Spring cleaning your business - money on a clothesline (Image: Shutterstock)

Spring cleaning: It’s an expression that’s so old, we’ve forgotten what it means. In households it used to involve hanging area rugs outside on the clothesline and beating the dust out. Reorganizing kitchen cabinets. Flipping the mattress. What would spring cleaning mean for your business?

Years ago, I met a bank CEO. I was always impressed that he started and ended each day with a completely clear desk. Most of us, myself includes, are far less organized. It’s been said a messy desk is a sign of genius. It’s also been said it’s the sign of a cluttered mind. I often think disorganization is something that slows us down. We don’t know where things are, so we don’t bother to look for them.

“Cleaning your office” might be impossible if you cannot go to the office right now. You are working from home. You can still spring clean your home office, virtual office and put together a “to do” list for when you get back to your physical office.

  1. Client contact system. Who haven’t you contacted in a long time? Yes, there are different forms of contact, yet phone calls are one of the most personal. You can learn a lot from a person’s tone of voice. Build that list. You can call them now. You don’t need to wait until you return.
  2. Money coming due. You might be working remotely, but bonds and CDs still mature. Interest payments need reinvesting. Build another list of these clients. You can act on this now.
  3. Swaps. There are circumstances when it makes sense to shorten or lengthen maturities in the fixed income segment of client portfolios. Look at clients’ bond holdings. Does this make sense?
  4. Rebalancing. Many asset allocations are likely out of alignment. It stands to reason if equities are down and bonds are up, some money should flow into the equity space. It’s another conversation to have.
  5. Stale leads. You likely have an online folder of emails from people who asked questions or might want to do business. They’ve likely been forgotten about. Build a list of those folks.
  6. Business cards. You still hand them out; you still get them. Have they been entered into your CRM system as prospects? You might have a stack with a rubber band around at the office, so that’s out of reach right now. You probably have another at home, too. Check the pockets of the suit jackets you keep in the closet.
  7. Clean out drawers. This is a home office and physical office project. Open your drawers and cabinets. Ruthlessly throw out stuff. If it isn’t a lead and you are unlikely to need it, why are you keeping it? This will be an after-hours office project when you return.
  8. Outlook folders. Assuming you move documents to folders from email, you probably have hundreds or even a thousand saved emails. Why? Clean this up. You might come across some more leads. At worst, you have empty folders you can delete.
  9. Expense accounts. If you are reimbursed for travel, this is a good time to catch up. It’s likely any paper receipts are somewhere in your house. The challenge is finding them…
  10. Phone messages. Have you saved some? Why, exactly? Although they likely delete after 30 days, this is a good time to review them. Maybe it was something important.

When the “All Clear” Has Sounded

We all hope to be back in our offices sooner rather than later. You will likely be carrying in several lists of aged leads to follow up along with potential business from clients you couldn’t reach to talk about rebalancing or swaps.

Here’s what to do in the office:

  1. Organize those business cards. They are likely leads. Enter those into your CRM, too.
  2. Clean out drawers. Cabinets too. You will likely find more aged leads or scraps of paper with a phone number and unintelligible notes. Maybe a cocktail napkin or two. Throw out lots of other stuff.
  3. Throw out newspapers and magazines. They are clutter! Pull out the articles you want to save.
  4. Clean surfaces. COVID-19 is serious, yet it makes sense to clean your desk and cabinet surfaces anyway. Don’t forget your pictures and awards. It makes your office look nicer. Smells good too.
  5. Organize client files. If you still keep folders with client notes, flip through each one. Maybe something will catch your eye that might lead to business.

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