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.

Write all the steps on post-its – yep, it’s still the most effective way!

The first step in documenting a process is to get everyone that will work on that process in a room to discuss the steps.  Everyone that will be using the process needs to be involved in the creation, even if one person is only involved in a small part.  Then, as a team, begin writing each individual task that needs to be completed on post-it notes and arrange them on a surface (conference table, window, office door) in the order that they need to be completed.  Some tasks can or should be completed simultaneously and you can group those post-its accordingly.   You can also use a program called Stormboard (www.stormboard.com) that lets you use “virtual” post-it notes.

Trim the fat

Once you have all the steps laid out, confirm that your process begins at the beginning and ends at the natural end of the process.  This can be challenging, there may be ambiguities, and the team may debate where to begin and end the process.  For example, sending someone who would like to become a client your contract for services can fall into a “Prospect” process or a “New Client Onboarding” process.  Some firms continue their “Prospect” process until all necessary documents are signed and returned, while others will have this step at the beginning of the “New Client Onboarding” process.  There is no right answer.  For most processes, you should begin at the beginning and end with a follow-up or confirmation. 

One easy way to know where to end a process is to ask yourself, “What does the completed product look like?” or “What is the final result we are looking for?”  Is your “New Client Onboarding” process complete after the first meeting with the client?  After you have delivered the financial plan?  After a three month check-in call?  It will be different for every firm. 

Once you define the beginning and end of the process, trimming and combining tasks that are done simultaneously will lead to greater efficiency.  Instead of having three steps for 1) input client information into Redtail, 2) input client information into eMoney, 3) input client information into XYXY, you can combine these steps into one task of “input client information into Redtail, eMoney, and XYXY.”  You should try to save yourself and your employees from too many unnecessary completion clicks.  More information can be added to the notes or explanation of a step in the process. 

Assess logical relationships between steps

Most CRMs have a way to trigger two steps or tasks in a process simultaneously, and you should be thinking about the logical relationships among the tasks before you put them into your CRM process.  For example, in a quarterly report process, one person could be responsible for writing the cover letter and another person could be responsible for compiling and printing the investment reports.  Both of the tasks need to be completed before moving on the next step of preparing to mail the reports, but either task can be completed first.  Identifying and preparing for these concurrent operational tasks can save you a big headache when running the process.  Ask yourself, “What must be done before we move to the next step?”

Input into your CRM and assign a trigger person

Finally, you will need to input the written process into your CRM.  We have found it is easiest to identify who the power user of your CRM is and have that person put all of the process into the CRM.  When you have multiple people putting processes into your CRM in different ways, the water gets muddy very quickly.  The person who inputs the process into the CRM is often NOT the person who is responsible for starting or triggering the process.  One person should be assigned to start the process and this is usually the person who receives the first piece of information in the process.  If you typically come back from a marketing event with a handful of business cards and give those cards to a specific person in your office, that person should be responsible for starting or triggering the “Prospect” process. 

Once you have a process inputted into your CRM and you have tested that it works the way it was designed, we recommend looking at any outstanding processes in your weekly staff meeting.  This way you will be able to see where the process is being stalled and if it needs to be tweaked in any way.  It is very common to have small tweaks along the way to include information that was previously omitted or to re-assess how the logical relationships of tasks drive the process. 

We have helped many of our clients write processes and input them into their CRMs.  If you would like to talk about how we can help your firm with this challenge, feel free to book a complimentary call on our calendar through this link.

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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.

It’s important to have one person who is responsible for kicking off or starting each process.  If a process can be started by anyone, it is more likely that no one will do it.  When there is a point person for a specific process, and it is solely that person’s responsibility to kick it off in your CRM, it is much easier to track.  We also recommend looking at outstanding processes each week in your staff meeting and discussing any times that someone should have started a process, but didn’t.  A mild public shaming can go a long way. 

Start slow and gain steam.

One mistake some firms make is to try to write and integrate too many processes all at one time.  If on a Friday, you have no processes and then on Monday, your team comes in and you expect them to start using twenty processes, it is going to be a difficult transition.  We recommend starting with assigning one process to each employee who will be the point person.  After 3-4 months of using those processes, you can begin to add more.  People need to get in the habit of using them before assigning more. 

Consider the user and don’t over-engineer the processes.

One of the biggest complaints we’ve heard from employees tasked to use processes is that they end up taking more time than just completing the task.  While a slight time deficit is okay when you first start using processes, the fewer steps in a process generally make it easier to use.  When you are developing and writing processes, it is important to capture every step, but when you integrate it into your CRM, it is equally important to eliminate or combine any steps that are superfluous or can happen simultaneously.  The users of the process don’t want to have to go back to the CRM and click to complete actions after every tiny detail is completed.  Generally, the fewer clicks, the better.

We have helped firms write and integrate processes so that everyone buys in and continues to use them.  It creates an environment where it is very easy to track where outstanding tasks are and when to expect them to be completed.  Give us a call if you would like to discuss how we can help your firm. 

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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?

IF any of these (or multiple!) describe where you are now, then delegating is going to be key (if not the only way) in moving you out of this rut.  How do you start doing this?

  1. The first component has to be trust – trust that you have the right team on board who can handle what you delegate to them. If you don’t have this, nothing else is relevant.  Stop now and evaluate your team and if replacements need to be made, make them.  You are not doing yourself or the staff in question any favors by holding on to them.
  2. IF the right players are in place, your next step is to understand their strengths and weaknesses so you can delegate the correct tasks to them.
  3. Put a true leadership team in place – who are these individuals?
    1. They are your most trusted staff
    2. They are your highest best performers
    3. They understand and live the vision of the firm

Once you have this leadership team in place, you can begin discussions with them as to what you need to delegate, how and who to delegate it to and then let them be in charge of these tasks going forward. They will report to you as needed so you don’t feel a total loss of control over these items but reporting is the extent of your involvement.

One last thought – you are NOT your business – you created it but in order for it to find success, it has to be a self-sustaining entity.  Learning to delegate is an important step in this process.

Please email us, call us (225.71.8009) or visit our website to schedule a complimentary call with us to discuss this further. We can assist you in ALL aspects of Delegating & Elevating. 

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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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