Generating ideas for your clients

A while ago I was having lunch with a client of mine who had recently joined a 2nd-tier accounting firm having left one of the Big 4 for greener pastures. During the lunch my client told me about an exercise his old firm would perform on behalf of clients. It blew my socks off!

From time to time this Big 4 firm would hold a sandwich lunch for all their staff & partners in each of their offices around the country in a given week. The Brisbane office would hold their lunch on Monday, Melbourne on Tuesday, Sydney on Wednesday and so on.

The purpose of the lunch was to get as many people together – partners, directors, managers, graduates, support staff and others sitting around a table to talk and think about a particular problem or two and how they would solve it. Each table had a facilitator to help guide the conversation. The problems were real world issues that clients of the firm were facing. The purpose of the lunches is give the clients ideas they can use to solve their current business challenges.

The Big 4 firm would make an offer to their clients or even a prospect they are trying to win along the lines of, “How would you like a thousand of our staff who are amongst the best and the brightest in the market work on your problem(s)? By the way … there is no charge. It is our way of adding value to you and showing that we are here to help.”

What business or organisation would say no to such a fantastic offer? Having a thousand men and women of varying experience working on ways to solve the problems you have in your operations, marketing, recruitment and strategy is an incredibly powerful and compelling offer. The cost to the Big 4 firm  to facilitate the “ideas week” of staff lunches? Well it was simply the price of providing sandwiches and orange juice to their staff which of course would be a few thousand dollars. But think of the tremendous impact such an exercise can have on the clients and prospective clients of the firm.

Now … I know what you’re thinking. That is fine for a Big 4 firm – they have truckloads of resources and big budgets to do such things. However, since the lunch I’ve been thinking about ways in which smaller accounting firms can provide similar value for their clients irrespective of their size.

Tune into the next post to find our how!

All my best,

James E

Help your client get answers

Sorry everyone. My standard practice with this blog is to post 3 times each week. However, as you may have noticed there was no mid-week posting. Mea cupla. The reason is that I’ve been busy trying to keep clients happy. Not a bad reason, but nonetheless, I feel bad. Please forgive me.

Last post I ended with the promise that irrespective of the size of your accounting firm you can be innovative and proactive and add tremendous value to your clients just like the big end of town.

Here is just one cost-effective idea for you to play with.

Select one your clients that you believe the relationship can do with some improving and invite them to a “10 solutions” breakfast or lunch. Ahead of the meet, ask your client for the biggest one or two challenges they are facing in their business currently. More likely than not the challenges they identify won’t have anything to do with tax or audit or something that you feel more comfortable with. The client will probably come up with challenges like attracting and keeping good people, marketing, sales pipeline and other such things. Don’t worry – at this stage just knowing what their challenges, problems and issues is all you need.

Now that you know the challenge(s) build a small “task force” within your office (for some accounting practices the task force might be really small – you!) and start to gather ideas, thoughts, notions, perspectives – anything at all ahead of the breakfast/lunch meeting with your client.

You’re probably thinking now – well that’s fine James but what if my client’s challenge is in an area that I know nothing about? Don’t panic. This is a great opportunity to show your client that you are indeed their trusted business adviser for good reason.

Lets say, for example, their current business challenge is attracting and keeping good staff. Here are some simple ways you can build a killer list of ideas and solutions to their problems:

  • Do a web search. You will be amazed what appears on page 2 onwards of a Google search!
  • Have a chat with some of your other clients to ask what they do to recruit & keep good staff.
  • Ask a general question on social networks like LinkedIn. The responses you get from around the world will give you a breadth of ideas that will surprise you.
  • Approach a recruitment firm you know of and ask for their input. Don’t give too much away – otherwise they will hound you for work they could do for you for years 🙂

Once you’ve assembled a good list of ideas hold the meeting with your client and brainstorm possible solutions to their problem. Don’t take out your “something I prepared earlier” list – keep that resource to yourself. In the meeting it’s important that your client is part of the process that generates the solutions. Your list will simply serve as input to that process.

The above exercise is designed to show one important thing – that you can help your client (either directly or indirectly) in any and every aspect of their business. Put yourself in the shoes of your client for a moment and ask the question, “Would you prefer an accountant who is trying to help you in new and broad ways or one that just sticks to ‘doing the books’?”

Go on give it a go – what have you got to lose?!

Until next time,

James E

 

 

Accounting firm or an ideas factory?

A few days ago I was having lunch with a client of mine who had recently joined a 2nd-tier accounting firm having left one of the Big 4 for greener pastures. During the lunch my client told me about an exercise his old firm would perform on behalf of clients. It blew my socks off!

From time to time this Big 4 firm would hold a sandwich lunch for all their staff & partners in each of their offices around the country in a given week. The Brisbane office would hold their lunch on Monday, Melbourne on Tuesday, Sydney on Wednesday and so on.

The purpose of the lunch was to get as many people together – partners, directors, managers, graduates, support staff and others sitting around a table to talk and think about a particular problem or two and how they would solve it. Each table had a facilitator to help guide the conversation. The problems were real world issues that clients of the firm were facing. The purpose of the lunches is give the clients ideas they can use to solve their current business challenges.

The Big 4 firm would make an offer to their clients or even a prospect they are trying to win along the lines of, “How would you like a thousand of our staff who are amongst the best and the brightest in the market work on your problem(s)? By the way … there is no charge. It is our way of adding value to you and showing that we are here to help.”

What business or organisation would say no to such a fantastic offer? Having a thousand men and women of varying experience working on ways to solve the problems you have in your operations, marketing, recruitment and strategy is an incredibly powerful and compelling offer. The cost to the Big 4 firm  to facilitate the “ideas week” of staff lunches? Well it was simply the price of providing sandwiches and orange juice to their staff which of course would be a few thousand dollars. But think of the tremendous impact such an exercise can have on the clients and prospective clients of the firm.

Now … I know what you’re thinking. That is fine for a Big 4 firm – they have truckloads of resources and big budgets to do such things. However, since the lunch I’ve been thinking about ways in which smaller accounting firms can provide similar value for their clients irrespective of their size.

Tune into the next post to find our how!

All my best,

James E

 

What’s it all about?

Welcome to the first post of what I hope will be a great place to look for insights into better understanding the mindset of clients and what they really want from their professional advisors. The huge advantage of a blog is that the flow of information isn’t just one way. Please add comments and contact me so we can have a dialogue and learn from each other and spread the things we learn through the community this blog in time will create and grow.

My intention is to publish posts 3 times a week – each Monday, Wednesday & Friday. I’ll certainly do my bit, but I’d like you to do your bit as well. PLEASE COMMENT or contact me via email, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter so we can make this blog as useful as we can!

See you next post,

James