Who’s Running Who? Running my Business instead of My Business Running Me.
Author: Brad Decker, Program Manager, CFS/SPF
Back when I started my career as a financial advisor, I was very accommodating to prospects and clients when it came to scheduling meetings. A typical phone call may have sounded something like, “Hi Glenn. Oh, 6 pm tomorrow works best for you? No problem. I’ll make it work.” While I was happy to be so flexible with my meeting times, as I started to get busier and busier, growing my book of business I realized that approach couldn’t last. Then, when you add a family into the mix, change was inevitable. I just had to find a way to prevent both my work life and family life from suffering.
Taking Back Control
So, I committed to making a few changes. These changes would still allow me to offer my clients the level of service they were looking for, while giving me back the control of my schedule and providing time for my family that I was craving. In many ways by implementing a few key changes to how I structured my day, I finally began to feel like I was running my business, instead of my business running me.
In the Beginning…..
When we begin our career as a financial advisor we try hard to put our best foot forward. Some of this accommodating behavior may include going to every branch you cover in a day to meet the potential client’s schedule, without any consideration of being efficient.
While that may be fine in the very beginning, it will only be a matter of time until this behavior catches up with you and things start falling through the cracks.
Effective Project Management
If you are going to be successful in the long term, you must learn some proven project management skills. For example, instead of tackling the whole book or call list during the first few days, consider the following:
Create a Plan
- Begin by deciding on how many introductory calls you’ll make daily.
- Let them know how they can contact you.
- Tell the potential client that you are in the process of getting some appointments set up and give them some dates when you are looking to be in their area.
- Group your appointments by branch or location so you can be as efficient as possible. There is no bigger waste of time during the day than windshield time, so minimize it as much as you can.
- Time block your calendar and, most importantly, live by that time block. If your goal is to hold 15 appointments weekly then have blocks in your schedule for when you will hold those appointments. Most people understand when you provide them with the times you have available. One of the biggest hurdles I had was the one in my own mind. Did I actually have the right to offer the set appointment blocks? That was until one of my colleagues pointed out how this is common practice for doctors, lawyers and other professionals. It makes no sense that we should be different!
- Schedule office and paperwork blocks to make sure you can complete the necessary follow up. Make sure you can commit to the timeframes that you discuss with clients and prospects. Being busy is good, being productive is better.
- Recap and plan ahead on Friday afternoon. Once you get your schedule in place, take the last 30 minutes of your work day on Friday to review your calendar.
- Did you do what you set out to do that week? If not, why not?
- What action items are needed from you for the next steps based on your appointments from that week? Do you have the time built in to accomplish those action items?
- Look at your upcoming week on Sunday evening..
- Look at your schedule for the upcoming week ahead. How many appointments do you have scheduled? How many should you have? What meetings do you have action items for? When are they scheduled to be completed? Did you do what you set out to do that week? If not, why not?
Overall there is not a “silver bullet” for getting a better handle on your individual practice. However, there are many small things that can be done along the way to make you more efficient and less reactive. By implementing time blocking and taking control of your schedule, you’ll be back to running your business and not letting your business run you.