Seven years ago, Tim Gendreau was finishing up a meeting with a client referral. He asked her, “What did you find most valuable about my service?” It’s a routine question he’s asked countless times and the answers are typically the same. In fact, in his head, Tim had already answered the question for her.
However, the response she provided was one he’d never heard before. Her answer was simple, but it changed everything.
At the time, Tim had been in the financial services business for nearly sixteen years with Investors Group. He enjoyed being a financial advisor, although his typical approach towards dealing with clients was analytical and emotionally-detached.
One day, Tim’s client asked if he’d be willing to meet with one of her friends as a favor. He was told that her name was Helen and she had minimal savings, but that there would probably be some ways that he could help her. Tim agreed to meet with her.
In the meeting, he poured through all of Helen’s financials. He was able to take advantage of a property tax deferral strategy, as well as some debt restructuring which saved Helen approximately $5800 per year. These were not huge savings, but, for an older woman on her own, every bit counted.
When Tim asked about the most valuable aspect of his service at the end of the meeting, he was expecting her to reply that it was the advice or the detailed planning. What she said, stopped him dead in his tracks: “Thank you for showing me a way to keep my dog.”
Unknown to Tim at the time, Helen had a furry companion named Trudy who she loved very much. Trudy had seen Helen through the passing of her husband as well as a long-distance relationship with her only daughter who lived in California. Trudy was an older dog who now required an operation in order to extend her life. Helen wasn’t going to be able to afford the procedure and circumstances were grim. However, now with the new found savings she could afford it.
Tim’s perspective was forever changed. He saw the real impact he could have on his clients. He looked back at his career and thought, “how many stories like this have I missed?” And while he always enjoyed his work, he now felt inspired by it.
Tim decided to change his business approach. Earlier in his career, his initial consultation with clients was designed solely to collect financial data. Now, he spent his initial meetings bonding with clients, discussing their passions and goals.
He also decided to cut his client base dramatically so that he could focus more effort on the people he enjoyed working with most. The people he selected as clients had nothing to do with their level of assets. Instead, it was based on the relationships he had with them.
The result? His business skyrocketed and referrals poured in. He enjoyed his work more and as he made deeper connections with clients he started receiving regular invites to client family functions.
“What did you find most valuable?” While Helen’s answer to this question was powerful, so is Tim’s. Despite the fact that Helen was not a client, and under the circumstances never became one, Tim’s interaction with Helen was by far the most valuable of HIS career. When you change the way you see things, the things you see change!