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A challenge for accounting firms everywhere!

A few weeks ago I was presenting to a group of 30+ partners from accounting firms from regional NSW & VIC. The group was a cross-section of age, gender, experience and market outlook. However, the common thread among the partners is an overwhelming concern about “selling themselves” This of course is nothing new. Be it accounting firms at the big end of town in the cities or at the small end of town in urban suburbs or in regional centres in Australia & beyond most accountants (and indeed professionals in law, engineering, management consulting and the like) seem to not like to sell.

With the above in mind, I gave an interesting challenge to one of the accounting firms who attended the presentation.

I asked the managing partner of this particular firm the following questions:

How many staff (professional & support)  are in your firm? The answer: around 40.

Do the staff know people in the community? Answer: Yes

Would your staff know at least 3 people who either own or are employed by businesses in the local area? Answer: Yes

So this managing partner has given all his staff the challenge over a period of two weeks to do the following:

Name of the person the staff member knows

The name of the business/organisation they own or are employed with

The accounting firm’s connection to the person (i.e. family member, friend, went to school/uni with, sports service club etc …)

So within 2 weeks the managing partner will have 120 names of people that he didn’t know before. Now of course there will be overlap and some doubling up of names across the firm. So let’s assume the degree of duplication is 50%. That means there are potentially 60 names of people in businesses that the firm “knows” and has some connection with. Now you’re probably thinking “so what – some of that list will already be clients of the firm since the firm in question is the biggest one in town” Fair enough. So let’s slice off another 50% of the names so now we are left with 30 names that represent “green fields.”

Two important things come out of this challenge.

1. Potential clients that are “known” to the firm.

2. The firm having a much better understanding of their connections in & around the community. For a regional firm to have this knowledge (and to act on it) is pure gold.

Down the track I’ll share with you Phase 2 of the challenge – that is once you get the 30 names what do you then do?

See you next post.

James E.