Starting out - is this one of those startup traps?
I will be starting my own accountancy practice in a couple of weeks and everything had been going fine until today. I have all my paperwork done and have a few clients already.
Today one of my key potential clients with whom I had some great meetings turned around to say my fees were too high, I would not have the time to manage them as I would have loads of admin to do starting up and what would happen if I was ill. At our previous meetings, I had tackled all these issues and had agreed deadlines for bookkeeping work which were very doable. I told them that I had insurance, practicing cert etc and will be regulated by my Institute. And I have an experienced bookkeeper on hand to take over if I am ill etc. I was prepared to deal with all these issues at our meetings and had all my answers researched and ready. They appeared happy with the answers at the time.
At the end of our last meeting, during the "chat time", we spoke about the challenges in setting up as they had done this themselves many years ago. I mentioned that I had been planning this for a while and had everything ready to go except the website which I hoped to launch in a few weeks time. They recommended to have a decent holding page in the meantime and I agreed that this is what I was planning to do.
They are now saying that they aren't ready to move, they want me to "add more value" and then launched into criticisms about how I don't know how much time would be taken up with admin etc. I already manage a practice in my current employment and am well aware of the issues and told them so. I also said that I had no major work on before Christmas so could concentrate on them. They also threw in the fact that I didn't have the website completed as proof that I wasn't ready yet. (Maybe I should have finished my website before wasting my time on regulation, researching software and setting up my systems.) They finished by saying they would like a proposal with a substantially reduced fee plus details of what will happen if I take a day off, confirmation that I am ready to go etc. (There was also some other personal criticisms thrown in for good measure.)
This potential client would allow me to pay the bills for the next year and would take a weight off me and my family in terms of finance. I just can't help thinking back to previous posts where new startups took on anyone and everyone and ended up regretting it.
My gut reaction is telling me that they are just getting stroppy to get me to reduce my fees. They will take up approx 50 hours per month and my charge out rate is about 50% less than my other clients. I reduced their current fee by about 10% plus I agreed to do their management accounts much earlier, make the reports more relevant and offer them more day-to-day support. I left a small bit of negotiation room in my fee quote but not enough to make a "substantial" difference.
I have negotiated fees with clients before but it has never got this personal. Maybe this is because it is now "my" business.
So should I suck it up and deal with a potentially troublesome client with relatively low fees because I don't have any other work (at the moment)?
Any advice from those who have been down this path would be gratefully appreciated.