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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10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 10 OR Spend money on technology and then spend money on an expert to help you learn it, integrate and get the most from it

10 Years, 10 Truths – Number 10 OR Spend money on technology and then spend money on an expert to help you learn it, integrate and get the most from it

So, here I am. Truth number 10. I have had so much fun writing these and I hope you have picked up a tip or two.

My final truth has to do with technology and how you use it. As any of you who have been in this business for more than 10 years know, the technology related to the Financial Planning and Investment arena has probably changed more over this timespan than anything else. Ten years ago, there weren’t very many choices. Now there are so many, sometimes it is head-spinning. However, as we also know, it is technology that will play a bigger and bigger role in your firm, both from an internal aspect as well as with your clients.

Within my “family” of clients, I would say the number one complaint I get is about technology. The advisor has purchased new technology and now there is buyer’s remorse. About 90% of the time, it is because the owner of the firm did not make training a priority. Someone bought it, integrated it, got everyone a password and off they went. So now, in most cases, they are only using maybe 25% (on the high side) of the capabilities of the technology.

One thing you can sure of going forward. The technology is going to get more robust, not less. So, when you purchase and integrate the new technology, have a training plan in place and make it mandatory. Talk about how everyone in the firm will use the technology so it’s consistent from the onset. This, as you well know, is a big monetary investment. Make sure you act like it is!

If you really want to get the most from your technology, I HIGHLY recommend you reach out to Jennifer Goldman at MyVirtualCOO (www.myvirtualcoo.com). Jennifer can help you work smarter, not harder by optimizing the selection and use of your tech, integrations and providers.

So, again, here I am at the end of “10 Years, 10 Truths”. If you want to see any you may have missed, just go to my blog on my website (https://thestrategicimplementer.com/index.php/blog). There is also a pdf out there with all of them listed.

Thanks for listening and please provide me with feedback if you so choose.

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10 Years, 10 Truths - Number 5 OR Why You Must Have Weekly Staff Meetings

When I begin work with a new consulting client, I spend many hours getting to know the firm, the owners and the staff. Many times I am told by all involved the communication within the firm is bad. Then, my next questions is “do you hold weekly staff meetings” and I am constantly amazed at how many times I hear the word “No”.

When a team gets together and discusses things such as upcoming meetings, issues, concerns, where they stand on various projects, etc., it refocuses the team each week on the important work for that week and beyond. Having staff meetings every week can not only set the tone for everyone in the office for the upcoming week, it has a way solidifying the mentality that everyone is an important part of the team. All of our clients have regular staff meetings EVERY week. Some of our clients like to start a staff meeting off by going around the room and having each employee talk about something they are excited or grateful for that week. Ron Roge of R.W. Roge and Company (www.rwroge.com) says this “puts people in a positive state of mind.” Specifically speaking about the importance of starting the meeting off right, “Your mind has a tendency to go to the negative. When you think about what you are excited about, you have to push out the negativity. It sets the tone for the meeting, the day, and the rest of the week.”

The bare bones of a staff meeting usually include talking about issues that came up in the previous week, going over upcoming meetings and what prep needs to be done, and what everyone should be focusing on for the week.

Denise Davies, COO of Frisch Financial (www.frischfinancial.com), says, “Without a staff meeting, the CRM is useless. Staff meetings enhance the value of the CRM because no one in the firm is reading all the notes that are put in. It’s just not possible.” As far as morale in the office goes, Ms. Davies continues, “It gives everyone ownership and they feel included and are important to the team.”

The best staff meetings are light and can border on being fun because it can be a time for everyone on the team to catch up with one another. However, the leader of the staff meeting should have an agenda EACH WEEK and will adjust the course if the meeting is getting off track. Many of the owners of firms that we work with often only attend a portion of their staff meetings, or choose to exclude themselves all together. The staff meeting should be able to run without you, the owner of the firm.

Give us a call if we can help you construct or improve your firm’s staff meetings.

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Do You Know What Your Mission Is?

Do You Know What Your Mission Is?

What is it? Why do you need one? How do you go about getting one in place?

Your mission statement communicates the soul of your firm to many different audiences. To your prospective clients, it drives home the fact that you are serious about adding value and positive outcomes to their lives. To your staff, it reminds them every day why they are doing what they do and how important their contribution is. Most importantly, to you, it should serve as a guideline. When new opportunities come your way, you should remind yourself of your mission statement and ask yourself if this opportunity is in line with where you want your firm to go.

How do you arrive at your mission statement? Your mission statement is something that comes from your heart and your head. It's a combination of intellect and emotion. It is the phrase that articulates why you got into to this business, why you want to be a fiduciary, why that is so important, why you want to be the best at what you do and what is it that you're going to be the best at?

If you already have a mission statement, congratulations! You are in the minority. If you have not, start to think about it now. Jot down notes, ask your staff, ask your family. Then, take some quiet, reflective time and write it out. Once you have it where you want it to be, frame it and put it in various locations throughout your office as a constant reminder to you and everyone why and how you do what you do so well.

If you'd like some examples, give me a call or send me an email at ginny@thestrategicimplementer.com.

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