The focus this month is on surge meetings because they are such a critical part of an office. Today Matthew and Micah talk about how they do surge differently in their respective offices. This is something that many people ask about, so grab your notes and listen in to hear how and why they differ in some key surge procedures and processes.
Every practice is different, and although surge meetings tend to be a great solution for most (if not all) practices, there are things that can be done differently to help meet the specific goals of your particular office. You will hear why Matthew does fewer meetings each day, how Micah prepares for more meetings, how they solicit new client questions, and more.
When it comes to implementing a surge meeting schedule, what are you solving for?
Matthew and Micah are two high-level financial advisors who both run successful surges—but there are major differences in how those surges look in practice. In this article, we’ll look at three different elements of surge and examine how two different advisors can take intentional approaches to the same solution and come up with two different results.
Matthew Jarvis and Micah Shilanski have a lot in common: they’re both high-powered financial advisors, podcast hosts, fathers, and world travelers, and they both use a successful surge schedule to increase their practice’s efficiency and deliver massive value to their clients. Where they differ is how each of them implements surge.
This only makes sense: Matthew and Micah are two different people, and they don’t always have the same goals. “Our differences [with respect to surge] are hyper-intentional,” Micah notes. “It’s not random that they’re different, but sometimes, Jarvis and I are solving for two different things.”
If you’ve been struggling with head trash around how to schedule your surge meetings in the way that’s best for your office, don’t hold yourself up to another advisor’s expectations; do what’s best for you and your practice. After all, when it comes to these three aspects of scheduling surge, even Matthew and Micah have their differences.
When advisors first move toward a surge meeting schedule, they can feel like a failure if they aren’t able to pack as many meetings into each day as another “more successful” advisor. Remember, there’s no one “right answer” shared by all advisors—not even by the creators of the surge movement themselves!
It’s important to learn from proven sources and copy trusted processes, but if a particular piece of advice just doesn’t fit into your life, don’t force it; either disregard it or rework it until it does. Matthew likes to joke that he doesn’t have the stamina to keep up with Micah’s seven or eight meetings a day, but in reality, it isn’t that Matthew was falling behind; it’s that Micah was sprinting ahead. And he was doing it for his own reasons.
“The reality is, I wanted to change my surge up,” Micah explains. “I had twice as many households, and I wanted to see them in a more condensed period in time. Therefore, I needed more meetings per day.” Because Micah was hyper-intentional about his choice to hold seven to eight meetings a day, he could keep a large group of clients and still only have a six-week surge. But because Matthew was solving for something different, the questions he was asking himself differed from Micah’s, and so did the result.
“It’s so critical to be intentional,” Matthew says, “and to always be asking yourself, ‘Why am I doing it this way?’ Is it because I was being intentional or did I somehow fall into this pattern, this habit, and I just kept doing it?” When it comes to the “right” number of meetings in a day, that’s an aspect of surge scheduling you’ll have to figure out for your own office.
It’s important for any financial advisor to spend dedicated time preparing for surge, but the degree to which you ask your clients to prepare is another thing every advisor must decide for themselves and their own practice.
For example, a few years ago, Micah’s office started sending pre-emails to their clients, two weeks before their appointments, to remind them about their meetings and invite them to send in their questions and extra agenda items in advance. This ended up cutting down on surprises during meetings and allowed Micah’s team to deliver the best possible value to the client. The strategy worked so well that Matthew’s team has since adopted it for themselves.
To avoid becoming stagnant in your approach and keep learning from other advisors’ success, it’s important to periodically reexamine your processes. Keep your head in the sand and you’ll miss out on great ideas that can help increase your own office’s efficiency.
When a couple walks in for a meeting with Micah, it’s clear where everyone is supposed to sit: there’s a single chair facing a pair of chairs across a table, so everyone can just walk in and have a seat. By contrast, Matthew’s office contains three chairs spaced evenly around a circular table, so Matthew himself walks his clients in and guides them to their seats so everyone’s on the same page.
Why is this important? While you’re focused on value ads like tax and estate planning, don’t forget to pay attention to your physical office space. It may sound silly, but for many reasons, it’s important to spend at least part of your prep time considering your surroundings.
First, practice makes perfect. During surge, when you’re conducting four or five, or even six meetings a day, you have the perfect opportunity to shave off all the rough spots, reducing every point of friction. By knowing exactly where you’ll be seated and where your clients will be, you can practice all of your talking points and frequently asked questions in the most accurate setting possible, which allows you to do your best work when it’s game time.
Here’s another reason: Timely meetings matter. Figure out where you’re the most comfortable during meetings, then hang a giant analog clock on the opposite wall. When you always know you can see what time it is out of the corner of your eye, you’ll have a way to keep meetings on track without having to fumble for a watch or squint at your screen.
When it comes to scheduling surge, what’s best for another advisor might not be best for you. (Remember, even Matthew and Micah have their differences!) There’s no right or wrong answer—there’s only the solution that best meets the needs of your practice, your clients, and your plans for achieving the ideal work-life balance.
I was hyper intentional about choosing to do more meetings a day so that I could still keep a large group of clients and only have a 6-week surge. - Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet
Always be asking yourself why. 'Why am I doing it this way? Is it because I was being intentional, or did I just fall into this pattern or habit and kept doing it that way?'” – Matthew Jarvis Click To Tweet
I view this 6-week period as performances, and I have to be showing up with my A-game every single time. – Micah Shilanski Click To Tweet
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Matthew Jarvis: Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I’m your co-host Matthew Jarvis. And with me as usual, the man, the myth, the legend; Micah Shilanski. Micah, how are you today?
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, I am doing fan-freaking-tastic, I got to say. I thoroughly enjoy doing this content production with you and the podcast, and the feedback we get from advisors is just amazing. Even the trolls, it is just amazing. So, I really appreciate it.
Matthew Jarvis: It’s really fun to do these episodes. Again, we’ve been doing them for a couple of years now, and literally at first Micah, it was you and I recording them in the bar. And now, there’s like 50,000 downloads a month, which on the one hand blows my mind, and the one hand is a super honor that we can work in this community.
And our focus this month is on surge meetings, such a critical part of an office. We talked last week about common mistakes during surge. And Micah, today, we want to talk about one of the questions we get on a regular basis, which is how do you and I do surge differently in our respective offices.
Micah Shilanski: Now Jarvis, as you know, we have a limited time that we can run through this on the podcast. Trying to limit this content down to 30 minutes is really challenging. And this is one of the reasons we have a webinar coming up that’s just going to be focused about surge meetings. And we’re really going to dive in and give the exact example.
So, we’re going to talk at this, but the webinar, we’re definitely going to give some more information and I love it because we’re going to have that live interaction with our audience to help answer their questions.
But the power of surge, we’ve talked about on many episodes, but there’s little things that you and I tend to do slightly different. And I want to be hyper-intentional about this comment right here about our differences.
Our differences are hyper-intentional. It’s not random that they’re different, but sometimes, Jarvis and I, are solving for two different things.
One of the big things we do is how many meetings do we do per day? And Jarvis, you jokingly say that you don’t have to stamina for it, blah, blah, blah. That I think is a joke and a little head trash because you could absolutely do it.
The reality is I wanted to change my surge up. I had twice as many households. I wanted to see them in a more condensed period in time. Therefore, I needed more meetings per day.
So, I was hyper-intentional about choosing to do seven to eight meetings a day, so I could keep a large group of clients and still only have a six week surge. That’s what I’ve been running in the past versus you, you were solving for something slightly different.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. And the key here with the surge meetings and really with everything at The Perfect RIA is be intentional. Why am I doing it this way? And how can I improve it? Why do my meetings start at these times? Why are they this length? What’s the gap between them? Can the gap be shorter? Does it need to be longer?
And so, we’re going to going to look through some of these, but it’s so critical to be intentional and to always be asking yourself, why; why am I doing it this way? Is it because I was being intentional or did I somehow fall into this pattern, this habit, and I just kept doing it that way?
Micah Shilanski: Yes. So, let’s go through how many meetings that we’re doing, the length of our meetings, et cetera. Because I do think there’s some nuanced differences and let’s kind of talk about those why.
One, I will do seven to eight meetings a day, depending on kind of video … my video meetings take a little bit less time, which is phenomenally … they normally take like 45 minutes versus in-person meetings are about 55 to 60 minutes. My meetings are booked one hour and I have a 15-minute break between the meetings to go to the next one.
So, what that normally means is as I’m getting out of one meeting, my next client is in the lobby waiting for me. I exit one client, I chit chat real quick with the next client. I then leave, refresh myself, get a cup of coffee and boom, I’m onto the next meeting.
If I’m doing everything sporty, I also have time to do my dictation in between my meetings, which takes about three to five minutes to dictate all of my notes and to get those out.
Now, the reason I do it in this way is for one, I’ve had years and years of practice, I didn’t start off the gate doing eight meetings a day or seven meetings a day. It was definitely less than that. It was like one meeting a day. I was super excited. Remember those days? And so, it was kind of slowly-
Matthew Jarvis: Sorry, that one took me back. I’m like, “Oh yeah, I do remember those days.” If I could only have one meeting.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So, that was the kind of the journey through it. But one of the things that I had to realize Jarvis going through this, is I had to hone my mind and my body (I’m not trying to be too Zen here) to really stay engaged for that period in time.
My first meeting is at 7:00 AM. My last meeting starts at three. So, that means I’m done somewhere three to four is the meeting. Then I got to debrief, I got to do all that stuff. That means 4:30 to 5 is when I’m done.
But if my first meeting starts at seven, that means I’m at the office by 6:15, 6:30. That means I’m up at five in the morning. And I rinse and repeat for a six-week period in time.
So, I got to be sharp during this period in time, I got to be in a good physical place to make sure I can perform because I really view these 60 minutes as performances. I got to be showing up with my A-game during this period in time.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, I love that intentionality there. And another example of that, our good friend Benjamin Brandt, who did a surge master class, it’s on The Perfect RIA website. He doesn’t ever start his meetings until after he’s dropped his kids off for school.
That’s his intentionality like, “Hey, listen, I’ve got to drop my kids off and get my work out on.” So, I think his first meetings around 9 or 10, o’clock, perfect. It’s about being incredibly intentional.
And so, I typically do six meetings a day. My first one is at 8:00 AM and then the meetings are scheduled every 90 minutes. So, I have an hour meeting, then I have a 30-minute buffer. And then the next meeting that goes through … I’m just looking at my calendar here; so my last one’s at 3:30.
And then the other thing that we’ve added to our office Micah, with adding Alex to the team, is that our meeting start times stagger by half an hour. So, if I have a meeting at eight, his meeting’s at 8:30. The reason for that is that there’s a little bit of overlap.
So, if I need to step in and do some handoff to answer a question, which rarely happens, but it was a lot of peace of mind for him saying, “Wait, if our meetings are exactly the same time, if I need something, you’ll be in a meeting and I can’t get that.” Okay, cool. So, let’s stagger these by half an hour, again being intentional.
Micah Shilanski: I love that. So, does Alex do the same number of meetings? So, he’s still doing six meetings a day?
Matthew Jarvis: Well, we’ll see if Alex is listening to this episode. So, now, Alex does six meetings a day and I only do four meetings a day because I’ve had things to work on. Like I’ve been pairing back the number of meetings. In fact, this surge cycle, I think I’m probably only going to be there one day a week doing meetings.
So, I’m going to go down from doing six a day, three days a week to doing four, one day a week. I’m experimenting that a little bit right now, trying to find some intentionality there.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. And intentional, that’s the key thing, being really, really focused inside there. What I tell advisors to do is, I really think four meetings a day is pretty much everybody can do that. Focus on that 60 minutes at the minimum. So, we could easily stagger for two in the mornings, two in the afternoons, piece of cake to do.
Once you start pushing five or six, this isn’t something to jump into. So, if you’re doing one meeting a day, moving to three to four, just fine, do not move to seven.
I know Christian when he joined our office wanted to do that. And he was in all of my meetings, but after three, four weeks of doing seven, eight meetings a day in this period in time, the stories start blending together. And how do you know the difference in what was happening in these clients?
So again, it’s not the physical stamina of being able to do this, but it’s also the mental stamina. So, you got to work your way up to it.
Matthew Jarvis: Interesting kind of sidebar, Micah, about having what we’ll call it junior advisor, for lack of a better term. I don’t like that term, but for lack of a better term, if you’re going to have another advisor sit in your meeting because you’re trying to hand off client relationships, you have to have agenda items for them to cover.
To expect them to sit and listen to you tell the same stories, seven meetings a day and stay engaged, let alone conscious through that is impossible. You’ve got to say like, “Here’s our agenda, there’s five bullet points. Four of them are mine, this one is yours or these two are yours.” That way you can hand off credibility there, but that’s a whole nother episode.
Micah Shilanski: So, Jarvis, with this podcast being a little bit, what the difference is in our surge, I know one of the things that we had started a little while before, I know when we end our surge meetings with a client; we’re prepping them for when our next surge is going to be.
So, that’s pretty much the same between the two. And we’re talking about what we’re going to talk about during that period in time.
One of the things we started a couple years ago, and I don’t know if you’ve done this yet, is we started sending out pre-emails to our clients a couple weeks before their appointment, letting them know when it’s coming up, letting them know if they have any questions and allowing them to send in their agenda items to us in advance.
And, oh my gosh, that was a great idea because now, we’re getting their questions in advance and our team’s able to answer their questions in advance. So, we’re not surprised in the meeting and that’s been a huge success. And are you doing the same thing?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. After I watched you do it for two surge cycles, I want to make sure it worked.
Micah Shilanski: That’s fair.
Matthew Jarvis: Like it might be a good idea, I don’t know, I’m going to wait. And by the way, this goes back to our endless rant about learn from people who are doing it. Cool, “Micah has this great idea, I want to see if it works.” Like we love to joke about that, but we’ve both had ideas we’re like, “That was not a good idea, I’m not going to keep doing that.”
So, yeah, we have adapted that. We have in every communication leading up to the actual surge meeting saying, “Hey, please let us know what questions and concerns. Please let us know what agenda items you have. Please let us know what you want.” Matthew and Alex have been prepared to talk to you about.
So, we’ve incorporated that with each communication kind of soliciting that. We did make a mistake there, Micah, this was a failure on my part. The first time we started doing that, we would have the printed client agenda. And then in small font at the bottom were the client’s questions.
Now hopefully, all of you’re listening are like, “No, that’s a terrible problem.” So, now, it’s at the very top in large font.
Micah Shilanski: Very top, big font.
Matthew Jarvis: And then our actions items are below that. So, these are small things that you learn as you go. Like as soon as I saw that, “Oh no, this is not going to work.”
Micah Shilanski: And one of the things in our webinar, probably we don’t have time to get into it right here, some other things to cover. But in the webinar, we will cover and get into how we bring this up in our client meeting, because there’s an amateur way of doing this. And you think it might not matter. Well, if you’re Rockstar, you know everything counts.
There’s a certain way we bring this up to solicit new questions, but giving them credit for the work that they’ve done. So, stay tuned for that in the webinar.
Matthew Jarvis: Yep. Micah, a key difference between your surge and my surge, and this is really something I think you need to work on my friend, is this buckets garbage.
Micah Shilanski: Hey, I’m doing more work.
Matthew Jarvis: So, for newer listeners of this show, this is a long-time joke between Micah and I. I always go print retirement income guardrails for our client meetings. Micah always does buckets. At the end of the day, you boil back the image, it’s really the same thing, but it is something to tease about.
But teasing a side, we’re both using the tool that we’re most comfortable talking to clients about. The majority of your conversations with clients, Micah, are centered around the buckets. The majority of mine are centered on guardrails.
And when we’re talking about estate planning and beneficiaries and tax planning, this is our anchor point. And it’s the piece Micah that clients (this is a great test) — when you say, “Hey, which one of these pieces would you like to take? Which ones would you like to shred?” That’s the one for me that they always want to take. The other stuff, I got to throw that stuff away.
Micah Shilanski: Jarvis, it’s funny, I was wrapping up a mini surge and had a client and it was the same thing at the end of the meeting. We went over the buckets and she absolutely loved it. And we went over a couple other things.
Anyways, I was kind of gathering up paperwork and apparently, I wasn’t thinking about it. And I gathered up and I put the buckets in my paperwork. She’s like, “No, no, no, no, no, this is mine.” And she reached over from my pile and she pulled it away.
And that is a phenomenal point. Like the other paperwork, she could not care less about, but she’s like, “Nope, I keep these and this goes in the top of my file.” So, that’s when you know you got something that’s pure gold.
I’d say another thing that we do is probably uncommon, is printed handouts. And everything that I do, I either have a virtual file form for my Zoom meetings or I have a printed file for them, for every single client (and this is my diva coming out) — they must be in the same order.
Now, this could sound, again to the amateur, this could sound like I’m being a little bit of a drama queen here about saying the order of how my documents are. But again, to the Rockstars, you’re instantly going to see, it says, “No, no, no, my focus in that client meeting is not the paperwork I have in my folder, but my focus is on my client. And if I open my folder up and I have to now hunt and peck and I have to look at things and I’m kind of paying attention to them and kind of not, and kind of looking for documents, I look like a schmo.”
Versus I can 100% focus on my client and I know when I open up my folder exactly where every piece of paper is and when a client question comes up, whether it’s an economic commentary piece, whether it’s a Roth conversion, it’s the value add, it’s the buckets, whatever it is, I know exactly where it is and I get to pull it out. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, Micah, you’re so prepared for this meeting. We love it.”
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. It’s always in the same order. It’s the same orientation. It’s the right colored paper.
Something that we do differently in our office is Micah, I’d love to hear some thoughts on this. When a client comes in, your RM greets them at the front door, “Glad to have you” with a cup of coffee, whatnot. And then they stay seated in the lobby. Then you come out to the lobby and then get the client.
Whereas, Colleen does the same kind of stuff, but she takes them back to the conference room and sits them down. I’m sort of curious; I don’t know if I can answer from my side why we do it that way versus the other.
Micah Shilanski: Okay. Well, here’s sort of my head trash that’s coming out. It’s going to be so funny. I’m trying not to laugh too much. Alright so, in your conference room, you have three chairs, correct?
And so, two are on one side of the table and one is kind of on the other, do I remember that correctly?
Matthew Jarvis: If it’s a couple. Yes, yeah.
Micah Shilanski: If it’s a couple. Okay. So, it’s really self-evident where the couple is supposed to be seated in that.
I have a round table. Because, King Arthur, it’s better. So, I have a round table that’s there and I have chairs, but then I have my seat that I want to sit, so I can see the door and I can see communication.
So, one of my head trashes is I’m going to come in, the client’s going to be in my freaking seat. And it’s going to throw my mojo off. Versus when I pick up the client, I’m able to guide them in and have them sit in the client facing seat. I know this is going to sound really stupid, and it could just be my head trash.
But that’s the system we have set up for success. And I’m a little concerned about rocking that boat.
Matthew Jarvis: I don’t blame you. The key is, I think like you said, the system and the consistency. Your team knows here is exactly what happens when a client walks in the door. My team knows here’s exactly what happens.
Similar to the end of the client meeting. You do the same thing, about 10 minutes before the meeting time is over, Colleen, gently knocks on the door and she opens it and smiles and a big smile and say, “Oh Colleen, thank you so much for keeping me on schedule.” And then she closes the door. Now, you do something similar as well.
Micah Shilanski: Yep, Sierra comes to the door. She doesn’t actually open it, because our doors are glass, so we can see through them. But she comes to the door and generally the clients will see her at the same time. And she just gives a little bit of wave and they’re like, “Oh yep, I see your next clients here.” Et cetera. Then we can help wrap it up.
Jamie: Hey, podcast listeners, this is Jamie Shilanski. And I’m here to tell you that your goals aren’t good enough. Because if you have a goal, I don’t care written on a notepad, taped to your monitor, stuck up on the wall, somewhere in your office. It’s not going to get you to achieve any type of results that you’re looking for. Goals without plans are plans to fail.
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Matthew Jarvis: Again, it’s critical to have a system here. By the way, it’s also critical (a whole tangent on here) that your meetings always end on time. It’s non-negotiable that your meetings start on time. That’s absolutely non-negotiable.
They must also end on time. Partly, because the client only has so much attention span, partly because now your team is under the gun because your next meeting’s there. And they’re like, “What do I tell this person, Jarvis is still in this meeting.” And so, that’s got to be dialed in.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah, you got to be really focused on that. You got to know your talkers. This is really, really focused. And you got to know your body language to keep that conversation moving, so you’re not cutting them off, et cetera.
And then you got to have a great way. And we’re going to cover this in the webinar, about how to ask important questions first. So, you don’t get that important question at the end that says, “Oh my gosh, now they’re going to talk about their mom who’s in hospice, and I got two minutes left and I got to wrap this damn thing up.” Because now, you seem pretty insensitive. So, there’s important ways about bringing these things up.
Alright Jarvis, another difference in our office is the gap and time. I have a 15-minute gap in between my meetings and you have a 30-minute gap. Is that right?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. We do have a 30-minute gap and I’ve thought about changing it, but I have some head trash around meetings start times not being at the top or bottom of the hour. So, I’m really being honest. It’s really just because I like the symmetry of like my meetings start at 9 and then 10:30 and then …
But yeah, I would like it to be a little bit shorter because I really would like it to only be 20 minutes, but having a meeting start at 9:40 strikes me as strange.
And again, for our listeners, like these guys are insane. I don’t know, I just have peace of mind knowing that, hey, at the top of the hour and the bottom of the hour, I need to be ready to walk into a meeting and it helps me … it’s one last thing for me to worry about.
Micah Shilanski: And this is a really important side of it too. And I’ll talk about why I only have 15 minutes in a second, but my meetings are 7, 8:30, 9:45, 11, 12:30, 1:45, 3, boom. That’s my meetings. It’s the end of the day, period.
Matthew Jarvis: Every single time.
Micah Shilanski: Every single time. And the important part of this, and this is especially important to receptionist or your RM to know who’s booking these appointments. A 2:45 is unacceptable because my internal body clock is set around this freaking schedule.
And I know what time it is. And I know when my meetings are, I know how much time I have. It sounds sunny, but we all get in tune to these types of things. And if all of a sudden, I had an 8:15 and a 9:20 and a 7:25, whatever these random times are, I would constantly be watching a clock, the other things. And I’d be thinking about when is my next appointment. And I don’t get in this autopilot zone.
For things that don’t need my full cognitive attention, for example, what time the meeting starts; it needs to be in an autopilot zone. My full cognitive attention needs to be on the client.
That’s the reason my paperwork’s in the same way. That’s why my appointments are all the same time. That’s why my prep is always the same thing. That needs to be on autopilot. So, all my decision-making power is focused on my client. That is massive value.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, that’s an easy one to miss Micah, we see that in offices all the time, where you’re using … or not you personally, but advisors are using their cognitive brain power, which is limited. We all exist on a spectrum. It’s limited and you’re using it to check your email alerts or to answer the phones or to wonder if the client’s standing in the lobby or if they’ve gotten their coffee.
I have no spare brain power for that. I need all of my brain power to do my meetings, to deliver massive value. I can’t be worried about like did they get offered coffee appropriately? Nope, I cannot have any thought around that during surge week.
Micah Shilanski: Oh my gosh. And I’m sure you have the same in your office. We never talked about it before, but there is a certain way that my arms are to greet the client, offer them beverage and notify me when the client is there and ready for their appointment.
If they’re there and they went to the restroom, and I come up front, I’m like WTF, where’s the client? That is a failure on the RM team. It is they’re there, and when they’re ready for that appointment. So, when I come up, I’m not worried about making these last-minute decisions and figuring things out.
It sounds like a diva thing, but this is really focused on hyperawareness to delivering massive value to your clients.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah, it is. And with top performers in every field, it’s that way. I need to just stay focused even on this minutia stuff. I have to stay focused on the things that only I can do and I’ve got to push out everything else.
Micah, another thing that comes to mind is note-taking. So, you’ve been taking notes on your iPad for years. I recently switched over to taking notes digitally on a reMarkable pad
Previously, I didn’t because I was too worried about the distractions. Like I was too easily distracted, so I would just take it on paper, but now, I take it on my reMarkable, you’ve done on your iPad for years.
Micah Shilanski: Yeah. So, in our custom CRM that we built, one of the things that it does is it produces all of my documents for that client for the day in our meetings, which I just found is fan-freaking-tastic.
And so, I get all of those in an iPad, and then I can jot down all of my notes inside of that. Then at the end of the day, I zip that off into our drive and our team has all of our notes, digital; this includes all of the key financial information for the client. So, I don’t have to go look it up all the time.
This has client tasks, this has advisor tasks. This has due dates inside of it also as a distribution table, which I’m a huge freaking fan of. We just set this up this last year. It has a distribution table in it for the last 12 months.
So, I can see not only how much is a client taking out per account, but how much is going to taxes which is fantastic. So, now, I instantly have this information at hand because while I love the buckets report and the guardrails is good too, it doesn’t talk about tax withholdings, which is a key part.
So, I have all of this key information on what I call my homework sheet. That’s where all of my notes go. I zip it off to the RMs at the end of the day. It makes it super easy.
Matthew Jarvis: I love that. And again, for that homework sheet, whether it’s coming out of the CRM or you’re having your team prepare it, it’s like what things am I needing to look up? “I need to look up this for every client.”
Cool, have someone else look that up and put it on there. So, you’re not down the rabbit hole of, “Let me read my last seven meeting dictations and see what I thought about it.”
Micah Shilanski: And a pro tip with that Jarvis, let’s take the tax information. So, you should know the tax bracket for every single client that’s coming in. You should know their marginal bracket. Not they’re effective one, because that’s irrelevant for 99% of what we’re doing, but you need to know their marginal bracket.
This is not a thousand dollars an hour task. Answering the question about taxes is a thousand dollars an hour task. So, you should have your team go through that information.
Now, don’t just write it on the homework sheet, pro tip, go stick it in Excel, go document all of that stuff. Now, if you’re working with RTS, they’re going to take care of it for you. But if you don’t, have all that information in a spreadsheet so you can easily pull it the next time for these clients.
Matthew Jarvis: A small, fairly nuanced difference. After client meetings, I pull out, on my iPhone, I have the Rev app, rev.com, and I hit record on that. And then it goes to the team. You’re using Dictate, is that dictate.com?
Micah Shilanski: Yep, dictate.com is the app that we use. And then that gets dictated out same day, goes to the team and they screen it. We try to keep the dictation between three and five minutes to go through it, which just really, isn’t an issue for me to go through that process.
And then all dictation must be done before the advisor leaves the office, period, end of sentence. There’s no, “Tomorrow morning, I’m going to get around to doing my dictation because I got late.” Before you leave the office, all dictation has to be done.
Matthew Jarvis: Micah, a funny story on dictation; most of the dictation services charge by the minutes. And so, I would notice as I’m recording that it was getting closer to the next minute. And so, I would start talking faster and faster, until the dictations would come back from the transcription and in the last like couple sentences would just say inaudible.
And so, Colleen finally says, she’s like, “Matt it’s a dollar 25 a minute. Like would you like me to take out of my paycheck, the dollar 25 so that you can speak clearly through to the end?” Like we’ve worked together a long time, like in 10 years now. But she’s like, “Hey listen, if you want me to pay for this, I will. But you sending a dictation that I can’t hear the last two minutes of doesn’t help. Like that’s not dollar savings there.”
Micah Shilanski: That’s so funny, but it’s true. And this is getting to know yourself. And Jarvis, actually I want to get back to this difference in meeting gaps of 15 minutes to 30 minutes. The reason I do 15 minutes is twofold. One, I want a few more meetings a day.
But the other thing I was noticing, if I have more than 15 minutes, that’s just enough time where I can get into somebody else’s work.
That’s just enough time where I’m going to start poking around in other people’s projects, start listening to their phone calls, start going through how the ops team and how the RM team is doing it. And now, I’m sidetracked on what they’re doing versus focus on what I need to be doing, which is delivering value to clients.
So, I got to know myself and I got to keep myself busy enough in my lane. Or I’m not going to start playing in other things.
Matthew Jarvis: Oh totally. Or you’re just going to play office during that period of time. That’s what happens when you have big gaps. Like, “Oh, well let me just check The Wall Street Journal really quick. Let me just do this. Let me go troll social media.” Like whatever it is, that’s not getting you in a good head space. It’s just burning up time.
Micah Shilanski: Absolutely. Another thing that we go through with this on the surge side and we kind of talked about it in our last podcast that we might do a little bit different is when we do post-surge and pre-surge meetings. So, we like to do pre-surge and posts surge with our teams.
Now, what we found with post surge, and you actually do it. You talked about this in the last podcast. You do it like before your surge ends. Our post-surge meeting needs to be right after the advisor surge ends, because keep in mind, when we’re done, the ops team and the RMs still have work to do.
But as soon as we wrap up the advisor surge, we got to have that post-surge meeting, even though they still have a lot of work to do on their end, we got to carve out a day. It has to be offsite, have pizza and beer and pros and cons of everything that happened during surge.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I had a coach convinced me to stop calling out pros and cons. We do a list of what are things that work, like let’s celebrate things that work-
Micah Shilanski: Wins and fails?
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. What do we want do differently — yeah wins and fails. What do we want to do differently next time? So, we’re like “This worked, what would we like to do differently next time?” Just a little mindset thing.
Something else that I think that we do differently, when I’m doing Zoom meetings, of course, there’s a whole thing about how to use Zoom effectively and what does your waiting room message say and all of those things.
But Colleen goes in five minutes before the meeting and then she’s in there and then the client comes in and she greets them. And she does her normal small talk as if they were in the office. And then she messages me and then I hop in the call.
So, what I found was happening is people were losing that connection with Colleen. I want them to have a solid connection with my RM so that when they have questions, like I just need to call and talk to Colleen, not my connections only with Matt, especially for newer clients that were all virtual.
So, we have her do this, like meet and greet, if you will, before each Zoom meeting.
Micah Shilanski: I love that. Jarvis, I forget, my apology on this one. One of the things we do, Victoria, our RMs, they do a post meeting, follow-up call about five to seven days after the meeting.
And so, they’re going to review things that we talked about in the meeting. They’re going to go over client homework. Did they get it done? They’re going to go over the Shilanski homework. Did we get it done? Any follow-up, et cetera.
And again, that happens roughly a week after. I can’t recall, do you guys do the same thing?
Matthew Jarvis: I have one or two. We haven’t ever adapted that. Because again, I just haven’t ever allocated time and resources for it, but it’s definitely been something I’ve always wanted to implement. I highly recommend. It seems like it makes a lot of sense.
Micah Shilanski: I got to say we get rev reviews from the client and really brought it to my mind, is the comment that you made; the connection to the team, especially for our remote clients, this empowers our team to answer client questions. I’m not trying to put down chit-chat. The chit-chat before the meeting is just fantastic.
But that also sets Colleen up, if you will, or let’s just use non-Colleen — it sets a receptionist up to hand off all the questions to Matt, “Oh, Matt’s going to cover this, Matt’s going to do that, Matt’s going to do this.” Etcetera.
Versus the post call, it empowers (this is what I feel) — it empowers my team to answer the client’s questions. So, they don’t feel they got to come to Micah for all of this. They know they can go to Victoria and Victoria’s going to get them an answer.
So, at least for us, that’s been a huge success.
Matthew Jarvis: Yeah. I love the idea. Because now, you’re confirming, “Hey, we did what we said we were going to do.” If something came up, if they had some grievance or anything at all, it’s just another chance to touch that.
Micah Shilanski: Okay. So, this podcast is all about action items. So, number one, action items, we’re going to have a phenomenal webinar here in a few days. I think it’s on August 17th. We are going to be crushing this thing and we’re going to really get it into surge process and preparing for it. Because we both have a fall surge, which is coming up in October.
Matthew Jarvis: October/November. That was actually something Micah that I learned from you about having your surge fall over the end of a month. So, you can say, “Hey, Matthew’s meeting with clients in October and November.” And so yeah, we shifted all of our surges by a week, so that tripped over. Actually-
Micah Shilanski: I’m sorry, that was just my head trash. Because I couldn’t say, “Oh my gosh, there’s only one month I’m meeting with clients in the next six months.” And it was just my head trash. I was like, “Oh perfect. Put it the last two weeks of March, the first two weeks of April. It’s two months.” Yeah, sorry.
Matthew Jarvis: Great news.
Micah Shilanski: I love it.
Matthew Jarvis: These small things make all the difference. Action item number two, if you enjoy the podcast, wait until you see Micah and I in person. It’s always a lot of fun to be able to sit down with advisors in a group setting to do extreme accountability, to really dive deep into your practice.
Micah, you and I will be together on October 8th in Denver at XYPN. We will also be in Las Vegas, Nevada, December 1st and 2nd doing our Invictus Mastermind. That of course, is for Invictus members only, but October 8th in Denver is open for the entire TPR Nation.
Micah Shilanski: Fantastic. I’m going to say another action item that’s there, be intentional about your surge and write out that process. Not on a computer, jump out, get one of those giant 3m stickies, that’s what Jarvis and I love to use. And we’ll write it out there with the entire team, what the surge process is. And we start off with what the goal is.
Our goal during surge is to deliver massive value to every single client. That’s our goal. Now great, the process is how are we going to do that? And let’s make sure the entire team is there.
And the reason Jarvis, I love starting with this goal, is I want to empower the team that they don’t get to be isolated and say, “Well, I did my job, but Susie didn’t do hers.”
Now, we don’t have that. We have a phenomenal team and I want to keep that culture going. Look, it’s the entire team’s responsibility to achieve this goal and we can all make it or we can all fail, but everyone is empowered to achieve this.
Matthew Jarvis: I think that’s great. Final action item for today, as I mentioned, I think at the beginning of the show, we’re getting some 50,000 downloads a month on the podcast, which is really a lot of fun. The TPR Nation is growing.
Please take a minute to give it five stars on Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts. Those reviews, while they also make us feel good and it makes us have a nice day, really help grow the audience for The Perfect RIA, really help get the message out about delivering massive value. So, we appreciate you for that.
Micah Shilanski: Awesome. And until next time, happy planning.
Matthew Jarvis: Happy planning.
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