The Importance of Providing Your Employees Performance Feedback

5 tips for an effective employee review programThe Importance of Providing Your Employees Performance Feedback

If You’re Happy and You Know It, Write a Review

Employee performance reviews are one of the most dreaded conversations we have with our clients. Most business owners and managers hate doing them because they put people in the awkward position of giving an employee direct and specific criticism in a face-to-face meeting. They are tough conversations to have with employees that are struggling in certain areas of their job, but they are some of the most critical conversations to have to get everyone rowing in the same direction.  

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My Advisor Community - What Are Other Advisory Firms Doing or Not Doing?

BUS COMMUNITY

My Advisor Community– What Are Other Advisory Firms Doing or Not Doing?

I am so lucky!  I work with the most amazing clients.  Now to be fair to myself, I did this intentionally.  One of the best things about being my age (no need to mention a number…just assume I’m “mature”) is I am wise enough to know that working with clients who don’t share my values (family, quality of life, etc.) is going to be, at the very least, frustrating and at the very worst, damaging to my health.  Unfortunately, I know this from past experience.  This is why I don’t take on every prospective client who comes my way. It’s very liberating!  I highly recommend it.

So where am I going with this?  I believe the very best advisors want to share information with other advisors.  Now, let me quantify that statement a bit.  I’m not suggesting you share a proprietary process or give away the “secret sauce” but if they stumble onto a new technology for instance – and it can range from something small like scheduling technology to something larger, like changing portfolio management software – they are happy to have me share it with my other clients. In that way, my firm has built an informal community of advisors who are assisting each other.

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Make Sure Your Consultant Insists on Your Firm Having a Strategic Plan

STRATEGIC PLANNINGMake Sure Your Consultant Insists on Your Firm Having a Strategic Plan

My last two blogs address hiring a consultant (Should You Hire a Consultant? & The Discovery Process of Your Consultant).  So let’s talk about the next step.

So, you’ve hired the consultant that fits you best and they’ve conducted an extensive discovery process.  They have prepared recommendations for you and you both agree on the challenges and opportunities to be addressed.

So, what’s the next step? Obviously, it’s to translate all of this into a 12 month Strategic Plan for the firm.  What does this encompass?

  1. A SWOT analysis – we recommend this be done in a team setting with everyone on the staff. This is a great way to get them engaged in the process. I’m sure many of them never think about these issues and pulling them out of their day-to-day to focus on it is a win-win for the entire team. You and your consultant have already done much of this work during the discovery and recommendations phases but again, this pulls in the entire team.
  2. We want to hear what your Big Hairy Audacious Goals are.
  3. However, we focus on your major initiatives for the next 12 months. I don’t like planning beyond this because as my mom likes to say “life is what happens when you’re making other plans” and you will want to stay open to changes in your firm and in the industry.
  4. Each firm initiative will have an “Owner”, someone who is in charge of spearheading its completion.
  5. You will lay out a series of action steps and deadlines for each initiative.
  6. You will record these initiatives somewhere other than your CRM – we believe your day-to-day work MUST be in your CRM but your strategic plan deserves a home of its home. We provide our clients with web-based project management software at no cost to them.
  7. We use this software to keep everyone accountable to their initiatives.
  8. We generally have weekly calls with you to make sure goals are being met and we are on track with what you want to get accomplished.
  9. We have multiple monthly calls with the team (or with many clients, we participate by phone in their weekly staff meetings) to make sure initiatives are being accomplished.
  10. If they are not:
    1. We may get in there and help the staff member working on it – what work can we do on our end to help move it along?
    2. We may evaluate if it’s still relevant.
    3. We may evaluate whether or not we assigned it to the right person

In other words, we are constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure these initiatives are getting completed because remember, they are the path to you reaching your goals…achieving your desired quality of life. 

You can schedule a complimentary call with us to see if we are a fit and answer any questions you may have.  Again, we’re looking to work with a small group of elite advisors so we will be honest with you as to whether or not we are a good fit. We may also be able to give you a few ideas you can implement immediately. 

Thanks for listening, Ginny

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Does Your Consultant Have an In-depth Discovery Process?

DISCOVERY PROCESSThe Discovery Process.  You know why it’s important.  This is part of what makes working with financial advisors so easy for us.  You folks get the importance of the discovery process.

My last blog dealt with helping you decide whether or not a Consultant would be a good move for you.  In this blog, I want to talk about the importance of the discovery process.

IF you do choose to work with a consultant, make sure they conduct an in-depth discovery process.  In the very same way it’s important for you to get to know your clients well your consultant should take the time to get to know you well.

Why?  You know why but here goes:

  1. If they don’t conduct an in-depth discovery, how do they know what you want from your firm? Chances are it’s different in some way from everyone else. 
  2. How can they help you build/correct/chart your course without knowing this?
  3. The answers to these questions should shape every decision made.
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Should You Hire a Consultant for Your Financial Advisory Firm?

CONSULTANT

I’m sure many of you have asked yourself this same question at one time or another. Should I hire a third party to help me with my business and whatever challenges I may be facing?

The answer is maybe.  Not all business owners are going to benefit from this type of work.  We have our own set of criteria (see below) and I’m sure other Consultants (for the purpose of my writing, I am going to use Consultant to encompass all manner of third parties who work with Advisors on practice management or coaching) have their set of criteria.  Most of us are vetting you in the same way you are vetting us. Why? Simple, we’re looking for a quality of life as well and working with someone who is either a bad fit for my firm or not open to others’ points of view makes for a stressful work life.

So, who might benefit?

  • You have some size to your firm. Let’s face it, in the early days, you are just trying to stay afloat.  When I get calls from smaller firms, it’s not that I don’t want to help them, it’s just that the only real advice I can give them is “market like Hell” because you need revenue to get to the next step.  I leave a certain number of slots open on a pro bono basis for these types of firms and have them filled at all times.  However, we have found we work best with firms with AUM greater than $50MM or gross profit of $500k or more.
  • You recognize the need for a well-thought out strategic plan – You know your clients need a financial plan to meet their goals – same goes for your business.
  • You understand the need for high performing team members, you want to mentor them and help them be fellow visionaries – I get frustrated when I talk to advisors and they tell me they are trying to get the least expensive person or they don’t understand the need to mentor their employees. I can promise you, without the best of the best staff being paid well and getting ongoing training, you will NOT get where you want to go.
  • You are open to the opinions of others – ‘nough said!
  • You are interested in a great quality of life – if it’s all about money for you, you probably won’t benefit from a Consultant. Most of us – I would say at least the ones worth their salt - got into this business because we also want a quality of life – it’s one of our core values.
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Document Your Processes and Finally Build Your Franchise!

FRANCHISE IMAGEIn my most recent writing dated April 10, 2018, I talked about how to get buy-in on writing and using processes.  We all know why this is important…not just from an accountability standpoint but from the view of getting YOUR way of doing business” documented so it’s repeatable.  In other words, Building Your Franchise.

TSI has spent a great deal of time studying the dynamics that go into documenting your franchise.  We understand it is one thing to say you need to document your processes but an entirely different proposition to actually get it done.  We have helped many of our clients get their processes down and what follows are what we have determined to be the easiest and most efficient ways.

So here are our ideas! Let us know what you think.

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How to Finally Get Buy-In on Writing and Using Processes

CREATE WORKFLOWS PROCESSESWith CRM technology becoming more and more robust, written processes and workflows that are integrated into your CRM can be an invaluable tool to keep moving things forward and to track what has been done for your clients.  Writing and inputting processes into your CRM can be an onerous task in itself.  Going through your firm’s processes and figuring out how if-then logic trees will integrate with your CRM can drive some people mad.  However, we have found one of the biggest hurdles is to get everyone to use the processes once they are in the CRM. 

Owners are sometimes the worst offenders in failing to use the CRM processes because you know what needs to be done and you know how to do it.  However, there are some tools that we use to ensure that your team continues to use processes you’ve developed.

Invite everyone that will be assigned a task in a process to collaborate when it is written.  One of the best ways to get buy-in is to have everyone that will take part in any process help develop and write it.  People are more likely to continue to use a tool if they participated in its development.  They have already invested a good deal of time into it during the development phase and they want to make that effort meaningful and not forgotten. 

Assign a point-person for each process.

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Delegate & Elevate OR How to Keep Your Revenue Growing

DELEGATE ELEVATEIn January, I talked about “Letting Go of the Vine” and why this is so crucial to achieving the success you deserve.  If you didn’t read this post, you might want to read it here  before you read this blog. 

So after you have taken the time to track your activities for some period of time and gone through the exercise I suggested in January’s blog of figuring what you enjoy to do and do well, etc., the next step is actually delegating work.  This is the really tough part, trust me I know. But by delegating, you are giving yourself the opportunity to elevate yourself to operate at your highest and best use.

 But’s let back up a little.  Why delegate?  Sounds like a silly question and yet so many struggle with doing it so I have to believe the value is not being communicated.  Let me take a crack at it.  Do any of these sound like you?

  1. You are experiencing a lack of control over the business because you are trying to do too many things the least of which is being strategic?
  2. You’re not on the same page with your staff, your clients, your vendors, your partners?
  3. The firm has stopped growing?
  4. Nothing seems to be working – staff is numb to new initiatives and you are spinning your wheels?
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10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 8 OR Prospects Will Not Come Flying in Your Windows

In a perfect world, just the right amount of ideal prospects would steadily stream into your business and you would never have to go out and find new business. In the real world, you are going to have to go out and market your business, but it doesn’t have to be as painful as some business owners make it out to be.

Having a marketing strategy can mean many different things to different business owners. No marketing plan is a “one-size-fits-all” solution. There are as many different marketing strategies as there are types of businesses, and the goal in creating an effective marketing strategy is to have something that works for you.

Niche marketing is a term that is thrown around quite a bit in our industry as a marketing theory or strategy, but it should be the foundation of every marketing strategy. Niche marketing is simply choosing a group of people that your business will focus its efforts to attract. This can come in various forms but the two most common are directly communicating with people in the niche that you are targeting and becoming more knowledgeable about the issues and solutions that are common among the group.

Once you identify the limited and specific group to whom you will target your marketing efforts, one of the most effective ways to get your name to your potential clientele is to find people who already have their ear. These people are COIs of your target market and can be a shortcut to getting your name out there. However, it is much more effective to develop strong relationships with 2-3 COIs who understand your process and can recommend your business to your niche market with confidence. More than 2-3 COIs and you will lose the win-win relationship that you are trying to create.

We often get called to help owners create a marketing plan that works for them and we always develop a custom strategy that fits the owner’s skills, comfort level, and growth targets. Feel free to schedule a call with us to find out if we can help your firm find your ideal clients.

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10 Years, 10 Truths, Number 3 OR You Must Work ON Your Firm or You Just Have a Job!

At first glance, owning a business and having a job may seem like similar endeavors. However, as we know, owning a business comes with its own set of risks and rewards that are usually not a part of having a job. Being a successful business owner also requires top-level thinking that doesn’t always come “standard” in employees. Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” This cannot be more true for business owners. Thinking about your business and how it can run better, more efficiently, and sustain growth is one of the hardest parts of owning a business and many business owners do not do it enough. If you are not doing the hard work of thinking and working on your business, you are not a true business owner, you just have a job in a business that you happen to own. As Michael Gerber said “you are a technician suffering from an entrepreneurial seizure”.

Because we can all get caught up in the day to day minutia of working in our businesses, one of the best ways to make sure you are dedicating enough time to working on your business is to schedule time on your calendar that is 100% dedicated to this task. It seems like a simple and obvious solution, but so few business owners have dedicated time to work on their business. Some of our most successful clients use a model week that the entire staff knows about and adheres to so that enough time can be dedicated to important work like this. A color-coded calendar can do wonders for some teams – if everyone in the office knows that you only schedule client meetings in “green” times and that no one is allowed to schedule any meetings or calls during “purple” times, it makes it so much easier to carve out your schedule in the best way possible.

As we discussed in our last blog, a strategic plan is as important to your business as a financial plan is to your clients. And working on your business stems from the initiatives that you outline in your strategic plan. However, if you have laid out time every week to work on your business, it does not mean that you are reviewing and changing your strategic plan every week. In fact, if it is changing every week, I wouldn’t call it a strategic plan at all. During the time you dedicate to working on your business, you may be working on streamlining operations, establishing and executing a marketing plan, reviewing staffing issues, etc. You should NOT be working on anything involving day-to-day or even any client issues. This is a time to identify issues or weaknesses and try to resolve them or move your strategic initiatives forward. This makes your firm stronger and allows you provide the best client service to your clients. It always pushes you toward having the ideal firm you have envisioned.

TSI has always been and will always be a huge advocate of education and training to help everyone in a business to be the best that they can be. This also extends to you, the business owner. Keeping yourself abreast of changes and disruptors in the industry and challenges other advisors are facing will not only allow you to feel more connected, but also will help shape the time that you have committed to working on your business. Working with many different advisors gives us a unique perspective to see that many of the challenges and ideas that advisors have about how to better their business are not novel ideas. They just need dedicated time to get implemented.

If you are having troubles getting too mired down in the details and only working “in” your business and not “on” your business, feel free to give us a call and we can help steer you in the right direction.

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