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Are clients looking for delivery times ?

Are clients looking for delivery times ?

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I have a hunch that its common nowadays for clients to ask for delivery times for their accounts (cf Amazon) ie "here's my paperwork (or "digital work") when can I expect the accounts?"

If so, what sort of systems and processes are required to be able to meet these expectations rather than leave things to the last possible minute?

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By cparker87
16th Nov 2015 13:41

Our system came with the following specifications

Windows

Spreadsheet

Pair of Eyes

 

Only £3k

 

 

 

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By girlofwight
16th Nov 2015 21:42

Engagement letter
I'd suggest taking the initiative on expectations and setting out in engagement letter the latest client is expected to submit to you, your normal (but it guaranteed) turn around, consequences of client submitting to you late relative to filing deadline (my firm charges a surcharge for submissions less than three months before filing deadline)

HTH

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blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
17th Nov 2015 07:16

most clients arent bothered

Most clients arent bothered unless there is a specific reason (mortgage, loan, divorce etc) in which case we push them to the top of the list, in fact it is normally us chasing them so we can get it done quicker

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By adam.arca
17th Nov 2015 13:24

No, I don't think most clients are looking for delivery times

I tried this once. Mapped all my jobs out for the whole year, got them arranged efficiently, wrote to all clients saying that I would complete the accounts by X if they got their books to me by Y.

Complete and utter waste of time and caused a bit of grief where some clients focused on the X but completely ignored a) that they hadn't got the books in by Y, and b) the rider which said all books (not just the ones they fancied or thought we needed) must be delivered and must be completed to the agreed standard.

Now I tell everyone it's first come / first served, and it works as well if you stick to your guns.

I do think you need to communicate this: the typical client will already have had 2 or 3 emails by the time we get to 2 months out and I start saying that completion in time to meet deadlines and penalties is no longer guaranteed. In reality, I nearly always do get the stragglers done but the occasional "take the p*ss" merchant is allowed to fail. Famous last words but I haven't lost any of these yet because, in reality, they know they don't have a leg to stand on.

So, if you were asking me, I would forget about delivery times as these are a recipe for disaster but would instead go for a simple, easy to communicate policy which everybody understands (and which works the best for accountants' workflow anyway which, in the long run, is also the best way of pleasing the most clients).

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By yaakovgrant
18th Nov 2015 13:11

Very interesting

agreed first come first served is usually modus operandi, however previous blog comment mentioned extenuating circumstances for jumping the list (eg mortgage, loan, divorce)

It would be great if there was some software that can take the basic workflow data such as

1. client info still missing

2. how far bookkeeping/ accounts are (assuming they could start with missing info)

3. extentuating circmstances for jumping the queue

and present it with filterable lists/ calendars for the manager to happily prioritise

I have a hunch that the fanciest of practice management software cannot with (3) otherwise known as real life

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By adam.arca
18th Nov 2015 13:37

I've tried that as well and it didn't work either!

yaakovgrant wrote:

It would be great if there was some software that can take the basic workflow data such as

1. client info still missing

2. how far bookkeeping/ accounts are (assuming they could start with missing info)

3. extentuating circmstances for jumping the queue

and present it with filterable lists/ calendars for the manager to happily prioritise

I enjoy playing around with VBA and have my own Access database for PM, so this is easier for me to do than when you're stuck with off the shelf options.

Basically, I awarded points for how long clients had took to bring their books in (and more points for missing info) but then took points off when deadlines were approaching. The idea was that I did the jobs with the least points first because they seemed the keenest / most needy to have their accounts.

It didn't work as a) it was more complex than first come / first served without noticeable benefit as a trade-off and b) the management time required fell well into the law of diminishing returns category.

As you've said yourself, there will always be exceptions and software just can't handle that (and even if it could, how could it be tailored for each accountant's individual thoughts on what was more pressing?), so we're really left with a) good old gut instinct but also b) making sure we don't simply react to whomever is shouting loudest.

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