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April ’20

Ideas for the journey to better every day.

April ’20

Content is where it’s at

By Darren Root, CEO

If we’ve learned anything over the past few months, it’s that timely, helpful content is gold! It’s how we’ve been able to communicate effectively and expeditiously to clients about the recent and rapidly changing economic relief programs and other related updates as they’ve been released. Informational content is where it’s at—not only in relation to the current COVID-19 crisis, but in general. As such, every firm should strive to maintain a steady stream of outgoing education-based content to keep clients informed, current and connected to your firm.

While our team members have been working round-the-clock to push COVID-19-related content out to support you, we have also been working on our soon-to-be-released Content Package—scheduled for May 2020. The goal of this new product? To make sure our member firms continue to educate their clients with quality, timely and uber helpful materials—including eBooks, short-form articles and client magazines.

Introducing the all-new Content Package!

In May, we will roll out our new Content Package offering. For now, here are a few details about the product:

  • Released bi-monthly—content is pushed to a member’s website automatically.
  • Package includes an eBook, a short-form article (which we’ve termed “QuickReads”), and our client magazine (In The Loop for Academy and Advantage for Advantage members).
  • All materials within the package align the content theme. For example, if the eBook is dedicated to “The ABCs of entity selection,” the QuickReads article and a magazine article will be dedicated to the same topic. This offers consistency across collateral.
  • The Content Package is included in Academy and Advantage membership levels. It is available for purchase at other membership levels.

Content is a highly valuable asset within any firm. Again, if we haven’t learned that from the COVID-19 crisis, we never will. 

Rootworks is dedicated to making sure our members have the tools required for success—and pushing out educational content consistently throughout the year is a big part of the success equation. Our new Content Package is a powerful communications resource that I know you’ll love and appreciate. 

Working remotely and efficiently

 By Amy, Education Team

If you have not worked remotely before, you are likely getting a taste of it now. Since this is our new normal for the time being, here are 10 tips on how to be as efficient as possible at it. 

  1. Acknowledge that it is an adjustment and you are not perfect, so take it easy on yourself. Every day is a new day to try to be better than the previous day.
  2. Set yourself up for success. Treat your morning similar to how you would if you were going to the office. Get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack your lunch, etc. Do all of the normal things you would do in the morning before you head to your workspace.
  3. If possible, have a dedicated workspace that has a door. The option to close the door can help reduce distractions. It can also help to set the right boundaries if there are others in your house.
  4. Check in with your coworkers via video and messages periodically throughout the day. Be sure to share something positive with your group.
  5. Get fresh air! Go for a walk to clear your mind, even if it is just to the mailbox.
  6. Set daily goals for what you need to accomplish.
  7. Get another monitor. If you only have one monitor, see if you can take one home from the office. The more screens you have available to you, the more efficient you can be.
  8. Music! Whatever genre it is that gets you motivated, crank it up.
  9. Eat lunch away from your workspace. Eating while working may not be the best habit to get into for both your mental sanity and your waistline.
  10. Stay hydrated! Be sure to consume at least eight glasses of water each day. Hydration will help you to stay focused. Drinking from a straw may help you to consume more water.

Bonus Tip: Have a weekly happy hour! Get together with your colleagues via video and discuss non work-related topics, preferably with your beverage/snack of choice. 

Working securely from home

By Chris Dickens, IT

We’re in a new normal on how we work for the foreseeable future. All of us need to think about how working differently impacts security, and how we all can play a part in keeping client data safe. 

Here are some best practices for configuring your staff to work remotely while still keeping your client’s data safe and confidential.

  1. Avoid shared computers. Best practice is to use company-issued devices that are patched and secured by the company endpoint protection software. However, if you are operating in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scenario, make sure it’s a device that only your employee uses. Avoid using the home computer that kids play on and download games or other questionable apps on. 
  2. Patch and Protect Devices. Since many devices may now be operating outside of company controls and security policies, work with your IT to make sure any devices used for official business are patched and properly protected. You may need to increase your seat or license count to cover more devices. 
  3. Use a VPN. If your staff connects to your company office network, or to a private cloud-hosted provider like Xcentric/Right Networks, be sure you’re securing the communication between computer and remote systems with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). If you’re not set up for VPN, discuss this with your IT department. 
  4. Enable MFA (multi-factor authentication) on anything that supports it. Most applications support multi-factor, or two-factor, authentication. Set up and require MFA requirements upon login. Two-factor via text or SMS is good, but push notification apps such as Duo, Microsoft and Google Authenticator are better. Those apps use a standards-based authentication protocol that most platforms support. 
  5. Communicate securely. For some firms, using videoconferencing and communication tools such as Slack and Zoom may be new to your daily operations. Whether you’ve just implemented them, or have had them deployed for a while, be sure to review the features of each to ensure you’re using the platforms securely. For Zoom, this means training your staff on how to lock meetings, scheduling meetings with client that require a password/PIN, or hosting a public webinar or presentation. 
  6. Heighten user awareness for phishing attempts. With staff operating all remotely, the potential to fall victim to phishing attempts is greater. Hackers are already capitalizing on the new environment to target people with emails that appear to come from coworkers. Refresh your user awareness and training by using platforms such as KnowBe4. KnowBe4 can simulate phishing campaigns and produce reports on who may be “click-prone.” And it has a wealth of resources to train employees. 

Delayed gratification

By Chris, Marketing Team

Marketing during a crisis? Yes, but it looks a lot different, and the rewards come later.

No one imagined this. For the past month, our TV screens have looked like a scene from a Hollywood doomsday movie, flashing grim warnings about the global pandemic. Only, it’s reality. The COVID-19 epidemic is a “black swan” event—an unpredictable unfolding of circumstances with enormous impact and consequences, not the least of which, in our current situation, is an all-out jam on the brakes of the global economy. 

One of a thousand questions looming before you now is, “What should I do about marketing?”

Take heart; there is an answer, and its effectiveness is witnessed in the aftermath of a previous black swan event—the Great Recession of 2008. It is content marketing—publishing information in your marketing channels that will help your clients and prospects find their way during the upheaval. It’s about offering help, rather than asking for a purchase.

In his book Youtility, best-selling author Jay Baer links the overall rise of content marketing in the last decade to a swimming pool contractor desperately trying to survive the crash of the housing market. Burning the midnight oil, the pool builder compiled relevant, useful information—including an extensive FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page—for publication in his various channels, such as his website, social media, email, etc. 

His efforts paid off. The information he provided boosted his online presence and elevated him to a position of leadership among competing firms. When prospective customers in the rarefied pool market were ready to take the purchase plunge (pun intended), his firm was more likely to be the beneficiary. He not only survived; he thrived and rose to the top when the market recovered.

You can deploy the same strategy for your firm in our current crisis. Focus your communications efforts on providing useful information with clarity for business owners and individuals who are desperately seeking a guiding light during this storm. Some basic content could include:

  • Posting summaries of relief and stimulus legislation passed by Congress, along with next steps for people to avail themselves of the benefits.
  • Sharing tips for business clients on establishing and managing a remote workforce. Rootworks firms are far ahead of the pack on these techniques.
  • Hosting online events (e.g. Zoom calls, webinars or live social media streams) that create a forum for your firm to provide leadership.

Our team is helping you in these efforts with a special page on Rootworks.com for curation of COVID-19 resources your firm can put to use: https://rootworks.com/covid-19-updates

Above all, let this be the North Star that guides your actions during these times: Help people. Take good care of your clients, deepen relationships, and extend help to others whenever and wherever you can. We’re in this boat together. And together, we’re better.

COVID-19 Resources

We’re creating resources to support your firm’s COVID-19 response efforts. We’ve created a landing page accessible from the red banner at the top of Rootworks.com. You can find the page directly here: https://rootworks.com/covid-19-updates

Rootworks is working hard to support members in these 3 main areas:

  1. Client communications to support firms with messaging to clients.
  2. A website landing page that we update automatically that consolidates information for clients.
  3. A Working Remotely Lesson designed to support firms with the transition to working with clients online and with staff from home. We have organized our most relevant resources into this lesson.

Upcoming Webinars

  • April 8 – Staff Training: Working Efficiently in a Browser. For years, we have been using applications and programs that have placed an icon on our typically cluttered desktop. Now, more than ever, the shift toward using these browser-based applications is moving at a much faster pace. To help you work in a browser, we’ve designed this class with tips and tricks for efficiency and effectiveness. If you are new to working in a browser, or you just enjoy learning new things, check out this class!
  • April 22 – Staff Training: Deconstructing Tax Season. We are all aware of the tax deadline being pushed back, but this is still a good time to determine things that went really well, just ok, and areas that need improvement regarding tax season. The goal of this class is to help all firm members prepare for a Tax Season Debrief.
  • April 29 – Staff Training: Working on the Firm: Setting Annual Goals. This staff training is designed to help owners and senior staff involved in the decision-making process to set goals for the remainder of the year. We will review the Rootworks recommended planning steps and dive into additional resources to help create goals, drive discussion and help ensure intentional planning.
  • April 30 – Spring Resource Update Webinar. The Resource Update webinar reviews and explains all newly added or updated items in Rootworks.com.

Register in Rootworks.com under Membership > Events > Virtual Events.

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