As we head into the final 2 months of 2019, you may be wondering where all the time went and what can you do in these final two months to really help your practice end the year with a BANG!
I’ve put together what I consider to be the Top 10 Year-End Practice-Building and Marketing Ideas for 2019 so that you can end this year on a productive, positive note and head into 2020 with some momentum!
IDEA #1: Clean up your database.
Now is a great time to take a look at your database and figure out how you can clean it up. Do you have a lot of information collected on your clients and prospects, but no where to locate or quickly find it? This is an often overlooked (HUGE) marketing opportunity that so many practitioners are missing. Evaluate your current CRM system and figure out how you can maximize the information in your database to have as much information on your clients as possible, including updated contact information (especially e-mail) and information about them (including assets, planning they’ve done, last time they came in, etc.).
IDEA #2: Contact some local CPAs and financial advisors.
Right now is a great time to reach out to local CPAs and financial advisors! CPAs have just finished up a busy October tax season and now await the much bigger tax season to come in about 3 months. Reach out to your local referral sources, take them out to lunch, and chat about ways that you may be able to work together and help one another’s practices, including doing seminars for one another’s clients and become a “top of mind” attorney for these professionals to refer their clients to in the coming months!
IDEA #3: Assess your current “works in process”.
Take a look at all of your current files that are pending or open, figure out what’s needed to get the plans complete and out the door. You may be overwhelmed with the amount of pending files you have, but if you can assess what’s needed and focus on those that are 75% or more complete and work to get those out the door before the end of the year, it will give you a way to prioritize and get a few more files off the “works in process” list. This leads me to…
IDEA #4: Clear the bubble.
Find a few days through the next 2 months that you can completely shut your doors and do nothing but focus on current files you’re working on. It doesn’t mean that YOU (and your staff) won’t be working! What it means is that you won’t book any client meetings or phone calls on those days and you may even have very minimal phone and/or e-mail coverage on those days and you completely devote these days to getting work done! (HINT: You might think it’s poor customer service to do this, but so is taking a long time to get peoples’ plans completed and not properly servicing them in a timely fashion! If anything, your clients can and will appreciate this!)
IDEA #5: Hold a client review and/or Successor Trustee seminar.
Seminars to the public during the final two months of the year are not ideal times to host seminars; however, it is a GREAT time to consider hosting a seminar for your existing clients who haven’t been in to see you for some time and, even better, a great time to host a seminar for your clients and their Successor Trustees. A lot of your clients (and their Trustees) have no clue what’s involved to be a Successor Trustee, which is one of the reasons why we created our Successor Trustee Manual. Being able to sell the Manual right at the seminar, hold a Trustee seminar (especially during the holiday months when clients may have their Trustees in mind or they may be visiting), and even getting clients or their Trustees to book appointments to see you will be a great way to end the year!
IDEA #6: Review your calendar template.
Do you find that you’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it? Is your calendar currently a bit haphazard and with no structure? Do you have a tendency to book things wherever you’ve got some free time? Try developing a calendar template for yourself. An example of a calendar template may be where you only take client meetings on certain days and you’ve already got it blocked on your calendar (say for 9am, 10:30am, 1pm and 3:30pm for those days it will say “OK APPT”). Block off your lunch hour. Block off when you’ll work on certain projects, have meetings with certain key staff members, are available to take client phone calls, and (probably most importantly) when you will work on your business! One of things you should also evaluate when reviewing your calendar is whether your’e working on the tasks that are the highest and best use of your time for your firm. Do you know the 2 tasks that Phil believes are the ONLY 2 tasks every single attorney business owner should be doing? Everything else should be delegated.
IDEA #7: Clean up and organize your work space.
This one may be an obvious one for some people, but a clean, organized work space will help reduce the amount of chaos, anxiety and disorder that you may feel when you walk into your office. Being busy does not mean you have to be disorderly or disorganized. Nothing is worse than already being jammed for time, but then having to spend 20, 30, 45 minutes trying to find a file you need among the piles. If your office space could use some tidying, take a day to really tidy up and create an organized system in your office for your inbox, your current files in process, files that you need to follow-up with, etc. In fact, better yet, YOU shouldn’t have any of these in your own office. Your assistant should be managing these (and if you don’t have an assistant, let’s definitely talk about that as a year-end strategy and goal!).
IDEA #8: Update procedures manuals.
This particular task is less for the attorney business owner and more for the staff. If you don’t have a procedures manual for each and every position and task that’s done by each employee, then consider making a goal for the end of the year for each employee to do this. One way to incentivize and motivate your employees to do this is to offer a bonus if they complete this task by the end of the year. The procedures should be thorough and detailed enough that if the employee were to go on vacation or be unexpectedly ill for a few days, someone else in your office could pick up the tasks without too much trouble. This may involve you or someone else in your office reviewing some of the procedures to see if they’re “up to snuff”. (BONUS TIP: For any computer-based procedures, you could also utilize a software that records your screen, like Camtasia, and record your screen with some audio narration utilizing a microphone/headset for your computer. These are extremely helpful when the tasks are done on a computer and require visual aids!)
IDEA #9: Set up employee review meetings.
If you don’t already have employee reviews scheduled for the end of the year (or first thing in the beginning of the year), now is a great time to schedule them. Every January and July, we have employee reviews. The January review is an evaluation of each employee’s performance for the past year and the mid-year review is really just a check in to see how each employee is doing on any goals and objectives that were established at the start of the year. The value of having employee reviews is that each employee becomes accountable to the duties and tasks they’re responsible for, they get valuable feedback about their behaviors and work performance (such as being tardy, frequent absences, work that’s late or in need of better attention to detail, etc.). Employees should always have a general idea of how they’re performing, areas for improvement, and goals that are set for them to achieve.
IDEA #10: Evaluate 2019 and set up some goals for 2020.
Last, but certainly not least, now is a perfect time to assess how 2019 went in terms of how much revenue your firm brought in, what worked, what didn’t, and then setting up some goals for 2020. These goals should be SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable/Realistic, and Timely. Figure out the who, what, when, where, how and why behind the goals and then to help you achieve them, be sure to share them with your firm and separately with individuals who will help you to achieve them!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Schneider is the Executive Director of The Ultimate Estate Planner, Inc. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Pepperdine University in 2004 and was hired right out of college to work for the Law Firm of Kavesh, Minor & Otis, coordinating and facilitating Philip Kavesh’s “Missing Link” Boot Camps while also providing administrative support to Mr. Kavesh as his Executive Assistant for over seven years. Through her direct hands-on experience in Mr. Kavesh’s law firm, Kristina has been able to assist numerous estate planning professionals through The Ultimate Estate Planner and, equally as important, many of their staff members, in the successful implementation of Ultimate Estate Planner’s products and systems. Kristina has helped numerous estate planning attorneys with seminar marketing and practice management. You can reach Kristina at (424) 247-9495 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.