An older couple in a rowboat, fishing (Credit: Shutterstock)

The “80/20″ rule, also called the “Pareto Principle,” is the idea that 80% of business results are achieved through 20% of the actions. You may have even heard this concept expressed as “20% of your clients bring in 80% of your revenue, “or “20% of the people do 80% of the work.”

If you want to avoid losing your “80%” clients and would love to get more referrals from them, you need to have processes that make your practice resistant to the advances of other agents and advisors. Achieving high retention means fewer marketing costs, less time wasted, and less stressful and more enjoyable business relationships.

Onboarding: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Statistically speaking, the first 90 days of your relationship with a new client is the riskiest period when it comes to retention. You will significantly reduce and possibly even eliminate “churn” if you demonstrate value from day one. One way to show value is by making your client onboarding process more than an afterthought or something you are forced to do because of compliance demands. Creating well-designed and repeatable protocols for bringing new clients into your practice is one of your most potent retention tools.

(Related: Shared Experiences Build Better Advisor Relationships)

Onboarding procedures allow you to scale your business, ensure that your staff doesn’t miss any crucial steps, maintain compliance standards, and impress your new clients with your efficiency and professionalism more easily. Your commitment to providing better new client onboarding is a painless process that will make it easier to get your new clients to refer you to others.

Develop an Onboarding Checklist

The foundational component of your onboarding process is the checklist. Having a list ensures that your staff knows what to do when beginning a new client relationship.

Below is a template to help you design your new client procedures checklist.

1. Welcome Letter

Many practices have switched to emails to save time and money.

However, I believe that if you want to convey a sense of class and “white glove” treatment, you should consider sending a personalized welcome letter on nice stationery.

This more personal communication method will make you stand out.

2. Staff Assignments

Larger practices will need to pick the team members best suited to a particular client.

Your team will need to be briefed and trained before they meet the new client in person.

Each team member should send a short introduction email explaining their qualifications, background, and role.

3. Questionnaire

Formulate and send a brief onboarding questionnaire.

You can find examples of these online.

Questionnaires are probably best delivered digitally and need to be as short and easy-to-complete as possible.

4. Necessary Compliance

You will want to ensure all appropriate compliance procedures are executed and documented.

5. Welcome Package

Sending a welcome package, which might include flowers, a fruit basket, or other goodies, might seem a little old-fashioned in this digital age.

But, doing so will make you stand out to your new client, and their friends.

6. Kick-Off Meeting

At this meeting, which can either be virtual or live, you want to communicate to the client the next steps, set reasonable expectations, and tell them exactly how and how often you will be interacting with them.

7. 30-Day Call

Schedule a short check-up 30 days from the kick-off to determine how the client feels about the team and the service he or she is receiving.

After this call, you can consider the onboarding process completed and begin to move your client into a nurture sequence.

Whether you have a small boutique practice or a large agency, you can add a touch of class and emphasize the value you bring by creating an outstanding onboarding protocol. The time and money you spend doing so will pay off now and, in the future, and ensure you keep the clients you worked so hard to gain.

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Joe UpplegerJoe Uppleger is the president of Safe Future Financial in Howell, Michigan.