Richard Allum – 3 top tips for outsourced paraplanners in 2019
15 February 2019
If you’re running an outsourced paraplanning service, or looking to set up this year, what should you be considering as part of your strategy? We asked Richard Allum, director of The Paraplanners, for 3 top tips.
Outsourced paraplanning has come a long way in the 17 years since I started my business. There’s a healthy community of mature and younger businesses delivering a wide range of services. Irrespective of which stage your business is at, there are a few steps everyone should take.
1. Get your service proposition and fees right
With so many paraplanning firms now offering services to advisers, it’s essential that your proposition is clear and well defined. Some firms take a generalist approach and others choose to specialise. Whatever approach you take, define it, work out what makes you different and why people should choose you.
Your fee structure is very important and you have decisions to make on the basis you use. Will you charge by the hour or by the case? Will you charge a retainer or work on an ad-hoc basis? Most importantly, make sure you are charging fees that will help you to achieve your business goals. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re really worth. It’s much easier to reduce fees than to put them up if you get it wrong.
2. Record your time
If you are not doing this already, stop reading and put something in place to record your time. I recommend Harvest but there are lots of other tools out there. Categorise your tasks and make sure time is recorded live. There’s no point trying to recall where your time went at the end of the day. It doesn’t work.
We’ve got more than 10 years of time data. It allows me to set workflows, understand capacity, identify which clients or case types are profitable or loss making. I couldn’t run my business without this. Most importantly, I can see how much of the team’s time is spent on chargeable work. That’s an essential piece of MI for me and the business.
3. Tune up your marketing engine
Unless you can’t take on any new clients (and that happens to everyone at one point or another), make sure you have an efficient and effective marketing plan in place to get your message out there.
Make sure you know what your ideal client looks like. Don’t just take on anyone. It’ll come back to bite you and your client. Contribute to the community. Social media is useful, cheap and quick. Write articles and blogs to showcase yourself and your skills. Go to CPD and networking events and make yourself known. It can take time but if you have Tip 1 in place, and stick to it, clients will come.
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