Redtail: A First Steps Guide


If you're considering Redtail as a provider of solutions to meet your business needs, or if you're a new subscriber to Redtail and are looking for information on how to implement and ramp up your Redtail usage, we are happy to provide the below information which should help you make informed decisions during this time of decision making.

How Can Redtail Make Your Business Run More Efficiently and Effectively?

The systematization of your processes available through Redtail serves two equally important functions: it helps you stay compliant while also helping you to serve your clients better. Because you can segment your client base in so many ways with Redtail, you are better able to define levels of service for different types of clients. Using those defined levels of service, you can then assign various types of processes to your different client types. With your processes assigned and your client notes, activities, tasks, documents and emails all consolidated or accessible from one central location, everyone in your firm can stay on the same page. Most likely your clients will notice it and the likelihood increases that they will refer you to others as their trust grows in the level of service you provide. All in all, it's a recipe for success.

Of course we realize user adoption is sometimes one of the more difficult challenges when implementing new technologies. This is easy to understand – a large percentage of the population seems genetically hardwired to resist change. Those employees with this predisposition may genuinely prefer to continue to struggle with disorganization rather than taking the time necessary to learn a new system. It’s essential that you stress to them the importance of streamlining your processes so that their time can be most valuably spent devoted to client service. 

With the above in mind, let's look at what your first steps might be when 1) considering Redtail and/or 2) implementing Redtail:

Considering Redtail?

Implementing Redtail

Your office probably already has its own way of systematizing processes.  That you are considering or have implemented Redtail lets us know that you are looking for a better way.

Because we understand the challenges faced when implementing a new CRM platform, we always like to provide users with a framework upon which they might base their Redtail education.  We recognize that we are presenting a lot of information here, but we suggest you approach it as an outline to begin familiarizing yourself with Redtail.  Pick out the things that you believe will be most useful to you to begin with and revisit the other topics as your proficiency with Redtail increases.

We also recognize that if you are a one-person or small shop, the sheer amount of productivity-boosting tools offered by Redtail can appear overwhelming.  For those in smaller practices, that's why we truly believe Redtail can help you to get organized and be more productive.  After all, you have to have processes in place to get everything done during your day.  Redtail is designed to help you implement and house those processes, to keep anything from slipping through the cracks and to give you, in both appearance and reality, a solid grasp on what needs to be done at any given time.  That said, let's dig in!

The 6 Most Important Things Every Redtail User Should Know How to Use

Before diving into your action plan, there are six things that we feel every Redtail user must know how to use. If you can keep these six things in mind, you will have a smooth, effective Redtail experience:


1. Statuses, Categories, Sources and Keywords 

Being able to organize your records in a way that makes it easy to locate them is crucial to your success as a business. Redtail has a few features that make this organization possible.

— We recommend that each person or business that is added into your Redtail database be designated with a Status and a Category. General, high-level statuses like Client, Prospect, Vendor and Inactive work well for sorting your contacts. The most important thing to keep in mind about a status (and the same applies for category and source as well) is that a contact can only have one Status – you can either be a client or a prospect, but you can’t be both.

— Next, we recommend that the category section be used to rate your contacts (either by letters or numbers — whichever you prefer). You might use Categories such as A Client, B Client, C Client, D Client, Hot Prospect, etc., with A Client being your most responsive clients who you love working with and D Clients being those who are unresponsive or unpleasant to work with. Once your contacts have been designated with a Status and a Category, they will be much easier to sort and rate for future use.

— If you’d like to sort your contacts even further, you can use Source to show where the contact came from or what other individuals know the contact personally.

Keywords are also a great tool for organizing records into very specific groups. By assigning Keywords to records, you can classify them without having to alter the primary status of the contact.  Learn more about Keywords here.

— You can add as many Status, Category, Source and Keyword Options as you would like - find out how here.

— More recommendations for using Category and Status can be found here

2. Activities 

— Make creating activities a habit. Discipline yourself to create activities for all tasks in your office, even if it might seem easier just to tell your team directly. Because of past experience, we suggest that you create an incentive system to achieve early adoption. With time, information flow and tracking will improve considerably since all the information relating to a specific task will be stored in a central location. One of the other benefits of creating activities is that it makes tasks portable – a well notated activity can easily be transferred to another member of your team, since they will have all of the necessary background information to make appropriate decisions about the next step in the process.  Learn how to create activities here.

Create a template for updating activities. An added benefit of using activities is that you can save lengthy notes within the activities.  For advisors and staff members, it is imperative that accurate notes be taken on statements made by wholesalers, conversations with clients, the whereabouts of paperwork, etc. Having a standard format for notating an activity can make accessing this information dramatically simpler. Also be aware that activities – when completed – appear in the notes of the record to whom the activity is attached..

If possible, attach your activity to a contact record. There is a drop-down box at the top of the activity screen that allows you to attach the activity to a contact's record.  Or, if you create the activity from within a contact's record, it will automatically be attached to the record.

Consider using activity categories to track activities. Sometimes the overview page in Redtail may not be enough to get a good grasp of what is going on in your office, especially if you are an advisor/rep with several staff members. One way to get a handle on the items in your office is to utilize the category field when setting up activities. New Activity Categories can be added to your system from Manage Your Account >> Manage Database Lists.

Bear in mind that this is not the same Category list that is referenced above for contacts, but instead the Master Category list.  The default categories are General Information, Policy Support, Customer Service, Underwriting Information, and Technical Support. Some examples of new categories you could add that might be applicable in your office are “Client Service,” “Client Development" or “Marketing.” Categories become especially useful on the Redtail calendar and when running Activity Reports, as you can filter by specific Master Categories in either of those areas, in order that you might see only the Categories of activity that you would like to see. 

3. Notes

Notes will prove to be invaluable to your practice, especially for any compliance issues you may face. Save all of the important information you gather from your clients in the notes section of their records. By doing so, you will be able to go back into clients’ records and look at items such as past conversations and meeting minutes.  Make sure your staff is saving information into notes as well. We recommend that an advisor or a lead staff person run notes reports on a weekly basis to verify that the rest of your staff are keeping thorough notes on account paperwork, transfers, portfolio reviews, etc.  Learn how to create Notes here.

Create as many notes as you need. The more information you can save about your client, the better you will understand them and their situation. Notes are a great way for new employees to become familiar with clients and other contacts.

Tip: Because the first note entered into a contact’s record generally contains vital information about the contact’s family, background, risk tolerance, etc., you might consider copying it into their Important Information section in Redtail as well as Pinning it within their Notes section.  

4. Quicklists

Quicklists – or saved advanced searches – make it possible to sort your contacts at a much more detailed level. Every Redtail user should know how to use them.  Learn how to establish them here.

— Use simple names to label your Quicklists. By using simple names to title your Quicklists, you make it possible for other staff-members to easily pull up the search they are looking for. We recommend using names like Prospects as of 12/23/2014 or Christmas Party 2014 -- these names are very specific, but also very basic, making them both self-explanatory and easy to find.

— Quicklists can be used in lieu of Advanced Searches (after the initial Advanced Search has taken place). Because Advanced Searches can be saved as Quicklists, it is possible to easily refer back to complicated advanced searches in a matter of seconds. You can also send out mass emails to your Quicklists or even save a bulk note or bulk activity entry to all of the records in a particular Quicklist.  For instructions on saving bulk notes or bulk activities, see the Bulk Actions section of this post.

Note: You can perform an advanced search to find contacts that are labeled with a particular Keyword—e.g. October 2014 Referral. Once the contacts have been found, you can save them as a Quicklist so that you can easily find the contacts with this Keyword. Another great thing about Quicklists is that they are dynamic; this means that if you add a new contact into Redtail and label them with the Keyword “October 2014 Referral,” this contact will be pulled into your Quicklist automatically! 

5. Linking Records

Linking records can make family information much more accessible. Also, when family members are linked, fewer problems arise in distinguishing families with the same last name. Lastly, linking records makes it easy to determine when wives do not share their husband’s last name or when children no longer share their parents’.

Make one person the head of the household. Generally, we find that making the financial “decision-maker” the head of the household (or primary record) makes finding information for account paperwork, mailings, and financial planning documents very straightforward. If both Mr. B and Mrs. B are listed as clients but are not linked, you run the risk of having different notes in different records about the same subject. Not having a head of the household can also create confusion with activity scheduling. Learn how to define your familial relationships here.  It's also important to utilize the Family Name field for the Family Head - learn more about how to add and use the Family Name here.

— It is important to link spouses with different last names. This allows staff-members to be aware of marriages that are not evident. This will eliminate confusion as you move forward with your business.

Memberships. Linking records through the Membership section allows you to link employees with their employers, referrals to their referees, and adult children to their parents (so that they have separate Family Portfolio Values). Memberships are also useful when looking for all of the employees of a certain company, the Broker/Dealer for a small financial practice and individual members of a trust. 

6. Account Manager

Redtail has direct partnerships with quite a few reporting services - you can find information on many of these services here. By establishing an integration with one of our partners, your accounts can be directly linked to client records via their Social Security Numbers/Tax ID Numbers.

— Account Householding. Make sure to verify that a client with a spouse or with a child under 18 is linked with his/her other family members within Redtail. You will be able to view individual assets for each account holder, as well as the family portfolio value on the Family Head's record as long as the contacts’ records are linked.

— Set up a recurring activity to check for new accounts. By setting up an activity in Redtail, you can make sure that you aren’t forgetting to link accounts to clients. This way, account information stays up to date and you don’t have an unwanted accumulation of unlinked accounts. We recommend that the activity occur every two weeks or so.

— Finding Unlinked Accounts. Information on working with Unlinked Accounts can be found here.


The above are six areas we recommend you familiarize yourself with early on.

Below are some other links we know will prove useful to you:

Documentation and Video links

Redtail Contact Information

General Support:
Phone: 800.206.5030

Email-hosting Support:
Phone: 800.206.5030

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