By Amanda "Mandy" Bossow, LWP Implementation Specialist
With 2020 on the horizon, now is a wonderful time to roll out a Maintenance Program! A Maintenance Program helps you meet your revenue goals, foster lifelong clients, and focus on the proactive approach versus a reactive one.
A Maintenance Program can help kick-start the year by having the fee due annually in January. A number of member firms send out the invoices in December and see the funds start rolling in during the month of January and into February. Sometimes the winter months can be slower, especially in snowy regions. A Maintenance Program can supplement those times when things are a little slower until business picks back up. It’s also a nice reminder for our clients to check in with us to make any changes to their plan that happened throughout the prior year.
Some member firms have also found dividing their Maintenance Program billing into 2 separate invoice periods is beneficial. If they see a slow down during the winter months and then again in the middle of the summer, sending out invoices to client’s whose last name starts with A-M during December to be paid in January and then client’s N-Z during May to be paid in June helps even out that cash flow crisis.
Finally, other member firms like having a “Planniversary” where their clients are billed annually on the anniversary of when they signed their plan. This means you can count on additional revenue monthly rather than once or twice a year.
Whatever billing option you choose, the ultimate goal is to ensure your client’s plans stay as up-to-date and current as possible. You want to remind your clients you have welcomed them into your firm family as much as they have invited you into their personal family. Family takes care of family!
When you reach out to your clients with a maintenance program invoice, a letter should be included letting them know of any changes with the law and the importance of visiting you to get their plan updated. This letter also serves as a nice reminder to your clients that unless they keep you informed of changes in their lives, you can’t take care of them like you originally promised.
Some members worry about all the “benefits” the engagement agreement includes, such as client events, newsletters, special workshops, etc. If you don’t think you can commit to all those things, don’t! Remove from your engagement agreement the parts you aren’t willing and able to fulfill and only include those you know you can. This way you aren’t overpromising and underdelivering. As you grow your firm and your program, you can add in more benefits (while increasing the fee as necessary) to provide added value!
You also want to be more proactive rather than reactive when it comes to your clients. A reactive approach causes more fires and stress within the firm as well as with your clients. If they are feeling pressure to get updates done, you are also going to feel that pressure. By utilizing a Maintenance Program, your clients will feel confident their plan is always up-to-date and those fires happen less and less. They see the value in knowing this safety net is in place and can be acted upon as necessary.
Don’t worry about how to announce your new program to your past clients right away. You and your team need to create the standards for your program such as when you conduct invoicing, the cost to the client, and with what plans to include it, as well as the benefits. You and your team can start offering the program to all new clients with whom you meet as soon as those details are ironed out! You can then plan a kick-off event where you invite all past clients to attend and sign up!
When reviewing your goals for 2020, make sure rolling out a maintenance program is at the top of the list!