Tough times never last, but tough people do
Dr Robert Schuller
Instead of, “do what you love,” perhaps the more effective mantra for the entrepreneur, the linchpin and maker of change might be, “love what you do.” If we can fall in love with serving people, creating value, solving problems, building valuable connections and doing work that matters, it makes it far more likely we’re going to do important work.
What defines “excellence” for advice and planning firms, not just in terms of financial performance (important though that ultimately is) but in terms of the way firms are run day in day out?
During 2015 we are planning to develop a set of “Best Practice Standards” that advisers and planners can use to organise and prioritise their practice improvement activities.These standards will be based on our own experience of working with successful firms and the opinions and experiences of advisers from across the UK.
The best practice standards will cover areas such as client on-boarding and retention, client communications and reporting, marketing, systems and processes, people management, relationships with other professional firms, measures and decision making, pricing and cash management, proactivity and service
So we welcome your views specifically on which attributes, habits, processes, strategies, tactics, behaviours and activities that take place each and every day in your business have enabled you and to continually flourish, grow and adapt to changing circumstances.
What do you believe are the key attributes and characteristics of an excellent financial advice or planning business?
Your responses will be used solely to shape the Best Practice Standards and will be kept completely confidential.
We hope you will spare a minute or two to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
As we enter 2015 we’d like to suggest a couple of New Year resolutions to help you get the year off to a flying start.
Let’s start with retention. I’m sure you will all have heard it’s more costly to acquire new customers than retain existing ones. The cost of acquiring a new customer can be anything from 4 times to 10 times, and there are even some quotes of it being as high as 30 times! But more often than not it will be somewhere around 7 times. So, if it’s so costly to get new customers why do so many companies focus more energy on getting new customers than nurturing their existing ones?
You see it all the time. Take car or home insurance as an example. I find myself every year on the market comparison sites looking for the best deal, and typically every year I will save myself money by changing company. Increasing your renewal premium is a sure fire way to put an existing customer off staying with you. But so many people are apathetic and just stay with the same company, and companies make money out of this apathy. However does it do the company’s reputation any good? How much value does retaining the apathetic customer really add? And, more importantly, could doing a little extra add even more value to your business?
I am a great fan of Byrony Thomas (author and guru on all things marketing related) and she writes about the marketing-sales funnel, or customer journey as I prefer to refer to it, in her bestseller Watertight Marketing. She identifies where businesses lose money, and customers, throughout the funnel. Her first leak is on customer loyalty and forgotten customers. You may think you’ve won the business so it’s job done. Wrong. Customers aren’t obliged to stay with you – they can pack up and go at any time.
You’ve got to keep earning the right to be their adviser. You may not receive many complaints or even have a high attrition rate but you’d be wrong to assume that your customers are delighted with your service. Customer apathy means customers won’t tell you they are underwhelmed by your service; instead they will bumble along with an ‘it’s ok’ attitude while you provide a mediocre service at best. By looking at your post-sale servicing and customer touch points, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement. There always is scope for improvement no matter how good your service is.
Unhappy customers will tell more people about bad experiences than good ones. It’s a known fact that we get some sort of kick out of venting our bad stories. Whether unhappy clients shares their story with 2 people or 10 is to be debated, but either way it won’t do your reputation any good. However, even a few good stories shared can make the world of difference to your business. It’s a recommendation to use you – a referral.
Good stories and recommendations are a way of potential customers getting evidence that you offer a valuable, high quality service. You can be trusted. Their friends trust you so you must be ok. Another one of Bryony’s leaks is no proof during the evaluation stage of the marketing-sales funnel. You are far more likely to convert business if potential customers have some form of proof that you will do a good job. It’s common-sense really – after all, you’d be unlikely to trust Rusty Motors Ltd when they just pop up around the corner and you’ve never heard of them!
So, why are referrals so good for your business? Well, referred customers are cheaper to win, easier and quicker to convert to clients and they typically spend more (or bring more money with them).
Many small businesses get referrals but it’s more through chance than any proactive referral strategy. Adviser firms we speak to will tell you time and again getting referrals is great and they get one or two a year. Imagine what your business could achieve if you establish your niche market (the one that’s really profitable), segment your client base to identify your existing clients that meet your niche and then proactively seek referrals from that audience.
All of the above and more: with more of your desired clients onboard, being serviced better with your #1 New Years’ resolution ‘love your clients’ retention strategy, there will be more happy clients to spread good news stories and more referrals.
· Identify your ideal client
· Find your ideal clients in your existing client bank
· Implement your new retention strategy incorporating your referral communications and touch points
· Spread your good news – e.g. client testimonials in communications, on your website and get tweeting and posting about what your clients say if social media forms part of your marketing strategy
Hopefully it’s obvious the linkage between retention and referrals – they go hand-in-hand; one will feed the other. So get your 2015 off to a cracking start and plan your R&R.