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Planning Sessions are a Big First Step for Both You and Your Clients

Now is a good time to further yourself as an advisor for your clients’ businesses and personal finances. Instead of occasional work (compliance, bookkeeping, payroll, etc.) your firm will get tucked into their daily affairs, aiding them in their efforts to expand their business.

Sounds easier said than done, right? Actually, we’d like to give you an incredibly simple way to get that ball rolling.

The next time you meet with your client ask them the following: “Did you spend some time and effort putting together your holiday? How much time did you spend? Now, how much time did you spend this year on planning your business’ future?”

Chances are they’ve spent far less time on proper business planning. If they’ve spent any time at all. And this is a big opportunity for you.

Why you should be in the planning business

Steering your clients towards holding planning sessions is going to go a long way toward redefining your relationship. Here are some of the major reasons why you should give it a go:

First of all, it’s not a lot of extra work on your behalf. You’re already working with your client’s numbers. So the majority of the effort is already being done anyway. Really what you’re doing is presenting these numbers to your client in a fashion that will clearly display to them where they stand and what they can do to effect positive changes.

Second, considering how little extra work it is on your behalf, it presents your client with immensely important information as well as actionable and clear steps they can take to boost their business.

Third, it gives you an easy and welcome way to offer your menu of services.

Setting your client up for success (and you along with them)

So you hit your clients with the initial eye-opening question regarding how much time they spend planning their business’ future. Once they’ve had a minute or two to mull over their lack of planning it’s time for you to mention that you’ve led such planning sessions for other clients and that they’ve been able to come away from them with clear goals and the steps they need to achieve them.

To get you started, one of the best things you can do to help you keep control of the meeting is to write up an agenda. This can just be one page that lays out the steps you want to hit in the meeting. It shows that you’re the host (the one to be listened to) and keeps the meeting from spinning out of control.

During the meeting, your role is to ask the questions that get the ball rolling, not give the answers. Ideally, you want to steer them toward creating a business plan with yearly goals broken down into monthly milestones. What goals would they like to set? Where are they now in those categories? What do they think they do really well? Use the answers to these questions to mold the plan.

Keep in mind, this plan should be concise and clear. You want a couple of easy-to-follow pages, not a novel full of esoteric business-talk. If you manage to get this plan down you’ve already demonstrated your firm’s ability to bring value to your client’s business. If a plan does get whipped up, the next step is to offer your services to help them keep on track. Your business service pack has been designed for just that purpose, offered to the select few clients that make it this far in their planning. These services offer your clients two further major benefits:

1 – Accountability. You’ll meet with the client each month to go over how they’re progressing on their monthly goals. It can be extremely helpful for a client to have someone come in and remind them of where they want to be by such-and-such a date, and which of their team members are responsible for which actions.

2 – Clear numbers. Their numbers are going to be delivered to them in a method that they clearly understand. They’re going to see how action X has affected bottom line Y.
Happily enough, these monthly meetings have a third sneaky benefit – a monthly reminder that your suggestion of a planning session was the first step in their business’s accelerated success.

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