- Answering the telephone
- Opening mail
- Handling inquiries
- Resolving problems
- Scheduling appointments
- Calling prospects
Take a hard look and see if you are doing the same. Read on and you’ll find a way out.
In between the activities above, you have client appointments. The client appointments, the opportunities to make your money, get sandwiched in between the activities that generate no money. In other words, you have two appointments consuming a total of 3 hours a day and the other 7 hours you spend in non-revenue-generating activity.
A Professional Practice
Although I have often heard doctors criticized for their lack of financial understanding, they know so much more than the average financial planner about running a business. Look again at the above list of laborer activities. Does your doctor do any of these activities? No. He spends his time in appointments, back to back, all day long. The entire day is one day-long, fee-generating party.
Your doctor is a professional, not a laborer. Are you a sales professional or a sales laborer? If you don’t like your answer, here’s the way out.
Refuse to do the laborer activities by hiring someone to do them. Your first reaction to my suggestion will be something about not having enough money, or when you finally earn x amount, that’s what you’ll do, or someday when….
You’ve got it backwards. When your doctor first opened his practice, he hired an office manager who acted as receptionist, and he hired a nurse. He hired two people before he had one patient! Then he could spend his time visiting with other established doctors generating referrals, spend some hours a week on the staff of a hospital and generate billable services and pursuing the activities which would build a lucrative business with an abundance of clients. Your doctor pursued a simple financial concept that many producers don’t get: invest today and reap the rewards tomorrow. Sure, you tell your clients that, but look at your business to see what you actually believe. You don’t take your own advice.
You Can't Save Your Way to Greatness
Too many producers are so focused on minimizing today’s expenses that they will never create the tomorrow they desire. Most advisors don’t understand the simple model of a successful professional practice. The model is that you do everything to maximize the most valuable resource for its highest and best use—your time must be spent in selling activities. The time for those activities must be created BEFORE the activities occur. The land must be cleared before the trees can grow. To say this so that we can apply to your business, you must have context before you can fill in the content.
Main Reason Your Business Cannot Grow
Let’s make sure that’s clear. I see a lot of producers focused on generating more business. But that’s “content.” How can you generate more business, if you already work 12 hours a day? Can you put more water in a jar that’s already full? The new business has to “fit” somewhere and if your operation has no space for it, you cannot increase your revenue. Therefore, you have got to make space (context). Before you make any changes, just be sure that you have created the context for any new content.
Make the necessary investments to have a real business. These investments include hiring an assistant, funding an efficient marketing program, subcontracting activities that have no revenue-producing value (more about the specifics in the tactics section).
Do you know any successful business that has not made investments? Then its time you starting thinking like a CEO and shareholder about investments, return on investment, profit margin, terminal value of your business, and other indicators of economic success.
After you make an investment (e.g., hiring a new assistant), you may not see a payoff for 3 to 6 months. After all, when General Motors builds a plant, do they get an immediate payback? But with a little patience, you will notice a transformation. You will wake up one morning and notice that your operation is one step closer to being a real business as you begin to make profit on the new employee’s labor! Instead of doing all of the activities that don’t generate revenue, you spend your day meeting with clients, prospects, referrals, referral sources, networking, giving talks, writing articles—all of the activities that only a professional can do, the items you cannot delegate. When you’re a sales professional, people refer business to you, you have more appointments, you get larger clients and your monthly income is hitting new records.
You’re skeptical that this risk will work? Here’s a tip. If you want to see how extraordinary you are, you’ve got to raise the stakes. You’ve got to take risk beyond your comfort zone to operate at a higher level. If you need a reminder to stay on track, just call your doctor’s office to make an appointment and see how many weeks you have to wait for an opening.
So make the investments you’ve been putting off. The minute you put yourself at risk, it’s amazing how creative and motivated you get and how you see new opportunities to reduce your risk and generate more business. In other words, cause your own discomfort and watch how you take positive action to restore your comfort.