Posts Tagged ‘commitment’

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Don’t Be Bullied By Your Clients

In my opinion, CPAs let themselves be bullied by their clients. Not all CPAs, but many CPAs.

  • Clients make unreasonable demands.
  • Clients do not respond to our requests.
  • Clients don’t pay you on time or at all.
  • Clients believe you should go above and beyond for no additional fees.
  • Clients are rude to your administrative team members.
  • Clients are not ready when you have clearly communicated the engagement start date.

I’m sure you can add more.

These situations often result from lack of communication up front. CPAs shy away from talking openly and honestly about fees. Many CPAs give the client a range of what fees to expect. The CPA expects the highest fee in the range and the client expects the lowest fee in the range. I have even heard of CPAs who dodge client calls if they perceive it will be a complaint about fees.

What you do for your clients is very, very valuable. You have spent years perfecting your skills and investing in your education, both in time and money. Just because you know the answer immediately, off the top of your head, doesn’t mean you should just give it away.

Upfront communication is so important in these situations. Just because you have an audience with a potential client that you want very badly doesn’t mean you allow them to bully you for years to come.

Consider using a joint CPA/Client Commitment Statement as part of your upfront communication with potential clients. It should state what the client can expect from you and your firm and what you, and the firm, expect from the client. Use the document as a discussion tool and verbally talk through it with your new or potential clients.

State the rules upfront – you will be happier and so will your client. They will know what to expect and that is comforting to most people. Set boundaries and stick with them. This post was inspired by a post by Seth Godin.

I share a joint commitment statement with my clients. If you want to see a sample, let me know.

  • Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.
  • Vince Lombardi

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Commitment Statements For Partners & Admin Assistants

If you are working inside a CPA firm you have probably heard of partner commitment statements. Consultants have been urging the use of such statements for years and most progressive, growing firms have them in place.

Today, I urge you to explore the use of commitment statements between your partner group and your administrative assistants. This will be of no surprise to you – – – administrative assistants not only play a key role in the smooth-running operations of your firm, they also must deal with the frustrations surrounding the differing personalities of the owner group.

Inside a CPA firm, the administrative team members must serve different partners at different times depending on the client engagement and various firm projects. The admin team must be versatile. Yet, I see great value in having partners assigned to one specific administrative assistant who can perform miscellaneous tasks for that specific partner (not personal errands).

If one assistant is assigned to certain partners (one AA can usually support two or three partners along with their regular production duties) they can handle client calls for them when they are unavailable or respond to simple client needs without bothering the partner. Clients will soon become familiar with the partner’s assistant and the relationship will grow.

Want to see an example of an Assistant and Partner Commitment Statement? Download it here.

 

  • Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep.
  • Denis Waitley

Friday, August 10th, 2012

The Client’s Responsibilites

Inside your CPA firm, do you have a partner who is always on top of the accounts receivable for the clients they are assigned? Do you have partners who seem to have an unusual amount of slow-payers on their client assignment list? In my experience, most firms have partners who fill both of these roles.

If you are honest, open, upfront with clients as they begin the relationship with you and clearly explain the firm’s expectations, past-due accounts receivable and many other problems remain absent. I like to see firms use a Commitment Statement at the beginning of any client engagement stating what the firm will do and the expectations the firm has for the client (what the client will do).

Seth Godin had a good blog post recently on this topic titled, Train Your Customer. He noted that we (by our actions) can train them to do good things and some not-so-good things.Here’s a few of the things he suggested you can train clients to do:

  • Be respectful
  • Be patient
  • Spread the word

or:

  • Expect pampering
  • Demand free
  • Be cheap

Why not include a statement of client commitments along with the welcome letter you send every new client outlining your collection policy. One of the biggest challenges I hear from firm administrators is the fact that partners will not actually talk to the clients about paying late, submitting their tax information at the last minute and so on. I believe that clients actually wonder what they are suppose to do and are waiting on someone to tell them.

  • Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.
  • Albert Einstein