In Part I, I discussed what an Advisory Council is and why it makes sense for advisors to set one up. In Part II, I shared a few thoughts that you should keep in mind as you establish your council.  Today, I’ll describe the logistics of setting up and running the meetings and review topics we discussed at our initial meetings.

To foster camaraderie and open dialogue, we start each half-day meeting with a casual lunch and end with cocktails and dinner. The first meeting is also a good time to share information about each other and get to know each other on a more personal level.

Our meetings, while first class, are not very expensive.  They’re held at our plush office with a catered lunch, which runs about $18 per person.  Cocktails and dinner are held at a local restaurant and that runs about $45 per person.  Our council members represent millions in assets under management so it’s important that we treat them to a first class experience.

Before each semi-annual council meeting, we send our members the agenda and give them some prep work-to get them thinking about the topics. Here are some of our recent agenda items:

1.    A review of our mission and vision statements.  We asked our members if these statements expressed the strength, dedication, and clarity of a company they want to do business with.
2.    What makes our firm unique?  We got some great feedback on why our top clients chose to do business with us.
3.    Brainstorming for creative ideas.  We ended up with some new ideas that would lower costs, improve service, and enhance communication. For example, to lower costs, the council said we should stop mailing our client surveys and instead, have each client complete it when they come in for a review.  Also, whenever we make changes to our model portfolios, the council said we could significantly improve communication if we emailed them a brief description of the change and why we made it.  Based on their feedback, we also revised our quarterly client newsletter by making it shorter, adding call-out boxes for important information, and giving clients the option of receiving it by email.
4.    A review of next year’s proposed client events.  This caused us to add a wine tasting social event, which our members felt would be very appealing to existing clients as well as A+ prospects.
5.    How can we grow our business?  This is where we let the members know we are looking for more people just like them.  We also asked if there were any opportunities for us to speak in front of groups they’re affiliated with-and there were!
6.    A review of our existing service offerings.  We discovered that three of our council members did not know we offered tax services.  As a result, we added a system to call all of our A+, A, and B clients whenever we add a new service and we added a “services offered” section to our quarterly client newsletter.

When we get to the end of our meetings, we carve out 15 – 30 minutes to summarize what was talked about.  We then develop an action plan with timelines and communicate the progress through periodic emails.  At the next meeting, we close the loop by reviewing the status of each item.

We wrap up the meeting by telling the members to call or email any new ideas, thoughts or comments they may have instead of waiting until the next meeting.  We conclude by thanking them, giving them a small gift like a leather portfolio, and then adjourning for cocktails and dinner.