Best Practices for Retaining Clients at Your Accounting Firm
Retaining Clients can become Easy when Communication is Both Ways.
When it comes to hiring an accounting firm, small businesses look at your business from head to toe with obvious scrutiny. If you are a small practicing accounting firm, you can understand the dilemma of hiring a remote firm to work for you, right?
It’s not easy to satisfy a prospect who is questioning you multiple times to satiate their doubts, especially if yours is new to the marketplace. Sometimes a successfully running business can lose clients too.
So how to retain clients for accounting firms?
Building strong relations with your clients goes a long way. You get to know the client at a personal level just enough to become familiar with their practices is a shot for success.
So now that you have found your ideal client base, it’s time you learn a trick or two (or more) to retain them for good.
Follow our best practices that are extremely helpful to retaining clients for accounting firms.
1. Communicate with Zero Hesitation
An accountant who fails to ask the right question or doesn’t make a query that seems out of order is going to lose the client big time.
Before you can communicate with the client, you need to understand them. The way a client acts when his business is mentioned is a telltale sign. If a client is hesitant about sharing intricate details you need to complete the tasks is a red flag - for the accountant.
Ask questions but not probe them. Clients are usually reserved to share any financial data. So start with a casual conversation and later dive into the work-related issues.
2. Genuine Appeal
Even accountants have a certain appeal to them. Some seem just friendly enough that clients like working with them for the long run.
Again it leads you back to the first top of the day - communication. The more transparent your work methodology is, the more comfortable the client will become with you.
Accountants deal with personal finance information all the time so transparency from your side is much appreciated.
Retaining clients is easier when your relationship foundation is strong. Without trust, this won’t work at all.
Accountants must be straight with the pricing and fees as well. Any hidden surcharge is likely to come off as an unwelcome surprise for the client otherwise.
3. Positive Attitude
Who likes to work with a fluke? No one.
An accounting firm that offers great services if unable to fulfill the requirements will have a hard time keeping a good client. One should always strive for excellent customer service. Your attitude is a crucial part of customer service.
Let’s say your client is facing a serious situation, an audit, and he is panicking (as one can imagine) you need to downplay the severity of the situation.
It not only helps calm the nerves of the client but also they will trust you. But if you choose to become flustered yourself and unable to handle an audit it’s a red flag for the client.
Retaining clients is easier when they are given guidance in most situations.
But that does not necessarily mean you need to put up with a toxic client either. For a client causing stress, uncalled for, and refuses to cooperate, it’s better to part ways.
4. Display the Expertise
You are the Dumbledore for the client. Your strategies and mastery of accounting policies, IRS updates, and tax laws are going to help the client run his business in a better way.
Direct communication not only improves the accounting transparency but also reassures clients that you will come up with a strategy in their best interest.
Sometimes it’s okay to disagree with the client. Customer is the king, but they still need their advisors to help them in decision making, right? So it’s time to demonstrate your expertise by giving an honest opinion and alternative financial plans.
Start by sharing your knowledge on the respective point of concern. If it’s tax season, your client needs to fill tax forms and file them before the deadline. Most startups are unaware of the complexities of tax forms and what schedule to attach with forms and so on.
Handling tax forms is easy but also explain to your client to help improve the trust and let them become more familiar with their business’s financial niche.
5. Realistic Expectations
Going above and beyond upon client’s request? Once in a blue moon, it sounds fine. But if it’s happening more than often you need to reconsider the working relationship.
Sure you want to be a promising accountant who has a trump card under their sleeve. It’s not always going to happen. Quality work does not mean job burnout or being available for over hours.
It’s important to draw the line and set expectations that are realistic to work within the very beginning. Overpromising or under delivering are common problems but in the end, you want to avoid this case scenario.
If a client has unreasonable expectations, communicate with them and discuss with them. Or it’s better to look for a client who is more flexible.
Clients are accountable for the information they provide to the accountant. Retaining clients can also become easy when communication is both ways. Accounting firms have to give their best shot but so does the client. At the end of the day, it should be a win-win situation.