Before every article, I think “What can I tell my readers that will save them time, money or frustration?” Tech issues seem to tick every box. After two trips to the Genius Bar in one week and spending over four and a half hours with some darling geeks, tech problems are really on my mind.
My goal for any tech is:
It needs to free me up to spend more time with clients. This is mandatory for creating a profitable business and happy, satisfied clients.
It needs to free up team time. I want to reduce their stress and make their work environment as good as possible.
It needs to create happy, sticky clients. We want clients to get an experience with us they can’t get elsewhere.
Here are some of the tools we are using, how they stack up against our tech and business goals, and a report on the success and the failures we have had.
We are an Apple shop through and through. When we were using PCs, we were constantly getting crashes. Apples have saved us a vast amount of time and were a great move. I can’t remember the last time our system crashed. Whenever I have tech problems, I can always sign up for a date with a geek at the Genius Bar.
One downside to using Apples is a surprising number of our employees are not familiar with Macs, so it takes a little longer to get them up to speed. Another downside is, some programs (including the one we use for our own accounting) do not work on Apples. This has become less of a problem over time, but years past, I couldn’t do all of my CE, because most of it was only available for PCs. Even our kludge accounting system has finally become cloud based.
Inside tip: Apple has a service for an extra fee (of course!) that allows you to jump to the front of the Genius Bar line. We are looking into this now.
I use an iPad mini for client presentations. I have an Apple TV and big monitor, so I can just put client data up on a big screen using a mirroring system. I found it was easier for clients to relate to the numbers when they were on a large screen, than looking at paper or a smaller monitor. Most of our clients prefer to receive documents electronically anyway. Now I save the paper for clients over 50.
I use an IPad Pro and Apple Pencil for taking notes. I recently started using an app called Notability (costs about $6) for taking electronic notes in client meetings. This has been a lifesaver, a tree saver and a time and money saver. The first week I used it in our Rhode Island office I only copied three pages of paper! This allowed us to go back to our printer/fax/copier/scanner company (Ricoh) and negotiate a much lower rate for usage and ink. It also meant my team got needed documents much faster and more legibly than faxing them to the home office. This has been a big savings all round.
I also use Notability for client deliverables. This program was invaluable this week because with our most complicated cases, there are a lot of moving parts and many complex reports. When I am taking a lot of notes, I switch the mirroring from my iPad mini to my IPad Pro, and now clients can actually see my handwritten notes on the big screen. From there I email the reports with my notes to the clients during the meeting. The clients have the information right away and it saves the team time.
For our CRM, we are currently using Redtail Technology. We briefly and unsuccessfully experimented with Grendel. Redtail is priced right and gets the job done. Their new release is prettier. It is not as robust as other CRMs, and it doesn’t integrate with Outlook, but we are limited in our choices since it has to integrate with other technologies we are using.
Financial planning software: we used MoneyGuide Pro for many years and just recently added eMoney. We were using MGP as a static reporting tool to generate our financial plans. The advantage for me was that I didn’t have to spend any time inputting data or massaging results. Our para-planners could easily handle that for me, saving me a lot of time and allowing me to spend more time with clients.