Actionable Methods for Knowing Your Customers

Celebrating Get to Know Your Customers Day

Customers are the heart of any business. They are also the lifeline to each of our businesses’ success. Keeping them top-of-mind should be a top priority as well as taking the time to get to know them on a deeper level. “Get to Know Your Customers Day” brings new opportunities for businesses to better understand their customer base and increase their trust and loyalty. Additionally, taking a deeper dive with your customers (clients and prospects) and getting to know them on a more meaningful level will also allow you to uncover new opportunities for business growth.

In honor of “Get to Know Your Customers Day”, let’s take a look at a few key ways you can get to know your clients and prospects better, some of which you may have heard: The 5 F’s, The F.O.R.D. technique, and the 4-Box Method.

The 5 F’s

The “5 F’s” have been changed and adopted over the years to assist many consultative businesses. From coaching, finance, and personal training.  Looking at using the “5 F’s” to get to understand our clients and prospects deeper, the F’s stand for the following:

Asking about family is a normal part of your practice already. Consider adapting a stance to get to know the second /or third generation as well. This will help with multi-generational planning, estate planning, and legacy goals. Questions may sound like: “If your children inherit assets, are they prepared to manage them?”, ”What can we do to help prepare them?”, “Let’s get your heirs into the next meeting to review some financial literacy topics”.

You have this one covered well; I am sure. Question to consider: “What does money mean to you?

We want to connect deeply with those we support and work with, finding out they are passionate about outside of work is important. Questions to consider: “We organize client events from time to time, what type of events would interest you the most? Sporting events, golf outings, motorcycle group rides, running, group hike/run/bike, food and drink events, etc.?”

This can be religion, environmental stances, lifestyle beliefs, or areas of deep passion. Question to consider: “If faith is a big part of your life; do you want your finances to mirror your faith?

Think of fitness as the health portion of planning. If the client/prospect is in good health, what are they doing to stay that way. This could be an overlap to “Fun”. It can also be an area to reach out with recipes or other articles that match the clients interests in fitness.

The F.O.R.D. Method

The F.O.R.D. method is also another great acronym to remember to get to the meat of the relationship. F.O.R.D. stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.

As we mentioned above, taking the time to get to know your clients’/prospects’ family dynamics will help you develop more opportunities for touch points in your business. Getting to know more about the generations will open the conversation for wealth planning, estate planning and leaving behind a lasting legacy.

Occupation is perhaps one of the easiest topics to bring up with your clients/prospects. Getting to know more about what your clients and prospects do professionally, will not only allow you to understand them more personally, but will trigger strategic conversations around your offerings to include, financial planning, retirement planning, etc.

As stated in the 5 F’s under “Fun”, another great way to build a deeper connection with each of your clients/prospects is to learn more about their hobbies and interests. This will also help you build additional touch points throughout the year with relevant lifestyle articles or events you may come across that you can share with them, keeping you top-of-mind.

All great goals start with the dream. I tell people to imagine the dream as a full color painting on the wall. I ask the client/prospect to describe in great detail what the painting is showing. “If we are talking about retirement, where are you located and what are you doing?” The dream stage of getting to know your client/prospect has nothing to do with assets. Try asking your client/prospect this: “If money was not an issue, what would be your dream for you and your loved ones”? 


The 4-Box Method

The 4-Box Method is for my linier thinkers. This method helps organize the client/prospect situation in a way that enables the linear thinker (many of us financial types), have a more fluid conversation. This is a way to “Mind Map” the conversation. Start by splitting your yellow pad into four quadrants. As you have the natural conversation with your client/prospect, organize your notes into the four “boxes” below.

Personal Facts
This is the names of family members, address, age, etc…

Goals and Dreams
This is usually the reason you are meeting.

This is where you list the accounts being mentioned. This box will build my balance sheet. So, I am looking for assets, liabilities, income, and expenses.

This is your catch all box. In this box you can consider items like recreation, faith, fitness, and fun. Write down the pet’s name, nothing makes a person happier then asking about their favorite pet.

As you have the conversation and get to know your client/prospect, keep asking questions. I used to coach new advisors to respond to every question asked by the client/prospect (or try it with your spouse) with two clarifying questions before answering. 

Here let us try a simple example with a question you and your partner have every week: “Hey Rob (insert your name), where do you want to go for dinner tonight?”

When my wife askes me this (my normal answer would be “wings and beer”).  The better answer is “Do you have a type of food in mind?”, followed up with “Tell me more about the type of restaurant you are in the mood for?” I am trying to get to the question behind the question, the motivation and the behavior.  Most times your partner has something or someplace in mind. Side note, great book called QBQ ( that dives deep into this questioning strategy.


The questioning strategy we use will define the relationship. If ask only about insurance or assets, you are defining yourself and your practice as an asset manager or insurance provider. If you want to be a holistic wealth planner, you must broaden the conversation to all areas of the client’s/prospect’s life. The added benefit of using these methods is having a document/notes that you can continuously refine and record in your client file. You are building a long-term strategy with a client/prospect that is living, working, and stressing in the “now”.  By asking and recording these motivations, it will enable you help the client/prospect see your strategy and enable you to respond to questions in the future when the current environment changes. Think of it this way, you are a guide and the best way to guide someone is to know about their aspirations and limitations.

Deepen Your Relationships Today!

Get to know your customers “clients/prospects” better by utilizing any of the above methods to connect on a deeper level and open the door for more opportunities to grow your business. If you want to learn more or discuss ways to implement these methods into your practice/process, please reach out to me directly at 704-816-8034 or I am here and happy to help!

Rob Matricardi, CFP®, ChFC®, Head of Financial Planning

Rob Matricardi, CFP®, ChFC®, Head of Financial Planning

Taking a deeper dive with your customers and getting to know them on a more meaningful level will allow you to uncover new opportunities for business growth.

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