by Ryan H. Law
My wife and I have been with T-Mobile as our cell-phone carrier for many years. Our service has been good and we have four phone lines with them. We have had older iPhone 6’s for several years (we tend to be slow to adopt new tech). We are both ready to upgrade our phones to a new model, so I went down to my local T-Mobile store to see what kind of deals they can offer.
They have lots of promotions out right now because of the rollout of 5G capable phones, so we thought that surely they could offer us something. The sales guy looked over the available promotions and said:
“Well, I can offer you a discount on a new phone if you add a new line.”
“We don’t need a new line.”
“OK…if you have an iPhone that is just a few models old I can trade it I for a newer model on a discount.”
“I have an iPhone 6 that is going to one of my daughters.”
“Sorry – I don’t have anything.”
“But you have all these promotions for new customers.”
“Yeah – those are only for new customers. You don’t qualify because you are already with us.”
“So T-Mobile is willing to lose a long-time customer? You realize I can go to any of the other stores in this area and get new phones and probably a lower-cost monthly plan, right?”
“I don’t know what to tell you…we hope you won’t leave.”
We’re now in the process of switching over to Verizon. We ended up with four brand new phones for a very low price, a lower-cost plan, and about $300 in credits that will pay our cell phone bill for several months. By the way, I know I may have to go through this process again in a few years. I did ask Verizon about updates for existing customers, and he said they work really hard to retain. We’ll find out if that is true or not in a few years…
This whole process got me thinking. Why is T-Mobile (and every other carrier) willing to lose a long-term customer to gain a new one? Isn’t customer loyalty worth something? Doesn’t it cost a lot more to get a new customer than to attract a new one?
And how does any of this relate to financial planning?
It turns out it is a lot more expensive to get a new customer. In fact, it is 5-7 times more expensive to get a new client versus keeping your current customers happy1,2.
Of course, financial advisors need to focus on both acquisition and retention, just like any other business owner.
Your biggest threat as an advisor is not your current clients leaving, though. Most of them will stick around.
However, only 2% of their children will stay with you when that wealth is transferred3 and 80% of widows will leave you within 18 months of becoming a widow4.
Why do they leave? For the most part, it is because you have no relationship with them. The vast majority of those who leave say that they don’t think you care about them5.
What are some strategies you can use to retain more of your current clients, while also focusing on acquisition and referrals?
To find out, I read some articles and research on the most effective tactics for “marketing” to your current customers. One of the best methods is content marketing through e-mail and social media1.
You need to consistently create high quality, compelling content and release it through your website (blog or podcast), e-mail, and social media. Be sure to invite your clients to follow you on these channels.
What about retaining your client’s surviving spouse and heirs? One idea is to hold classes, workshops, or webinars about things that are relevant to them. For example, wealth-transfer workshops, investing basics, 401(k) choice advising, career and benefit classes (for college students), and home buying workshops.
You won’t make any immediate money from this, but it can pay dividends down the road. If the first time you are meeting the adult children is at a funeral or wake of your client, it’s too late. Spend time building a relationship with them now.
These types of workshops or classes can be a great way to get referrals as well. Your clients know other people who could use these types of classes – be sure to ask them to invite their friends.
Your clients are the best source of topics – ask them what they or their children would find useful.
And the final idea I have to share to retain your client’s children and spouse? Diversity your team. Most people prefer to work with someone of the same age, gender, and race6. If you are an older white male advisor (which is the norm) you should strongly consider bringing in some younger advisors into your practice, and make sure you have a diverse team (race and gender).
Some reports said that most women, and some men, would prefer to work with a female advisor. If you don’t already have female advisors on your team, what are you waiting for? As a side note, make sure you pay them as much as your male advisors! That’s a topic for a different column, though (consequently – our female graduates in the personal financial planning program tend to command higher salaries and more flexible working conditions than our male graduates – so be willing to pay them more if you want the best female graduates).
Keep your current clients happy, while also focusing on client acquisition. Pay special attention to your client’s children and both spouses. Some ideas to do this are through high quality content marketing, classes and workshops, and having a diverse team.
What is one thing you can do this week to focus on keeping your current clients happy and reaching out to their children?
Talk to your clients and see if there is a workshop you can offer that would be of value to them and/or their children.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
(1) Customer Acquisition Vs. Retention Costs – Statistics And Trends
(2) Retaining Customers vs. Acquiring Customers
(3) How Advisors Can Stop Losing Clients’ Heirs as Clients
(4) Why it’s important to connect with female clients
(5) Customer Retention vs. Acquisition: What Should Be Your Main Focus?
(6) Investors Prefer Advisors Similar to Them: Survey
Images in this post are licensed by Ingram Image – Stock Photo Secrets (AFF)