Written by: Graham Burnard
It is easy to get focused on dealing with short term issues and to loose sight of the longer term business goals you are aiming for. Admittedly, a large number of these current issues are significant and are having huge impacts on staff, clients and the overall business performance. However, one of the hallmarks of successful businesses is their ability to navigate these short term challenges while still remaining focused on their long term goals. That way, the changes you make in the short term don’t necessarily need to take you off track, in fact some changes can speed up progress to your goals.
The challenge right now is to adapt your business to be able to operate optimally in these new conditions while remaining focused on your long term goals and objectives. Having clarity of the longer term vision you have for your business will make some of the short term decisions you will need to be making easier to address.
At Elixir we believe Purpose X People X Process = Performance. This article considers how each adviser or business owner should be considering each of these elements when looking at short term changes but also how they help progress towards your long term business vision.
With all the business challenges you are facing it is important to reconnect with your purpose. Sometimes the easiest way to do this is to reflect on why you became a Financial Planner in the first place and what is it about being a planner that gives you the greatest satisfaction.
If you don’t have clarity about your vision for your business an easy way to frame this is to write an advertisement selling your business 3-5 years from now. Describe what the business would look like. Some of the things to consider are:
- Number of clients
- The types of clients serviced
- Number of staff
- Areas of advice provided
Once you have a clear picture of what you’re trying to build you can determine what if anything may change as a result of COVID-19.
Review your 2020 business plan. Does it need adjusting to reflect the reality of what you can achieve this year. Are the financial goals still achievable or do they need adjusting?
Are the areas of business improvement you had planned still the right priorities?
Are there new business imperatives you need to incorporate into your plan?
PLAN FOR THE KNOWN BUT PREPARE FOR THE UNKNOWN
Now is the time to get ready for the new norm.
How will you communicate with your clients in the future?
- Will you give them the option of an online meeting?
- In doing remote working for a short period of time have your clients enjoyed being able to stay at home to meet with you?
- Virtual meetings are the norm with all clients while social distancing rules are in force but may be the preferred method for some clients for many years to come.
How will you bring your team back after the lockdown ends? Here are some things you need to consider:
- Will there be an expectation from your team that now they’ve been working remotely that they’ll be able to do it all the time?
- Will you have a staggered roster of being in the office together?
- How will you practice social distancing in the office?
- Is there any equipment you need to replace or purchase?
- Any software you need to replace or purchase?
- What’s your process for managing tasks?
Do you need a system to replace the spreadsheet or on a whiteboard you have been using?
- If some staff work from home more often can you reduce the office space you have?
People – Staff
Conducting a Task Audit is critical in order to identify and document all the tasks carried out in the business and who is responsible for each one. Once this is done it will facilitate:
- Contingency planning in the event of staff absence
- Development of job descriptions for each role
- Identify training requirements for new and existing staff
- Areas where there is lack of clarity or duplication of activity
- Single point dependency for key tasks
RHYTHMS AND ROUTINES
Operating rhythms of a business are always critical but remote operation requires regular engagement. In particular Daily Huddles should be scheduled so the team has clear visibility of what is happening. Additional one on ones to be scheduled with all staff members.
Check with any existing outsource providers regarding impacts of the lock down on their ability to operate.
Review any existing outsource arrangements to determine if they operating optimally. Remember, “Garbage in, garbage out”
PEOPLE – CLIENTS
- Develop a documented communication plan to clients to ensure regular and relevant communication is being scheduled.
- Checking in with your clients on how they’re feeling on all of what’s been happening?
- Easy to assume that other people feel like you do BUT maybe they don’t
- Stop & ask how they’re doing…. some may be feeling low but equally some maybe feeling that they need to take advantage of the siutation
- How are they challenged & what can you do to help?
Pricing models should be reviewed annually to determine sustainability and appropriateness.
We recommend a review annually. When doing so some key issues to consider are:
- Has your income changed?
- Have your expenses increased – more people, more/new technology, compliance?
- Have your processes changed?
- Are you achieving your targeted profit margin successfully?
- Are you paying yourself appropriately?
Process review – Don’t do what you’ve always done step back & ask…Is there a different way to engage with clients longer term?
Don’t be afraid to start with a clean sheet of paper but before you do that ask yourself if you need to do that or are there some key & quick changes you need to make.
Of course, if you’ve never gotten to the point of reviewing what you do at all then start with one process, finish it & implement (test included) before you move on to the next
- Are you & your team achieving optimally from a personal productivity perspective to know that you’re going to get the most out of every day ? Here are some tips:
- Are you planning your day/week in advance?
- An Ideal day/week is not always possible but try to stick to it
- Do the most urgent or important tasks first
- Work in uninterrupted blocks of time
- If you’re an Adviser it means writing the file note straight after the meeting
- Don’t be a slave to your inbox – get someone else to manage it OR check it twice per day
- Make sure you have a time to down tools for regular breaks
Are you getting the best out of the technology you have? Use this opportunity to do a Technology Audit.
- What systems do you operate?
- Who is trained up on each system?
- What reporting are you getting out of your system?
- When was the last time your workflows were reviewed?
- Are there client engagement tools that you can use to engage with clients more effectively?
- Do you need an online booking tool for clients and prospects to schedule appointments?
Is this an opportunity to review your website?
Does it look contemporary with strong imagery, and short, sharp, simple wording?
Are you using video technology for client communication? A video recorded on Loom is a great way to simply, easily and cost effectively engage clients in away that is far more compelling than email.
Be in contact!
Remind them it is business as usual in your office and even though you are busy you have capacity to help their clients.
- “how can I help you”?
- What do your clients need
- What can you be doing to help their clients ie ZOOM meeting about accessing super.
It is more important than ever to keep a finger on the pulse of how your business is travelling. Set up a dashboard to track on a monthly basis:
- Client reviews
- New Business targets
- Internal SLAs
Focusing on long term business goals can be challenging at the best of times let alone during a global pandemic. Having clarity of your business vision and checking back in every now and then will ensure you are nimble enough to respond to challenges as necessary without taking your business off track.
The business plan for the year ahead is simply a roadmap of your planned route for the year. Having a plan that shows where you start from, where you want to end up and the milestones you want to achieve along the way is a great start in creating a strategic plan for your business and putting in firmly on track to achieve your business vision.