We all have those reliable – albeit static – clients, but many of them subscribe to the idiom: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and are as such less, likely to move off aging systems.
As a result, your firm inherits these outdated technologies with complex user interfaces and no integrations. When these clients’ work comes in, your staff sighs. “Oh yeah. This one will take a while.”
Autopilot for Accounting Technology
These static clients run on what I describe as accounting technology autopilot. They know what they’ve done in the past. They stick with it. Your firm doesn’t object because:
1.) The client resists change, and
2.) Why upset the apple cart?
By accommodating their preferences, however, you’re at risk of losing their business. The autopilot tech clients will ultimately commoditize your services.
What happens is they send you work, you complete it, your prices increase, the pattern repeats a couple of times, and they scratch their heads saying: “Can’t any firm do this? Why does it cost so much?” Eventually, a competitor steps in, lobs a pitch and the client leaves your firm.
Also, autopilot tech clients see few improvements. While your newer clients use cloud-based apps, these clients rely on older, inefficient systems that lengthen the time it takes to complete projects and leave work vulnerable to inaccuracies because of double data entry and other manual tasks.
From the client’s point of view, the process of accumulating, formatting and sending the data to you with old technology is most likely inconvenient and time-consuming. They tolerate it because it’s the way “it’s always been” or they claim they don’t have time for change.
They also don’t usually hear from your firm – or hear enough from your firm – on process improvements. Instead, another firm says they’ll do the same thing and it’s much easier. Eventually, it’s bye-bye, business.
About Pete Potsos
Pete Potsos, CPA is Strategic Account Manager & Client Accounting Services Strategic Advisor at Bill.com. He has also held Account Manager roles at Sage, CPA.com and Thomson Tax and Accounting.