Employee benefits concept Yourbenefits plan is one of your business' largest expenses, andfinding an effective solution to improve it isn't likely to happenthe first time you meet with your advisor.(Photo:Shutterstock)

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The journey to a more cost-effective benefits plan can be a longone, and if you're working with a broker who's a poor fit for yourbusiness, that journey can become even longer (and more expensive).Finding an advisor who suits your company's individual needs,however, can be a whole challenge of its own. You don't want towaste thousands of dollars working with a broker who ultimatelyfails to create savings within your benefits plan, but determiningwhether or not an advisor is a good fit for your business duringyour first few conversations isn't always easy.

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Before you sign that contract and welcome a new benefits advisoronto your team, ask yourself if they seem willing and able toprovide these crucial components to a great relationship between abenefits advisor and a business owner:

The right solution, not a quick fix

Your benefits plan is one of your business' largest expenses,and finding an effective solution to improve it isn't likely tohappen the first time you meet with your advisor. Still, manybrokers try this approach: they have a product or strategy thatthey feel is perfect for your business, and they may try to pushyou into accepting it before they've even gotten to know yourcompany's unique situation. No matter how they try to convince you,though, a one-size-fits-all method will rarely take you on the bestpath to optimal savings for your plan.

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Related: Exceptional service key to success in benefitbroker world

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Your advisor should demonstrate patience and attentiveness,getting to know the individual needs of your business beforeproposing any grand solutions. Ideally, they'll have a variety oftools and strategies at their disposal and be able to adjust themas your company's needs change with time. If they can't customizetheir approach, you're likely to lose out on your benefits plan'strue potential.

A continued conversation

Your relationship with your advisor should be just that: arelationship. They may understand the benefits side of business,but you understand your business. You should be asking each otherquestions throughout the process to ensure that they're the rightperson to handle your benefits plan. Your discussions with youradvisor should never feel like a one-sided sales pitch, and youshould search elsewhere if they're displaying red flags like:

  • Pitching solutions before listening to your challenges
  • Being unable or unwilling to answer your questions about theirprocess
  • Not offering a performance-based guarantee for theirservices

Just like the dating process that comes before marriage, askingquestions and getting to know your advisor before you commit tothem is crucial for an outcome that positively impacts both ofyou.

Investing in you

The money you spend on your benefits plan is an investment inyour business and employees, and your advisor should treat theirrelationship with you as an investment as well. Before you evensign a contract, a good advisor will demonstrate their willingnessto invest in their relationship with you. If an advisor you'reconsidering working with is happy to take time out of their day toanswer your questions and get to know your business' unique needs,this is a good sign that they want to build the right relationshipwith you to help achieve the best outcome for your plan.

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Another easy way to find out if your advisor is willing toinvest in you is asking if they offer a performance-basedguarantee. While no broker or advisor works for free, a performanceguarantee guarantees that your advisor is willing to bet their ownpaycheck on their ability to provide you with the best serviceavailable. This offer ensures that you and your advisor are on thisjourney together, and they'll only succeed if you do, too.

The fit your business deserves

The first few conversations you have with a prospective benefitsadvisor can reveal a lot about what they'll be able to do for yourbusiness. If your potential advisor can take the time to develop apersonalized solution for your plan, provide an ongoing two-sidedconversation about their ideas and your needs, and demonstrate aninvestment in their work for you, they may just be the perfect fitfor your company's benefits plan.

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Jim Blachek is co-founderof The Benefits Group.


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