Business owners are busy. They want things done accurately and quickly, and when it comes to planning, they typically have very complex situations and a lot of moving parts. Those advisors who can help, without taking up too much of their time away from the business, are typically the ones that owners want to work with. However, we consistently hear the same things from advisors that attend our trainings and join the BEI Advisor Network. They feel they are reinventing the wheel with each client and a repeatable process that produces customized results would save time for the owner and the advisor.
So, what can you do to build a process that is efficient and engages more owners in Exit Planning?
Simplify Exit Planning for Your Clients
Take some of the unknown out of what Exit Planning is by explaining to your clients that it’s just business planning. With Exit Planning, we ask owners:
- What are your goals?
- What are your resources?
- How will you obtain enough resources to reach your goals?
The only distinction is the questions are asked to owners that are anticipating leaving their business one day. Their answers are then applied in the planning process in the context of long-term planning for their eventual exit. Because Exit Planning is owner-centric, your process will address your client’s concerns, establish their priorities, and achieve their objectives.
Go Beyond the Basics
Professional advisors give a lot of time and resources crafting their areas of expertise. Often that leads to questions that are narrowly focused and based on their profession. You can’t do a comprehensive Exit Plan solely from the perspective of an insurance advisor or a financial planner or a lawyer or a CPA.
You also can’t come into a meeting with a business owner with a solution before knowing enough about them and their business to know if your solution will work or not. You need information first to give them useful advice. Having a process allows you to bring in all the information to determine what skills sets of other advisors will be needed to create a plan that works really well.
This data collection should include information on:
- The business owner’s value-based goals.
- Facts about the company.
- The owner’s family and their involvement in the business.
- Personal and business financial resources.
- The employees.
- Main competitors.
- The industry.
With this data, you can then identify the tools, solutions, or strategies that might be used to reach those goals. Get your client involved in the possible solutions by telling them the pros and cons of the chosen strategies. By asking what they think or what they may have explored previously, you are getting their buy-in for the process. You’ll be armed with the knowledge to know which type of advisors to bring to the team. Their perspectives and subject matter expertise will bring more ideas to the table, making it more likely that the plan will be a success.
Design and Manage the Plan
As the Exit Planning Advisor, you’ll work with the team to narrow down the ideas and present the owner with the solutions available to reach their goals, the upsides and downsides of each option, and make a comparison. This gives your client the opportunity to make an informed decision on how to move forward without having to listen to every other advisors’ opinions individually on each area of the planning process. This process allows you to present a complete plan to your clients in a straightforward and simple manner. At the end of the day, what owners really want is the end product—the benefits—of all the best thinking and efforts of the team of advisors that is assembled.
Because you have a team of advisors, you will need a process and plan to manage communications, hold each person accountable for completing recommendations in the plan, and keeping each advisor and the business owner on the same page with the milestones in the plan. This is where the real value comes in between you and the business owner. The last thing you want to have happen is for the planning decision to be made, the key stakeholders to have bought in, only for critical implementation steps to fall through the cracks.
- Business owners can be intimidated by “Exit Planning.” Don’t let them. Simplify the process by just encouraging them to plan for their future. As their advisor, you take care of the rest.
- You will be managing a team of advisors. Be sure to consolidate all of their hard work and opinions for your client.