ARE WE TOO HARD OR SOFT ON PIA

Personalities mean we tackle clients differently

Didn't find your answer?

My husband runs an accountancy practice with 200 clients. I dip in and run the payroll as a separate entity. I see him. He moans, to me, non stop about these late producing clients and believe me they are by and large all a waste of space. The larger clients behave properly. But he wont stand up to them. I hear him on the phone. Its all buddy buddy and I get so wound up. I am (perhaps unfortunately) far more agressive and I find that actually the clients can respect you for that. I would just get rid of them.  Its surprising how they can collapse when challenged. My case in point a few years ago I popped into a local sole trader barber for whom I was doing the payroll. She sent a letter of complaint to my husband saying I was invading her privacy. I only went to introduce myself. That was it -  sent a letter telling her I could no longer do the payroll as there was a breakdown in trust. The next thing is her mother is on the phone begging me to carry on. No problem since

Replies (31)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

RLI
By lionofludesch
28th Jan 2023 17:00

Depends how much you need their fee, I suppose.

I suppose I was in the fortunate position of having an established - if modest - practice by the time Self Assessment arrived. I did cut folk a bit of slack in the early years when it was new to everybody, me included, but, once I saw that it was the same folk through the door in the last week of January every year, I was happy to jack up my fee and, if they left, they left.

Financially, if you're adding £100 (or more) to your fee for working in January, they're not saving anything by filing on time.

Around 1st December, I'd send a letter out to stragglers saying they were in a queue. Jobs would be done on a first in, first served basis. Any tardiness would mean they'd be relying on equally unreliable tardy folk having cleared the deck for their job. I never deliberately submitted a return late but I didn't work overtime unless it suited me. They soon got the message. I only ever needed to ask three or four folk to leave. Not many left of their own accord.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Catherine Newman
28th Jan 2023 17:28

I know I rant but it will all be over on Wednesday. This is the philosophy I have. As I work from home, I can binge watch what I like for 2 months and catch up on things people recommend that I have never seen. Apparently it will be "Happy Valley" with an offer from a friend who lives just outside Hebden Bridge to give me a guided tour of the sites. Years ago we visited them and went to Holmfirth.

As the Lion has said, it is money at the end of the day.

When clients whinge about tax, I always say "what would you prefer-100% of nothing or a % of something?" I never get an answer.

I know what I would rather have.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Catherine Newman:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
28th Jan 2023 19:10

I've been watching Happy Valley the whole of January, in my (alleged) spare time. I'm just at the tail end of series 1. Last year was Jeeves and Bertie Wooster - who dares say we number-crunchers are uncultured!

I like your approach to whingers, although I'm not sure offering them two options is good methodology. How many of your no-replies might elect for 0% of something if, let's suppose, they were to force themselves into making a reply?

Why not confuse them even further with a 50% halfway-house third option?

Thanks (0)
Replying to I'msorryIhaven'taclue:
avatar
By Catherine Newman
29th Jan 2023 10:12

Over the years I have watched Dads Army Box Set, Allo Allo, Are You Being Served, Line of Duty, Downton Abbey all right from the start.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Catherine Newman:
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Jan 2023 10:25

Catherine Newman wrote:

Over the years I have watched Dads Army Box Set, Allo Allo, Are You Being Served, Line of Duty, Downton Abbey all right from the start.

We watch Still Game and when we get to the end of it, we watch it again.

It's still funny 200th time round.

Thanks (2)
Replying to lionofludesch:
avatar
By Catherine Newman
29th Jan 2023 15:04

Thanks for the tip. I had never heard of it but have just Googled it-another one for the list.

Some people may have already seen it but What We Did on Our Holidays with Billy Connolly and David Tennant was the best film I have seen. My mind didn't wander once.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Catherine Newman:
RLI
By lionofludesch
30th Jan 2023 09:43

Catherine Newman wrote:

Thanks for the tip. I had never heard of it but have just Googled it-another one for the list.

I'm truly shocked.

If you fancy something more exotic, C'mon Midffild is the funniest sitcom I've ever seen.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Catherine Newman:
avatar
By ABC12
28th Jan 2023 20:26

Yes I work from home too and when the days are short, grey and cold I don't mind being busy.
Maybe I could be more pro active chasing them in the summer months but I'll enjoy my days out midweek then thanks

Thanks (0)
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
28th Jan 2023 19:55

NYB wrote:

My husband runs an accountancy practice with 200 clients. I dip in and run the payroll as a separate entity. I see him. He moans, to me, non stop about these late producing clients and believe me they are by and large all a waste of space. The larger clients behave properly.

The larger clients are (collectively) the 80% of your fee-income who take up 20% of your time. The "waste of spaces" are the 20% who take up 80% of your time. The minority PIAs are called Pareto customers. Go look up "Pareto".

NYB wrote:

But he wont stand up to them. I hear him on the phone. Its all buddy buddy and I get so wound up. I am (perhaps unfortunately) far more agressive and I find that actually the clients can respect you for that. I would just get rid of them.  Its surprising how they can collapse when challenged.

Is this is in danger of turning into a complaint against your husband> Of course it's all buddy-buddy - do try not to get yourself quite so wound up about it all. It wouldn't matter a jot whether your hubby was a Comet salesman flogging you both a super-duper fridge-freezer or the Chancellor of Germany (no, no, not that Chancellor*) then in order to succeed in his mission he needs to go into selling mode.

*Parallel thread: "When I'm selling I speak German; when I'm selling I speak English / your language." (Herr Willy Brandt)

NYB wrote:
My case in point a few years ago I popped into a local sole trader barber for whom I was doing the payroll. She sent a letter of complaint to my husband saying I was invading her privacy. I only went to introduce myself. That was it -  sent a letter telling her I could no longer do the payroll as there was a breakdown in trust. The next thing is her mother is on the phone begging me to carry on. No problem since

I want to say "good for you" and leave it at that. But, just in case you're pleased with yourself , I will say to you that the entire sorry episode sounds like something from a third-rate soap drama. Try leaving your husband's business to him - how would you feel if he were to turn up at your place of work swinging an axe-to-grind?

And do try to appoint a different hairdresser for yourself. And yes, before you challenge me regarding it, I am allowed to begin a sentence with a capital "And". More than once in a row, if I'm in the mood for it. I do so hope that helps get your particular issue(s) into perspective.

Thanks (2)
boxfile
By spilly
28th Jan 2023 22:38

My business partner and I operate on a ‘good cop/bad cop’ scenario. One of us is a bit blunt and to the point, the other does the soothing and schmoozing.
It means we can address difficult issues with some clients yet they still feel listened to.
Being assertive all the time to clients would just get their backs up - we don’t want them to dread phoning us!

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Winnie Wiggleroom
29th Jan 2023 07:58

You sound like my other half "I'd just let them be late, but you never will"

There are basically two different types of PITA.

PITA1 - Always late, moans about everything, thinks they should not be paying tax or you for that matter but expects an instant reply

PITA2 - Always late, a genuinely very nice person who is always friendly, apologetic and polite, always pays on time, salt of the earth but disorganised.

PITA1 either gets a large fee increase each year or is told to go elsewhere, they also get the worst service because you ignore calls and emails until you cannot ignore them any longer. You hope they will get the hint.

PITA2 you are happy to indulge because you like them, you will make sure the fee reflects the fact that they are always late but you will never let them down. They will never change so you work around it.

PITA clients go with the job I'm afraid, don't take the moaning too seriously, everyone needs something to moan about and someone to moan to.

Thanks (7)
Replying to Winnie Wiggleroom:
avatar
By Catherine Newman
29th Jan 2023 10:10

This is a brilliant summary.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Winnie Wiggleroom:
By JCresswellTax
30th Jan 2023 10:12

Very well put.

Thankfully most of my PITAs are number 1!

Thanks (0)
avatar
By rmillaree
29th Jan 2023 08:51

Everyone acts different look at your post

You barge into premises somewhat uninvited and upset your husbands clients while your husband seems to get on with his job of keeping his clients happy. Who are we to say whats right and wrong here. Its deffo a fact that in your example that client could just as easily ditched you and your husband as they found you overbearing rather than doing whct they did - i suspect although they backed off but would not necessarily be happy you or your cations as pragmatic peeps they probably respect your husband and realise he didnt create the situation they felt the need to complain about. I would find it odd that any barber would feel the need to complian in such a situation withouit any justification ?

Some peeps like to moan for a living we can all find stuff to grumble about if we look hard enough - i tend to look at the moaner and think - yep your a moaner. Reality is most other peeps who get on and don't moan don;t really like those thaat moan about then stuff they take as part of the job and get on with. Note i am not saying your husband should be a dormat here -i love it when peeps who hardly ever moan do moan as thats good clear communicatioin that they are not happy !

Thanks (2)
Replying to rmillaree:
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Jan 2023 09:43

rmillaree wrote:

Some peeps like to moan for a living ......

You can earn a living from that ?

I'm interested !!

Thanks (1)
Replying to lionofludesch:
avatar
By rmillaree
29th Jan 2023 10:04

Just become top notch football manager - job done (current newcastle manager excepted)

Thanks (1)
Replying to lionofludesch:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
29th Jan 2023 10:12

lionofludesch wrote:

rmillaree wrote:

Some peeps like to moan for a living ......

You can earn a living from that ?

I'm interested !!

Then send your CV to the casting department at P*rno Film Productions Ltd ;)

Thanks (3)
Replying to rmillaree:
avatar
By NYB
29th Jan 2023 10:38

I do object to your presumption of me “barging in”. I actually work in the business and have done for years. Not doing the accountancy work I admit but running the admin side of it. So am quite able to make a first hand judgement.

Thanks (0)
Replying to rmillaree:
avatar
By NYB
29th Jan 2023 10:38

I do object to your presumption of me “barging in”. I actually work in the business and have done for years. Not doing the accountancy work I admit but running the admin side of it. So am quite able to make a first hand judgement.

Thanks (0)
Replying to NYB:
avatar
By rmillaree
29th Jan 2023 12:13

At the end of the day this is a random bulletin board please don't take offence - my opinions and comment really matter not no offence was meant - i was simply highlighting the fact your view on reality is simply your view others may see things differently.

You are the one who said you were more aggressive than your husband the fact the person complained about you "invading their privacy" - seems pretty clear from their point of view you barged into their private affairs in some capacity - i was not meaning in any sort of physical force - facts are you upset them to the point they claimed by invading their privacy - and you seem to be thinking that was doing soemone a favour ???
Hey ho nuff said i think my point of view means less than didly squat here.

Thanks (0)
Replying to rmillaree:
avatar
By NYB
29th Jan 2023 12:54

No offence taken.

Thanks (0)
Replying to NYB:
avatar
By Tax is always taxing
30th Jan 2023 08:21

I wouldn't say the issue is you barging in to your own business, but you cant just pop in to clients businesses whilst they are working... that is strange behaviour for anyone from a professional background and not surprised she was a bit taken aback. You make an appointment or give them a call to make sure its a suitable time (and they want a meeting) surely.
Nothing worse than clients who just turn up at your office and expect an instant meeting - I'm not sitting about waiting on people to pop in at random. Book an appointment or don't come.

Thanks (0)
Replying to Tax is always taxing:
avatar
By NYB
30th Jan 2023 08:43

So unproffessional is it. One is walking thru a village, and the lady is by the window. There is no one else there. You just pop your head thru the door and introduce yourself as the person doing the payroll. Having never met. I dont call that "barging". It was a judgemental choice. In my mind its "friendly". It was nothing to do with wanting a meeting, Just an adhoc friendly introduction.

Thanks (0)
Replying to NYB:
avatar
By Tax is always taxing
30th Jan 2023 09:27

I'm truly shocked she didn't find you friendly.

Thanks (1)
Replying to NYB:
avatar
By rmillaree
30th Jan 2023 09:32

As thats the case i am happy to retract my prior comments and apologise for jumping to the conclusion that the person who complained was probably complaining for sensible purposes (from their point of view) - not sure why anyone would get so upset as to make a complaint based on this clarification - nowt stranger than peeps though. I would say ref peoples personal affairs they can be hyper private so sometimes peeps can have somewhat illogical over reactions to situations that involve tax stuff.

Thanks (0)
Replying to NYB:
Avatar
By I'msorryIhaven'taclue
30th Jan 2023 10:25

NYB wrote:

So unproffessional is it. One is walking thru a village, and the lady is by the window. There is no one else there. You just pop your head thru the door and introduce yourself as the person doing the payroll. Having never met. I dont call that "barging". It was a judgemental choice. In my mind its "friendly". It was nothing to do with wanting a meeting, Just an adhoc friendly introduction.

It was all buddy buddy, then?

From the woman who said (and I quote from your original post):

"Its all buddy buddy and I get so wound up."

"I am (perhaps unfortunately) far more agressive and I find that actually the clients can respect you for that."

"I would just get rid of them."

and

"Its surprising how they can collapse when challenged."

Does it not seem odd to you that popping in to the poor woman's shop elicited a letter of complaint about you? Any little clues in that about your manner and people-skills? No matter how much you try to mask your latent malevolence towards your husband's clients they will, inevitably, sense your hostility from your demeanour and your body language.

My mother-in-law was a ringer for Hyacinth Bucket, and people really would cross the street when they saw her coming; dogs growled and barked inexplicably, and cats arched their backs and hissed. People skills, demeanour, body language.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Calculatorboy
29th Jan 2023 14:48

Maybe she didn't like you just turning up and her business being discussed with customers around ..faux pas

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Leywood
30th Jan 2023 08:31

There is aggressive and there is assertive. One is ok, one is not.

Your husband is moaning at you, not for you to sort his problems out but precisely because you are married. People moan to their nearest and dearest.

Perhaps you could agree a stance which meets your personalities in the middle.

Thanks (0)
avatar
By JD
30th Jan 2023 10:38

Gently it sounds as though you have both got this a bit wrong. Having no boundaries at all or being passive aggressive by suggesting that there is a loss of trust will only lead to the loss of clients and professional reputation.

Politely and respectfully setting boundaries is a key skill/challenge for any professional service. It’s not difficult to define when you expect records in by, or what your charges will be/no longer able to guarantee that you will be able to meet this or that deadline if not received by….. Along with that it is not difficulty to advise a pita client (that is late/slow paying/not appreciative of your hard work) politely that you are unable to continue to provide them with the service that they require.

Thanks (1)
All Paul Accountants in Leeds
By paulinleeds
31st Jan 2023 18:45

I prepared a list of PITA clients today who will be getting the 'Dear John' email tomorrow. I'm not going to continue with people who waste my time.

I nice way to complete 31 January 2023!

Thanks (0)
Replying to paulinleeds:
avatar
By Dib
01st Feb 2023 13:06

If I were one of your clients, I'd be glad my name wasn't John. ;)

Thanks (0)