If you are an accountant, you can probably list your top five clients pretty easily. They are the ones you have strong relationships with; who don’t query your fees and pay you on time; who regularly ask you to do more work for them. But do you ever ask yourself how at risk those clients might be? Here are five tips that you might want to embrace to reduce the risks of losing a great client – by strengthening those already strong relationships still further.
1. Treat your best clients like a new client. You know how it happens. You pick up a great new client and suddenly you are on your game. You’re inspired. You are learning new skills and when you talk with the client, it’s karma. Both parties are excelling in this new relationship. But ask yourself – how long does this honeymoon period last? And are you fostering similar relationships with your more established clients, or are those relationships going stale?
2. Once you are out of the honeymoon period, systematize your client management processes to ensure you do not drop the ball. Develop a client communication schedule to nurture your clients. For example, meet with them face to face a couple of times a year, call them out of the blue to catch up (scheduled in your calendar but not theirs), promise them two or three ideas each year to help them improve their business – and then deliver on that promise. Invite them to your events as your VIP guest.
3. Change things up. If you always meet at your office, suggest you go to them for a change. Or meet offsite at an inspiring venue. Better yet, do something different and totally unexpected like inviting your top five clients to attend a business conference with great speakers, at your expense
4. Thank your clients appropriately. Who are your best referral sources? Often, your best clients. Do you have a process to say thank you for a referral? Often when I ask accountants this question, the response is something like a mumbled ‘yes, we sometimes give them a bottle of wine.’ But what sort of wine? If it’s a $50K client, send a bottle of Grange! Do you think you might get another similar referral in the future AND lock in the relationship with your existing client as a result of your generosity? After all, if you looked at the lifetime value of the new client (including the new clients they may very well refer you as the relationship strengthens) you can well afford to be generous
5. Help your clients understand and interpret their numbers in real time. My business partner, Rob Nixon, has developed a neat model for assessing yourself – are you a redundant data accountant or a real time accountant. Head over to Rob’s blog at www.robnixon.com for more on this idea, which is really resonating.Through the convergence of technology and content, you are now able to keep an eye on what is happening with your client’s numbers on a daily basis, quickly assimilate the keys points your client should be considering to improve those numbers and then organise a phone discussion or a meeting to help the client understand the issues and develop a plan to fix them. This is real time accounting at its best and it will transform the relationships you have with your clients and dramatically improve their stickiness with your firm. To learn more about how to do this, check out our PANalytics website and schedule a demo or take advantage of a free trial.
My wife has built a career as one of the shrewdest marketing professionals I have ever met. She has a phrase that she rolls out with her clients all the time – ‘build fences around your clients’. The best way I know to do that is to constantly add value in a timely and relevant way. When you do that, using systems, technology and content to support you, your clients will be with you for the long haul.