Houston:  “What’s the best way to acknowledge Thanksgiving with your best clients?” asked Terry, and then answered his own question in a typical old-world broker manner, “I really don’t think there’s much for an advisor to do. Thanksgiving is really a time for people to spend with their family.”

I allowed for a prolonged pause before responding, “I disagree.  Actually, Thanksgiving is a time where elite advisors shine in managing their top client relationships.”

Now I had everyone’s attention.   Without being too hard on Terry, I explained that one of the greatest challenges facing advisors today is in rewiring their thinking.   Yes, Thanksgiving is a time for family, but it is also a time when forward-thinking advisors can strengthen relationships with their best clients. 

Naturally, the next question was “How?”

Let me share with you a composite of best practices that have been employed by our elite advisors…

First, it’s important to segment your top affluent clients and referral alliance partners into two groups; one for an in-person visit by you or a team member to drop-off a seasonal gift, the other for those who will have their gift delivered via FedEx.

Next, you’ll want to review the profile of each household, client and referral alliance partner, and think in terms of personalizing your gift.  For example, if you know a client has family coming in town for Thanksgiving, send flowers with a personal note.

Third, you’ll need to get everyone in your team involved.  Determine who will be ordering what, who will be personally delivering gifts, who will manage FedEx deliveries, and when the entire process will be carried out. 

Your fourth step is execution.  Here is an example of how this process was executed by a four-person team (two advisors and two support personnel).

The team selected organic turkeys, honey baked hams, fruit baskets, flowers and desserts as their suite of personalized Thanksgiving gifts.  Each affluent household or referral alliance partner was going to get flowers along with one of the personalized gifts.

The senior advisor personally delivered the bouquet of flowers, accompanied by a personalized gift (based on the family profile) to seven of the team’s top clients.  He timed his delivery to make certain both spouses of the affluent household were home, as it was his intention to strengthen both of these relationships.  It was pre-determined that the senior partner didn’t really have a strong relationship with the spouse of each of these clients. 

The senior support person then personally delivered a gift and flowers to 10 other top clients.   It took her three days.  She left the office early, 3pm, each day and made the team’s personal deliveries on her way home.  These 10 clients were selected because it was determined that everyone on the team had a good relationship with both parties of the household and the impact of the gift would be just as strong, regardless of who made the delivery.    

The junior advisor was assigned four referral alliance partners and eight top clients.  The thinking of the team was that it was important for the junior advisor to develop personal relationships with each of these referral alliance partners.  Since they didn’t have enough personal information, the gifts were delivered to their office.  The clients were selected because he was in the process of getting involved with them on a professional level and they figured getting personal over Thanksgiving would make that process easier.

The second support person handled all the gifts that needed a FedEx delivery.  This list included out-of-town clients, as well as clients who were going to be traveling over Thanksgiving.  It was her responsibility to find out where they were going to be and with whom.

I recognize this is work, but it also should be a priority – this is the rewiring I referred to earlier.  As you can imagine, the feedback this elite team received was off the charts.  Clients and referral alliance partners loved it!  It also delivered immediate benefits for this team. Seven million in new assets transferred, and the team members were invited to a number of their affluent clients’ holiday parties.

This prioritized work pays off – it always pays off.  Every advisor can do a version of the above.  As I explained to Terry and his colleagues, you don’t need to be on a team to strengthen relationships over Thanksgiving, but you do need to make it a priority, you need to keep it personal, and you must be proactive.

So let’s give thanks for our wonderful clients and strengthen these relationships over Thanksgiving! 

Matt Oechsli is the author of The Art of Selling to the Affluent.  His firm, The Oechsli Institute, does ongoing speaking and training for nearly every major firm in the US.  @mattoechsli www.oechsli.com