Your clients are more mobile than ever. Immigrants, retirees and global professionals often split their year between two or more homes, says Tim Cottee, vice president of retiree planning at Investors Group Inc. in Winnipeg.
But, thankfully, there are strategies and tools that enable you to keep up with remote relationships.
“It’s now manageable to maintain the relationship the same way anyone does these days — through technology,” Cottee says.
You can still do business with a client who maintains two home bases in different parts of the country. By combining the right tools with some careful planning, you can preserve deep ties with clients throughout the year.
The following are tips on how you can maintain relationships with clients who reside in different parts of the country:
> Tailor events to your clients’ schedules
Snowbirds have somewhat predictable schedules. They generally depart in late autumn or winter and return in spring, long after the ice has thawed.
If you know that several of your clients are heading south for the winter, structure client-appreciation events and workshops to correspond with their schedules, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist Business Development in Montreal.
Staying on top of your clients’ travel plans for the year helps you plan out where to send cards and other correspondence, so you don’t lose that personal touch.
“The same things still hold true,” Cottee says. “People like receiving birthday cards and anniversary cards — physical things in the mail.”
> Stay up to date on major events
Distance shouldn’t be an excuse to be clueless about what’s going on in your client’s “second city.” There could be developments there — extreme weather or power outages — that might influence how they make decisions about their finances, Cottee says.
“If they’re living in entirely different areas, [try to] keep apprised of changes in their lives,” he says. “The distance can mean that they’re not experiencing what you are in their local community.”
> Establish power of attorney
Because it’s not always possible to anticipate when transactions will be required, suggest to your clients that they appoint a person to hold power of attorney, Cottee says. This person could be a trusted family member or friend who can sign off on documents in case an unexpected issue should arise when the client is unavailable.
> Embrace technology
Take advantage of technologies such as Skype and FaceTime that enable you to hold “virtual meetings” with your clients.
While conversations over these platforms tend to run shorter than in-person meetings, Gilbert says, you should still include both substantive discussions and pleasantries.
“Take the time to see if there are any other changes,” Gilbert says. “Ask the same type of questions as [you would] in an in-person meeting.”
> Visit your distant clients
If enough of your clients reside in another province, Cottee says, you should get licensed in that jurisdiction as well. For example, during the oil boom, he noticed an increase in the number of Ontario advisors looking to expand into Alberta.
Gilbert works with an advisor who makes a special trip to Florida to meet with all of his snowbirds clients over the course of a week. While such a trip might not be practical to make every year, Gilbert suggests, you could visit several top long-distance clients if many are located in the same city.
And if you can’t reasonably maintain that relationship, Cottee suggests putting the client in touch with a colleague from the other city.
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