When I was in practice, deploying and then scaling advisory services was my bread and butter, but it requires the right systems and planning to make it happen.
The right technology can certainly be important to your scale-up success by empowering the insight and conversations that build deeper client relationships, but having a basic system is key.
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The system requires absolute clarity on:
- The services you offer
- The pricing for these services
- The cadence of deployment
- The processes to deploy effectively and efficiently
Services You Offer
As the diagram shows, a number of great advisory services can be built around the client. I talk of ‘onion rings’ that represent opportunities beyond reporting, allowing you to add depth and scale.
Some of these service opportunities are covered in more depth in my Transform! book, but you’ll see that each can be incorporated into your cadence of client activity:
- Annual Strategic Planning (facilitated of course by you)
- Annual Budgeting and Cashflow Forecasting (Scenario-planning too)
- Annual KPI-setting (and periodic monitoring of)
- Monthly or bi-monthly Advisor Meetings (present your Spotlight Report, provide advice, evaluate opportunities and threats, and listen to the customer)
- Monthly or bi-monthly calls or coffee meetings with the key decision-maker to nudge onwards towards agreed milestones, or to keep the finger on the pulse
- Quarterly projects (process review, financing, policies review, so ware implementation, strategy overhaul, growth/profit, people review, mentoring).
Know what you can provide, and what you can’t. If you need to build external partnerships of embark on skill development, then invest the time and effort – the rewards can be substantial.
Set the Cadence
You can choose to deploy services at a cadence that makes sense for both parties, but that’s only the beginning. We found that more often than not we were helping generate a success trajectory for clients that involved us in additional projects, and a recurring hum of Virtual CFO guidance.
Advisory will also require micro, sporadic interventions. Often these will be client-instigated, but it is important that you provide some degree of ongoing decision-making support. Consider how these are rolled up into your commercial arrangements and pricing.
Any good advisor should have their own house in order. Slick processes, and clear procedures for both staff and customers to follow. Client processes could include:
- A timeline for achieving action plan tasks
- preparation for advisory board meetings and commentary each month
- updating forward projection expectations to ensure an accurate future view
Providing advisory also requires easy, but ‘hands on’ client reciprocity. Staff processes will include:
- preparation of insightful reports in a required timeframe
- some degree or triage of results and insight arising
- ensuring that clients are being held accountable for their actions in a respectful, but proactive manner
Advisory services need to be a well-oiled machine that neither clients nor staff can clog up or ignore.
Scaling Up Never Sleeps
The opportunities to scale advisory services on a timetable planned by you are significant. Change can be dramatic at the beginning, but should then be locked in as iterative (the famed ‘kaizen’ approach of Japanese business thinking). Small, continuous change not only keeps things fresh, but creates the right culture.
If you build ‘scale up’ into your thinking, strategy and actions, then client interactions should lead you and them to positive outcomes including growth and improved ‘bottom line.’