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Practice Management > Building Your Business

4 Steps to Align Firm Strengths With Value to Consumers

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One of the pressures on advisory firms is changing consumer preferences. Advisors who want to call themselves a quarterback or a coordinator when they describe their services are talking in clichés and abstractions; clients will eventually begin to hear and think, “Oh, you get paid for doing nothing.” Dig deep and spend some time figuring out what you really do, and how that creates a satisfying client experience.

Here are some steps to help you get better aligned so you are building the business you want and attracting the clients who will respond to your real strengths.

1. Talk to some trusted clients. This is important and courageous. Ask a couple of trusted clients how they feel about your services, what they like and, most important, what they think could be improved.

You may not want to do everything they say, but their comments are worth considering. You should implement enough of their suggestions to prove that you were really listening to them and value their advice.

2. Talk with your team. Is everyone on the same page regarding the service offering to clients? What suggestions would team members make to enhance the client experience? How would they change or improve the operating environment?

Team members are often a great source for quick, easy improvements to a business; plus, this action has the added benefit of empowering staff members.

3. Join a study group. In an industry of small businesses, it’s great to find colleagues who share similar challenges and concerns. You can share intel on trends and new technology, and troubleshoot for one another. Many of the nation’s top advisors have formed study groups based on commonalities and goals. Some even run their own business ledger to account for dues received and jointly approved expenditures that support the greater good.

If you are a financial services firm executive, it might make sense to meet with trusted peers on a regular basis to share ideas and discuss business evolution.

4. Invest in a client survey. Surveys, if done right, can be costly (both in time and financial resources), but it is important to know what your clients, over all, think about your business. Once you commit to a survey, though, realize that you are also committing to addressing any issues it reveals.

You may find that you are shifting the emphasis at your firm toward the most valuable service, and away from tasks you like to do but clients don’t really care about. It is good to know that sooner rather than later.

— Read Advisors, ‘Amazon One-Click’ Your Firm on ThinkAdvisor.