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Can anyone tell me where I'm going wrong? (re Winning new clients in Hampshire)

I started my own practice back in November 2006 near Alton in Hampshire. I work from home, bought myself a laptop and started working for people I know, relatives etc. Since then I have had practically zero practice growth and I have no idea where I am going wrong.

I have been advertising in a local paper for a year (used by all the local tradesmen to advertise so presumed this was a good bet), I have a website listed on google (which until recently I had my rates on but have since taken them off), I have run various adverts in local newspapers (The Hampshire Chronicle, The Alton Herald and The Surrey Advertiser), and I have taken out a rather expensive ad on 'youfindus' which has been running since Feb last year for my area. In addition I have recently taken out a free listing on Yell.com and the Thomson Directory and I have recently purchased a mailing list and sent out targetted sales letters (having researched the businesses on the list). Last Feb I even tried walking into local businesses in Alton and handing out my newsletters, but that got such a negative response I didn't do it again.

Despite all of this I have only taken on 2 business clients (one of which a friend of a friend) and 2 private clients in the past year. I have not had a single phone call from a prospective client in months. I am currently working three days a week (I'll be giving this job up in the new year), but I have advertised my mobile number on everything and I have an answer phone at home on the landline. I know trying to work and build a practice is a bad idea, but I didn't think it would be this bad. Please could someone tell me where I am going wrong? I am running out of ideas and feeling completely defeated.
Anon

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By Anonymous
11th Dec 2007 10:03

Too passive
I used to be in the same situation as you.

I think the problem is that all your marketing so far is dependent upon people coming to you. What you need to do is go to them.

Direct mailing is one way, though even with high volumes I found it a slow, uncertain and inefficient method. You're still relying on them to go to the step of picking up the phone and getting in touch.

What I'm finding working now is using a marketing company to set up appointments. There really are people out there just waiting for a good accountant to come along, do things on time for them, treat them like they're important and save them tax. You just have to find out where they are.

A problem for you in the early stages of practice life might be funding this form of marketing, but it's definitely worth it. If you've got the confidence, why don't you call the businesses you've direct mailed, in a very easy-going way, ask if they got the letter and whether they'd like to get together free of charge to talk over their business.

There are several other threads on this topic you can search for.

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11th Dec 2007 10:29

New clients
Do you attend netoworking events?
What services do you offer?
Who is your target maket?

Is your ad attractive?
How do you differentiate from other accountants?

An extra idea: Look at the job vacancies and send your proposal, they may be interested.

Sometimes a mobile number in accounting services may not be a good idea, as people will know that you are a one man band with no time.

It was difficult for me too and it is still difficult, but I know my best clients and my target market.

Make connections with other professionals as well.

Regards,

Juan Carlos
[email protected]
www.fiscalaccounts.eu

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11th Dec 2007 11:27

I can help!
Having built a good practice in Basingstoke (and having lived in Alton a few times over the years) I think I am perhaps well qualified to help!

A couple of problems I can see. One, Alton does have quite few self-employed businesses but is also well served by accountants. It is also cut-off from other towns by a fair margin and the client pool is therefore quite small. Secondly, I don't believe people place enough credibility in small ads when trying to recruit a professional. Thirdly, the mobile phone will be a turn off for the same reason.

My best advice is take a trip to Regus is Chineham (Basingstoke) and look at their virtual office solutions. Basingstoke has many more potential clients and Regus will represent you professionaly when you ca't answer the phone yourself. If you are willing to pay about £150.00 per month you can also use their address and meeting rooms. This does not have to be a long term thing .. just to get a density of clients to provide you with ongoing referral business.

Personally, I think investing up front will bring about much quicker growth and get you to where you want to be a lot quicker than trying to do it on the cheap. I also took the largest ad in Basingstoke / Alton Thompson directories I could afford in the confidence that anyone who phoned would be dealt with professionally by Regus and my money would not be wasted. Oh .. and sorry you need a website if you're going to advertise as they will all check you out before phoning!

If you want to discuss further please feel free to email me at [email protected]


Good luck!

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By Anonymous
11th Dec 2007 11:28

Advertising doesn't really work well, I did it a few years ago in the local paper and got lots of price sensitive clients which weren't proper businesses.

Perception of working from home can be that it is part time and not a proper business. Ditto mobile number.

Direct mailing does work, but you need a lot as the % is quite small. Also, do it regularly so that you give the perception of being there for clients and being perhaps more established than you actually are.

Agree with the previous comment about passive - you need to go to your prospective clients, and let them know what you can do for them.

I actually picked up a few clients through sub contracting. Before I get abuse, it was agreed with the other party (as the clients were a pita for their business model and I came along, gave them a good service and they were mightily impressed).

There are loads of great sources of information on this site - try this for starters:

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=149556&d=972&h=973&f=785

Good luck.

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By Anonymous
11th Dec 2007 12:38

It is tough
I set up practice 14 months ago and I am finding it tough too - despite being an ACA and CTA. So firstly don't think you are alone in this problem - a lot of people brag they have £x amount of business in the first year and I doubt a lot of these do.
You say you have one laptop - you need to have a backup of all your data and programmes in case of this failing. Mine did and I now have two machines that are up and ready to go with all the data on. The software programme providers were all fine with this once I explained the situation (only one person to work on them and only for disaster planning purposes was fine to treat as a single licence single user).
Local press brought very little for me - I did a series of 3 ads and a profile costing the best part of £500. It paid for itself and a bit more but the return for cost was very poor (though some will have seen that and other advertising before they contact you so it isn't an exact science).
Little magazines of things you belong to (or one of your relatives does) can be very cheap and provide relatively good returns.
Yellow pages for me has been by far the best source of business and although expensive has provided the vast majority of my growth.
Direct marketing has a low return but a very low cost so if you are on a very tight budget this is worth doing.
Don't despair and remember it takes years to get a decent client case. If it didn't they wouldn't sell for so much! And at least you haven't got high costs to fund and loan repayments.

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11th Dec 2007 13:21

Buy
We built a practice from scratch approx 15 years ago.... but I believe those days are gone..... I would suggest that you buy some client's say about £40000 fees (with all the usual guarantees and a condition in the price for client's who do not stay)..........provide a really good service and watch the practice grow.....

There is nothing better than word of mouth....

Lets be honest if it costs you £60000 to buy (say) and you obtain a loan over ten year's the repayment would be approximately £500 pcm which will seem a snip in a few years time... Ps Good Luck!

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By Anonymous
11th Dec 2007 16:21

.
The local paper advert is clearly not working - is it the paper or is it your advert?

What differntiates you from the competetion? Why should someone choose you above anyone else in your area? Focus on this and incorporate it into your advertising. Have a headline that demands attention.

Youfindus proving expensive and not working - pull the plug.

Try targetting segments, choose a couple of sectors and go after them, tailor make some flyers. Get a name within that market. Get some clients from it and provide exceptional service and a referral scheme.

Go to other accountants / bookkeepers / solicitors / banks / printers etc and get a cross referral scheme going.

I totally agree with James in that many accountants focus on what they can offer rather than what the market wants. Offer bookkeeping help, tax support , advice and planning, credit control, handholding, business palnning etc etc. Outsource what is not profitable but offer the service.

Spot the opportunities.

I disgagree with Anon's comments below, if you market effectively and know what business owners want, then there is no reason not to obtain up to 50 clients per annum without spending fortunes on advertising, no bragging involved I can tell you personally it is possible.

Use the new year to draw up a marketing plan. Implement changes, track what is working and what is not and don't bother with what isn't working.

Finally I find yell.com with a weblink a good source which brings in good clients, Yellow Pages less so with clients too price sensitive.

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By Anonymous
11th Dec 2007 16:59

Many Thanks to all....
I'm sorry James but I do not feel I am out of my depth or that I should give up. I'd like to think that if a client came to me after a year of very slow growth, yet still operating a profit I would try to sit down and review their business plan and try to help them identify where they were going wrong - not just tell them to give up!! This is a very steep learning curve and as I am only 26 and have no mentor or prior practice experience to learn from I feel I have come a long way.

Many thanks to all others for the encouragement and advice that has been provided. I think my biggest issue here is the lack of full-time commitment and the use of a mobile number which I will be shortly rectifying. Also, networking which is unfortunately something all of my local competitors have done to death and beaten me to many years a go.

I quickly realised that ufindus were a complete waste of money but they tie you in for a full year (you live and learn). For any other newbies reading this thread I definately advice against using them!! Needless to say I won't be renewing my contract.

I have been on the lookout for a block of fees/practice for sale but there has been absolutely nothing in this neck of the woods. I will keep my beady eye out for anything that comes up.

Thanks again all....if it's not too soon hope you all have a very merry christmas and a prosperous new year (except maybe James who is a big scrooge!).

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By Anonymous
11th Dec 2007 17:43

It depends where you live as well
I started up with a restraint of trade clause still over me and in an area of limited opportunities and lots of accountants to choose from. But it is working albeit slower than I would like. Working from home means it doesn't grow as much as if I had an office I admit - but I can pay my bills and don't have any loans so there is an upside as well.

Yellow pages (the book) works very well for me - I tried Yell.com but it only generated one lead (that I didn't want) whereas the book has done really well. Maybe it is because my area has a lot of retired people?

If you weren't fit to be in business by the way I doubt you would be posting here for advice. Good luck and keep trying - perserverance will work in the end.

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By bobhurn
11th Dec 2007 20:49

My experience
Your question made me think what I would do differently and what; if anything, I have learned about advertising since setting up some years ago:

Credit card size and linage adverts appear to get the same response as larger ads and are much cheaper.

Local area magazines & newsletters (particularly Church magazines) are a very cheap source of good enquiries. Sponsoring school events also works well; parents tend to be quite loyal to those who help their children’s school

Mention to your clients that you are expanding and looking fro more clients. I have had clients call me and ask if it is okay to recommend a friend or associate. Make sure they know that you have the capacity and desire for more business.

Eventually you are likely to find that so much of your business comes from recommendations that you don't need to advertise.

Networking is fine but those attending events are wise to accountants, IFAs etc turning up purely to looking for new clients from the event. If you genuinely contribute you will, over the longer term, gain and retain clients.

Contact local accountants to ask if they are wiling to outsource work to you. Many practices avoid bookkeeping and salary work like the plague and will be only to willing to outsource. The rates won’t be as good but regular cash flow whilst you are building your own client base.

Probably the one thing I did that helped achieve a volume of clients quite quickly was to offer home visits out of hours. Thus would enable you to advertise in the Basingstoke Gazette if you are wiling to make the Journey. I found that clients appreciated me making the effort and it saved their time. Interestingly after just a few months they were happy to travel to me. It seems that once they are happy with their accountants distance is not such an issue, but difficult to get clients to travel any distance to meet for the first time. Many of my early “home visit” clients are still with me 10 years on and visit the office now.

I hope this is of help and don’t give up. We all had these “it will never work” moments but don’t like to admit it.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 09:27

No prior practice experience
Anon,

In your subsequent posting you say you have no prior practice experience. If I was a prospective client this would concern me so surely you need to work in public practice first to gain experience before starting your own accountancy practice. After all as an example, you wouldn't service a car for a client if you had no experience.

But, this aside:-

Consider what are your USP's. What sets you apart from your competitors. You have to give reasons why people should come to you rather than someone else.
It's never too late to network. It is the most effective and cost effective way of getting new clients. Speak to banks, bookkeepers, IFA's etc.
How professional is your email address and website. eg if your email is a hotmail address then this implies something!
Get written testimonials from your existing clients and use in advertising, website or show to prospective clients.

Let us know how you get on.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 12:18

For the record....
I would just like to state that not having worked in practice does not equate to having no experience doing all the things that an accountant in practice does. I have had several years experience dealing with tax affairs/returns and statutory accounts (not to mention being fully qualified) for family and friends before I set up in practice.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 12:22

You are qualified
If you are qualified, but have not worked in practice, how have you managed to get a practicing certificate? I am in the same boat.

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12th Dec 2007 14:22

Anon
Nice to see you have gone back to Anon after posting your name yesterday!

it gave me a chance to google your website and it looks pretty good. Only constructive criticism I would have is that it sceams small time, one man (or woman) band, working from home, no back up etc which may put some clients off.

If your other advertising reflects that then that may be a place to start on as part of a new marketing campaign.

And also focus on your USP's there was nothing in the site that didnt differentiate you from any other accountant in any part of the country.

Hope that is taken in the spirit intended.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 15:12

Have faith!
I have worked full-time in accountancy practice for 15 years, but have also been trying to develop my own accountancy business in my 'spare' time for the past 3 years. My initial client base was very slow in growing - 3 clients in the first year. I am almost up to 50 clients (my capacity whilst doing this part-time). I started off sending approx 250 A4 flyers to local businesses and maybe got 2 pr 3 clients this way. However, from those 2 or 3, I got numerous word-of-mouth recommendations, so it was definitely worth doing.

One other thing I would advise is to try and tie in with a local bank manager and financial adviser. Banks and financial advisers are always being asked whether they can recommend good accountants/bookkeepers. If you are working for yourself, then I would recommend pushing the fact that you can offer a very personal service as this is what many individual and small business clinets look for.

Best of luck with it.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 13:03

I have no probs in Hants
I started up 2 years ago from scratch in South Hants and could work 24/7. (Sometimes do) I took on 9 new clients last week alone. Most clients are small ltd companies. I have tried the local paper-complete waste of time. I use yell, yellow pages I also do training for startups via several government agencies.

I am continually told I don't loook, talk or act like the stereotype accountant and I use this as my USP.

My main business comes from client referrals or people I know or friends of either. I tell literally every one I meet whether at a school event, down the pub, at football wherever, that I am an accoutant and have my own business and have got really good contracts through these random conversations. For example I got 6 clients recently when I did a short night school course in indian cooking. I also have my four immediate neighbours as clients.

I work every hour god sends, and will work through the night if necessary. I am the sole earner for my household and need to earn a good amount per month. This has been my driver, as the alternative is to go back to employment.

Looking at my own clients, it is the obsessional workaholics (like me) who are succeedig and those who arent, are making very little. I don't think everyone is suited to running their own business. I was never suited to corporate life and feel i have now found my spiritual home!

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 13:07

Depends
I can't speak for the other accounting bodies, but for CIMA you register as working in practice and have to spend a period of a minimum of a year gaining relevant experience (either management consultancy or traditional practice accounting) before submitting your application for a practicing certificate. I started in a corporate accounting background and as soon as friends and relatives (a variety of sole traders and ltd companies) heard I had qualified they started asking me to do their "books" for them. This gave me the experience and confidence I needed to set up in practice. I specialise in dealing with small businesses so I attend regular seminars on FRSSEs and make sure I susbscribe to as any of the tax and accounting journals as I can. Building up a knowledge of all the different tax areas has been the steepest learning curve (besides marketing the practice!) but the more you do the more you learn. I've found accountingweb a great source and seem to spend hours everyday on the HMRC website. I certainly don't think it is essential to have worked in practice before...we all need to start somewhere! I'm sure others will disagree with me.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 14:02

Networking
I understand. When referring to networking I meant the normal local business groups which are overrun with my competitors. My understanding was that most of these groups only admit one acocuntancy firm as a general rule. I did consider trying to rally the local businesses in my village to form their own business group, but my partner suggested that this would be a very obvious marketing tactic and most business owners would not be interested as a result (would be keen to hear what others think on this?). I do speak to all of my business clients on a weekly or fortnightly basis. I've been in the area that I operate for many years and stay in contact with many of the local business owners and managers. I've made sure that all friends and family are issued with large quantities of my business cards just in case!

I'd be keen to know if you think that there are any further networking opportunities that I am missing?

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 14:15

Hi again
I think you are going or thinking of going to the wrong networks. I don't go to any of the type that admit one person from each trade as these are usually at breakfast time, which as a sinlge parent I cant make.

Try some of the business link events. They are free and often attract a high percentage of newish self employed who may not be already set up with an accountant. They are really good and the HANTS area is particularly well served.

I am not that au fait with the Alton area but from what you say it sounds as though you may need to broaden your target area. The other thing with friends and family is that you feel you should charge less there is also the issue that some people clsoe to you will not want you knowing all about their finances..

What would you say is your USP?

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 15:58

USPs
I would like to think my USPs are:

1. I am a Chartered management Accountant (try not to scoff all you ACA and ACCAs!!) and I sell myself as specifically trained to communicate financial information to non-finance managers/owner-managers. As such I spend a great deal of time with all of my clients ensuring that they understand what the financial information I provide means to their business. I thought I had done a good job of putting that across on the home page of my website but based on feedback I'm begining to wonder if I have achieved this.

2. We are a small firm specialising in small businesses. This means the one man bands and the sole traders don't feel that they are receiving a second rate service as we are too busy running around after the 'big' clients. Again, I thought I had communicated this on my website but I'm not so sure based on feedback. I have been told that my website screams out one man band before, but I felt (given my target market and as long as it still appears professional & smart) this was not a bad thing.

Would appreciate some feedback on my perhaps naive assumptions? Sorry this thread seems to go on and on and on........

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 16:58

Could it be..
...that most clients are looking for plain old compliance work, first and foremost - someone who will get the tax sorted.

It's a nice idea to help people understand their figures and business plans, but I would see that as a bolt on.

If you did want to do the management accountant thing, then it may be better trying to find slightly larger businesses - perhaps ones that have a bookkeeper, but don't have an accountant on the payroll - there you may fill a niche, to keep their accounts in order (oversee the bookeeper) then provide some decision making stuff.

Looking after a smaller number of bigger clients could reap a nice workflow and income stream.

Failing that, it is possibly best to be seen as somoeone what sorts the tax out.

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12th Dec 2007 18:08

Networking is Not working
I tried a lot of networking but always find that the people I meet already have accountants and do not want to change even if I offer reasonable fees. Must be the elevated social circles that I mix in. The Rich has different preferences from the rest of us. However I could have sold my car or my flat a dozen times over in the last 12 months. I must be in the wrong profession!

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12th Dec 2007 19:12

What is your conversion rate?
Let's say you visit 10 potential clients/customers. how many of those would you expect to sign up?
As regards your advertising campaign, this may be very limited. For example, what area does it cover? If you are working in an area with a low concentration of businesses, then you may have to consider looking further afield.
Answer the above question, and I will then put further information on here which will help you in your quest to win new clients.

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By Anonymous
12th Dec 2007 22:11

Conversion Rate
My conversion rate is 100%. I have never lost a client (so far).

I've been trying to market myself as a local accountant working for local small businesses. I have marketed to businesses in my village plus the surrounding villages (within 10 miles of where I live).

I believe that this is quite an affluent area (I buck the trend) with lots of entrepreneurs. We are right inbetween Guildford and Winchester.

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13th Dec 2007 09:20

100% conversion rate
If your conversion rate is 100% then you can only be described as the best sales person/accountant in the whole country.
What you are saying is, if you went to see 100 potential new clients, then you would sign every single one of them up as a client.
It is indeed truly remarkable and I can certainly offer you no advice. In fact, I need to take lessons from you.

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 10:04

There's no need for saracasm.....
Every phone call I have had from a prospective client has lead to that person becoming a client. It's not that impressive when you consider that I have only had about 5 calls in the past 6 months. I can't speculate what my conversion rate would have been if I'd had 100 calls...

My problem is not retention, or convincing those you call me to hire me....but getting them to call in the first place. Sorry thought I had made that clear in the post.

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13th Dec 2007 11:38

I also have 100% conversion rate
Every potential new client I have ever seen, no matter how introduced to me, has become a new client. And we are looking at well over 500 clients.
so I too believe the other anons.

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13th Dec 2007 11:54

being serious for a moment
there is no point going into practice and then signing up 1 client every 6 months. you are going to be at retirement age before you have a reasonable number of clients.
You either need to buy a block of fees, or use telemarketing to build up your client base really quickly.
Once you have done that, then provided you do a good job, you should get a steady stream of referrals and not have the need to advertise.

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13th Dec 2007 15:10

I agree with anon (midlands anon)
I will henceforth be posting as anon (south east) so as not cause confusion with the other anons.
the anon in the midlands area makes a valid point. if you are confident in your selling abilities, you will do very well. you just need to get the potential clients in a meeting.
if your presentation is bad, then all the advertising in the world will be a waste of money, because the clients won't sign up when they meet you.
if I could give a few tips it would be along the following lines:
take a genuine interest in the person's business.
be friendly and relaxed.
crack the odd joke or two.
watch how you dress, females should look professional ie too much cleavage on display is a no no.
a firm handshake is important, but avoid unnecessary pressure.
a lttle bit of chit chat always goes down well before getting down to the nitty gritty.
make sure you brush your teeth before going to see the person, foul smelling breath may give a bad impression.
and lastly, be positive.
(these tips are copyright anon (south east) and may not be reproduced without permission).

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13th Dec 2007 10:53

there is no sarcasm
I am just stating facts as outlined by your goodself.
If you can convert every lead to a client, then this is truly brilliant, I can assure you.
I would lay odds that no other accountant can match that conversion rate.
Clearly all you have to do to increase your client base is to extend your advertising to get more calls and and they will all become clients.
You will expand your practice extremely quickly.

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 11:22

No need for sarcasm 2
Tony, I also have a 100% conversion rate and also have never lost a client to another accountant.

It depends how you are measuring a conversion. I am including people who have approached me as a result of referral or advertising. I then met them for a free consultation and every one of them (well into three figures) has signed up.

I have had this figure doubted before but it is true so I completely believe the other posting from the other anon.

I offer a friendly face, good technical advice and reasonable fixed fees. There is no reason for them not to sign up. I have also always got the job when clients have said they are seeing a selection of accountants. Most are so condescending (in client's words) and stupidly expensive that client's are easily persuaded to come to us.

I find a bit of humour and banter goes a long way and talking Plain English. If some of the people on here talk to their clients how they reply to postings it is a wonder they get anyone.

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 14:19

Sales
Hello Anon

I was interested in your query cos I was going to put something similar asking for advice when I set up alone in September (2007).

However, I didn't actually need to because I've been sold out. In my third month I'm billing more than I earned in employment and I've taken on a sub-contract book-keeper. I'm under a 12-month restrictive contract so these are not my ex-clients from employment. I have been too busy to set up a website, business cards or even headed paper. Those things do not seem to matter (so far anyway). (I am an accountant and tax consultant so I do have some chunky tax advisory fees that you may not be in the market for). For what it's worth, my tips would be:

1. NETWORK. Anywhere you can. For example, I met my sub-contract book-keeper when she sat next to me on a Business Link course. I'm not convinced about the Breakfast Clubs. If there's only one person from each profession, they must know each other pretty well, so why bother with the bacon sarnies? Go to places that normal people and new entrepreneurs may be.

2. SELLING (not advertising) Is not easy, don't under-estimate the skill involved. Big accounting firms are full of people who are technically excellent but can't sell. When people are buying your services they are buying YOU. If they don't like you they won't buy from you however cheap you are. I'm sure there are plenty of courses around through Business Link etc. Also you could ask your friends for honest feedback about your approaches/presentation to people. My new clients have told me I seem friendly, approachable, technically on the ball and responsive. Phew so far! Don't go cheap and don't look desperate.

I hope that helps, good luck with the business

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 15:46

cleavage
In response to the last posting, I usually find cleavage is my trump card.

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13th Dec 2007 16:44

Cleavage
Funny this should pop up, I had someone in only yesterday for a meeting where she was trying to sell me something on a long term basis, and there was clear intent to use her assets to clinch the sale.

I didn't know where to look! All I could see was Phil and Grant Mitchells heads thrust at me.

To cut a long story short, much as I enjoyed the view I took the decision that she was trying a cheap trick and I didn't want to do business with her. So that and that alone cost her the sale.

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 18:08

This is a common theme...
Hello all, this is a common theme that occurs again and again.

I have written here before and am using an assumed identity to protect the innocent (and I am back in practice again so am not as willing to "tell all" as I was when I retired last year!)

I am on my third accountancy practice, having sold my last for seven figures and my first for a few hundred thousand.

I am a usless accountant, I know little about technical stuff and have to duck and dive if asked anything specific.

I have three lessons for you:

Lesson 1

If you own a practice, your job is not to do accounts but to market that practice and bring in the work!

With this in mind, it will shape everything you do - every decision you make you must make it against this mantra.

Write it down, put it on the wall, say it out loud - (I used to have a poster up which said “we sell stuff we don’t have!”)

If you think your job is to do accounts and tax work, you will not grow your business at any pace.

I am not saying you cannot make some money – you can (About £50k p.a. I reckon) - but you are in a job. And worst still, you are in a job with the worst boss in the world – YOU!

Lesson 2

I almost don’t need to say this, but I will: GO AND READ THE E-MYTH (Gerber)

It’s not all correct, I disagree with some of his core concepts, but in essence its correct.

Lesson 3

So how do you market your practice?

Simple, but it is going to cost you. You see, if you bought a practice you would pay anything from 0.9 to 1.2 on the £ of turnover, so to buy your business through marketing you are going to have to spend money and time and effort. Don’t want to? You will not grow your business at any pace.

What you spend is up to you, but I would suggest that you DO NOT ADVERTISE it is, in my experience, a waste of time and brings just the absolute dross if anything at all.

Let’s face it, no one wants an accountant. It’s something they have to have. And as for the Guru’s who claim that the future is all about “Type 2 Services”, well, they are just trying to sell you something (usually expensive software!) (Again, don’t think you can’t make money in type 2 services, you can, it’s just not what most of us are about)

To get work to come to you, you have to make it easy on the client – which means you have to go to them. That means:


You send them mail shots
You call them
You send them faxes
You send them newsletters
You go and visit them

And you do it all with everyone’s favourite radio station in mind, you know the one, good old W.I.I. F.M. (or What’s in it for me?)

And you keep doing it until they give in and sign up!

It’s called creating a marketing funnel and it is a pure numbers game.

Finally

If this is not for you, go and get a well paid job with someone else and let them worry about all of this rubbish!

Best regards

John Norris

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 16:47

Another suggestion
Something else that occurred to me - what about signing up to the 2020 Group.

I am assuming technically you have no problem it is just the sales and marketing that you are very weak with - not a skill accountants are often good at. The 2020 Group will give you some fantastic ideas for marketing and I know the work!

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By Anonymous
13th Dec 2007 17:14

hmmnnn
I don't think I have ever had an issue with presentation and body odour....I guess my conversion rate would be much poorer if I did.

Whilst it is normally difficult to keep my ample cleavage under control I have somehow managed in past client meetings... many of my clients are also women which also helps me suppress the tempatation to whip them out to win a sale .... (meant in jest of course!).

I really don't have an issue winning the clients that come to me..... it's tracking them down in the first place that I'm having difficulty with.

Many thanks to all for the advice....there have been some really interesting (and in some cases contrasting) points made. I hope this thread has also been of help to others in my position (I know you are out there as this post has had a massive number of hits!!).

Merry Christmas & A prosperous New Year to all.

I'm signing off....but feel free to continue the debate (breasts aside of course...didn't think it was that kind of forum!!).

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13th Dec 2007 18:16

I have come up with a solution for your problem,
as I promised I would.
what you need is a slogan. Advertising is one thing, but accompanied by a good slogan it's value can be enhanced immeasurably.
maybe something along the following lines:
having trouble keeping abreast of your tax problems?
we are offolly nice accountants
we are the breast of the bunch
you definitely can offord us
call my cell now
you won't be disappointed
we have the midas touch.


the slogan should have a picture of yourself standing sideways, with your cellphone in one hand held towards your ear. you should also be smiling and winking in the photo. your other hand should be motioning a come here type gesture.

follow the above marketing plan and you will be deluged with new clients.


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By Anonymous
14th Dec 2007 09:39

I find

that cleavage works for me - now that I've ditched the tie!

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14th Dec 2007 14:42

Direct Marketing
We have have proven success in direct marketing lead generation campaigns for Accounting and Solicitors practices which may be of interest to you. We could assist in getting a new website up and running, and alongside this show you how to generate business and promote your services through email. This method of direct marketing is really cost effective, with immediate results. To see more, you can email me at [email protected] .

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14th Dec 2007 16:10

Divert your calls to your mobile!
As the wife of a small business owner, probably the type of person who would use your services, I would much rather phone a landline than a mobile, especially someone like an accountant as it gives you the impression the company has a solid, reliable base. Maybe gives the impression that there's sombody sat in an office just waiting for your call - sort of the personal service. Don't rely on the answer machine because even if they do leave a message (which the majority don't), by the time you call them back you can guarantee they've found someone else.

So the answer is simple use Call Divert it doesn't usually cost much extra, we're on talk talk and it costs us an extra couple of quid a month plus the diverted call cost which for us is around £10 a month (he's a plumber, we get a lot of calls!). Without it we'd struggle, the days we haven't diverted it (you know how it is!) really shows how much people prefer to call a landline, as we get less than quarter of the calls we'd usually get.

As with plumbing, accounting I expect is all about getting your foot in the door before someone else does, you'll find once they've spoken to you and realise all you want is the best for them, then you've basically sealed the deal!

Sorry for rambling on!
Hope this helps,
All the best!

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