April 30, 2012

Key Systems for a Healthy Independent Advisory Business, Pt. 5: Client Retention

In last week’s post, part of my multi-part series on what makes a healthy independent advisory firm,  I wrote about client acquisition. This week, I'd like to focus on client retention. After all, it's easier (and cheaper) to retain than to attract a new client. Retaining clients must be a primary focus of any advisory business with the goal of fostering long-term relationships. Moreover, since our goal involves exceeding the client’s expectations, we must first understand those expectations. Asking, "What do you expect from this relationship?" is not only a fair question, but a necessary one. To the extent we can fully understand, we can pursue the goal of meeting it.

How to Build Trust
After the prospect has made the decision to engage you, you'll have the opportunity to prove yourself and develop trust. Although each client is different, there are a few commonalities. First, you should be "touching" the client on a regular basis. Outside of the obvious client reviews, you should consider sending cards out for birthdays, anniversaries, births, weddings,and r holidays. I'd suggest going one step further and calling them on their birthdays; simple, but it lets them know you are thinking about them. Annual client surveys are also a nice touch. It says you are interested in their opinions. You should also consider creating a new client orientation packet. This will let them know the full extent of what you offer and who to call for specific issues. Since the client was likely with another advisor prior to you, you should also offer to go over their first new statement. 

You may have noticed a theme here: We must make the client feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Think about your experiences with restaurants, hotels and other service establishments. Chances are you have some which are good and some which are not so good. With the finest establishments, the function of serving clients is almost a science. Everybody likes to be catered to. So in essence, we are all in the catering business. Top-shelf service; nothing less than that will do. 

I would like to make one final point which involves personalities. We all have one and not all personalities mix well. Therefore, it would behoove you to study the various personality types and adjust your approach accordingly. Even with the most inflexible person, there is probably a key to unlock their friendlier side. You just have to find it (of course, with some, we may not want to…). 

Next week I'll share some of my experiences with back offices as we discuss the third and final business system, Operations. 

Have a great week!

 

 

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