An advisory practice is a complex machine, which means it can fail without proper maintenance.

So says Grant Shorten, director of strategic insights with Renaissance Investments.

“All machines wear out. The same is true of the advisory practice machine,” he says. “We’re often so busy running the machine that we miss deficiencies.”

Read: Five essential steps to enrich your practice

He often asks advisors, “How often do you put your practice through a multi-point checkup to identify areas that need fixing? Most advisors don’t get to it,” Shorten says.

That’s a mistake. Your practice is driven by three directives: finding qualified prospects, signing them as clients and keeping them for the long term.

Read: Recession-proof your practice

“A good diagnostic procedure will provide a structured evaluation template,” he adds. It will also help you consider whether your business model addresses those three directives.

Here are some questions Shorten recommends advisors and their teams ask periodically:

Find them…

  • What is my ideal target market?
  • If I haven’t been able to gain clients within this market, do I need to redefine or update my target?
  • What prospecting methods am I currently using in my practice?
  • How effective have these methods been in gathering new assets?
  • What else can I do to generate fresh leads?
  • Where can I look to identify other opportunities?
  • What marketing campaigns can I develop for the coming quarter?

Read: Ensure your practice’s viability with a solid business plan

Sign them…

  • How effective are my communication skills?
  • What can I do to improve these skills?
  • How am I capitalizing on first impressions?
  • Do I have a standardized first-meeting procedure?
  • Do I understand and address the emotional needs of investors?
  • Have I developed a solid value proposition?
  • Do I know how to respond to common objections?

Read: Clients on the run: Signs and solutions

Keep them…

  • Am I meeting my clients’ fundamental expectations?
  • Do I regularly solicit feedback from my clients?
  • Do my clients know what makes me different from other advisors?
  • Am I (or a member of my team) always accessible to my clients?
  • Am I providing top-notch services to my clients?
  • Do I proactively contact my clients during weak market periods?
  • Do I employ active listening techniques in my client meetings?
  • Do I offer a customized service agreement to my clients?

Read: Save an endangered client relationship

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