Share this content

Growing your practice


I wanted to get people's views on the best way to grow our practice.  We have been trading now for over 15 months and have had a steady increase in clients through old contacts and some new clients.  We have both been networking quite a bit and although I realise networking takes time for accountants, this has very slowly started to pay off.  Majority of the clients we are getting from networking are small, but one juicy client on top of these now would make a real difference.

What are peoples view on using specialist accountancy telemarketing companies as a way of growing your practice? Does it work?

Has anyone got any other tips on how to grow the practice? Buying a block of fees is the obvious answer but ive looked about and there seems very few about as I imagine is down to the lull in the current market.  Does anyone know a company that could be used to source fees to be purchased?

Any help would be appreciated


Please login or register to join the discussion.

11th Apr 2012 09:09


On what type of fees/future you want.

If you just want traditional work then perhaps buying a block of fees is the way to go. It can be quick and less risky, if you do proper due diligence and have a strong agreement. 

However, my view is that over the coming years there will be more price pressure and lower margins on this type of work.

Telemarketing is without doubt the fastest marketing tactics, but on its own it is more expensive than it used to be. However, there are advantages:

Target exactly who you wantEasy to manage and quantifyLess expensive than buying which is usually 100% plus of GRFBetter for cashflow than buyingMore sustainable than buying

Yes, you can use a specialist firm but  remember they are not a magic wand. 

If you proposition is fairly simple (low cost compliance) then there may not be a lot you need to do a lot of preparation. But, if your value proposition is more sophisticated/added value based then you may need to get ready/invest before anyone picks up the phone for you.

Typically, this would include:

Professional Corporate IdentityProfessional WebsiteProducing high quality marketing collateralDeveloping a sales processImproving your sales skills with training

By the way, there is always the option of employing/outsourcing someone to do the accountancy work and you market your business. You are probably the best person to market and sell your practice.

If you do it right it is easy. Our latest franchisee just reported that around 50% of people thanked him for calling!

If it takes you 10 hours of marketing/selling to win a client that has an average fee of £1,000 and they start for 10 years (on average) and refer two people (in that time) that new relationship is worth circa £10,000 in profit.

This means your effective recovery rate as a practice development person would be £1,000 an hour. What are you worth to your practice as an accountant? 

Also keep in mind that if you can develop your practice yourself, like this, then you have complete freedom. You are not dependant on any supplier or client.

What is that worth? 

Bob Harper

Accounting Franchise

Thanks (0)
By Jimess
11th Apr 2012 18:37

@Bob Harper

I like what you are saying but I can't help thinking that you make it all sound too easy.  Like the OP I have grown my practice from scratch and it is really challenging to spread yourself across all areas of the practice. When your client base is growing your scenario of employing someone and concentrate on marketing is a luxurious distant dream that seems so far away from the day to day practicalities of running of the practice.  I am in a similar position to the OP and know that it makes much more sense to have someone in the background churning the work out while I go off hunting for more work, but in the real world of the start up practitioner the work still has to be done to build yourself up to the level where you can afford to take on another body. Five years down the line I do have two part time staff and outsource contacts to carry out work for me, but managing the practice is still a juggling act.  I appreciate everything you are trying to impart, but in real life it is so much harder to achieve than you are suggesting. Perhaps that is just my own experience and others may have a different take on it, but I do think it is so easy to underplay the challenges a growing practice faces.

ssclover - to source blocks of fees try contacting one of the specialists such as Vivian Sram - I have found them very informative and willing to explore options with you. All the best. 


Thanks (0)
By thacca
11th Apr 2012 19:13

I have used the same telemarketer for three years now. It has been very sucessful for my practice. If you drop me a message I will pass him your contact details or vice versa.

Thanks (0)
26th Nov 2012 09:21

telemarketing contact

Hi - I am looking to invest in telemarketing to grow my practice and was wondering if you still recommend the telemarker you have been using and if you would be kind enough to let me have their contact details? I am based in West London and looking to target clients in the technology and new media sectors as those are my specific areas of expertise.


Thanks in advance. Regards Sunil 

Thanks (0)


hi can you share the telemarketer details please, been searching for quite a long without any success!

Thanks (0)
11th Apr 2012 19:16

Personally I would keep on doing what you are doing. Its takes time but is the most effective way to build a long term small traditional practice (completely different if you are going for a volume churn style practice)

Buying a block of fees, fine, but you will either get a pile of "discards" from another practice (ie all the PIA clients) or a rump of retirement clients who are most likely to be heading that way themselves and the sheer cost of it is high, you might as well network in that time.

Telemarketing? I know for some people it seems to works, but it is expensive and quite frankly the sorts of clients who will listen to a cold callers are probably not going to be solid long term options.

15 months is very very (very!) early days, you are barely into the fact that all last years clients will come back again this year assuming you did a good job, whats more they will refer you (again assuming you are good) so I would keep on at it.  If you pull in the same number of clients as year one in years 2, 3 and 4 and keep 90% of them I bet you will be stacked out with work (the key is to chose what you take on very carefully), but it tends to get better than that as the referrals will of course be a % of the overall client base which is only going to go up from now on in.

Lots of accountants simply cant network as they either on one hand come across all cheesy second hand car dealer with something to shamelessly flog at every single opportunity, or just stare at their shoes and mumble, if you can actually do it well then you will generally clean up, but it may take 2 years plus to convert a lead, but when you do it will tend to stick with you.  I am 10 years in an I can tell you the referrals and the networking ones tend to be a lot sticker than the "randoms" who drift in via the website and often drift away again.

I hope that helps.


Thanks (0)
11th Apr 2012 22:44

@Jimess – what I say is taken

@Jimess – what I say is taken from practical experience of the real world. I have worked with over 200 firms in one shape or another and been in practice myself. 

One common theme I picked up on is owners telling me they wished they employed people earlier. My personal experience is making the mistake of employing people I could afford rather than what I needed.

If you can sign up clients then there is a huge opportunity cost. You may need to take one step back in cashflow terms to take two forward. Go to the bank and take a bit more risk.

@ireallyshouldkn – you can keep an eye on the work without doing it, that’s the difference between delegation and abdicating work. Use systems and enforce their use.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Franchise

Thanks (0)
By Jimess
12th Apr 2012 13:16

A lot of sense....

The posting by ireallyshouldkn... makes a lot of sense and I would endorse his comments.  It is so very easy to spend a lot of cash for very little return when you are growing your practice so now is a good time to look at how to get things right with clients so that you can build up client loyalty and referrals. 

I have looked at buying blocks of fees but when you do the due dilligence on them the smaller blocks are generally pretty high risk and tend to come from practices hiving out their problem clients or as the earlier posting said from retirement sales where the clients are as likely to be approaching retirement too so the ongoing fee base falls dramatically after a couple of years.  Having said that there is still mileage in keeping informed of what is out there, you never know when something might become available that will fit in with your practice. One thing with buying a block of fees that is often overlooked in the excitement of it all is that you need to be able to hit the ground running as you are acquiring clients with ongoing deadlines, needs and issues. I found it really useful to go through the due dilligence process as it tends to focus your mind on precisely what you want and what you don't want - and those things do develop as your practice evolves so be prepared to go with that.

There is no easy answer and fee generation is a problem for all practices in this day and age.  All I would say is stick to your principals and don't lower your fees to entice new clients - the ones that shop around tend to go around and will not help you build up your client base.  It all takes time, persistence and lots of hard work. Good luck.



Thanks (0)
29th Apr 2012 11:07

Fast or slow?

If you are looking to grow your practice quickly the most obvious route to do this is to buy a block of fees - but beware of the issues mentioned above.

Beyond this the issue comes down to improving the marketing of the practice. And improving your ability to 'close the sale' once the marketing has attracted prospective clients of the type that you want. 

From a marketing perspective the key question should always be, what type of practice do you seek to build, what services do you want to offer and to what type of clients?

In this connection I've offered some relevant ideas in recent articles on AccountingWeb:

Call yourself a business adviser?Can telemarketing work for accountants?How to get recommended


Thanks (0)
25th Feb 2014 15:25



Can you recommend any tried and tested telemarketing companies please?





Thanks (0)
29th Apr 2012 18:40

Growing an Accountancy Practice

The single best way to build and grow a successful accountancy practice and that is to build one that is not reliant on any one individual, most importantly, the owner.

The owners job is to bring the (right) clients in, price the work correctly, develop strategic alliances, build the systems, spot the opportunities and capitalise on them, employ the right people, allocate resources, ensure the continuity, manage the risk, and deal with the finances.  All this cannot be done whsilt working on accounts and tax issues.  An old cliche but you cant work on the business and in it.

The hiring and development of the right people is critical.  Ensuring that the people are tuned in to your way of thinking and what you want to build equally so.  The hiring of a Practice Manager is not a luxury, it is a neccesity.  If you havent got the funds to invest in one then find them.  Too many accountants tell me that they want to grow their business but can't afford to hire a manager.  I don't think that they can afford not to, if they are serious about their goals.  sure, its a risk but being in business will always be about taking a (managed) risk.

To OP, if you want to grow your practice then first things first, put down on paper your growth objectives and timeframe them.  Then work on those objectives every day, don't let life get in the way.  These objectives can often be overlooked as they are not deemed to be time critical.

Work out your profit objectives and your pricing and work out how many clients you need to fulfil your requirement.  Then target that number of clients divided by the time required.  Your job is then to find them and sign them.  Turn away those that don't fit.  Build systemised processes to do the job in the minmimum amount of time with the maximum quality control, performed at stage by lowest cost resource.  Scope each engagement and dont give away any free time unless there is a good case to do so.  Develop relationships with people who can continually introduce, such as bank managers, IFA's, business bodies etc.  Look at your website and make sure that it has the right message and is optimised.  Tell your exisiting clients, family, friends, anyone, that you are looking to grow your business and would welcome the chance to serve their associates. Conitnue your networking and use your 60 second slot to maximum effect.  Use the networking meetings to do talks on cashflow, credit management, company -v- sole trader issues etc, all the things that business owners would be interested in.  Form alliances with associates businesses, IP's, IFA's, bookkeepers etc.  Write to all start ups in your area offering your services and a free consultation.  Use everyday situations to spot opportunites, as an example I recently went to the gym and ended up signing every personal trainer there after discovering that they were all self employed. Seek out these opportunities.

Before doing all this, get the plan down on paper, make sure that you can cope with the growth, get the right people with you, develop the systems, and delegate the operational work.  Then go out and make it happen. It really is not that difficult.

PS - If buying a block of fees, then due diligence all the way, face to face meetings with all clients before sign up.  Trim the block down for those not suitable.  Ensure consultancy period with seller and agree clawback arrangement.  There will be an inevitable loss of some the trick is no minmise the loss.  It is also worth bearing in mind that there is a huge amount of time investment in the process so you will need to ensure that your exisiting clients do not suffer.


Jason Dormer

Seahorse (UK) Ltd - For Accountants & Bookkeepers




Thanks (0)