Compliance has dramatically increased the time spent with clients, escalating the need for
brokers to find efficiencies elsewhere. Find more hours in your day by incorporating big changes
and small shifts
1 GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD
Business efficiency expert and director of The Heart Of Nikki White says there are several ways
for companies to develop better systems regardless of how big or small they are. According to White, the most important way to improve efficiency is to start documenting your procedures.
“By procedures I mean the tasks you perform every day but the process is in your head. It’s time to get it out of your head and document it,” she says. “Having procedures will free up your time, allow you to re-evaluate the best process for each task, and make managing staff or contractor turnover stress free. Procedures will allow your product or service to be consistent, which makes your clients happy and, the best part of all, documented procedures allow you to have a leave of absence from your business and still make money.”
2 TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR INBOX
Whether you realise it or not, emails that are sitting in your inbox are taking up some of your mental capacity and hindering your efficiency, adds White.
While maintaining your inbox at a manageable level is an attitude and a habit that develops with time, you can get started quite easily. First you need to deal with the backlog. White suggests creating a folder called “old emails” and sweeping all emails cluttering up your inbox
into there. Now you’re free to create email folders that represent areas of your business. Sorting your emails will make it easier to find them, and it will help you approach emails systematically.
When a new email comes in, you have three options: read and action, read and delete or read and file. You must do one of these, she says, and advises against leaving the email sitting in your inbox. The final step to getting on top of your inbox is to go through the old emails folder, and choose one of the aforementioned options for every email you received within the past
week. Anything older than that is probably already irrelevant but can be stored just in case.
“You will be amazed how much your new clean inbox will make you more efficient and energised,” she says.
3 STANDARDISED RESPONSES
If you spend too much time writing a similar version of the same email over and over, it’s time
to standardise your responses, says White, the efficiency guru. Common questions can include website enquiries, general questions or even appointments requests.
“This step can save you hours each week. Type up your standard responses, and save the document under an easily understood and clear file name, and store it somewhere easy to locate quickly. Every time you get an email, copy, paste and personalise. Remember to inject some personal comments into the email, so your client still knows you care about them.”
She also recommends ‘TextExpander’. “It’s a great tool, which allows you to assign paragraphs of text to a quick shortcut key. You can customise your own shortcut keys so it’s nice and easy. Imagine typing two letters and having a standard paragraph of text appear – that’s exactly what it does for you.”
4 NARROW YOUR FOCUS
Advice Centre Consulting’s David Fox advocates limiting the number of processes your business
has, by specialising in certain markets.
“Clearly identifying the target market of the business allows the design and implementation of client servicing processes, which will enhance the client experience for a common group of clients and avoid the need to have many different processes for client groups with different
needs,” he says.
5 INCREASE CLIENT OWNERSHIP
Five months ago, director of Home Loan Experts Otto Dargan, switched from having a production
line model, where support staff specialised in particular tasks, to assigning specific support staff to handle applications for specific brokers.
“This resulted in a greater level of ownership of problems, allowed our brokers to coach our support staff and now, when the brokers are on holidays, they know someone who knows their files will be taking things on board.”
6 EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY
Going online has made the biggest difference in improving business efficiency, says Jane Slack-
Smith CEO of Investors Choice. Slack-Smith set up her business online in 2005 and, as a result, sends fact finders to clients on email, and rarely – if ever – has a face-to-face interview (unless it is a lender requirement).
“I utilise Skype video, and everything else is online and automatic. When I introduce the fee for advice model later in the year they will be able to pay and download everything they need plus lots of bonus resources automatically. I cut enormous time out of the process and
80% of my new enquiries come through online.”
7 UTILISE YOUR CRM
Aggregators spend huge amounts of money on CRM systems and the biggest complaint is that brokers only use a fraction of it. Contact your BDM, learn about the system and find out what it can do to improve your business.
AFG BDM Dan Heylbut champions AFG’s FLEX system. According to Heylbut, the system improves
efficiency by allowing members to directly capture client information at the initial contact interview and directly populate an application. AFG also recently introduced Broker Factfind and eFind – both aimed at improving efficiency.