Recently, someone asked me about the top challenges I see when working with RIAs. I identified four common issues, and want to share one of them with you today. The problem is not unique to RIAs, but instead fairly universal to service businesses. I’d love to hear if this resonates with you, and if so, if you have any techniques that work for you.
Problem: Many RIA founders, managers, and financial advisors say that they should be spending more time communicating with and seeing their clients, but they just aren’t doing it.
My thoughts: Regular, personal communication with clients is arguably the most important thing you can do to maintain and grow your business. Unfortunately, it’s easy (and often "comfortable") to get bogged down in day-to-day work and feel like you are “getting things done” by answering emails and responding to incoming requests. But these actions aren’t accomplishing the big picture goals for your business.
Solution: Block off 90 minutes per week on your calendar for calling clients, writing newsletters, sending birthday notes, planning client appreciation events, etc. If you don’t block off time, those things just will not happen consistently and effectively. If you have an assistant, ask him or her to reach out to top clients, tell the clients that they are on your mind, and ask if they’d like a call with you. Then have the assistant book those calls onto your calendar like an appointment. Do the call by video chat if your client is up for it. It’s more personal and you can make a better connection when you see someone's face. Aim for talking to top clients at least quarterly, monthly if your time allows and your clients appreciate that frequency. This is in addition to (not instead of) your in person meeting schedule. In addition to phone calls, use your 90 minutes/ week to plan client events, write a monthly newsletter, and queue up social media posts. If that’s too much for you to do on your own, delegate or outsource the appointment making, newsletter writing, and social media posting and just add the personal touches to each at the end.
“But what do we talk about?”: These calls do not require an agenda, unless the client has indicated (during scheduling) that they have something they want to talk about. You can say they are on your mind, or you just wanted to check in, or say hello. If you think the client would appreciate it, you can be candid and tell her that you like to check in with top clients regularly. You can ask how they are doing, ask about their families, jobs, vacations, etc. And of course make sure to ask if there is anything you can do for them or if the client has any upcoming money event that you should be planning for.
Setting expectations: Though most calls will be fine, not every call will go well. If you reach out to a client, and the client uses the opportunity to express dissatisfaction, consider it an early warning- the client is giving you insight into your client service practices and an opportunity to correct course. If you hadn’t talked to that client, they might have left your practice without warning or feedback. Use the feedback to make your business better, not just for the grumbling client, but for all of your clients.
Bonus: The majority of your calls will be a positive experience for both you and the client. In addition to keeping your clients feeling connected to you, these calls will help you feel more connected to the purpose of your work, which will likely be rejuvenating, and remind you why you love this business.
So, pick up the phone and check in with some clients. And then let me know how it goes!