Founder and CEO Breakaway Bookkeeping + Advising
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Boosting Your Client List for Better Results

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Tax practitioners are often inundated with marketing and promotional pitches on how to “optimize our tech stack,” increase their social presence, attract new clients and improve workflows. While all of these things are important to build and grow a business, the most successful firms focus their energy on two valuable assets: their people and their existing clients.

Sep 21st 2021
Founder and CEO Breakaway Bookkeeping + Advising
Columnist
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When tax professionals focus on existing clients, there are a few critical questions they should ask their team. Done right, optimizing your client list can lead to higher profits and greater job satisfaction for you and your team.

Here are three must-ask questions that staff need to hear from its leaders:

1. Are Your Clients Raving Fans?

Many practitioners speak of getting rid of their “bottom 10” clients, as if those are somehow bad clients that need to be culled. While that exercise leads to increased profitability opportunities, another way to look at it is from the lens of client satisfaction. Every client should love their accountant.

Taxes are stressful and fraught with misinformation and confusion. Accounting firms should be striving to provide a stress free and seamless experience for clients so that, while they will never look forward to filing and paying their taxes, they will benefit from our client service of providing them an overall financial wellbeing.

And if, for whatever reason, your clients don’t think you are amazing at doing this, the perspective should  not be that they are bad clients or that your team is not skilled, but simply that there is a better fit for their particular style.

By being diligent and disciplined in this process, you can  ensure that your client roster is full of clients who truly value what you bring to them.

2. Have You Categorized Your Clients?

Not all clients are created equally and your firm should be offering scaled services to meet each individual needs. There are always those clients who require, and are willing to pay for, additional services.

Categorizing your clients by complexity and importance (whether that’s because they own several businesses, are a key referral source or simply desire, and are willing to pay for additional time) gives you the ability to assign your highest value and complicated clients to your most seasoned practitioners - while also giving your junior team a great roster of clients that they can work with.

3. Are We Going the Extra Mile for Our Clients?

It is puzzling when a firm will spend thousands of dollars to sponsor a golf tournament and yet will balk at writing off $500 on an existing client engagement. Not that you can’t support the links, but are you prioritizing your existing customers?

Simple things can help optimize your client list. For example, if a client has had a particularly stressful season, you could send a courier to pick up documents or an estimated payment check.

If a client just purchased a new vacation house, you could spend an hour with them explaining the rules and give them a worksheet to help them decide whether or not to treat it as investment property. If a client has lost a loved one, you could sit down with them at their house (or just call them) and walk them through the estate process.

This doesn’t mean that you are “giving work away” or that clients are taking advantage. But it does show that you are invested in your existing clients and spending time and resources on them. And, it goes without saying, that those efforts return far more new client referrals than anything else.

While these concepts may appear simple on the surface, they can have a dramatic effect on your practice, creating a “triple aim” of happier clients, more fulfilling work, and better profits.

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