Providing advising services to clients in benefits and finances is a deeply personal engagement.
While some clients will be more focused on returns, most will care more about their experience with you as their trusted adviser. True relationships can only be built through personal experiences with you. Over time, trust and rapport will grow, and you can generate long-term relationships with clients. The challenge is that there is a lot of competition for your potential clients business. How do you cut through the clutter of advertisements and Internet searches to help prospects know you? How do you convey your personal brand before prospects become clients even before they are looking for an adviser?
Some advisers have started spending so much time on LinkedIn, tweeting and posting on other social media mediums that they have fooled themselves into thinking that they are building true relationships.
While these forms of communication are important, the reality is that social media and email communications are not enough. Advisers need a whole tool belt of strategies and tactics to help you cultivate relationships with clients and prospects.
Larry Teichman, a branch manager with recently-rebranded Teichman Financial Services in Chesterland, Ohio, has forged real relationships with his community, creating a sense of affinity and cementing lifelong friends clients or not.
Keeping it real
Teichman, while speaking with me at a conference, says his philosophy is to focus on his clients objectives and maintain contact with them throughout all market conditions. Here are a few of the ways that Teichman and his colleagues keep it real with clients and prospects:
1. Legacy interviews
Teichman invites clients to discuss their life accomplishments, in front of a video camera. A facilitator is hired to interview clients in a living room setting while a professional records the session and finalizes the piece after filming. The client is given as many copies of their story on DVD as theyd like. The goal is to capture their stories that might be otherwise lost.
One 60-year-old client brought in his WWII-veteran father who helped liberate a death camp. His father was a private man and hadnt discussed his wartime experiences. The resulting story of this humble hero was a gift to the entire family and I was happy to provide the experience, Teichman said.
2. Not-so-random acts of kindness
Because Teichman Financial Services has a good customer relationship management system, they can quickly access detailed information about the client at any time.
They take simple notes throughout client meetings just enough to remember what they want to dictate into their note transcription service mobile app after the meeting. Once transcribed, those notes are posted directly to the clients CRM record.
This process allows Teichman and his staff to be totally present during client meetings and to provide for the client beyond the typical relationship. Because Teichman and his team track whats important to the client, their random acts of kindness are more meaningful than random. The closer it is tied to the clients dreams and goals the better, Teichman said.
3. At-home office
Teichmans building is no typical office space. Clients drive up to a home-like structure and enter through the front door, just like your guests do at home. When they come through the door they see a waterfall, a piano in the foyer and an office furnished with antiques from the area. There is a large brass bell from a train station that signals the beginning of each meeting.
Clients will not encounter a single financial magazine in the lobby; rather, they have many lifestyle and travel options to flip through. And with a miniature train running through the conference room and hallway (an impressive 3,000 feet of track), clients and friends bring the young ones in just to see the train run its course. We also have the best candy dish, Teichman said.
4. Community library
The home-like building features a big library with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the trees. With tons of titles to read, visitors can read in the library or borrow a book and take it with them. Its a lending library for the community, Teichman said.
5. Open-door policy
Because this is a community-oriented business, visitors dont need to make an appointment and are welcome to simply stop by. We have lots of people stop by during the holidays just to see how we decorated the office and to say hello, Teichman said.
In todays competitive environment, leaning on electronic communications alone wont be enough. Get creative when thinking about how to engage in your community. Each client, firm and community will call for different approaches, so bring your staff into the process and have fun thinking outside the box.
Swift blogs for Financial Planning, a SourceMedia publication.
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