It seems crazy that an industry that makes its money by sensibly convincing its customers that expertise, when it comes to financial planning, is the best investment imaginable, in turn does not recognise that business coaching is the best possible investment for anyone who owns a business. It’s a double standard that is arguably costing many members of our industry bucket-loads of money.

I’ve learnt this lesson first-hand but I’m making up for it now! The importance of benchmarking and its validity is the theme of this month’s magazine — there is no more important issue for anyone who runs and/or owns a financial planning practice. It gets down to that old business adage: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Anyone striving for greatness in any endeavour has to start with the vision and then establish a measurement process to see if the quantified goals that define the vision are meeting expectations.

In our group of businesses, we meet at the beginning of the financial year to set revenue and profit goals for the upcoming year. We meet more formally each quarter to see how the business is performing against these set goals, which are often called key performance indicators (KPIs). However, each month we take a less formal look at revenue, costs, upcoming work and, of course, cash. We don’t just benchmark our business against industry standards but also against our own high, continually and upwardly revised standards. I have to admit this is pretty easy for the Switzer Group, which is made up of Switzer Financial Services, Switzer Media & Publishing and, finally, Switzer Business Coaching.

The latter business came about as a consequence of doing an MC job for Michael Gerber, the author of The E-Myth Revisited . One of his consultants approached me after my introduction and asked me a question that has changed my business life forever. Lesley-Ann Grimoldby, regarded as one of the best E-Myth consultants in the country, asked: “You talked about the value of business coaching in your introduction, but have you ever had it yourself?” I replied: “No, but I guess I am perceived as a business coach, albeit on a wider audience basis, rather than one to one.” To that she responded: “But you say everyone needs an objective set of eyes to achieve the best results.” She got me, and then came the pitch: “I will give you three months of coaching for free but if you like it you will have to pay — deal?” How could I say no?

From her base in Tanunda in South Australia’s Barossa, Grimoldby called in for a weekly one-hour session. I was hooked, and since then have put many staff through the program. When E-Myth in the US took its program online, leaving around eight coaches without a lead generator, Switzer Business Coaching was born. My business partner became Grimoldby and we now use the Full Spectrum Business Coaching program. Fortunately, the success record is so good that we now can offer money-back guarantees if we don’t make a measurable difference to a client’s business.

This has always been a deal clincher from Sales 101 but it is something that we financial planners often fear offering on a one-year basis. History has shown me that great professionals can create a good business around their client commitment but growing such a business becomes difficult because most of us, without professional help, cannot reproduce or “franchise” ourselves. To build a business that is scaleable, easy to eventually sell, or even just a pleasure to work in, you have to create systems that mean your business can operate efficiently, with or without you. Gerber always said that if you own a business where you do all of the work, you don’t have a business; what you have is a job – and you have a maniac as a boss! Once you start spending more time working on your business, rather than working in it, it’s likely that you will surpass all of the industry’s financial planning benchmarks. By the way, I don’t care how you access independent eyes, but at least consider it if you want to grow your business. {mos_fb_discuss:20}

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