Better Every Day: Take the reins and lead

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Amid panicked business clients, the rapid transition to a new normal way of working and tracking multiple (complex) COVID-19 economic relief efforts, I still keep coming back to one word that best describes what I’m feeling (and I’m sure it’s not any word you might be thinking): passion.

I’ve long had a passion to help my clients succeed, of course. It’s why I started my firm in the first place. What I’m referring to is a rediscovery of that initial ambition — a level of passion that comes with honoring the title of trusted advisor and an unmitigated drive to take this role to a whole new level.

Our clients need us more than ever right now. They need clarification on complex relief efforts, assistance with applying for loans, help with cash flow analysis and preparing crisis budgets, and a calming assurance that we’ll all get through this. Now is the time to take the reins and lead. Because, honestly, if not now, when?

We have a tremendous opportunity to be of greater service to our clients. And to do this, there are four key things that every firm should be doing right now:

1. Serve as a true advisor. We should assume that every one of our business clients needs to improve cash flow and that they don’t understand and/or don’t know where to start with the multiple economic relief loans available. As such, firm owners need to have a sound plan in place in order to successfully advise clients. This plan requires firms to:

  • Gather accurate information on the new economic relief programs;
  • Create presentations and other materials to clearly explain these programs to clients and guide them on which are the best fit for their situation; and
  • Commit to helping clients now and billing later. Firms will want to track advisory projects carefully, but be patient with payments.

You have the opportunity to elevate your advisor role and develop life-long loyalty among your clients. You can trust that they will not forget all you’ve done for them.

2. Be the leader your team needs. Be sure you continue to lead your staff with confidence and clarity. A calm, focused and nurtured team is your biggest asset in ensuring that clients are well taken care of.

  • Facilitate a daily stand with your team to offer regular, timely updates and receive collective feedback. Meeting daily helps keep everyone focused and on the same page,
  • Take the time to ensure your employees are doing OK in terms of mental wellbeing.
  • Give staff the tools and resources required to successfully perform their jobs.

3. Be proactive. Don’t wait for clients to ask for help. Reach out now.

  • Pick up the phone or use a video conferencing app to make calls. Ask clients how they are doing and explain how you can help them (e.g., clarification on loan programs, cash flow analysis, etc.).
  • Send information-based emails, explaining loan options and offering a clear and easy-to-understand comparison chart.
  • Update your website to offer clear, timely updates. I recommend creating a dedicated COVID-19 landing page to house all relevant and current announcements and information (and write them in terms your clients can understand).

4. Practice patience. Be on the right side of history by showing patience and compassion with both staff and clients. Clients may reach out several times with the same questions, require a grace period for payment or even get emotional. Be a calming presence for them … and keep leading them in the right direction. For staff, understand that working from home may be an uncomfortable transition or perhaps they are personally struggling with the current crisis. Show your team the same level of patience and compassion you offer your clients.

Our clients need us now more than ever. For many small businesses, there is a single focus: survival. We have the opportunity to make a much bigger and long-lasting impact on clients — to be true advisors and lead them through the chaos to a place of calm. So, take the reins and lead!

For a deeper dive on the topics discussed in this article and more, subscribe to the “Better Every Day podcast on iTunes or listen on the Rootworks website at rootworks.com/podcast.

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