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