Dec 18th 2012
By Alexandra DeFelice
Olympic cyclists from Team Great Britain won seven out of ten gold medals this year. When asked how it was possible, Dave Brailsford, the team's performance director, responded, "Our success is down to the aggregation of marginal gains."
Marginal gains with clients can result in ongoing success for your firm as well.
During a presentation at AccountingWEB Live! in Dallas this month, Mark Lloydbottom of Practice Management Consulting said that the way to start offering your clients gold medal-level service is by asking meaningful questions and making a difference in their lives.
"If your client has a problem and you have the capacity to solve it, you're underserving them if you don't discuss it with them," Lloydbottom said. "In the unknown is great value and interest. What have you learned in the last year to make yourself more valuable?"
Here are some questions you can start out with:
- What is your greatest challenge?
- What do you plan to do differently in the future?
- What are your goals?
- How have you tried to increase your margins?
- What customer feedback have you had?
- What does your profit forecast look like for the next twelve months?
- Do you need help with planning?
Knowing the answers to these questions can open the door to additional work and makes your firm more entrenched in clients' lives. Once you identify a level of interest, use that opportunity to book another appointment – just like the dentist does before you leave his office.
"Average revenue per client needs to be nudged upward," Lloydbottom suggested. "Start tracking the number of meetings you have each month and increase that number to twenty-nine appointments that result in increased value. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Take your top twenty clients and identify five services you can sell them."
"Never spend more than ten minutes of a compliance meeting giving advice," Lloydbottom said. "Get paid for something that takes place separately, especially if someone else comes in."
Clients value face time: "70 to 80 percent of the value clients report getting takes place when they're physically with their client, yet only 10 to 15 percent of the time accountants spend with clients is visible," Llyodbottom said. "The rest is behind closed doors."
Furthermore, accountants have to move away from the rearview mirror approach.
"Your client spends 95 percent of the time thinking of today or tomorrow. We talk about the past," Lloydbottom said of people in the profession. "We need to learn to camp in the present and the future."
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About the author:
Alexandra DeFelice is senior manager of communication and program development for Moore Stephens North America, and a regional member of Moore Stephens International Limited, a network of more than 360 accounting and consulting firms with nearly 650 offices in 100 countries. Alexandra can be reached at [email protected].