Archive for the ‘Client service’ Category

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Discussing Fees

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

I hear stories that have a similar theme:

  • I inherited the firm from a sole proprietor. The clients are just not used to paying what would be a normal fee.
  • I am working so many hours and need to increase my fees. But, I am afraid I will lose too many clients.

I ask, “How do you describe your fees to clients?” What I usually discover is that the CPAs who have such a great fear of losing clients are not actually talking about fees WITH the client, at all. I also learn that CPAs who charge an appropriate fee don’t talk with clients about the fees either.

My friend, Sarah Johnson Dobek of Inovautus Consulting gives us some excellent advice:

  • Initiate the conversation
  • Describe the services you will provide
  • Present your fees with clarity
  • Write it down
  • Don’t be defensive

Read more about each of these points on Sarah’s blog post. Take the time to teach your entire team how to talk about fees with clients.

  • The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.
  • Meister Eckhart

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

Forward Thinking

“Embrace your uniqueness. Time is much too short to be living someone else’s life.” – Kobi Yamada

Did you know that Aprio is the only top 100 firm with a non-traditional name? Read more about Aprio and why they changed their name here.

I have known people at the firm for more than 20 years and have always been impressed with their forward-thinking actions. Look over their homepage and notice how they focus on “advisory” first. They are an “advisory, assurance, tax and private client services” firm.

Under “About Aprio” they say: As a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.. etc.

How are you positioning your firm? If you call yourself advisors more often maybe you will become more advisory focused. The larger CPA firms have already evolved to being CPA-led firms meaning a large percentage of their employees are not CPAs. How are you planning for that evolution? Have you ever thought about it?

I have observed that most firms have fairly boring taglines. Here’s Aprio’s tagline: “Passionate for what’s next.” That seems to say a lot.

 

  • Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
  • Margaret Mead

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Dealing With The High Volume of Tax Season Emails

“Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late.” – William Shakespeare.

During tax season, a few years ago, I sent an email to one of my clients, a CPA managing partner. In response to my email, I received the following message:

Greetings, Friends & Clients:

 Due to the normal tax season intense workload, and to allow me to completely focus on the tasks at hand, I am currently checking and responding to e-mail daily at 8:00 am, 1:00 pm and 5:30 pm CT. You & your email is important to me and at the scheduled times, I will respond.

If you require urgent assistance, please contact my assistant (name and phone number) or you can email her at (he provided her email address).

Even though you get this auto-response, rest assured that I do receive and am able to view the email you sent. Thank you for understanding this move to more efficiency and effectiveness. It helps me accomplish more and serve you better.

Sincerely,

It was a first for me. I had never received one like it. Of course, I had to ask the partner how this move toward winning the email battle was working for him. I’m sure most of you are fighting this same email overload challenge.

He replied that he was glad that I was not offended and that the feedback has been mostly positive. He added, “Email is the biggest challenge I have and many people (who don’t email you a lot), have an expectation of an instant response.”

I was absolutely not offended. I knew right away he had received my email and when he would get back to me. Simple as that. Don’t you hate it when you never hear anything at all (for two days or more)? You just wonder if they received your email or not. Don’t leave your clients wondering.

  • Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.
  • William Penn

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Keep Them Coming Back

“I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

This time of year you are counting your wins and losses.

This busy season you have several, if not many, new clients. You probably give them more attention then they deserve. You also are keenly aware of the clients that have moved on to another accounting services provider. Some of those still have a sting about them.

Those new clients are valuable. However, please don’t give your long-time, loyal accounts less attention because you are focusing on the new toy.

Don’t let losses over-concern you. Keep moving forward and keep giving the best service possible. Continually, work to be the most knowledgeable and friendliest firm in your market.

One of my clients told me some good news this morning. This season, three former, significant clients who left the firm for greener pastures (or so they thought) have returned. They left for various reasons but came back because they all realized “cheaper isn’t better” and “because I realized I need you”. How sweet it is!

  • When I was with Andy Warhol, I thought, 'God, his wig looks cheaper than mine!'
  • Dolly Parton

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Are You The Ritz Carlton of Accounting Firms?

“We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”  – Ritz Carlton Motto

Right now you are very, very busy. Everyone is the firm is very busy. Are you too busy to take the extra steps necessary to become known as the Ritz Carlton of accounting firms in your market?

Have you ever stayed at a Ritz Carlton? Here’s a site that will give you some info on the Ritz Carlton Gold Standards:

  • The Credo
  • Motto
  • The Three Steps of Service
  • Service Values
  • The 6thDiamond
  • The Employee Promise.

As you read them, you will see how they can apply to a client service business like a CPA firm.

It’s still early into 2019. How will you make your firm the gold standard when it comes to client service?

It’s Friday – time to smile.

  • A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.
  • Humphrey Bogart

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

You Have To Nag

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

There is no way to put it nicely. If you want your client to get their tax information to you on time, you have to remind them and remind them and nag them.

My dentist reminds me of my appoint four different ways: phone, email, U.S. Mail and text. For the dentist, I must reply with a “C” to text my confirmation. Do you have a system in place to remind your clients individually? Sad to say but it must be repetitive.

It is easy these days to send out a bulk email. It might be ignored but it is still a great reminder. Here’s a sample of what one of my clients sent out last week. Specifying a due date helps. They ask for individual information by March 13th! Use their example and do the same thing.

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  • Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
  • Helen Keller

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Failure to Detect Fraud Webinar

“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles

Be sure to check out an upcoming webinar sponsored by CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association).

The Accountants Exposure To Litigation In Failure To Detect Fraud – MAPCast

Failure to detect fraud claims continue to happen against accounting firms and claims go beyond the scope of audit services. This session will discuss in an overview fashion what fraud is and steps you can take to hopefully mitigate this exposure. We will look at claim scenarios and discuss what could have been done to head off such claims.

Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Click here for more information.

  • There is no success without hardship.
  • Sophocles

Wednesday, March 6th, 2019

The Welcome Letter

“To me, a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” – Helen Keller

A new client is landed by one of the firm’s partners. They met several years ago at Chamber of Commerce business event. The client knows the partner but how much does he/she know about the firm?

It is important that clients become attached to the firm and not just the partner – for various reasons that some of you know all too well. You don’t want clients to leave the firm just because one person leaves.

Begin building the relationship with the firm at the beginning. In some firms, the first written piece of information a client gets fro the firm is an invoice.

Progressive firms, after a new client is added to the client list, send out a warm and friendly welcome letter. Make it different, put it in writing, on paper and mailed (USPS) to them. It should have a real, written signature on it.

It should come from the managing partner or firm administrator. This helps the client know that there is another person they can contact right away if needed. Eventually, they will get acquainted with the engagement team and build relationships with several people at the firm. However, in the very beginning, they may have many questions and not feel somewhat lost.

Express your appreciation for them joining the firm. It is also a great time to make sure they are aware of your billing and collection policies. Most new clients always wonder about that but have been hesitant to ask.

If you are not doing this or something similar and need a sample, let me know.

  • The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
  • Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

They Are Not The Enemy

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever overheard some of your peers talking negatively about a client? Have some team members verbally ridiculed some of the firm’s clients? Do people in the firm often complain about certain clients?

Are clients ever blamed rather than helped?

Yes, clients can sometimes be very frustrating. As tax deadlines approach the stress increases and clients who are tardy supplying their tax information seem to become the enemy.

What if you reached out to them and tried to understand why they are struggling with compiling their information? What if you offered more detailed services to keep them on track throughout the year? Are there some personal issues the client is undergoing that might contribute to their challenges? Dig into the problem and look for unconventional solutions rather than complaining.

Leaders need to set an example and guide the team. Let them know that negative comments about clients are not part of your culture. Encourage ideas from the team on how to make things easier for clients. Their job is to help – the client is not the enemy.

If they are truly the enemy – they shouldn’t be a client.

  • I do not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Monday, March 4th, 2019

Write About It

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett

You are a CPA. You work in public accounting. You have several years of experience. You have done many things, big and small, that have helped many of your clients.

Write about it.

Your firm administrator or marketing person begs you to write an article for your firm newsletter or for a blog post. Simply write one of your success stories each month – keep it simple and it won’t be such a chore!

  • You can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page.
  • Jodi Picoult