Raising practice performance: are the tools closer than you think?

Lifting efficiency and business growth in your practice is vital in an increasingly competitive marketplace. One way to achieve your goals is to take a close look in the mirror and assess your ‘social style’.

Have you ever looked around your practice and wondered how you can boost growth, or if you are supporting your clients in the best way?

Although industry benchmarks provide one way to assess how a practice is travelling, it takes time and resources to assemble the necessary data.

For many smaller businesses, a more effective and simpler approach to improving a practice’s performance is to identify the social style of your clients, your staff and yourself.

It’s all about developing strong versatility and having the ability to adapt so you are matching the right social style in your interactions with others, thus closing the communication gap, explains Malcolm Hills, Practice Development Manager at Count Financial. “While tools like benchmarking are important, you need the fundamentals in place to boost growth and improve how you deal with clients.”

What are social styles?

Social styles are how we habitually communicate and interact with others. According to psychologists, Merrill and Reid, there are four social styles: Analyticals, Drivers, Expressives and Amiables. Each has its own way of thinking, using language and approaching busines.

According to Wilson Learning’s paper on business inefficiencies created by mismatched social styles, “When you find it easy to communicate and work with someone, there is a high probability you share the same social style. When your communication is difficult, it is often because of unrecognised social style differences.”

The paper also claims that companies with employees who know how to adapt to the social styles of others “experience dramatic, measurable improvements in performance”.

Hills believes mismatched social styles create a significant strain on adviser performance and efficiency. “For business growth, it is critical to think closely about who you are. Do you have the versatility to deal with people or clients on their terms or social style? If you can’t work with other social styles, you are excluding 75% of your potential clients.”

Strong client communication: why it matters

Deeper engagement through better communication is what most clients are seeking from their adviser, according to a Beddoe’s Institute white paper. It found 82% of clients nominated interpersonal skills, like rapport, as an adviser’s most important quality. Only 4% mentioned technical skills, while 11% nominated an adviser’s product or industry knowledge as paramount.

“A stronger level of engagement with clients increases practice efficiency and performance. You aren’t constantly looking for new clients, due to a higher retention rate,” says Hills.

Giving support staff visibility is also important. “As a business, growth and efficiency strategy, leveraging off the client’s relationship with other people in the practice is invaluable.”

Improve communication within the practice

Social style versatility can boost practice efficiency in other ways.

“This is not just a pure client-based skill set. It also improves communication between the business owner and their employees,” Hills notes.

“If the practice principal has strong social skills, there tends to be reduced turnover due to people feeling unappreciated or ignored.”

Appropriate communication also empowers employees and encourages greater efficiency in their day-to-day roles.

Three tips for better business performance

  1. Blend your employees’ social styles – Owners often employ staff with the same social style, so identify whether you need a wider mix of styles.
  2. Note social styles on client files – This starts all client conversations on a strong foot. Leaning in to a client’s style strengthens client relationships and increases satisfaction metrics.
  3. Emphasise storytelling – Sharing relatable stories builds a closer bond and encourages clients to open up.