Host an Ugly Sweater Day: Keep Warm, Clean and Shredded

On Friday, we will celebrate what is fast becoming an SEI Advisor Network tradition. The annual SEI Ugly Sweater day will be held on Dec 16th (Pictures to follow, I’m sure). Every year, we bring out the old 1980s sweaters that our grandmothers gave us, scour the discount stores and Goodwill or in my case, search endlessly on Ebay until you find the “so right, it’s wrong” choice. Pizza is ordered in and everybody participates in mocking each other’s choices. We also use the afternoon to really clean up our work spaces. (It is a great time, as none of us really care if we get our clothes dirty on Ugly Sweater day.)

Two wins for the price of one
Allowing everyone to cut loose once in a while is a great stress reliever. It helps the office run smoother, reduces tensions and can bring some fun back into the workplace. It can also be a great way to show your personal side to clients and prospects. Think about the last time you really had “fun” at the office. I’m not talking about a joke you forwarded via email (be careful about those) or a quick laugh you had with a client. I mean fun: long lasting, picture taking and side splitting fun. As markets have been challenging and the economy stuck, my guess is that it’s been a while since you all had some good belly laughs. My suggestion? Use an Ugly Sweater day to have some fun, clean your office and meet with your clients and prospects at the same time!

Get everyone involved
 As you know, I spend most of my time working with independent financial advisors. Most have great relationships with their clients, have a few prospects they have identified, and would love to have more quality referrals. The challenge for most is to find ways to meet with prospects and referrals in a fun, non-threatening way. Prospects are less trusting after the financial crisis and really want to get to know you first. What better way is there to see you as “non-threatening” then when you are dressed in a bad sweater with candy canes, snowmen and reindeer on it? At the same time, as you are cleaning your office of unwanted paper and junk, offer to assist others in those tasks as well. Try this:

• Organize your Ugly Sweater Day. Make sure the whole staff buys in and gets the word out.
• If you don’t have a good paper shredder, rent one and offer to shred old paperwork and documents that clients don’t need or want. Offer to assist them in determining how long to keep certain documents.
• Communicate the day to your prospects and clients, making sure they are aware they can (and should) bring friends. Give a prize to the best client ugly sweater, best non-client ugly sweater and take plenty of pictures that you can email, post on your website or newsletter. You want to build a great buzz for next year, too.
• Have some coffee and cookies available for anyone who stops by.
• Make sure you tell everyone how you will dispose of their shredded documents.

Although it is late in the year, there is still time to pull this off… Try it, you won’t be disappointed. What is the worst thing that can happen? Your picture posted on the Internet wearing an ugly sweater? I will go first. Look for the picture in the next few days. Please send me your pictures… (And let me know if I can post it) I would love to see them and hear your stories.

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John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is the creator and lead author of Practically Speaking blog and Managing Director of Practice Management Solutions for the SEI Advisor Network.

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