Personal Master Calendar: A Novel Marketing Idea
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If you are among my regular followers, you know the value of having a master calendar for your business. This calendar reminds you of important activities that need to be completed throughout the year. These activities are infrequent in nature, thus the need for a reminder.
Recently, I was working with an advisor who purchased her own building. She is excited to be in a historic location on Main Street that she dreamed of owning since childhood. With ownership comes a need for regular maintenance, which is made easier by completing a master calendar.
This advisor and I decided to incorporate building-maintenance reminders into her business-master calendar. As we were adding reminders such as cleaning the gutters, trimming the trees, adjusting the timers on outdoor lighting and cleaning the chimney, she said, “I need one of these reminder calendars for my home.”
Thus began the development of her personal-master calendar.
As I shared the idea of a personal-master calendar with advisors, it became clear that most of us need something like it to keep us on track.
And so do our clients.
To add value and stand out as an innovator, help your clients develop a personal-master calendar of their own. Then, go one step further, and help hold them accountable for completing their important tasks by discussing their progress during your regular review meetings.
Just as you remind your clients to implement important action items such as updating their estate plan, you can help your clients take care of their more personal tasks. Here is my template for a personal-master calendar.
One of the items on the personal-master calendar is to conduct a thorough home inventory. One advisor said that if she had done this regularly, she would not have left thousands of dollars on the table when her home flooded. Because she did not have good documentation of her belongings, she was unable to request compensation for certain items from her insurance company.
Another advisor I work with has been a big advocate of preparing for disasters. He has small children and cares deeply about their safety. Living in California, earthquake country, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected. His goal is to develop a family disaster-preparedness plan and then ask an organization, such as the Red Cross, to conduct a workshop at his children’s school. He can be well prepared at home, but what if a disaster occurs while the kids are at school? His children should be prepared there as well.
Taking this idea one step further, he plans to help his clients develop their own family disaster-preparedness plan, going as far as researching emergency kits at various price points and even purchasing kits for his top clients.
Yet another advisor shared a story with me about hot water heater maintenance. He was unaware that sediment accumulates at the bottom of the water heater, requiring periodic maintenance. His repairman told him that he could either spend $200 to $300 per year in maintenance costs or $4,000 to $6,000 to replace the water heater at some inconvenient time in the future. Guess what’s on his personal-master calendar? A reminder to call the maintenance person for a water heater inspection – and, another addition to my template.
A wholesaler client shared this time-saving tip: He and his immediate family fly across the country to visit his extended family at Christmas. He started looking at flight prices in August and continued looking (and hoping for a better price) through October. What he realized is that he wasted a lot of time searching for the best price and should have booked flights in September and been done with it. Now he has a reminder in September to book holiday flights.
As I share the idea with advisors and learn about their own experiences, I have added a number of items to my template. It is fairly comprehensive at this point, but by no means complete.
There are a variety of ways to utilize and introduce the personal master calendar concept to clients and prospects. Here are a few:
- If you have been doing comprehensive financial planning with some of your clients for a number of years, it is possible that they are in great shape. I have heard more than once of late from advisors who are feeling a bit bored or complacent. Clients may be feeling this way as well. Introducing the concept of the personal-master calendar gives you and your clients something new to discuss and plan for.
- You may have investment-only clients who do not feel the need to engage in the planning process. For some of your top tier investment only clients, introducing the personal-master calendar is a way to engage them at a higher level, showing them the value of some initial level of planning.
One advisor with whom I shared this idea and example plans to use this as a sales tool. Here’s his idea in his own words:
I plan to share the personal-master calendar template with prospects and non-planning clients, asking them to tell me what is on the list that they had not thought of from a proactive planning perspective. There is bound to be an item or two on the list that they point to. Then I can ask, “As it relates to broader financial planning, is it possible there is an item or two that you have overlooked? Don’t you think it’s a good idea to look at all aspects of your financial world? That’s what the comprehensive financial plan does.”
It has been fun but a little bit heartbreaking hearing stories from advisors who have experiences different than my own. This has led to many of the items noted on the personal-master calendar template. In addition to the flooded home and the water heater repair I already mentioned, I heard about a mom and dad who had to leave their teenage son behind as the rest of the family flew to France because his passport had expired and they couldn’t get it renewed in time for the flight. Thank goodness for a neighbor who handled the last of the passport-renewal requirements and took the son to the airport the next day to fly, by himself, to France to meet up with the rest of his family. This was before cell phones, so think about the challenge they faced connecting once their son landed in France.
Stories like these led me to share this idea with you. I hope that by developing your own personal-master calendar, you avoid pitfalls such as those in these examples. Help your clients do the same.
If a paper version of the personal-master calendar isn’t your thing, consider what one advisor did. He had his phone in hand and walked all around the house – inside and out – scheduling recurring maintenance reminders as he encountered them.
If you have stories of your own and reminders I should add to the template, please let me know.
And, if you would like an editable version of the template, send me an email and I will be happy to forward it on to you.
For more than 20 years, Teresa Riccobuono has been a professional organizer, business consultant and practice-management specialist to the financial services industry, helping advisors bridge the gap between their existing and their ideal financial planning practice. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area but works with advisors across the country. She is a member of the board of directors of the East Bay Chapter of the Financial Planning Association and is currently the co-chair of the public relations committee. She can be reached at [email protected].