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Client Insulted my Car!

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I’ve always thought providing a good service to clients should be one of my top priorities. I’m not a particularly flashy or materialistic kind of person, and have never really given my car’s image a thought. It’s old (2002) but perfectly functional. I’ve recently had a comment from a client looking down his nose, along the lines of “oh, you’re not still driving round in that clapped out old thing, are you?”

I’m now worried that other clients are thinking the same thing! If clients are happy with your service, should the car you drive really matter, or is this just a case of a client suffering from peacock syndrome?

 

Replies (72)

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By bernard michael
14th Feb 2018 13:38

I've always driven crap cars but am happy to discuss economics with any [***] that queries my choice on the grounds." They are cheap to run and enable me to keep my expenses low and my fees reasonable". Never had a comeback

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By Dib
14th Feb 2018 13:41

Peacock syndrome - is that related to total ar$eh0le syndrome by any chance?

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By mrme89
14th Feb 2018 13:49

Drive around in a flash car and you will get comments along the lines of 'no wonder you can afford that with the fees you charge'.

You can't win either way.

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Replying to mrme89:
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By Maslins
14th Feb 2018 16:20

mrme89 wrote:

Drive around in a flash car and you will get comments along the lines of 'no wonder you can afford that with the fees you charge'.

You can't win either way.

This.

Only other thing I'd say is possibly you're being insecure and it was just banter? I'd suggest just respond _confidently_ with whatever you like, be it:
"It costs peanuts to run"
"It's cos you pay me so little" #wink
etc>.

To my mind any client would be fine with that. It's only if perhaps you looked very nervous, then they might be thinking "wow, he really is struggling to make ends meet...maybe he's about to go bust and I should find another accountant".

When I used to do face to face networking I'd worry about this a bit...but now it's virtually all remote/online no clients have a clue what I drive anyway.

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Replying to mrme89:
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By CMPACDGDB
16th Feb 2018 16:11

Actually you can win; a desperately old Peugeot or similar will run around for meetings with clients and never be noticed; and a Maserati for you and the family! Using a "fleet" insurance policy means that insurance is reasonable.

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By Open all hours
14th Feb 2018 13:51

As a self confessed petrol head, clients have always commented on what I drive. Best for business was the R32 Golf. 252bhp, 155mph. Wonderful vehicle. And when they asked what I drove I just said ‘a Golf’. It made no financial sense but things that make you smile don’t.

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Oaklea
By Chris.Mann
14th Feb 2018 13:52

Strange how some individuals seem to think that; if they contract with you for a service, or other arrangement, it "entitles" them to make comments as regards your personal arrangements.
I'm obviously much older than you, and have less to lose. I'd be telling him to "go forth and multiply", although not so diplomatically! Another of my stock replies is - 'I suppose PR7CK 1 had been taken, when you ordered the number plate'?
Not a lot to distinguish, from a troll, really? There really are some rude individuals out there, aren't there?

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
14th Feb 2018 14:51

My father used to run two cars re visiting his clients (solicitor).

One was more modest (Escort 1100L for a large chunk of time) and that went on visits to clients who were likely fee sensitive, the thought process being if they saw him swanning up in something better they would be thinking," that's my fees paying for that."

The better car (various over the period) went with him to the less fee sensitive clients, those whose houses had vast driveways and owned around them as far as the eye can see, in effect large farms/estates. (a large part of his work).

The only downside re the approach is that a fair few with large estates etc had got them because they were penny pinching b*stards, some of the most affluent being the most tight fisted.

As accountants we are supposed to be frugal, as Scottish accountants that perception is deeper grained, so the cheaper car likely works better up here.

One solution would be to drive an older vintage car in top notch condition, that passes both messages to a degree, frugality but successful firm, but the car does need to look the part (My 1600 Scimitar sadly lacking on this metric, it always looks more whimsical than serious)

I would go for a classic Jaguar or very old top end Merc, say a 450SEL, however be prepared to cry every time you very frequently fill the tank.

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Replying to DJKL:
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By RobinB
18th May 2018 10:31

I use classic cars to visit clients for that very reason. What we do is very personal and you need to be able to build a rapport quickly when meeting a new client: If you arrive in a "fleet" car, you are (appearing as) a suit. If you arrive in a classic car, you are an enthusiast and it will say something about your personality to the client from the outset, potentially giving a subject to break the ice on.

Being country-based, I used to visit clients in a Series IIa Land Rover (great in the summer with the roof off and generally considered as a class-less vehicle). I stopped using it for a couple of reasons (including the fact that sometimes it would leave a small dribble of oil behind in order to mark its territory) but now use a vintage Volvo Amazon instead. Smart, reliable, an easy comfortable drive, parts are readily available and maintaining or appreciating in value

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By puzzel
14th Feb 2018 14:53

Honda Civic executive Mar 01, owned it for nearly 15 years. I do frown a little when clients with their BMW's etc say it cost a fortune for a service or MOT.
MOT 2 weeks age £50.00.
Will break my heart when it is gone, a dream to drive and don't really care what 4x4 they drive.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Feb 2018 14:58

I drive old cars (mine is 2006 plate, mrs is older) and dont really care, but I did get to the point of parking the old one (tatty mondeo) round the corner when it got to the point that my hourly rate was higher than the value of the car.

The new one is a Jag at least, and I will probably make sure the next one is a premium brand, if old.

My stock response of sneering is always along the lines of "well i am always grateful for people who buy new cars as I get 2/3rds of the use for 1/3rd of the price."

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
14th Feb 2018 15:15

Well our fleet is currently a 2011 Mini Countryman which for me is like a new car in my usual pattern of buying as last year it replaced my dated 2005Merc Estate which had itself replaced the previous 1998 reg Merc Estate which had itself replaced the prior to that 1991 Merc Estate.

The other half toddles about in her 2009 Fiat 500 (it is a pile of junk in engineering terms) and the most uncomfortable ride over Edinburgh potholes I have ever experienced.

I of course still have my 1987 reliant Scimitar 1600 (Known as the mid life crisis) which over last 10 odd years has spent circa three years in pieces for every three months on the road.

It currently has dashboard out, spaghetti of wiring on display as it awaits rather decent replacement cassette player (it lights up either blue or orange) and a vinyl respray of all interior panels.

The nose cone and front end are off as have been respraying these, door cards off to be replaced (picked up two less warped ones last year), a spare CVH engine(99p on E Bay) is sitting on a bench part disassembled and a rather fetching set of twin Webbers on a CVH manifold are waiting to be fitted. It also has an assorted bundle of engine parts needing swapped and new fuel lines that need fitted ( having Fire Brigade visit house re a fuel leak gave a clue all was not well).

Target date to actually get to drive it Summer 2019 or later.

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By Montrose
14th Feb 2018 15:01

You missed a trick. If clients paid you better fees, you could afford a better car !!

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Replying to Montrose:
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By chatman
16th Feb 2018 10:13

I don't think the OP mentioned his fees or what he could afford, did he?

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By memyself-eye
14th Feb 2018 15:04

I take a smug pride in knowing that my 3 cylinder, £20 road tax, 60 to the gallon & 7 Year warrantied car enables me to claim the same 45p a mile as those chelsea tractors that clog our streets.
Mind you my MGB is tax and MOT free and only cost £100 a year to insure..

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
14th Feb 2018 15:38

“oh, you’re not still acting for that clapped out old client, are you?”

It's a bit like the clients who presume (without any doubt) that you too vote Conservative.

Having said that, unlike any other car I've ever owned, I've had two clients ask me to take them for a trip round the block in my electric car!

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Replying to Paul Scholes:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
14th Feb 2018 17:25

I've got you down as a Green Paul - Red Leader's the Tory

and Chatman's the Trotskyist

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
14th Feb 2018 17:40

Wrong - I'm up as a Green.

Red Leader a Tory??!! Didn't I buy him a pint once?

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Replying to Kent accountant:
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By chatman
16th Feb 2018 10:15

What's a Trotskyist?

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Replying to chatman:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
21st Mar 2018 21:32

Not a follower Stalinism - which I assume your next door neighbour who 'tried' to join your party was...

;o)

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Replying to Kent accountant:
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By chatman
21st Mar 2018 22:24

Glad to hear you haven't got me down as a Stalinist; people speak very badly of him, even if he did win WWII for us.

I think My Enemy at the Gate was just feeling a little resentful about The Great Game.

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Replying to chatman:
Flag of the Soviet Union
By thevaliant
21st Mar 2018 23:07

I'm the Stalinist.

Long live the Soviet... hang on....

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Replying to thevaliant:
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By chatman
22nd Mar 2018 06:32

thevaliant wrote:
Long live the Soviet... hang on....

Yup, Gorbachev succeeded where Hitler failed.

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By Vaughan Blake1
14th Feb 2018 15:42

The 'accountant's sportscar' one that puts a smile on both mine and the client's faces - a Mazda MX5. Buy 'em at three years with under 5000 miles on the clock for about 40% of list price. Reliable, cheap to run (VED is getting a tad pricey for the 2L though). 160bhp rear wheel drive. Fun fun fun!

Only downside is the occasional hairdresser jibe.

Ran a Series 111 Land Rover for many years until the fuel and oil bills equalised.

I always thought that a Saab was the perfect accountant's car for some reason. Shame they stopped production.

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By andy.partridge
14th Feb 2018 16:36

The image you project is important. I know you are not like this, but if you look like a vagrant and drive a piece of [***] are you really the trusted advisor the client needs to take their business to the next level.

If you don’t give the impression of being able to do it for yourself there is little reason for the client to think you can do it for them.

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Replying to andy.partridge:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
14th Feb 2018 17:40

Agree - I drive a 'safe' car.

Middle of the range, new 4x4 not a premium brand.

We live in the sticks - 3 kids, 2 dogs, activity holidays - so its needed.

I charge clients fair fees and aim to provide a top level personal service.

A few favourable comments from clients. Not that many notice the car though - their eyes usually pop out when they see my house ;o)

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
14th Feb 2018 17:37

At least you don't have to splash mud on the tyres from a bucket.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
14th Feb 2018 17:47

Those mountains in Kent are obviously really , really tough.

(I cannot really talk, my Mini Countryman has AWD; my excuse is if we pop over to Sweden in winter the AWD will be helpful in the snow)

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Replying to DJKL:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Feb 2018 18:26

@Kent
I have that house problem. trouble with mine is looks massive from the front, but is very thin so its not nearly as big as it looks from the road and is about 20% corridor anyway.
If questioned I say I "married well". Which is a lie, most of its my money as I have always bought the biggest house i could afford and done them up.
Its fine when dealing with high net worth peeps who normally say something about their normally bigger one, but when you get someone on £25k a year and they clock the house they get a bit intimidated!

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
14th Feb 2018 18:31

"If questioned I say I "married well". Which is a lie.."

Jeez you picked the right day to come out with that one you old romantic.

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Replying to Kent accountant:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
15th Feb 2018 09:48

LMAO! I didn't mean it like that!

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
15th Feb 2018 15:09

Didn't think so but I couldn't miss the opportunity.

Houses are a funny thing (a bit like cars) opinions gets formed on first impressions.

One of my wealthier clients (sold his first business around 5 years ago and partied hard for 6 months - he was single at the time). Lives in a very modest house and drives a modest car.

He's now on the brink of securing a deal which will lead to another multi- million pound turnover (and profit) business which he will probably sell in 2-3 years time.

He probably won't move house or buy a flashy car...

...DJKL you might know him, he's Scottish...

;o)

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
16th Feb 2018 16:30

Well, we can be canny with our bawbies.

(Office motto-every pounds a prisoner)

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bike
By FirstTab
14th Feb 2018 16:43

What about bicycle, bus, walking or Uber?

Maybe out of London issue. I think in London not having a car is seen as a plus. I have never had any issues with clients- biking it or walking.

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Replying to FirstTab:
By Glenn Martin
14th Feb 2018 22:37

What spec bike do you go for FT

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Replying to FirstTab:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
15th Feb 2018 08:13

Cycle 2 work scheme I presume?!

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Tornado
By Tornado
14th Feb 2018 17:29

I used to have a lot of self-employed sales rep clients who made massive profits from selling central heating and double glazing. They all had a Mercedes in the garage but never used them when selling to people in their homes. They used common cars similar to those their clients might have in order to gain empathy and a profitable sale.

In my Accountancy years, I have owned Jaguars, Porsches, Rovers, (never a BMW or Mercedes) and now have an old Land Rover. I have also owned Yugos, Skodas and Fords. I cannot really say that the make of car I drove affected the way my clients thought, mainly because most of them never saw my car.

I have had quite a good personal number plate for over 30 years, so that might have impressed a few people, but I doubt it.

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Replying to Tornado:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Feb 2018 18:28

heh, personalised plates tend to get mocked!

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
15th Feb 2018 14:38

Don't say that, I gave my wife an Irish one as the first three letters are a shortened version of her Christian name. However in my defence I did not buy the plate, I happened to buy the car to which the plate was attached.

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ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
14th Feb 2018 17:34

Tram and/or Uber. Saves on fuel & City Centre parking (£24/day I think not). And keeps the green weird-beards happy. ish.

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By cathyne
14th Feb 2018 19:37

If it hasn't got a tow hitch, there's no point

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By Glenn Martin
14th Feb 2018 20:36

I agree with Andy Partridge. If you have aspirational clients who make decent money and are looking to grow etc you need to look the part and appear equally successful, but not flash.

Something like a BMW, Merc, Jag are expected drives of an accountants, turn up in a Porsche and your clients will think you are overcharging.

I currently drive an Audi Allroad, (got 2 dogs a kid and spend weekends in Northumberland doing a lot of outdoors stuff). Its 3 year old in May so currently looking at maybe an A6 Avant.

Years ago when I was FD for a night club group and I was earning a lot of cash for my age, I bought a brand new Land Discovery with all the toys on it. At the time I had invested in a lot of properties, all of a sudden when I turned up at houses to meet plumbers, roofers etc there prices went through the roof for any work, as clearly thought because of car and I owned more than 1 house I must be minted. Got to the point where I would park a few streets away to stop getting my leg lifted by these bandits. I only had for 10 months before it got pinched.

Had i been in your shoes I would have joked about it, and said if you paid me properly I would get a better one.

I am not a big petrol head, but what is important to me is something that starts every time, and looks respectable when pulling up to see a prospect.

Also a decent pair of shoes well polished is equally important.

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By chatman
16th Feb 2018 10:50

I've never understood why people focus more on shoes than other articles of clothing.

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Replying to chatman:
By Glenn Martin
16th Feb 2018 10:54

As my Dad told me, son never scrimp on shoes or a bed as if your not on one your wearing the other.

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By chatman
16th Feb 2018 11:08

Right, next client visit will be naked with my best shoes on.

I'll let you know how I get on.

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Replying to chatman:
By Glenn Martin
16th Feb 2018 11:10

Video that and put it on LinkedIn as that's the new thing.

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By chatman
16th Feb 2018 11:38

Haha. It would certainly be targetting a niche market.

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Replying to Glennzy:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
16th Feb 2018 18:29

Glennzy wrote:

...on LinkedIn as that's the new thing.

Did I tell you about the time that I employed an inexperienced guy who turned up in torn jeans and muddy trainers 2 hrs late for his interview , rather than one of the 8 experienced, qualified professionals on time.

He was [***]. Shocker.

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By chatman
16th Feb 2018 18:34

atleastisoundknowledgable... wrote:
Did I tell you about the time that I employed an inexperienced guy who turned up in torn jeans and muddy trainers 2 hrs late for his interview , rather than one of the 8 experienced, qualified professionals on time.

He was [***]. Shocker.

That's a bit harsh - I did my best and my suit was at the cleaners on the interview day.

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Replying to chatman:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
16th Feb 2018 18:42

So you’re a bad planner then? Suit at the dry cleaners on interview day.

And unimaginative. At least the interviewees featuring on LinkedIn were in car accidents/pulled a cat from a tree/saved someone’s life on the way to their interview.

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