While working to standardize your firm's operations, focusing on standardizing your meetings can be particularly beneficial. At our firm, we’ve found that standardizing our meetings has been an effective way of bolstering client engagement and improving staff efficiency when it comes to client work. However, implementing these standards was a process in itself.
At one point, before implementing procedures and processes for scheduling and running meetings, we found that our system was too flexible and, ultimately, caused our client’s much confusion. The lack of structure around our meetings meant that clients attended them with no real understanding of what they were about or who among their staff should be present. We tried to remedy this situation by implementing a rigid set of processes that inevitably made us incapable of giving the client what they were looking for as quickly as they wanted it.
Fortunately, we were able to develop new processes for our meetings. Our current method of hosting meetings has allowed us to engage with clients in a way that makes the best use of their time and our resources. Listed below are a few tips to take into consideration as you craft procedures that will guide your planning and execution of productive client meetings.
1. Meet at Times That Make Sense
The number of meetings you have should correspond to the services you’re offering and be scheduled at times that work best for both your client and your team. Taking these factors into account before scheduling meetings will help you streamline your meetings. Our firm meets with clients weekly.
Does that mean that it’s our "show" every week? No. It does mean that we’re actually part of their weekly internal leadership meeting. We do a lot of listening during these meetings which helps us be more strategic when the time comes. Once or twice a month the meeting might be dedicated to us to go through the financials, update the forecast and review the pipeline.
2. Name the Meeting
Giving each meeting a name has helped our clients identify what will be covered in each session and also who from their team should attend. For example, for the clients receiving Virtual CFO services, we hold meetings with names like “The Financial Statement Meeting,” “The Forecasting Meeting,” “The Pipeline Meeting,” and so on. We have found that the process of naming each meeting also eases any anxiety the client may be experiencing because they know exactly what to expect.
3. Have a Set Process in Place
In a meeting, having a set process in place around how information should be delivered and what should be discussed can help ensure the consistency of the service you’re providing. Maintaining this level of consistency means that your clients know what to expect from each meeting and can prepare accordingly. Also, the process you put in place can help empower new members of your staff to lead meetings and decrease their chances of unintentionally wasting time or forgetting to touch on important, relevant topics.
Standardizing your meetings means that both your team and your clients can prepare appropriately and ensure that each meeting is a productive one. Making sure that you maximize your employee and client’s time in this way will lead to happier customers, higher customer retention, and, ultimately, more revenue.
Jody Grunden is the Co-Founder and CEO of Summit CPA Group, the leading provider of Virtual CFO Services for creative agencies as well as one of the largest Virtual CFO firms in North America. Summit’s team of CPAs and accountants provide professional Virtual CFO Services and 401(k) Audits...