Blogger
Share this content
0
26
3394

What would you put on an introductory pack for your practice?

I am looking for ideas on what to write on an  introductory pack for my practice. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Our promises - response and turnaround times.
  2. Your (clients) obligations - pay on time being a key one, meet deadlines, deal with request for information, pay by DD on 1st of each month
  3. Best way to contact - email
  4. FAQ on tax - eg home exps, travel and subsistence,
  5. Deadlines
  6. Information we need from you
  7. Complaints
  8. Day to Day contact - not being me
  9. Use our preferred software -  Xero or VT
  10. We dont do bookkeeping - support and train you to do your own (better way to put this).

I would be grateful for your thoughts/comments.

Thanks

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
02nd Jun 2011 09:15

Use our software

 Why would you force clients to use your own software, surely it is better to have them use what is most comfortable for them? Obviously encourage them away from the awful ones!

Thanks (0)
avatar
02nd Jun 2011 10:24

Why?

Why do people want "introdtion packs"?  They are no different to the trend a few years ago when everyone was writing meaningless "customer charters".  No one reads them, and no one asbides by them, so what is their point?

To me it seems like another move away from treating people as individuals, and trying to put everyone into little "one size fits all" boxes.

TALK to clients, particularly new ones. Tell them whats needed, explain to them the importance of deadlines and the potential costs of failure, and actually get to know clients. They are all very different, all individuals, and all have varying levels of knowledge and understanding. You are, after all, supplying a professional service which should last for many years, not flogging them a bag of boiled sweets.

 

Thanks (0)
02nd Jun 2011 11:34

Can they remember discussions?

Most accountants do spend time talking to clients. The problem is getting clients to remember everything that was said. If you have a 1 hour meeting with someone how much of it will they actually remember, especially if it is all new to them? Can you possibly warn them about everything they need to know about, or be aware of, on an individual one-to-one basis? The welcome pack overcomes this. It advises them what is involved and WHEN they should call us.

Our 'sign up' meetings usually follow a specific agenda, so giving them some guides to take away with them can't be a bad thing. If then, later on and possibly months down the line, they think to themselves  .... 'Oh, Shirley said something about that, but I can't remember what she said', they don't need to call, they just look it up! Also, if they look it up first and it says 'seek advice' then they are more likely to call you.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
02nd Jun 2011 13:09

Use your website

I always send clients by email a summarised file note of what we have discussed during the meeting.

What you could do (and something I must get updated at some point) is have guides etc. on your website, possibly even a client login section which is personalised to them.

I am already using Google Docs and Dropbox to share information with some clients, but I see that as a short term solution. 

Thanks (0)
By SteveOH
02nd Jun 2011 13:11

I think that Introduction Packs are a good idea

They are not supposed to be the be all and end all of a client's initial meeting. As CD said, you need to get to know your client. But this is achieved over a period of time and an Introductory Pack (whether it's 2 pages of A4 or a glossy brochure) is more of an aide memoire for the client.

Looking at your list, the main comment that I would make is that it seems to emphasise what your new client should do for you rather than the other way around. You should all the time strive to tell the client how what you do will be of immense benefit to them. I am not a marketing man, so there are probably better ways of expressing my points but, for what it's worth, here is my two penn'orth:

1) Our promises: great start. You are telling the client he is important to you and this is how you will show it.

2) Client's obligations: I would make this your last point. Also, I would just say something like "All we ask from you is that you respond to our communications as quickly as possible - That's all. Nothing else." Then they think to themselves that you are doing all the above for them and all they have to do is answer your letters promptly. That's great. I wouldn't mention anything here about paying by DDR, on the first of the month, on time, make sure they have money in the bank etc etc. That is a given. You can say during your initial meeting how you like to be paid.

3) Email: don't dictate how they should communicate with you. You may prefer email; they may not. Try and persuade them by making it sound as though it is a benefit to them: "Most of our clients find it easier and quicker by emailing us there queries etc - they all get a measured response within 4 hours."

4) FAQs: this is a great idea. Obviously make sure that it always up to date. You know how ofter tax legislation changes.

5) Deadlines: again quite a good idea. But again, don't make it sound as though it is an instruction; just general information.

6) Information: I wouldn't make this a specific point. See point 2 above.

7) Complaints: good point.

8) Contact: not sure what you mean here.

9) Software: again, you should avoid telling clients what to do. There will be resentment. If you use and like Xero and VT, try and explain the benefits to them.

10) We don't do bookkeeping: that's a negative statement. As you say in your list, just say that you offer bookkeeping training and can assist in recruiting a good bookkeeper.

Thanks (1)
02nd Jun 2011 13:40

Most of my clients . . .

Most of my clients would appreciate a nice fruit cake - with a hacksaw blade hidden inside!

David

www.AccountingEvidence.com

Thanks (0)
avatar
02nd Jun 2011 14:39

.

Most of my clients would appreciate a nice fruit cake - with a hacksaw blade hidden inside!

 

Posted by davidwinch on Thu, 02/06/2011 - 13:40

 

I think they would prefer a monopoly set - complete with "get out of jail free" card.

 

Thanks (0)
02nd Jun 2011 22:31

Some ideas

@FirstTab - all very logical but what about the emotion? 

Always keep in mind that you are not a B2B ot B2C market but HB to HB; Human Beings (HB) are emotional animals and respond well to emotional messages.

You can differentiate and position yourself effectively by thinking about your purpose. Start with why you are in business. Here is one question from my positioning workbook for Accountants for you to think about:

If your practice was a charity (and you and your employees where volunteers) what would you all be volunteering for?

You can also include information about the type of clients you are best suited to. Think what are their anxieties, fears and dreams.

Remember to include details about all the services you have to offer with self-assessments forms so prospects can see for themselves if any are suited to them. And, put more information about your culture; what you stand for and what you don’t stand for.

Good luck.

Bob Harper

Marketing Consultant for Accountants

Thanks (0)
avatar
02nd Jun 2011 23:21

.

And, put more information about your culture; what you stand for and what you don’t stand for.

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Thu, 02/06/2011 - 22:31

 

Isn't that going to seriously restrict the potential client pool ?

 

Thanks (0)
03rd Jun 2011 08:57

Depends

@CD - it depends on the culture, what the firm stands for and don’t stand for. 

A firm can put in their Welcome Pack:

We allow you to pay us late, we have a good record with our bank and are happy to fund your business.You can take advice without paying for itYou can send you work in late and we will work long hours to make up for you not being organisedYou are free to ignore our advise and then blame us when things go wrong

Perhaps clients would like that.

Other firms can include:

We will let you do poor bookkepeing because it means we have work to do at the year-end and this makes us feel that we deserve to get paidWe will call you a "job" and have a transactioned based relationship where the focus is doing the accounts and taxWe will slag you off behind your back because you do things you shouldn'tWe will sell you profession fee insurance because it means our fees will be covered in a tax investigation, rather than focus on helping you protect yourself from the taxman.

Maybe these would put some clients off.

Like I say, it really depends on the firm.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

Thanks (0)
03rd Jun 2011 23:22

Varied response

Thanks for such a varied response all. I am going ahead with an introductory pack. I will start writing when I get some time.

Bob thanks for putting this idea in my head.

Thanks (0)
avatar
03rd Jun 2011 23:29

.

The point is Bob, no matter what you put in an introductory pack, a lot of clients will behave as your list suggests anyway. I'm afraid thats the nature of the beast. Unfortunately we dont live in an ideal world full of clienmts just waiting to be trained to our way of thinking.

 

Thanks (0)
04th Jun 2011 09:32

What point

@CD - how do you know, have you every implemented a Welcome Book/Pack strategy?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants 

Thanks (0)
avatar
04th Jun 2011 09:59

Bob

@CD - how do you know, have you every implemented a Welcome Book/Pack strategy?

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Sat, 04/06/2011 - 09:32

 

After 40 years I think I understand what makes client's tick. No doubt there are some who will read a welcome pack, or whatever, and maybe a small percentage of those will actually understand it. But, like it ir not, a large number of clients simply view having their accounts done as a bit like getting the car MOT'd. A neccesary evil.  All they want to do is get on with earning a living and know that the taxman is not going to bother them for another year.

That is the reality Bob, and nothing you do will change it.

And I'm not just talking about plumbers and bricklayers, I've met people with quite large businesses who display much the same attitude.

People start businesses because they want to build houses/ mend cars or whatever. Spreadsheets are a mystery to them, half of them think balance sheets are written in chinese, and all they are interested in is "are they making a profit" and "how much will it cost to get rid of the tax man for another year".

Yes we could educate them - I could "educate" you how to build and fine tune a motor bike, but if you're not interested then I'd be wasting my time. People don't learn things they dont want to learn.

I'm not saying ALL clients are like that, but if you only acted for the ones with a passion for learning about accounting and tax, you would end up with a very small practice.

 

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
04th Jun 2011 11:53

Some clients appreciate them

No, not every client will read them, but some will. If it helps those few, and it helps the practice, then I think the effort is worthwhile.

It isn't like we have to write a new one for each client, every year. The overhead is very small.

Each to our own!

Thanks (0)
04th Jun 2011 13:47

Ignorant or well educated

@CD - you are free to have your opinion but 40 years of not doing something doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. If you have not done it yourslef or spoked with firms that have then you are just guessing.

But, the problem maybe that you have the wrong concept of what I think a Welcome Book/Pack is. This is not about educating clients to use spreadsheets. This is nothing to do with teaching them about accounts and tax; it’s about educating them to be good clients.

There is always a cost to education (time, energy and money) but the costs are always far lower than no education, wouldn't you say?

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

Thanks (0)
avatar
04th Jun 2011 14:03

.

CD - you are free to have your opinion but 40 years of not doing something doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. If you have not done it yourslef or spoked with firms that have then you are just guessing.

Posted by Bob Harper on Sat, 04/06/2011 - 13:47

 

That's a bit rich Bob. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have never built your own practice from the ground up and run it succesfully have you - so are'nt you "just guessing" when you tell accountancy practices how they should recruit clients ?

 

 

Thanks (0)
04th Jun 2011 16:43

No guessing needed

@CD - the thread is not about me but using a Welcome Book/Pack as part of the engagement process. I’ve used one and so have firms I have consulted to so no, I am not guessing. 

Firm's don't need to listen to me (or you) they can read about it from the guy who invested here.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing for Accountants

Thanks (0)
avatar
04th Jun 2011 17:50

.

I'll remond you of what you said - "If you have not done it yourslef or spoked with firms that have then you are just guessing."

You are advising accountancy practices to invest time and money in producing a welcome pack - have you done it yourself for your own accountancy practice ?  Or are you just guessing ?

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
04th Jun 2011 18:43

Thanks

@CD - yes, I have used one as an accountant and yes I have spoken with firms that have used one; mainly because I advised them to.  

Bob Harper

Marketing Consultant

Thanks (0)
avatar
04th Jun 2011 23:46

.

What actually makes someone "qualified" to advise other firms on how to run their practice ? 

How does someone know what will work, and what's a waste of time ? 

Do they run night classes in how build a succesful accountancy practice, with exasms and certificates at the end ?

Maybe the "secret" is in books written by so called "gurus" (the more outragious the ideas the more the book sells) ?

 

Or maybe, just maybe, it's something you learn by running your own practice for long enough to know what works and what doesnt - about 40 years should do it.

 

 

 

Thanks (0)
05th Jun 2011 10:55

Go for it

@CD - there is nothing stopping you advising firms, go for it if that is what you want to do.

Bob Harper

Marketing Consultant for Accountants 

Thanks (0)
avatar
05th Jun 2011 11:42

Hardly professional is it?

@CD - there is nothing stopping you advising firms, go for it if that is what you want to do.

Posted by Bob Harper on Sun, 05/06/2011 - 10:55

 

So anyone, with no qualifications and of untested ability, can set up to "advise" firms?  Maybe I could flog double glazing at the same time.

 

My business model works extremely well - for us - but would I be right to advise others to follow it, and to charege them for that advice ?  I have no doubt there are many who would be appalled by our lack of formality, who couldnt possibly contemplate the absence of time sheets, who wouldnt dream of paying qualifieds and QBEs the same salary, who would have heart failure at the thought of staff not being required to record how many hours they spend "at work" or work fixed hours. 

Each business is different, each person is different, everyone wants something different out of working for themselves, some want to build an empire, others want the freedom of working from home and are happy with 50 clients and £30k a year income. 

There is no "one size fits all" answer to how a business should be run. 

 

 

Thanks (0)
05th Jun 2011 12:22

Size doesn't matter

@CD - this isn’t about size but methodology; specifically using a Welcome Book/Pack to improve the quality of client a practice has regardless of 50 clients or 4,000.

Bob Harper

Marketing Consultant

Thanks (0)
avatar
05th Jun 2011 14:21

.

@CD - this isn’t about size but methodology; specifically using a Welcome Book/Pack to improve the quality of client a practice has regardless of 50 clients or 4,000.

 

Posted by Bob Harper on Sun, 05/06/2011 - 12:22

 

What evidence is there to show that it improves the "quality" of client?  Indeed, how do you define "quality of client" ?

Are we talking about "quality" clients who do all the work themselves and pay you a fat fee for doing very little ?   Are we talking about "quality" clients who pay higher fees and pay on time ?   Are we talking about "quality" clients who you happen to enjoy working with?

Indeed, are we forgetting that every client is a person with their own individual needs, abilities, and failings - or are we looking at clients as simply sources of income and nothing more ?

 

Thanks (0)
05th Jun 2011 15:12

What is wrong?

@CD - there is evidence that a Welcome Book/Pack works (which I am sure you will challenge and/or try to undermine) - I explained above that I have used Welcome Books/Packs whilst in practice and so have firms I have worked with. There are also testimonials on Paddi Lund’s Website.

Are you calling me a liar?

Even if you are, what is evident is that most accountants don’t have tools like a Welcome Books/Pack and most have late payment and other hassle with clients.

It’s for the accountant to define quality of client and to build the book/pack around what they want. As for how they view clients, I suggest they look at them as drivers of a better society. The better their client’s businesses are the more employment and tax revenue there is which better it is for everyone.

Take one item that a Welcome Book/Pack could focus on, late payment. According to an article in AccountancyAge late payment costs the UK economy £20bn a year. If tactics like Welcome Book/Pack reduced or eliminated late payment for accountants then perhaps that would spread to their clients.

What could an extra £20bn do for health, education, security and support for the less fortunate in the UK? What is so wrong with having that as an objective?

Bob Harper

Marketing Consultant

Thanks (0)