Six Ways to Create an Engaging Office Environment This Tax Season
An often overlooked part of marketing and growing your practice involves your physical office arrangement. The appearance of your office should set the client in the right frame of mind to engage you for additional services, especially wealth management services. Most CPAs and attorneys do not pay close attention to the detail in how their office appears. All of us have certain limitations on how we can arrange our offices, but don’t let this stop you fr om making the most of what you have this tax season. Here are six ways to create an engaging office environment:
1. Arrange your lobby effectively
Your lobby should reflect how you want your firm to be perceived by your clients. It should be tastefully decorated with quality, conservative furniture. Preferably, clients should not be able to see or hear other parts of your office from the lobby. Never discuss client business in the lobby, and never discuss one client’s affairs in front of another. If you have space for a client conference room, use it for all client discussions that don’t take place in a private office.
When displaying your wealth management services or other investment material in the lobby, it should be lim ited to pieces that reflect the image you want to create. It is appropriate and profitable to use such material to spark client interest, but don’t clutter up the place so that the client is confused.
Announcement boards can be very effective tools for welcoming clients to your office. Try a welcome board that lists the names of clients who will be visiting that day. You might even try maintaining a bulletin board in your lobby titled “News About Our Clients.” You can post newsletters and media pieces featuring your clients there.
If you have the space, use a television to play the Method 10™ screen saver or other investment messages or to show a news channel.
2. Greet your clients
It can be effective to have your clients announced to you over the phone intercom. It is best to leave your office and greet the clients personally in the reception area rather than having them ushered back to see you. When you do greet them, be sure that you make physical contact in some way. A good firm handshake with both husband and wife is appropriate. Or try a friendly pat on the back for the man and a possible light touch on the forearm of the woman. The extent of your cordiality depends on the type of relationship you have with your clients, of course. You should never invade “their space” for too long and all touch should be within the bounds of good taste.
Call the clients by their names and instruct your staff to do likewise. When you walk into another’s place of business, think of how it makes you feel to hear the sound of your name being called out in a friendly manner. It makes you feel important and welcome. Your client’s name should be mentioned at least three times during every visit.
3. Meet around a table
Never put a desk between you and your client if you can avoid it. Try using a small round or oblong table. If you are sitting with a husband and wife, try to sit between them so that everyone can see what you are presenting. Most top producers prefer working around a small table, and they prefer to sit next to the clients. Some studies show that elderly clients feel more comfortable with traditional dark wood furniture, while younger professionals feel more comfortable with modern light wood modular furniture.
4. Use a whiteboard or flip chart
Everyone should have a whiteboard or flip chart to write on in the office. Whiteboards are invaluable tools in selling. Most people are visual learners and need to see illustrations of what you are talking about. Use the board to write down points or objections that your clients raise. Then you can go back to those points to be sure that you have covered them all.
5. Display marketing materials
Make sure it is obvious to your clients that your firm is in the financial services business. You must professionally display ample marketing literature. Charts showing stock market indices, the history of interest rates, etc., are interesting and will reinforce what you are doing in your clients’ eyes. They won’t make sales directly, but they will pique interest.
You will receive volumes of display materials from product sponsors. Be sure that all brochures, prospectuses, annual reports, etc., are current. Outdated materials not only make you look bad, but they also are illegal.
6. File technical and marketing articles
Ready reference to technical and marketing articles will help you to do your job more effectively. If you are a 1st Global Method 10™ participant, for example, try setting up three-ring binders with sections for each Method 10™ element. At 1st Global, we suggest setting up two sets of binders, one for technical items and one for sales/marketing information on each category. For example, you may have a section of each binder on retirement planning, which includes 403(b) and 401(k) technical articles in one binder and retirement planning sales and marketing ideas in the other. The articles and technical memorandums are an excellent and quick referral source. You may also want to keep additional Compliance-approved copies that you can provide to your clients.
The most important item to remember about marketing and growing your practice is that you need to consistently remind your clients of the services that you provide. Don’t assume your clients know what tax services, or wealth management services, you offer; remind them through consistent marketing. And, this includes your physical office space.
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