Advisors: What Can You Do To Make Things Better for Your Team?

On occasion, advisers can get frustrated with their back-office team. 

Perhaps it’s the errors they spot in reports, investment statements, or other client communications 

Often it’s about the time it takes to get a client report out the door. Don’t they know that all these errors and delays cost money?

Identify who’s the problem?

In Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze, co-founder of the Ritz Carlton hotel chain, he tells a powerful true story of the frustration he was feeling with one of his hotels that promised a room service breakfast delivered in 30 minutes or less.

The hotel in question served lots of business travel clients and was frequently missing this deadline. Guests were angrily leaving for their morning business meetings having ordered a breakfast that didn’t arrive in time.  

So Horst, as the founder of the company demands that his hotel manager fix the problem, but after 9 months of badgering, there’s no improvement. 

Horst tells the manager to get all the parties who are involved in the delivery of breakfast together in one room and asks them all to find the problem. Here’s what they found.

  • The orders were being taken and passed onto the kitchen correctly. 
  • The kitchen was preparing the breakfast orders in plenty of time. 
  • The waiter collected the order and went to the service lift where…they could wait up to 15 minutes because the lift was servicing loads of floors. 

Ah ha. There’s the issue.

  • So they speak to the lift service manager. The lift is working as it should. 
  • They speak to the company that makes the lift. They find no problem.

The hotel manager decides to sit inside the service lift one morning to see for himself what’s going on.

The lift leaves the ground floor. At floor 3 the room servicing manager gets in and pushes the button for 4. At floor 4 he pokes his head out, blocks open the door with a towel and walks out into the corridor to liaise with his room service team as they do their work. That takes a few minutes. 

The room servicing manager gets back in and they go to floor 6 where he does the same thing again. This holds up the lift for 5 minutes this time. And on it goes, floor after floor.

Ah ha. There’s the real issue. 

When questioned by the hotel manager the room servicing manager explains that his team only have two sets of towels for each room and so every day on the room changeover they can find themselves short. He needs to run out at each floor to make sure everyone has towels for the room they’re servicing. He steals a towel from a room that has an excess to make up for a shortfall somewhere else to keep things moving. 

He goes on to explain that most hotels have three sets of towels. When the hotel manager asks why their hotel doesn’t use three sets of towels, the room servicing manager says it was an edict from finance to save money. 

So the hotel manager talks to the finance manager.

The finance manager explains the order to reduce the number of towel sets came directly from Horst Schulze, the founder of the Ritz Carlton.

As Horst explains so honestly, sometimes you can be the problem in your own business. The ultimate source of his frustration and the poor service delivery was him. 

Do you ever make decisions in your business that have flow-on effects further down the line?

Almost certainly. 

For example, as the owner-adviser in your firm, you meet with a client and pass the next stage of the job (research, cashflow modelling etc) to your paraplanner.  

But you haven’t handed over every single piece of information they need to do their job well. Now they spend time either chasing you or chasing the client for the information. 

2 weeks later when the report isn’t written you complain about how long it takes for things to get done. 

If you followed the chain of events, like in the Ritz Carlton example above, you might discover the real cause of the issue.

What to do

It’s easy to cast blame if things are not working as you’d like. However, if it’s your business the buck always stops with you. 

That can be frustrating (I’d rather blame someone else if I’m honest), but the good news is that the power to fix issues is completely within your control.

What can you do to make things better for your team?

Let me know how you go.

Related: Is Your Advisory Picture-Perfect?