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Get a seat at the table

David William Brown, CLU, CH.F.C.

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Writing down vision and strategies guides the way to increased activity.

If you’ve struggled to increase your production and would like some advice to build your business and reach Top of the Table production, follow these simple strategies. They can provide a roadmap
in your efforts to be better each day.

Brand your process. Our brand is the Estate Preservation Process. The goal is to protect and preserve an estate and to create an everlasting legacy.

Write a mission statement. Once you have a brand in mind, next you need to develop a mission statement. Ours is to provide client-centered solutions based on the principles of honesty, commitment and quality client service. We proudly display our mission statement in the lobby of our firm for all of our clients to see. We are committed and we are accountable to this mission statement.

Set your goals. This is a business that is based on goals. We set our goal every 90 days. When I meet with my coach, we look back at the last 90 days and set goals for the next 90 days.

Report your activity. Every week, I report my activity to the individuals who are assisting me in the office. They track what I do. We have a project manager whose job is to make sure I do what she has told me I’m supposed to do. We have a reporting system throughout the office. It isn’t for the purpose of checking up on people and knowing what they’re doing. It’s to make sure we move step by step throughout our process in talking to clients and bringing them to their final decision. And this is where we get to our pipeline.

We have a pipeline that has nine steps. All of our suspects, our prospects and our clients go through this pipeline. They start as a suspect. They move on to the first contact, which is usually a telephone call. They go to the second contact, which is usually arranging for a meeting. Then a follow-up meeting, a presentation that’s sent to them, an application that’s in the pending file and then to a contract that is settled. Within the pipeline, we have individual support staff who make sure their section is completed and moved on to the next individual or group.

Build your team. This is a business that cannot be successful if you just do it alone. You need to have assistance and you need to have a team. In our office, we have various teams. Each team is made up of a minimum of three people. Some individuals serve on other teams as well.

We like to reward our associates. All of our associates and staff members enjoy profit-sharing benefits. They all work four days a week. They have variable vacations. We have an annual retreat where we take our staff together for a day or two to a spot where we just have fun. We have a very close-knit group of people, and they need to have time together to relax from the stress in the office. We also have quarterly lunches and periodic treats for our support staff.

Develop an agenda habit. We will not have a meeting in our office without an agenda, whether it’s an internal meeting or a meeting with a client. We send out the agenda to our clients prior to the meeting, and we list all the areas we would like to discuss. When the client comes in, we hand them the agenda again, and remind them that this is their meeting, not ours. We ask them to take the agenda and prioritize what is most important and what they want discussed at the meeting. We say to them, “To make this time worthwhile for both you and us, could you tell us what’s on your mind? What’s keeping you up at night? What would you like to discuss?”

Develop a memo habit. After every meeting, we ask the client for permission to send a memo to their accountants and lawyers. We want to bring the accountants and lawyers on board as early as possible. The memo helps everyone — the other advisors, ourselves and our clients — outline what the goals are. After a year or two, when the client comes back for a review, we’ll go through the previous memo to check whether we did all of the things we promised or if there are items that are still outstanding. The memo is the lifeblood of our operation.

Invest in yourself. This is a learning occupation. Every day, every week, every month, every year, we need to continue to learn. We need to surround ourselves with like-minded people. We need to invest in our education and in our associations, such as MDRT, and others.

Invest in your business. Whether it’s technology, associates or assistants, we continually understand that to grow day by day, we must allocate funds for our business to grow as well.

Create a balance. My family has been in this business for more than 75 years. We know the type of challenges and stress this business has on individuals, families and relationships. You must be able to balance your business and work life, family, home, friends, spirituality, ethics, charity and community involvement.

David William Brown is a 39-year MDRT member from Toronto, Ontario Canada. Contact him at


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