I recently listened to a 30-minute podcast featuring Jeb Banner, CEO of Smallbox. Smallbox develops web sites and consults on transformative ideas like putting employees first. The owner works with clients on Factory Days and/or Weeks. At their core, Factory Days are about reinvesting in yourself and your support staff.
Smallbox shut down its business for the first time in 2011 for a Factory Week, allowing everyone to get away from the business and work on themselves. And, of course, we can all use time to improve ourselves—recuperate, recharge, relearn and discover new possibilities. Although the experiment was not perfect, it did focus on the employees and their development.
How often do you shut down your business to improve your staff and your practice?
As planners, we control our schedules. Unfortunately, we allow our clients to set our weekly or daily schedules. And we tend to chase the “next case” or “next revenue source.” But we rarely take time to get offsite and work on our own practices. The old saying is “work on your business not in it.” I would say that most financial professionals are busy chasing the next urgent need, regardless of its importance. We simply love to be busy as a way of justifying our revenue to our clients. Worse yet, we have hired talented individuals to leverage our time, sales and service, but we don’t always know how to use our staff in the most effective ways possible.
How much more balanced would your life be if you didn’t have to chase after every client need?
If you reinvest in your staff, I bet you can learn much from them about your business. And, they are likely to provide great ideas on becoming more efficient, providing better customer service and helping you grow your business. But they need to know what to do and how to do it. A simple word for that process is “training.” We rarely budget time, energy, dollars and other resources to make our staffs better. I am almost certain that we all underutilize our sales support staff members. If we better train them, chances are we can have better balance in our lives—versus running around 10 to 12 hours a day.
Who do you think is most important?
While it may seem selfish, Smallbox would argue that you and your staff are the most important assets you have. Ultimately, you are using your talents for the betterment of your clients’ financial futures. However, you have to keep yourself and your staff engaged in ways that help them grow and get better. Learning and growing will allow you to provide more value to your clients and prospects. So, from time to time, take time to step away from your business and get re-engaged in your most important asset: you and your staff.
Schedule regular time throughout the year to think about your business, discover new ways to help clients, and improve the skill sets of you and your staff. It’s worth the investment.
Mike McGlothlin is a tireless advocate for the retirement planning industry. As executive vice president of annuities at Ash Brokerage, he heads a team providing income planning solutions focused on longevity and efficiency. He’s also a thought leader who provides guidance and assistance for advisors and broker-dealers navigating marketplace and regulatory changes. You can find a collection of his blog posts in his book, “Above the Clouds … Winning Strategies from 30,000 Feet.”
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