A Method, or Rather Process, to the Madness: What Financial Advisors Can Learn from a Furniture Guru

Posted By on Dec 8, 2012|1 comment

Nine months, 721 discussions with financial advisors, and one thing is clear—old ways need to be retired. Nine out of the ten financial advisors I spoke to highlighted “growing their business” as a top priority. Yet, between ads in the yellow pages and dinner seminars, I failed to hear anyone talk about new methods of attracting clients. One advisor (the one using yellow pages) had not brought in a new client from the phone book in nearly a year. And those holding seminars were feeling that free steak dinners drew the attendees—not reaping financial advice.

As I dug deeper into conversations, looking for everything from excuses to rationale, it became evident that one core component was (and is) missing from the financial advisors’ businesses: process … specifically, a sales process. Interestingly, little thought is being dedicated to generating sales. It’s as if financial advisors are expecting to create a four-course gourmet meal without ever considering what ingredients are needed. In other words, there is no clear plan or procedure to go about increasing sales. Are you in the same boat?

I have certainly made my share of mistakes and restarts in my own business. Throughout the ups and downs, one principle has held true: anything worth doing requires a process.

A great example of this principle was brought to light earlier this month when I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by Jake Jabs, president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse.  Mr. Jabs is well known in Colorado, not just for his 12 stores and nearly $350 million in annual revenue, but also for his use of exotic animals in his television commercials.

Now in his 80s, Mr. Jabs is as fiercely focused as the tigers that pose with him in advertisements. As I toured his massive warehouse, which is the size of several football fields and six stories high, it was obvious that process is a major part of his success. For instance, while I expected to see a sawdust-infested carpentry shop, I was shocked to find a clean, tidy workspace that is home to 150 employees. How is this possible? Mr. Jabs said that, from day one, employees learn to clean up after themselves.  Each time a task is completed, the space is cleared and cleaned. Mr. Jabs has a process. While my experience shed light on only one small area of American Furniture Warehouse, I have no doubt that Mr. Jabs has a process for most, if not all, elements of his business. It’s the reason why he operates one of the top retail furniture companies in the U.S.

While financial advisors aren’t necessarily concerned with sawdust in their day-to-day businesses, when it comes to growing sales, being unorganized can lead to unintended missteps. With a process in place, you can tidy up your game plan and grow sales.

The ways of the past—yellow page ads and dinner seminars—will likely leave you searching for answers and sales. This blog is intended to eliminate the guesswork from your financial advising business by providing processes and best practices for everything from generating sales to attracting referrals. Does a particular topic interest you? Let us know.


1 Comment

  1. Yes that is correct. Start with a process. Track it. Change it. Perfect it. But You have to start with an initial process. Thanks for extending the idea

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  1. Sales: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward | AUM in a Box - [...] because they lack a specific process that they can repeat day in and day out [read more about process…

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