The BATHE Method in Action

I had a meeting with a new client last week.  He is a young man building a business.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to use the BATHE Method.  (I wrote about that recently here.)

I found it surprisingly difficult.  Not because it did not work; it did.  What was difficult was keeping the focus.

As with most young entrepreneurs, the “B” part, background, quickly became foreground.  Past is prologue.  Only the future is exciting.  The story is difficult to follow.  Like reading all the even numbered chapters in  a novel.

The affect “A” comes out easily and so does the “T” for trouble.

The “H’ for handling is less focused.  There are many tactical options, but as with many business people there is no clear strategy nor is there a clear awareness of what should be happening.  Does advertising work?  “I do a lot of it but I can’t tell if it works.”  How many people do I need?  How much should I pay them?  What other ways are there to get business?  Should I buy or lease equipment and real estate?

Most of these subjects have strategic approaches.

Buy or lease?  Do you want to own the asset or do you want to use the asset?  A strategic background for deciding.  Irreplaceable real estate like a bar or restaurant location should be owned.  Same for a building that requires expensive infrastructure upgrades to be usable.  In general though business people want first to use the assets and second to control them enough to guarantee that use.  As to cost, tax write-offs, convenience and such, there is not enough difference to make the decision one way or the other.

This person is an intuitively strong business person.  Good instincts.  Sound values.  High energy and work ethic.  He will grow and prosper.

With clients that I have dealt with for years, I miss process.  We share strategic views and a history of tactical decisions.  There is no need for the structure of the BATHE method to have a meaningful meeting.  That is probably not good.

Familiarity means you miss things and gradually get a little out of date.  I think the trouble and handling questions will be different from what I expect and familiarity allows us to skip over them.

The BATHE approach might be a useful formality in respect to annual reviews.  I will try it.  Does anyone else have experience with that or other similar approaches?  Informality has a cost and it may be large.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

Contact: don@moneyfyi.com

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