Lynda Williams
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Generating new clients

Generating new clients

We are a two man practice and have just set up this year. We are looking at ways to generate new business and wonder whether anyone has any practical advice to offer about how effective different methods are - from handing out business cards to advertising in the local press or creating a website. We are keen to spend any of our budget and time in the best way as we are aware how easy it is to overspend for little result.

Many thanks


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By 0098087
23rd Jan 2012 16:00

We are looking at leafletting local businesses, once we get our website revamped. We are hoping that RTI will bring us in some new business. Considering that firms who had staff below the earnings limit didn't need a scheme, will do under RTI, they won't want the hassle. Also, as a small firm we are hoping to pull work away from bigger firms.



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to davidwinch
25th Jan 2012 20:22

Leafleting is a waste of time and money

In my opinion leafleting is a complete and total waste of time.  The type of clients you are likely to attract are absolute bottom-feeders, you will never grow a practice of any significance with this strategy it represents a similar positioning statement to a carpet cleaner.  If you want to make more money then become more valuable.  Have a clear written goal for what you want to achieve in the next 12 months and extend out for three years, read that goal first thing in the morning and last thing at night - be clear in your mind WHY you have chosen that goal, decide what position on the industry value curve you want to be, determine what services you have the skills to deliver and that you are passionate about, identify the type of clients you believe will be attracted by those services, price your services at what they're worth, differentiate your business from the rest of the pack - if you can't differentiate your services then you MUST differentiate the process you use to deliver them, give yourself 3-5 years to get your practice into good shape, do 3 simple little things each day that you know will direct you to your goal.

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23rd Jan 2012 20:22

Generating new clients

If you have just set up this year then it is likely that you are time rich and cash poor, I would concentrate my marketing activities if I were you to those that require time investment rather than monetory until that situation is reversed.

Join a networking group and play a key active role in it.

Introduce yourself to the lcoal banks and get a recipricol introduction arrangement going.

The same goes for bookkeepers, payroll agents, other practices, work with them rather than against them.

Who are your target market?  Go to them.  If its contractors then go on the contractors forum, speak to large employers of them.  If its taxi drivers then go to the local cab ranks.  And so on.  Dont wait for clients to come to you, you go to them.

Be different.  Give your potential clients a reason to want to choose you amongst the crowded marketplace.

Use social networking.

Tell your clients that you are looking to grow and would like more, ask them if they are happy with the service to refer you to their friends and colleagues, and if they are not happy then to tell you, so you can put things right.  Give your clients exceptional service and they will do your marketing for you.

Do a press release.  Free and effective advertising.

Do presentations to the local business community.

Have an open day.

Tell all of your friends and family what you are doing and that you need clients.

Do some pro bono stuff.

Cross sell to your exisiting clients added value work rather than focusing on pure compliance work.

Develop relationships with providers of similar services, IFA's etc and again have a recipricol agreement.

Use your marketing to not only attract the right clients for your business but also to put off the wrong type.

DON'T advertise unless it is direct to your market, you stand out, and it works - you will get all sorts of salesman trying to sell you advertising space from bus stops to hospitals.  Think very carefully before you take a punt, it can often be a waste of time AND money.  Having said that, local trade mags that are increasingly popular these days can work very well, especially if you time your wording well, convey your message well, and have a monopoly on the profession in the mag. 

Get a good online presence that is easily found on not only Google but also other search engines.  Word the site to appeal to your target market.  Make them want to contact you.

Offer potential clients a free consultation but limit the advice given.  Use the meeting to establish whether there is the suitability for a good working relationship.  Turn away those that don't fit (politely).

Finally, track EVERY client that comes through the door, ask them how they found you and focus on the activities that are working.

Once you build up your initial client base it will snowball, though this will take time.  Use your marketing activities to reduce this time to a minimum.

Hope that helps,

Jason Dormer

Seahorse (UK) Ltd - For Accountants and Bookkeepers




Thanks (4)
23rd Jan 2012 21:38

Full price

Jason Dormer is spot on.  Also, do not under price your services to get turnover.  Charge a full price.

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23rd Jan 2012 22:36

Great comments


I'd second all of that.

Also don't under estimate how long it will take. Depending on how hard you work at it, it could take up to 2 years to get to a level your happy with.


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25th Jan 2012 11:43

Follow up on your meetings

Thanks for the great tips.

I have experienced that if you follow up on your meetings with potential clients, it can make a big difference.


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25th Jan 2012 11:58

Brand awareness

Jason's advice is spot on, but I do think that if you are going for your local market, then local advertising can pay off. I agree that ads in the newspapers are expensive, but you can get out to the community using much cheaper methods whether it is sponsoring a school newsletter or a parish council magazine, or just a carefully placed article in a free paper.

Other thing is that a good newsletter is always a good idea - keep it short (very) but topical so they have to phone you to learn more.

Virtual Tax Support for accountants:



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25th Jan 2012 11:58

Thank you very much for all your input

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25th Jan 2012 11:59


When I started I perhaps overlooked the possibility of marketing a bookkeeping service. I even quoted high to do a service, against a bigger regional practice, and lost out on price, because I priced at my hourly rate.

In other words, starting again I would go for turnover at a fair market rate, to get some cash, and when too busy, then delegate the bookkeeping work that I had accumulated to a bank of self-employed bookkeepers. (Safety in self-employed numbers.)

As far as marketing goes - yoiu should be able to get a free press release in your local paper. But don't pay for transient advertising - 'todays newspaper, tomorrows chips-paper'.

I pay for telesales. But I also went on a telesales training course for myself, which would be cheaper if you do it (telesales) yourself. Mailshot followed by phone would be my best-value approach.

I have found pubs to be my best market. They are told by their PubCo to produce monthly accounts, but don't have the ability or inclination to do it in house. Thus they are a good size business to cut your teeth on. (Pick the right pubs to target though!)

Every word that Jason writes is sound advice.



Thanks (1)
25th Jan 2012 12:02

depends where you are

If you live near me, dont do anything jason says, sit at home and watch tv,, the clients will automatically call you ( honest)

If you dont live near me go nuts do it all and everything else u can think of. You dont catch a fish by throwing one line in the local river, you throw the trawlers net over the side in the ocean...

Join checkatrade ( as long as you dont live near me) Youll get a few off that...see my page on it, search under treetops accountants



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By Luke
25th Jan 2012 12:11


your page on checkatrade is very impressive - how on earth do you get that many clients to write reviews of you though?

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25th Jan 2012 12:43

formal networking

In 2010 40% of our new business itroductions came from BNI. I have not finalised the 2011 figures but it looks as though it was about 30% from BNI (referrals from clients being 40% last year).

If you are looking at formal networking groups i would at BNI.

I have been in BNI for 8 years.

Last year we invoiced £32,000 for business we have picked in earlier years of BNI membership.

As well as delivering in terms of earnings BNI will help you to sharpen up how you present your practice.

Try BNI !

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to Alex_T
31st Jan 2012 11:13

BNI Membership

Interesting comments by npreynolds as I joined BNI late last year.  I am already finding it useful with one member currently transferring to me and several on their way before people have even started recommending me to those outside the group.

The networking side also gives you an insight into how other people market their products and services which can give you some ideas!


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25th Jan 2012 14:21


this is sure to bring you clients quickly - might cost you a bit though

we would not be anywhere today without telemarketing - tried leaflets, parish magazine, local paper, networking. 

so what worked for me was telemarketing, good website (SEO) and local post office window ad (for some SA returns to keep the cash going)

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to neiltonks
25th Jan 2012 16:22

agree with neutru

Telemarketing, website, small local ad. All these gave good return on £. All others - pants.

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26th Jan 2012 08:44

Leafleting is a waste of time and money

I agree with ricpayne

Walk ins, cold calls, website visitors don't give us the clients we want. We are not a cheap compliance-only firm, we provide added value advice that is ingrained in everything we do - if potential clients are more concerned about fees than service, we don't want them. We want client referals, people that know me or my senior staff, BNI referrals athena referrals, people that know me at my golf club, and the like.

When I started this practice ( with one client twenty years ago) I boosted my income by temping. I managed to maintain my earnings whiltst starting the practise.




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26th Jan 2012 10:29

God I'm glad I'm old!

12 years ago when I started, you wrote a website, put a big fat ad in Thompson Local and waited for the phone to ring. Most weeks I was getting 3 - 4 new clients and within two years I could stop advertising and live off referral business. I know this isn't a helpful post but I really do have great admiration for those starting out now and the lengths you have to go to get off the ground.

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By 0098087
31st Jan 2012 11:39

Tried BNI. Appears my local group have had an accountant for years. Waiting on a new local FSB group, Could be good.

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to pacta
31st Jan 2012 11:59

BNI Network

It might be worth seeing if there are others not too far away.  I go to one which is some distance from my office but which was keen to recruit an accountant. will help you find the groups (chapters) near you!

Good luck!

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31st Jan 2012 12:04


I was recently offered a block of fees from a newly established local practitioner who was moving away. He had got virtually all the clients from running a small ad in the local paper and, looking at the list, they nearly all seemed pretty solid businesses; being in a country area, I knew who most of them were. Those that didn't come from the adverts were recommendations from those that did.

He was of the opinion that regular adverts are the key, just the odd one is fairly useless, but if your name's there in the local paper every week then people will remember it and can find it if they need it. He'd built up around £50k in fees over a couple of years, which seemed pretty good.

In the event I didn't take up the offer as I din't want the extra work, but would have liked to.

Another thing may be to seek out small semi-retired practitioners (if you can find them!) and ask them to let you know if they decide to retire altogether. It's surprising how many of these seem to just let their clients find other accountants when they finally give up, without making any effort to sell their practices.


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31st Jan 2012 12:26


OP mentions not wanted to spend too much cash, so don't think signing up to BNI is the best immediate option - big commitment and a significant cost.

Go as a guest - yes definitely, but try other networking groups on a trial basis before you commit to any.


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By 0098087
01st Feb 2012 13:14

Well, they are starting a new FSB group near me so am hoping that will bring be a poss. Am doing web design course in March to get a new website up and running and going to sort FB and Twitter out.

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02nd Feb 2012 16:22

re BNI again

I see several of you have chatted about bni.

I visited a group. liked what I saw, found all the local groups had accountants - so I started a group ( with the local BNI organiser ) . I have been a member for 8 years now.

Kent accountant mentioned the cost of BNI. Its about £500 to join and the same again for the weekly meeting fees. That is recovered quickly.

It does take time, 6.30am to 8.30 am one morning each week. But if I did not do BNI I dont think I would spend any time marketing on a regular basis.


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