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13 Ways To Reduce Operating Costs in 2013

Apply these 13 cost-cutting-busters as you prepare your 2013 budget. Applying simple tactics will help your business remain profitable.

“Economy does not lie in sparing money, but in spending it wisely.”

 – Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) English Biologist

  1. Establish a budget– Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs, you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you analyze expenses and income, as well as forecasting financial variances.
  1. Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly and recognize the static processes. Just because “that is the way it’s always been done,” doesn’t mean there is not a more efficient process. Be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  1. Turn off office equipment when not in useSometimes the simplest things can be things we overlook. Turn off all office equipment and lights when not in use. If your equipment is plugged into a power strip, make sure the power strip can be turned off or is on an automatic timer.
  1. Use social media to advertise – Still not on the social media bandwagon? Social media provides you with an avenue for fast-paced, high-results and low-cost marketing.
  1. Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needsReview workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity. Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from a significant increase in productivity.
  1. Invest in more training It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued. There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses. Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work. SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, estimated that it costs $3,500.00 to replace one $8.00 per hour employee when all costs — recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, et cetera, were considered.
  1. Build strategic alliances In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  1. Outsource Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll, HR or mailings. Outsourcing will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  1.  Go paperless Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and utilizing email for a portion of your communication efforts.
  1.  Capitalize on technology– Take advantage of the cost savings offered through the use of technology. From telecommuting to teleconference services operational costs can be reduced.
  1. Buy in bulk– Negotiate for a better price if you purchase in bulk or agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.
  2. Consider contract and virtual employees– Consider housing some of your staff “in the cloud”.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks or when  in need of specialized skills. The 2011 Employment Review from Elance shows   that despite a stagnant employment market in 2011, online hiring has grown at a record pace, up more than 100% from 2010. For your firm you can expect reduced turnover, employee engagement and fewer workplace complaints.
  1. Find Cheaper Space– Renegotiate better terms on your current lease now that real estate markets in many areas are leaning in the tenants’ favor.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service and the value you provide to your clients, will go a long way toward improving your bottom line.

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached. 

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• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
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Getting To The Core Of Your Marketing Plan

With so many means to market your firm, it is easy to get off track by wanting to do it all.  Developing a marketing plan, reviewing it, and making changes are vital to the success of your firm.

Advisors have more marketing strategies to use and take advantage of than ever before, but lack of time and knowledge to hone in on every opportunity.  Hiring a marketing consultant, a marketing manager or outsourcing marketing will have a fundamental impact on the bottom line of your firm.

Always start with the end in mind by defining what you want to accomplish.  This declaration can be applied to almost everything you do in life and is most definitely applicable to your marketing plan.    Once you have determined your desired outcome, focus on the core of your marketing plan and what tactics you will use to reach your goals.

Today’s elite advisors know that introductions, strategic networking, referrals, and intimate client events typically produce the best results in bringing new business to a firm.  These marketing tactics should be at the core of your plan.   Structuring your marketing plan around these tactics and developing strategies to reach your goals will provide you with a solid foundation.    Decide how you will carry out each of the above core marketing tactics and include a process to define strategies for each.

  • Introductions– Ask your clients for introductions to their friends that can benefit from your services. If you haven’t started using social media in your firm, this is a great starting point.  Use LinkedIn and other social media channels to see who your existing clients know and who you would like to meet.
  • Strategic Networking– Develop a networking plan by writing a process that you will follow.  Research potential alliances to ensure that you are networking with the appropriate partners and continue to review and broaden your opportunities.
  • Referrals– Have a formal referral plan in place and focus on providing first class service to your clients that establishes trust and loyalty. By doing so, your clients will refer you to their family, friends and co-workers automatically.
  • Intimate Client Events– Plan several events throughout the year and encourage your clients to invite friends.  Keep the event fun and personal.

Build your marketing plan around your core elements.  From there, you can branch out into other marketing avenues to test the water or begin a pilot program.   Trial and error will allow you to perfect your plan, therefore it is imperative that you implement changes as often as needed.    Evaluate your existing plan and track the results to be certain that your focus is placed in the core marketing areas that will generate the best results.

Optimize your efforts within each avenue and lead your firm down the path of obtaining your goals.

Ironstone can assist you in developing core marketing tactics for your firm and the strategies to carry out and seize each opportunity.  We will collaborate with you to gain a comprehensive understanding of your goals and review or design a marketing plan that is tailored to your firm.

Contact Ironstone for more information and additional strategies that will assist you in starting and improving your Marketing Plan.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best marketing ideas with us!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Operational Effectiveness-Staff Meetings

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


Leave a comment

Reducing Operational Costs Without Sacrificing Client Service

Living in today’s unpredictable business environment, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How can we cut our operating costs?” 

Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.  Without coming to grips with reality, your firm will face the risk of severe loss.

Steps that you can take, starting today, to ameliorate issues and make your office more effective and efficient:

  • Establish a Budget –  Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you both analyze expenses and income, as well as allows you to forecast financial variances.
  • Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly recognize the static processes because “that is the way it’s always been done”, and be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  • Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needs Review workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity.  Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from significant increases in productivity.
  • Invest in more training –  It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued.  There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses.   Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work.
  •  Build Strategic Alliances – In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/   we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  • Outsource  Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll or mailings.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks.  Outsourcing and utilizing contract employees will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  •  Reduce office expenses –  Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and order supplies in bulk.  Shop around for lower prices and negotiate a better price if you agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.  Reduce utility bills as much as possible, but not at the detriment of team effectiveness.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service, and the value that you provide to your clients, will go a long way towards improving your bottom line.

Keep these principles in mind and implement them.  You’ll find that your reduced operating costs will lead you down the path to substantial growth before you realize it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies needed to reduce your operating costs while strengthening your relationships with existing and potential clients.  By being held accountable and responsible for the cost cutting steps above, you will gain control of your expenses and move towards a better bottom line.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  The Human Element-The Performance Evaluation


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Create Added Value In Your Investment Model

Designing a methodology for managing your client investments is essential for a clear representation of financial performance and aides in effective decision-making.  It is a generally accepted principle that a portfolio is designed according to the investor’s risk tolerance, time frame, and investment objectives.

Create Value Within Your Investment Model

“All good to great companies begin on the path to greatness

 by confronting the brutal facts of their current reality.”

Jim Collins, Good to Great

 Your goal is to create a weighted investment model (one or many) and implement a consistent investment strategy.  Focus on actions that will provide unique added value for your clients.  Position your firm to support the highest value-to-value exchange.

Evaluate your current investment model(s) with a focus on determining if they are creating added value.  Employing a one-to-many investment strategy creates the leverage necessary to optimize your resources and elevate your delivery of services to clients.

Consider the following services (not all inclusive) while evaluating your model(s) and how you will deliver added value for your clients with each service.

  • Risk Tolerance
  • Asset Allocation
  • Manager Research
  • Portfolio Monitoring
  • Rebalancing
  • Performance Reporting

While you are ultimately responsible for due diligence and oversight of your clients’ assets, you may want to consider outsourcing services that are invisible to your clients such as manager research, monitoring, portfolio construction, performance reporting and re-balancing to a third party who specializes in these services.  Other obvious outsourcing options or strategic alliances, such as CPAS, attorneys, and insurance agents will provide you the weight to focus on your firm’s unique added value and help clients with the steps they need to take.

Communication With Clients

Look at your value proposition through the eyes of your clients and prospects.  You must be able to answer the question, “Why should a client invest their money with you, versus allocating their funds in some other way?”

When implemented effectively, your investment model should be viewed by your clients as a proactive model with enhanced services and communication.  Implementation will require that you have direct systems and procedures in place to provide each service.

Advisors are required to make full and fair disclosures about fees.  Consider the appropriate fee level for your services and investment model.  You may want to implement a tiered fee structure that differentiates the service levels within your client segmentation process.

Your investment model(s) will allow you to sharpen your focus on the unique needs of each of your clients. Understanding that each of your clients has unique needs will ensure efficient client service delivery.

Ironstone can assist you in developing appropriate investment models and collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel to achieving the strategic goals of your firm.

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Business Development-Client Appreciation


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Stabilize Your Operating Costs: Balance The Demands Of Increased Client Service Expectations

Stabilize Your Operating Costs:  Balance The Demands Of Increased Client Service Expectations

Surprisingly many business owners have an unclear view of their operating costs, which is key to achieving sales goals.  What are the ongoing costs for operating your business?

Operating costs are the expenses that you have related to the day-to-day operations at your firm.  Your operating costs will be in one of two categories:

  • Fixed
  • Variable

A fixed cost is, as the name suggests, costs that you will incur regardless of how much business you do.

Some examples of fixed costs are:

  • Salaries
  • Office rent
  • Utility bills
  • Loan payments for any start up costs
  • Banking Services

Variable costs are those which will change according to how much business you do.  Variable costs play a role in projecting your profit and break-even points for your business. Some examples of variable costs are:

  • Sales
  • Sales Commissions
  • Marketing

You will be facing choices that begin to increase your operating costs.  For example, you add a team member to assist in keeping up with the service expectations of your clients, thus, for each salary added, the more clients you must add to cover your costs.

The time you spend with your clients is a service that you don’t want to compromise.  There are other ways that you can re-evaluate your operating costs.  Consider outsourcing items such as;

  • Web-site maintenance
  • Mailings
  • Compliance
  • Marketing Initiatives
  • Printing Services
  • Kill your power
  • Rent instead of buy
  • Stay out of the airport
  • Get rid of your printers

Sure, some of these ideas cannot be cut completely.  Compliance issues will prevent you from ridding of hard copy documents.  Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.

 

Ironstone can assist you in estimating the costs associated with owning and operating your firm and will guide you through re-evaluating projections if appropriate.    We have templates available for your use.

We want to hear from you!  What steps are you taking to reduce your operating costs?  Share your ideas!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Business Development- Capabilities Presentation,  How Do You Share Your Firm’s Story?  Learn How!