These are difficult times for clients and advisors alike, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking some specific practice management actions in response.
Your Staff. In these times, some people expect the worst, even if those fears are unfounded. So if you aren’t considering layoffs, tell your staff that and thank them for putting in extra effort.
Tap employees to gather suggestions for how to economize. From using the color printer only when needed, to reading documents online instead of printing pages, to enhancing efficiency through better teamwork, small changes can add up to big differences. You may discover that an employee wants to reduce hours and work part-time. On the other hand, if you’ve been tolerating poor employee performance for some time, the economy may push you to take action you should have taken long ago.
If you feel that, for economic reasons, you have to terminate a solid performer, think twice. Laying off a good employee has a toxic effect on an organization, not to mention the advisor’s heart.
Your Marketing. This is not the time to cut the marketing budget. In fact, increase it if possible. This moment represents a unique opportunity, as many clients are searching for new advisors (see “Marketing in a Downturn” sidebar on page 36).
Your Future. A merger may sound like a good way to economize, but the independent solo advisor who has never wanted a partner is allowing the tail to wag the dog if he decides to merge solely on the economy.
If a merger is something you have talked about for years, now may be an opportune time to create a new, more efficient organization. Consider slow, careful shifts. While you may not want a formal partnership, sharing space, office equipment, or selected resources is a way to economize without going too far.
Your Opportunities. Timing is everything in life. If your lease for space or equipment is up soon, you may be able to find equivalent or better at a bargain. Negotiate a deal with your current landlord or vendor. Buying the office condo that has been too expensive in the past may now be an option.