CHRONICLE – BUSINESS STRATEGY
By Sara Gilbert
An advisor’s business practice is literally an SME, with some tasks proving more time-consuming. A Lean Kaizen approach allows for tangibly improving service quality while limiting operating costs. A real-life example of this is the use of models for communication purposes.
All advisors inevitably spend a lot of time drafting necessary but often repetitive documents (letters, e-mails, memos, invitations, etc.). Whenever I exchange with advisors on best business practices, I always tout modeling as a means of quickly and easily performing these types of tasks.
Having applied modeling to my own communications for the past few years, I now benefit from simpler processes and am more productive. I enjoy significant time savings due to my development of model letters and e-mails for multiple recipients, which I use regularly or during specific periods. This an excellent way to avoid continually reinventing the wheel while ensuring the consistency of all communications.
For example, if you follow every prospect meeting with a written thank-you (which I sincerely hope you do!), why not create two or three model messages for various client categories? Instead of always starting messages from scratch, you can now personalize existing models by adding text or tweaking a few sentences.
Here are scenarios where model letters will save you both time and effort:
– Thank you notes;
– Thank you messages to people who subscribe to your mailing list (newsletter or blog);
– Thank you letters to people who join your LinkedIn network;
– Invitations to various meetings;
– Meeting minutes (clients, prospects, influencers);
– Follow-up letters (after meetings with clients, prospects, influencers).
If you use Outlook 7, you can save these model documents with the QuickPart function; otherwise, you can create a Word document and keep it on your Desktop.
Using model letters for repetitive communications can thus be highly effective, but you will need to ensure that they are well-prepared and serve as a testimony to your professionalism.
You will generally need to personalize messages according to the specific circumstances, and sometimes even rewrite them from scratch. Model letters or templates are a simple way to more efficiently communicate, and should prove useful in around 90% of cases.
Such models are an example of using Lean Kaizen to reconcile efficiency and work quality, an approach useful in various areas of your business practice. Engage with your team to identify all repetitive but critical communications, then determine which new processes would be most rewarding. You will save time, which can be refocused to improve the customer experience you deliver. An indirect route to excellence!