Is Your Conference Room a Torture Chamber?
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Many of you are planning an office move or renovation next year. Here’s a morsel of advice as you dial up your Corcoran realtor: Get an office without a conference room. Advisor conference rooms stink.
They’re ugly, depressing, and an energy zap
There’s nothing more depressing than an advisor conference room. They epitomize the essence of the tired, old cliché that our industry embraces. You know what I mean:
- Cold, lifeless walls;
- Pretentious mahogany rectangular table;
- Tacky beach artwork;
- Furniture from 1979;
- Wires all over the place; and a
- Tattered rug.
Bleh! The epitome of lifelessness. Does this seem like a good place for an uplifting conversation? More like a prison.
Whenever I go into a conference room, I feel like the energy is zapped out of me. Honestly, they’re so corporate. Plus, I feel like I’m shooting a State Farm commercial. It makes me nervous.
Put a workout room there and have people talk while on the treadmill. Call it unprofessional but at least my pulse would be going above three beats per minute.
Reduces time spent on nonsensical meetings
In my rants (blogs), here’s my common theme: Less is more.
Ever since I implemented my two-sentence rule in my own business (as did my clients), I’ve seen amazing results. If you can get something accomplished in 1/20th of the time, effort, and expense, then do it.
It’s so easy for people to create meetings that clutter everyone’s calendar. These meetings make things harder, not easier. I limit my meetings to 30 minutes and in 2020 I’m cutting this to 15 minutes.
One of the most successful people I know told me that when he was an executive at XYZ large bank, he removed the chairs from his office. You know what happened next. Major productivity improvement.
Your clients don’t care
But Grillo, you say, my clients! I need to entertain them! No meeting in your office is truly appreciated by any client. When was the last time you heard a client say, “You know, Evangelina, I love these annual meetings we have in your conference room every year. They’re really breathtaking.”
Of course not!
Go meet them at their office, home, health club, or even better, take them somewhere fun. Or use Zoom conference (pay the $16 something a month, okay) and do a videoconference.
Hint: By getting out of your office and interacting with people outside of your company (and in your clients’ worlds instead of yours), you get known in their circles. Isn’t that what all you advisors say you want to do (on those fabulous websites of yours)? We want to be the one person who saves your life and everyone else’s life, blah blah blah.
But Grillo, you say, I need to look a certain way! I need to show my clients that I’m wealthy and not some imposter!
Nobody but you will even notice. I shoot my YouTube videos from the war zone that is my living room. Raw in every way. Yet, oddly people are dying from curiosity about my life as a result, because I’ve shown them that I’m a living, breathing human.
Here’s what the conference room really gets used for
Here’s the other thing many of you haven’t considered. I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
Chances are someone is going to use the conference room to do something bad when you’re not around (after 6 pm). Examples include:
- Having a secret discussion with another employee that may include gossip or other irreverent types of talk;
- Talking with a recruiter about breaking away from your firm and taking key clients with them;
- Interviewing for another job;
- Eating or drinking something that you’d rather they didn’t;
- Storing some type of large object that there is no room for elsewhere in the office. Probably because it is a piece of junk; or
- Other actions that are not proper to mention here on AP (but you know what they are).
Go ahead and tell me I’m wrong.
Declutter your office and calendar. Get rid of your conference room, once and for all, in 2020. And then with all the money you saved, join my membership and let’s work on your social media!
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor and worked at Lehman Brothers.