Choose them wisely, and treat them well. The payoff wil l be substantial for your firm.
A client advisory board can provide your firm with real-world counsel on what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong, what you are not doing, and—most important—how to stay competitive in your market. Here are tips for achieving the best results.
- Choose good contributors. Select members based on their ability to provide useful insight, perceptions, motivation and especially contrarian views.
- Make it win-win. Let the members know that their participation will have a meaningful influence on how your firm provides even better service to organizations like theirs.
- Don’t sell to this group. Select and use your board solely for advice. The members will see through covert plans to generate more fees from them.
- Prepare your members. Make each meeting count with a full agenda of important issues. Advise members ahead of time on agenda items, provide detailed backgrounders, and prompt their thinking with questions for discussion.
- Run effective meetings. Keep meetings to two or three per year. Begin and end on time, stick to the agenda, review past commitments, encourage participation, keep communications open, and conclude every meeting by recording specific action items.
- Give these people special treatment. Provide quality meals, refreshments and meeting space. Make your board members feel highly appreciated and acknowledge them publicly—and often. Find ways to reward their participation as well. Dinner, theater or sports tickets and small gifts are all appropriate.
- Act on the advice. Your advisory board can be a great source of information about your market—but members will give you their best only when you act on their recommendations.