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Clients requesting meetings still!

I’m amazed to still be receiving emails asking “when are you coming over” and “shall we meet”

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I’m amazed to still be receiving emails asking “when are you coming over” and “shall we meet”. 
 

On the one hand, I have some clients who wouldn't even consider meeting during the lockdown, but I'm finding that the majority are carrying on as normal, particularly construction and engineering. 
 

I've had another two emails this morning asking for meetings and I'm sat here seething.

Do you have clients still asking for meetings, and are you still visiting them or are you refusing?

I think it is partly a symptom of a half hearted lockdown.  Back in March, these types of businesses were closed, but this time they are allowed to continue their operations.  Do they not sit and think - maybe my accountant is following the rules and staying inside?  Do they not fear spreading the virus, or for the selfish, catching it themselves?

Im just keen to see what other practitioners are doing and whether I'm being unreasonable or not.

Thanks

 

 

Replies (48)

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By Paul Crowley
27th Jan 2021 13:01

Loads of clients still with no email or computer

But they all own pen, paper and landline telephones

The solid 50% who determine that NOV DEC JAN is when returns get done get no meeting in any year unless it suits me

Offer them FEB and by then they will have lost interest

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
27th Jan 2021 15:35

Are you in rural Norfolk?

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Paul Crowley
27th Jan 2021 15:52

Urbane Norfolk

Thanks (1)
Replying to Paul Crowley:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
27th Jan 2021 16:43

Whats the difference, a second eyebrow?

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Jan 2021 13:52

Paul Crowley wrote:

Urbane Norfolk

Urbane Norfolk ?

The mind boggles.......

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By 0098087
27th Jan 2021 13:27

And they don't know how to box stuff up and take it to the post office!

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Replying to 0098087:
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By Paul Crowley
27th Jan 2021 13:35

Or drop it at the door

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
27th Jan 2021 13:35

If your put your wealth before your health, then you are a fool.

Thanks (3)
Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
27th Jan 2021 15:37

If you keep working instead of isolating because you can't afford not to, what are you?

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Jan 2021 15:50

I agree with Arthur.

It's not always as straightforward as that. You have to balance the risks. Not everyone receives Government support, as I'm sure we're all aware.

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RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Jan 2021 13:54

It does probably demonstrate that, for all the Zoom etc technology available, folk still want to meet up face to face.

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By zebaa
27th Jan 2021 14:11

In both the industries you mention - construction and engineering - work continues. From their point of view, I'm working so why not you ? Just remain calm and gently remind them what you can & can't do according to the rules. But do make it about you, finger wagging never goes down well.

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Replying to zebaa:
RLI
By lionofludesch
27th Jan 2021 14:20

Construction folk can't work from a home office.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
27th Jan 2021 14:37

Well with Covid you would not want them moving around.

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Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
27th Jan 2021 15:05

Nearly all my clients are local and so in a normal year I would pop in and see quite a few of them at some point. This year I've done a lot more by email although I've had a couple drop off books or I've picked papers up when passing (eg on way to supermarket) but all the conversations have been at the door at a safe (I hope) distance. I also leave records "quarantined" for a couple days before touching.

I don't intend to have any face to face meetings as I don't want Covid - luckily most are happy with phone/emails and it's made me properly implement electronic approval of tax returns, accounts etc. which has generally been well received. I've a couple of older clients without computers where I've used snail mail - it works fine as long as they don't leave it to the last minute!

If you're not comfortable meeting them then don't feel guilty about it - you don't know where they've been and how careful they are.

Thanks (3)
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By RaxJ
27th Jan 2021 15:14

Under no circumstances should you be meeting clients. We are currently in a lockdown, and must suppress the virus from spreading.

Offer clients online meetings or telephone calls. That's it.

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By SXGuy
27th Jan 2021 15:31

.

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By K81
27th Jan 2021 15:25

I have a pensioner couple both 77 year sold. they wanted me to come into their home & print off what I needed from their computer (not something that I have even done for them before) and they were quite put out when I said no.

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Replying to K81:
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By Paul Crowley
27th Jan 2021 15:55

So they do not want to put family and friends at risk?
Fair play to them

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Routemaster image
By tom123
27th Jan 2021 15:44

I have been at work, on site, in manufacturing management since last year.

Yes, Zoom meetings can take place with 'white collar' advisers - but the rest of our business requires attendance at the site.

Lockdown only really applies to people who type for a living..

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Replying to tom123:
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By Paul Crowley
27th Jan 2021 15:58

That's me
I have always said this stuff is just secretarial with a bit more thinking.

Thanks (3)
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
27th Jan 2021 15:45

I have not had an in person face to face meeting with a client for almost a year, staff that deal with collecting and returning records etc have of course but only for a very brief handover, most times we have been able to arrange for them to leave records for us to collect although one client insisted that even if he did that he would want us to leave it for 72 hours before touching it.

This year will be a record year for turnover for us and we have taken on a number of new clients.

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Replying to NH:
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By mbee1
27th Jan 2021 16:31

NH wrote:

I have not had an in person face to face meeting with a client for almost a year, staff that deal with collecting and returning records etc have of course but only for a very brief handover, most times we have been able to arrange for them to leave records for us to collect although one client insisted that even if he did that he would want us to leave it for 72 hours before touching it.

This year will be a record year for turnover for us and we have taken on a number of new clients.

Exactly the same with us. Books can only be dropped off with a pre arranged appointment as, generally, someone only goes into the office two days a week to collect the post and scan it. Other than that, all staff have worked from home since March 17 2020 and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. In fact, I can't ever see all of us going back in at the same time if we have to continue to social distance. No one has seen a client face to face at all except virtually.

We are likely to have a record year in that turnover will be up and expenses down. We haven't had to have staff working away from home so travel and subsistence has been none existence. Lower energy costs at the office. The cleaner only goes in on the two days after someone has been in the office rather than five days. No Christmas party that we would fund. We gave up 8 spaces we rented in a local car park and productivity has been excellent. We paid all staff the WFH allowance, have supplied whatever they needed from a tech point of view. It's been a win win for us and staff will be rewarded accordingly in due course.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
27th Jan 2021 16:29

I started back in the office from July, as although I could work from home I found my days were very long with a lot of interuptions etc so was happy to return.

Within an hour of been back in I got calls "I drove past and saw your car was there" like they had been waiting 4 months to see me.

I do have some clients who are not fans of zoom and do crave a proper meeting, if I am honest I prefer them to. I find zoom meetings can drag on unless well policed.

I do worry that the way I work all of the big clients I have converted were all done through face to face meetings, and my conversions from web enquiries and zoom meetings is much lower and the fees are to.

I did have a client who was a bit put out that I wouldn't come and see him face to face before Christmas, and he has been a bit odd with me since.

I will do more zooms going forward but still like that initial sign up meeting with the client in the room.

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By Manchester_man
27th Jan 2021 17:00

Thanks for all the comments. It seems there is a spectrum of opinions, with some people steadfast in their belief that this is a lockdown and under no circumstances should we meet clients, with others seeing some physical meetings as unavoidable / acceptable. There will no doubt be people who have carried on as normal aswell.

Regarding client attitudes, I think the government are largely to blame for a lack of clear leadership.

Work from home “if you can” is too weak and general as a statement.

The situation is far more dire than it was back in March, yet this lockdown is much less stringent.

Supermarkets are ram packed near me and borders restrictions only came into place a week ago.

I’m not anti Tory by any means, but the handling of this crisis has been worse than shambolic.

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By Refs1
27th Jan 2021 19:09

We are in the service industry. My type of clients and practice is all about personal service. If a client needs a meeting then it happens socially distance with lots of common sense thrown in. I think there mental well-being is just as important too. If they are in the older age group then it is not wise to have a meeting. Mostly client driven. Definitely lots of less meetings which is quite nice and not!

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By mumpin
27th Jan 2021 19:57

I've had meetings all the way through. My office is of a size that we can sit 5 metres apart and bellow at one another across my desk.
I've also got 3 clients where I go to their site every 4/6 weeks and have a catch up and collect paperwork. I didn't stop doing that.
I don't feel that I take risks but I think we need to be realistic.
Most of the stats for my region have said that if you meet 1,000 people 7 of them might have it.

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Replying to mumpin:
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By Manchester_man
28th Jan 2021 03:39

You go for a catch-up every 4-6 weeks to 3 different clients?

And we wonder why the virus has ripped through the country at an alarming rate and the death toll has surpassed 100,000!

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By moneymanager
29th Jan 2021 10:42

"You must supress the virus"

Oh dear, oh dear, will we only come out from undr our duvets when nanny says we can, you'll have a long wait but next year you won't have the same dilema as business clients will have gone phut, the insolvency sharks will make a packet though.

It's a personal choice, or it should be, and if it isn't you really do have to look a bit further than the wittering in the MSM, not too many accountants required under communism.

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Morph
By kevinringer
29th Jan 2021 12:55

Loads of my clients don't have computers or emails but they've all got phones. I've been mainly holding phone 'meetings' for years. Most of my clients are farmers and would have to travel a distance to my office so it's more convenient for them by phone. That means lockdown has been 'business as usual' phone meetings. I've not done a single Zoom client meeting because no clients have asked for one. Since lockdown I've only had one potential new client request a meeting, and that's because they have hearing problems and can't do it by phone. But I've not met them yet and intend to put it off until I reckon it is safe. They're vulnerable so a face-to-face meeting is a risk for them as well as me.

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By North East Accountant
29th Jan 2021 13:29

Be careful what you wish for if you go totally virtual.

As more and more go WFH for good more and more work will go from UK to India, Philipines etc.

You can't beat a proper meeting..... but we're not doing them whilst in lockdown.

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Replying to North East Accountant:
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By geoffmw1
29th Jan 2021 13:47

Why no meeting? As long as They are for a legitimate business reason

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Replying to North East Accountant:
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By geoffmw1
29th Jan 2021 13:47

Why no meeting? As long as They are for a legitimate business reason

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Replying to North East Accountant:
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By geoffmw1
29th Jan 2021 13:48

Why no meeting? As long as They are for a legitimate business reason

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By geoffmw1
29th Jan 2021 13:45

If cleaners and workmen are allowed to enter domestic and business premises I see no reason to deny a meeting to those who are not up to the mark in IT

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Replying to geoffmw1:
Morph
By kevinringer
29th Jan 2021 14:18

I agree we are permitted to have face-to-face meetings, but there is a difference between what we can to and what we should do. Face-to-face carries a risk and in most case it is older (and therefore more vulnerable) clients that want face-to-face. I've have to be careful because of individuals who we care for are very vulnerable. I would be devastated if I transmitted the virus to them. I'd also be upset if I gave the virus to a client. So I'm going to be ultra safe.

Cleaners cannot clean over the phone. Workmen cannot carry out repairs over the phone. But accountants can carry out meetings over the phone. And because we are able to do it, that's what I'm choosing to do.

There are occasions when we might have to visit the client eg to retrieve records off the computer. For the time being, I'm talking my clients through the steps to retrieve the info (yes it is time consuming, but it is also safe). And where that fails I'm using an estimate with a view that by the end of the year it should be safe to visit the client, extract the correct information and file a revised return.

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Replying to kevinringer:
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Jan 2021 14:27

kevinringer wrote:
I would be devastated if I transmitted the virus to them.

How will you know if it's you ?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Morph
By kevinringer
29th Jan 2021 14:39

lionofludesch wrote:

How will you know if it's you ?

A death is a death whether I'm the cause or not. Knowing it wasn't me doesn't bring that person back to like. And I would know it was me because I am the only member of my household that has any contact with anyone outside our household.
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Replying to kevinringer:
RLI
By lionofludesch
30th Jan 2021 07:34

kevinringer wrote:

lionofludesch wrote:

How will you know if it's you ?

A death is a death whether I'm the cause or not. Knowing it wasn't me doesn't bring that person back to like. And I would know it was me because I am the only member of my household that has any contact with anyone outside our household.

I suppose that you're in a fortunate position where your household are able to stay isolated for almost a year. Not everyone is so lucky.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
Morph
By kevinringer
30th Jan 2021 07:57

Yes we're fortunate. I've been able to limit my contact and work from home most of the time and not have any face to face meetings at all. One of us has been able to work from home throughout. One of us has to go to homes but his job is 100% outside so he can keep contact to almost nil. We have our own front door so don't have to share a stairwell or lift access. And we live in a lovely part of the world so can easily exercise from home. But we also make sure we do what we should and not what we can. So, since March we have only been in the home of the household we care for. We've made sacrifices and continue to do so: by the time we next see our daughter it'll be over a year since we last saw her. But we're keeping safe and so is she so we should see her, which is something 100,000 people can't do. So doing without is a tiny sacrifice compared to what others have lost. This virus only survives because of human contact.

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Replying to kevinringer:
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By moneymanager
30th Jan 2021 22:56

A death is death, up to a point. A few days ago a Sky piece cited that"deaths are 14% higher than the last five year averages, which may well be true, it's also meaningless.

For the whole of the US and Europe the deaths per million in March 2020 were, bar just thirty seven months, the LOWEST since 1851 (source Swedish statistiksdatabasen), it is perfectly normal that a "bad" year should follow several good as the greater number of extreme elederly or of impaired health succumb, a bit like the biblical seven years of famine following seven bountiful, nothing more.

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Replying to kevinringer:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
29th Jan 2021 14:28

Absolutely agree Kevin, too many people seem to be fixated on what they are "permitted" to do or have the right to do without considering the risk they are putting others in, the risks to themselves is secondary in my opinion.

I can tell you from personal experience, we did everything we could to protect an elderly relative but some of the strains are so contagious - they only had carers going into the house but some of the carers would sit and talk without masks, passed on Covid and the sad result has been a death after 5 weeks in hospital, and I can tell you it is heartbreaking to watch from a distance to not even be able to go in and see that person.

If you do not HAVE to face to face, why would you?

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Replying to NH:
Morph
By kevinringer
29th Jan 2021 14:37

Very sorry to hear about your loss NH.

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Replying to NH:
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By moneymanager
30th Jan 2021 23:46

I lost my mother a three years ago, she was 96 but by all the odds should have died in 1967, the approximate average age of death in England is 81, right in line with many of the MSM featured mortalities. Why are dictating to the elderly how they should spend their last few years, none of us know how long we have, should we not fill our lives with joy and thanks not with fear and isolation or at least have the choice to do so?

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Replying to NH:
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By geoffmw1
31st Jan 2021 06:09

If you knew that carers were not using face covering what action did you take to attempt to rectify the issue. It is obvious that itinerant carers are a potential source of infection

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Replying to NH:
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By geoffmw1
31st Jan 2021 06:09

If you knew that carers were not using face covering what action did you take to attempt to rectify the issue. It is obvious that itinerant carers are a potential source of infection

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Replying to geoffmw1:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
31st Jan 2021 07:21

geoffmw1 wrote:

If you knew that carers were not using face covering what action did you take to attempt to rectify the issue. It is obvious that itinerant carers are a potential source of infection

Wow your sympathy for our devastating loss blows me away, I am not going to dignify your comment with a response or engage with you any further, please leave.

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Sparkly Orange
By Sparkly
30th Jan 2021 00:22

I'm in Scotland, our restrictions have been more severe, since last summer, even though in my local area (Moray) our numbers have been very low, amongst the lowest in the UK, comparable to the Islands. (They were under 10 per day per 100,000 at that point). On Boxing Day we went from Tier 1/ level, straight to to Tier 4/level 4, not because of a rise in numbers in our local area but simply because Nicola S decided to try and prevent people moving about. So we had 15 cases per £100K and were tier 4 and other areas in the uk were nearly 300 in 100K and were tier 3. (Don't get me started on Boris deciding on a road trip to Scotland this week!) Despite our low numbers here I don't have client meetings, last one was in the summer outside, there is a prearranged drop off of pick/up/outside, non contactless. We speak on the phone/Zoom ( a few, not many) and email

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