients want to be acknowledged. They don’t necessarily need to have their issue resolved or question answered immediately, but they want to make sure their e-mail was received or their phone message was acknowledged. To the greatest extent possible, we’re pretty fast on the draw, and we try to get back to them as quickly as possible.
Birthday Acknowledgment System
We think it is very important to acknowledge our clients’ birthdays. It is the one day each year that we can honor them with a phone call and a birthday card. We have a process for each. It’s a good practice to adopt! Make sure you send birthday cards out the week before a client’s birthday, and reach out with a birthday call before 10am on the day. You can always go above and beyond, but these two should be done at a minimum.
New Client Onboarding Checklist
From the time a client engages with us, we employ a checklist and a process for our initial engagement with them. For instance, the minute the contracting paperwork comes in, an email goes to the client acknowledging receipt of their check and introducing them to their new team. In addition, clients are given a copy of the Steps of our Process so they know where they are in the planning process.
As soon as that message goes out, the assigned team follows up with the new client to be sure they have their contact information. Each step of the process is well defined for maximum efficiency.
Referral Thank You Process
Any time we hear our clients are talking about us, we want to acknowledge their effort on our behalf. We hand write thank-you notes for all referrals, regardless of whether the referral becomes a client. In addition, our clients will receive a small gift in the mail (usually it’s some form of candy or cookie, golf balls, etc.) to help put a smile on their face and further show our appreciation.
Creating Systems is Time Well Spent
These are just a few of the systems and processes the team uses today. It is important to note that I always knew having written systems and processes would be significant – I just couldn’t find the time to sit still long enough to map them out and write them down. Once my assistant and I spent the time to document everything we each did, and the steps to complete everything start-to-finish, we knew we had gold.
Take some of the systems listed above, and make them part of your business today. There are dozens more that can be brought to the table. The time is takes to map out everything you and your team does, is time well spent. It will allow you to create safety nets and pathways so nothing falls through the cracks, and everything has a predictable next step.
Let me assure you, being proactive is a better way to take your success and your systems to the next level. In the next article in the series, we’ll talk about updating systems and using technology to help you do more with less.
Take it a step further today.
If you’d like to take the systems and processes lesson to the next level and get my exact blueprint for running a Seven Figure Firm, I invite you to check out the Elite Advisor Success System™ – a step-by-step business training program that gives you everything you need to build and successfully implement the right systems to grow your firm, even when you’re not in the office. I give you all my worksheets, scripts, plans, and models so you can serve more clients, make more money, and have more freedom.
And this program will allow you to copy exactly what I –an advisor just like you– did to achieve the highest levels of success. Rather than learning from a coach that’s never been a successful advisor, everything in the Elite Advisor program comes with my 30 years of experience in what works. Learn more today!