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Measured success

Kathryn Furtaw Keuneke, CAE

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For MDRT nominee Randy Scritchfield, self-reflection leads the way to a better bottom line.

In the restaurant business, profit margins are slim, and controlling expenses is priority No. 1. This isn’t the restaurant business, but that hasn’t stopped Randy L. Scritchfield, CFP, LUTCF, from applying the lessons from his first career to his business today.

“You lived and died by certain ratios,” Scritchfield said about his eight-year career in restaurant management in the 1970s. Food costs, average tab per table, wage costs — it was all meticulously tracked and carefully considered.

With long hours, restaurant management wasn’t conducive to family life. Scritchfield responded to a life insurance recruiting card and found the potential for unlimited income — and Sundays off — appealing. So he left restaurants behind in favor of a career where the rewards would more closely match his efforts.

 But he faced the pressure of earning enough to pay his bills and no idea how to do it. So he took what he knew — writing everything down and being self-analytical — and applied it to his new profession.

Today, Scritchfield’s self-reflection is a significant factor in his successful business. “An unexamined business is not worth having,” said the 34-year MDRT member from Damascus, Maryland.

The newest member of MDRT’s Executive Committee brings this element of reflection as the organization moves forward in its effort to better serve members around the globe.

When Scritchfield left restaurants for financial services, he maintained the values of hard work and service. Under the guidance of his sales manager, he began prospecting the government employee market. Scritchfield would page through a thick directory, calling prospects each day to tell them he’d be in their building in Washington, D.C., and scheduling a time to meet that afternoon.

As he steadily built his client base, the self-reflection Scritchfield was accustomed to in the restaurant business became a staple in his new profession.

He used ledger books in the early years, recording each sale by hand, and totaling his production at the bottom of the page. “I had to be accountable to myself, and I had to create my own systems,” he said.

This careful watch over his numbers served Scritchfield well as he increased his production, earning his first MDRT qualification in 1985 and venturing out on his own in 1991 with help from his wife, Kathy. Working as a partnership, the Scritchfields learned how much better the business ran when Randy was freed up to focus more of his time on client relationships. Kathy took over direct mail, client service work, filing and appointment prep.

Delegating became another way for making big transformations in his business. While other advisors told themselves “I’ll hire somebody when …” Scritchfield didn’t hesitate to make investments in his business by hiring additional staff, even before they were needed.

“Early on, I learned to recognize when I was doing something that someone else could do. If someone else could do it, it didn’t make business sense for me to do it, so I delegated. And I’m that way to this day,” he said.

One of Scritchfield’s tricks for determining when it was time to hire again came from “The Time Stretcher” — a time management manual created by MDRT in 1976. The manual advised keeping a time log to see where every 15-minute period was spent on a weekly basis. Scritchfield used this to identify what he shouldn’t be doing, then found a staff person to take over those tasks.

Today, Scritchfield’s business operates with him as the sole advisor, Kathy serving as business manager, and five other support staff handling client service and marketing.

While he’s moved on from the ledger sheet, Scritchfield establishes annual goals and tracks his progress toward them, by hand, on paper.

The goals include projections for assets under management, new revenue, and an industry or community goal. “I record the past, and I plan out the future,” said Scritchfield, who has three Court of the Table and 17 Top of the Table qualifications. “It’s amazing when you write it down and it happens.”

For those who don’t yet track their own performance so carefully, Scritchfield suggests starting with a quarterly look. “Examine not just what you’re doing and what you’re accomplishing, but also how you’re doing it and why you’re doing it, and whether you should do something different,” he said.

While a day in the office once required a laser focus on each line item in his ledger to be able to support his young family, today Scritchfield is able to enjoy the relationships he’s built with long-term clients. When he meets with an established client — most are preparing for or in retirement — the paper reports his staff creates might never come out of the folder.

This business, with renewals and trails, rewards you to take care of people the right way for a long time.

Instead, Scritchfield spends his face-to-face time with them asking about their lives, such as what trips they have taken recently, their children, any health concerns. Any details revealed might trigger changes to their accounts, but the approach is all about them — not about financial trends on paper.

Scritchfield considers himself a behavior manager — he helps clients adapt their behavior to do the right things to stay on track for retirement. This approach is preferred by the clients, too, who keep his business growing with unsolicited referrals. “There’s just a total sense of comfort and trust,” he said.  

He’s also a relationship manager for clients, as he connects them with specialists who can provide products he doesn’t offer, such as long-term care insurance, and services, such as writing a will. This service, and the time he spends with clients to accomplish it, is one of Scritchfield’s differentiators and is reflected in his branding: Retirement planning with a personal touch.

To Scritchfield, this tagline means he will spend the amount of time required to lead clients through his retirement planning process. He tells them: “I want to be process-oriented, not time-oriented. We’re going to do what we have to do, and we’re going to take the time we need, which includes as many meetings as we need, on a basis as frequent as we need.”

While some advisors dwell on production, Scritchfield’s focus on earning clients’ trust and helping them become financially secure has become a profitable way to operate. “This business, with renewals and trails, rewards you to take care of people the right way for a long time,” he said. 

A life of leadership

As soon as Scritchfield joined MDRT, he bought into the idea that volunteerism within the organization would make for a more enjoyable experience. His first assignment was in 1986, working in what is now known as the MDRT Store. His involvement increased over the years to total more than 40 positions, including the roles of Divisional Vice President of both Top of the Table and Annual Meeting Program Development. He is also involved in the MDRT Foundation as an Excalibur Knight and a member of its Board of Trustees and Inner Circle Society.

Scritchfield credits the MDRT volunteer structure for teaching him how to successfully lead a group of people to a common goal or objective, a skill he has used in his community, where he also has made a mark with nearly 30 years of active service and leadership.

With these numerous experiences to draw from, Scritchfield is excited to join the MDRT Executive Committee as it continues to implement the organization’s strategic plan. He sees three significant opportunities standing before MDRT:

  1. Managing our growth — “We must continue to remain relevant by maintaining a qualification standard that is easily communicated yet elite. We must maintain our prestige, both perceived and actual. We must protect our brand, but also maintain the integrity that supports that prestige.”
  2. Serving our global membership — “New, regionalized meetings will help us serve all of our members well as we continue to deliver more and more value between the meetings.”
  3. Staying relevant — “We are in a unique position in that we can afford to take the time to think strategically.”

In his current role of Divisional Vice President of Guided Development, Scritchfield has helped establish plans to deliver the benefits of coaching, study groups and member-to-member mentoring to MDRT members.

“I am excited about MDRT’s future — and I’m honored to be a part of it — as continuing to be relevant, continuing to think strategically as an organization, and to have the luxury to be able to implement what we decide is important to do,” he said. “I can’t imagine a better time to be asked to be on our Executive Committee.”

 

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