There are rumours going around that once upon a time people knew how to use credit responsibly.
These days, though, most people treat their credit cards as income. It’s no wonder that so many are facing financial difficulty and credit problems. This is terrible for them, of course, but at the same time, their misfortune means the market for financial expertise is booming.
Unfortunately, a booming market is one that attracts shady types who have no interest in actually helping people put their finances back in order. Sure, they make the same promises that you do but really, they just want to get their grubby hands on those set up and processing fees. Whether or not they actually help people is beside the point.
It is imperative that you set yourself apart from these scam artists. Here is how you do it.
1. Resist the Urge to Cold Call
It’s true that, in many markets, cold calling is a great way to drum up initial business. In financial advising, though, it’s terrible.
It puts you on the same level as ambulance chasers and you don’t want that! Remember: successful and trustworthy businesses don’t have time to cold call customers. It’s better to focus the energy you might spend on cold calling on more productive marketing methods like content marketing, traditional advertising, etc.
2. Get Your Memberships in Order
In Canada, clients will expect you to be in good standing with the Canadian Association of Credit Counseling Services and Credit Counselling Canada. If you live in Ontario, you’ll want to make sure you’re a member of the Ontario Association of Credit Counseling Services. You’ll also want to become a member of the Better Business Bureau or, if you are in Quebec, l’Office de la Protection du Consommateur.
It’s also worth noting that if you are in the US and you want to be able to advise people about bankruptcy, you’ll need special certification for that too.
Not having memberships and good records within these organizations is a bright red flag for most consumers so pony up the fees!
3. 24/7 Access
Personal attention is important and we’ll get to that in a bit. It is also important that your clients are able to access their information whenever they want. This is why some companies are spending money on app and portal development.
In the US, for example, Lexington Law provides its clients with a login that they can use to access their information and check on their progress whenever they want. This keeps your clients happy and keeps them from calling you at all hours of the night or on your days away from the office.
4. Personal Attention
Never forget that your clients are individuals and many of them will be convinced that nobody has ever faced a financial situation like theirs before. You’re going to be tempted to rush through things (after all, the more clients you see each day the more you’ll earn). Resist that temptation!
Sure, it’s good to have things like budget worksheets plotted out ahead of time but don’t do their work for them, do the work with them. They’ll appreciate the attention and word will spread about the superior level of support you offer.
5. Always Be Clear About Your Fees
Most of the scam artists out there are vague about their fees on purpose. They want wiggle room to change them later when they want to milk more money out of a client. Make sure that your customers understand your fees up front and then include those fees in the contract that your customers will sign. This gives you both legal cover because in addition to your not being able to raise their fees without their consent, you’ll have legal options if they try to shirk paying you.
Have you started your own financial planning or credit counseling service? What helped you build up your clientele?