Back in 1996 I had the pleasure of working with a true gentleman by the name of Alan Stonehouse. I had just joined Results Accountants’ Systems in London and Alan was our financial controller. Alan’s passion was boats and he would often shoot off to Kent for the weekend to be on the river.
Alan was an unusual financial controller in that he took an extraordinary interest in what the business did and how it helped its clients (rather than burying his nose in spreadsheets all day!) We had many discussions about the techniques we were employing to teach accountants how to help their clients run better businesses. Alan met many of the accountants we worked with and listened with great interest to the stories they told of their clients’ success.
One day, he decided to follow his dream and start his own business so he bought a marina on the River Medway (http://www.cuxtonmarina.co.uk).After I moved to Australia I lost contact with Alan for a while but recently we connected via Facebook. I was delighted to learn that his business is going strong some 14 years later. He told me that he had grown his business by focusing on three key drivers of revenue – number of customers, average transaction value and frequency of transaction. He had picked this up from the seminars we ran with accountants back in 1996.
Alan runs his business with a genuine focus on customers. In his words: “The customer’s requests/point of view is always right. I try to always work on the assumption that the customer’s view is reasonable even if at first my reaction is the opposite. This works on several levels, we are in the leisure industry and by finding a way to meet their wishes this makes their experience as stress free as possible. You also find your stress levels are low because you know they will be happy. This “lack of stress” atmosphere is almost tangible and is a great advertisement for your business.”
Alan was fortunate. He learned critically important skills for growing a business by osmosis. Most business owners are not so fortunate because their most trusted advisor (the accountant) is REACTIVE to their needs. If you are an accountant, you need to do everything you can to PROACTIVELY help your clients achieve their goals. If you don’t, you are doing them a disservice.