There is more demand on our time now than ever before. Things that need to be done creep into our well-planned schedule. I have been a financial advisor since 2001, and during that time I have tried, failed, tried and succeeded, only to then have a new responsibility and fail again. This is OK because if you are not “failing forward,” you are probably not growing.
Here are four steps I have focused on over the years to gain more time to do the things I want to do.
1. Set your calendar with intention. I’ve tried various ways to set appointments with my clients. Those ways continue to evolve and change, based on my life and my commitments. Where I have found great success is setting up appointments with clients one weekend a month in the fall and winter months. So, if a client asks for an appointment in July, I remind them that when they wake up on Saturday morning and it’s beach weather, they are probably going to cancel the appointment. I can’t compete with the beach!
After my wife and I had our first child, I didn’t schedule appointments on weekends, and I currently schedule no appointments after 6:30 p.m.
Where am I today? I see clients only three days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), and the last appointment begins at 5 pm. Controlling your calendar will bring you greater peace of mind and will allow you to perform better in all areas of your life. Introducing these “guardrails” is easier when you give clients access to your calendar through the use of an online calendar system.
2. Leverage technology. In our office, we have links for all types of meetings and for the days they take place. Every step of the process has its own link — a meeting with a wholesaler has one, and even an introductory call has its own. This helps keep the focus on each particular day.
You also can use a customer relationship management system, which allows you to stay in tune with your practice and keeps you and the team on the same page. Most important are the notes that a CRM provides. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been saved by these detailed notes.
We use a Kanban project-management tool. However, keep in mind, there are a variety of project-management tools that are available on the market today. So, you can find the one that best suits your practice needs. With ours, we can move the client “prep,” projects and practice calendar forward, which allows all members of my team to stay on the same page.
3. Leverage your team. Our team communicates primarily through internal messaging. This allows us to keep a log of questions and responses, and it ultimately reduces the number of email messages we exchange. If there is a quick question that requires a quick answer, this is the best approach for our team to use. We still use email to send sensitive documents, which are protected by the server. We have three standing meetings per week. Monday afternoon meetings are for reviewing what happened during the prior week and for planning for the upcoming week.
We work off a document called “Actionable and Measurable Activities.” This allows the team to have clarity on our focus for the week. Additionally, we have a Tuesday or Wednesday morning 20-minute “huddle” to address anything the team needs my help with.
Finally, on Friday, we close out the week with a virtual happy hour at about 5 p.m. During this time, we talk about anything social, as well as about the upcoming weekend. This has been especially helpful during the pandemic. Having a team to support you gives you time to do what you are best at doing — helping people solve their financial problems!
4. Outsource tasks and functions. Having a team on salary is not easy on the pocket, so outsourcing has been my best friend. We’ve outsourced practice management, bookkeeping and graphics. This gives me the effect of having a large operation with minimal commitment. If the team or an individual is not needed, we simply end the contract. If I need to get something done, I just Google it and there will be someone out there who would love to do what I don’t want to do. Remember that your only job is to help people solve their financial problems.
Additionally, leverage your internal partners — the insurance company, your broker/dealer and/or registered investment advisor. They have a wide range of resources you can use to improve your practice.
If you take an organized approach to running your business, you will start making the time to do what needs to be done. Bringing together resources requires meticulous planning on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month and year-to-year basis. Having a system that you can follow regardless of the season will help keep you organized and on track.