As we approach the mid-point of the year, for many it’s an opportunity to re-focus on what matters and what will yield the best results to achieve our goals. Improving our productivity is often at the top of the list, so it’s not surprising that most of us are taking a minimalist approach in at least some aspects of our lives lately.
Far from being just a way to clear clutter from your home or “spark joy,” as tidying guru Marie Kondo frames it, minimalism is a total approach to eliminating the unessential and the unfulfilling so you can focus on the most important aspects of life. For banks and credit unions, a minimalist mindset (during hard times and prosperous times alike) can help free up time, money and space to grow—especially when it comes to vendor contract negotiations.
This, in turn, will provide you with more resources to serve improve your processes and offer more to account holders.
To adopt a minimalist mindset, follow these strategies:
1. Re-evaluate your calendar.
Lately, many of our calendars have been cleared for us by government orders and event or meeting cancellations, forcing us to focus on the most important and most impactful tasks at hand. When we’re not under a global emergency, this is also a powerful exercise to help highlight your most important tasks—and delegate (or let go of) the rest.
In his New York Times bestselling book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown argues for pausing to discern what really matters, saying “no” to everything except the essential, and removing obstacles to make execution easy.
What deserves your direct attention, and what can be done by somebody else? In this age of information and specialization, you don’t have to be all and do all. For an important task like negotiating vendor contracts, it doesn’t make sense to attempt this in-house when 1) your skills are more needed elsewhere and 2) a third-party expert in this niche has all the insider knowledge and first-hand experience to get the job done efficiently and profitably.
2. Invest in quality.
Minimalists typically live by the principle “quality over quantity,” for a variety of good reasons. Of course, it cuts down on material possessions; but it also ensures a longer lifespan for an item, which means less money spent over time and less environmental impact.
This idea also applies to people and services. When shifting work from your plate to someone else’s, make sure that the entity has a history of thorough work and success. Investing upfront in a reputable negotiation partner that’s “built to last” will pay off with long-term monetary and time savings.
3. Simplify and streamline.
It’s become somewhat of a status symbol to be constantly busy, a badge of honor in our professional lives. But we often make things more difficult in the process. Sometimes, devoting time to the front end to simplify can go a long way in making life easier down the line. For instance, instead of having multiple contracts with the same vendor expire at different times, an expert negotiator can maneuver to make them co-terminus. Doing so means all contracts expire at the same time, giving you more leverage during future negotiations, and saving you time by consolidating multiple discussions into one project.
4. Embrace the excess.
Not all excess is bad. Those who declutter their lives often encounter “problems” we’d all like to have: more time and more money on their hands. For those with a minimalist mindset who outsource contract negotiations, not only will you free up your time to get more of your essential work done—you’ll most likely end up with a windfall of savings. You can reinvest the dollars in offering new services or upgrades in good times; and in times of crisis, like today, that money can be used for upgrading your current tech stack to stay competitive. Those wins will go a long way in maintaining account holder loyalty as well.
When you embrace a minimalist mindset, you’ll be in the best position to grow and thrive.
With over 40 years of industry experience, JMFA is one of the most trusted names in financial services consulting for community banks and credit unions. By providing data-driven, consumer-focused recommendations, JMFA devises win-win solutions that meet the ever-evolving needs of today’s financial institutions and consumers.
Whether it is helping to enhance your overdraft service, optimize your digital solutions or boost your account acquisitions, JMFA delivers custom consultation that mirrors the personalized service and community spirit that community banks and credit unions have always been known for.