Chris Gladwell
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How often do clients thanks you? Really?

How often do clients thanks you? Really?

I have been in practice as a sole practitioner for 18 odd years-dealing with small businesses and I would say job satisfaction is poor in the feedback area. One does ones very best, but how often do clients thank you for a good job-or even dare I say, tip you!

A plumber who does a good job gets praise and a tip-same with many professions-but accountants? It seems we have an unenviable profession in that we deal with everything-making sense and structure from it-reduce taxes in everyway possible-present it all in a meaningful way and thanks –well not in the picture.

I think from most small business point of view our job is seen as a unnecessary cost which only produces bad news-what the tax bill will be. Or am I wrong?


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10th Nov 2011 09:30


I think the way you see thanks is by clients referring other clients to you.


Obviously if you have some daft referral scheme to give away £100 then you will never really know if they are doing it for the money or because the genuienly appreciate your work.

But if there is no reward scheme then I think you can safely say that a new client referral is your thanks.

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By Luke
10th Nov 2011 09:46


I'd agree, my job satisfaction is fairly poor in the feedback area.  Occasionally clients say thanks and I have one lovely letter thanking me for my "sterling work" (I had just got him a £9k write-off under ESC A19) but generally it is fairly rare that they actually thank you any more than the cursery thanks,bye as they walk out the door.

I agree a referral is the ultimate way of saying thank you but some personal interaction is always welcome.

Perhaps I am a bit low on this front at the moment as I am dealing with my two trickiest clients at the moment. 

One of them questions everything every year and has in the past emailed a long list of where I had got things "wrong".  None of it was wrong at all, more that he didn't grasp accountancy and tax so I spent a long time explaining but did I get an apology?, no.  This year he says he feels I'm "costing him money" as there is a tax bill to pay which is higher than he thinks it should be, never mind the fact he hasn't added on a £4k debtor invoice or tried to claim a £6k expense twice.  Grrrrr.  That said when I have finished this year's accounts in a few weeks I am going to do my first ever client sacking, and I am so looking forward to it :-)

The second is about to shut his company down as he has gone back into employment but it has traded most of the year.  At a recent meeting he was moaning about money and as a gesture of goodwill I said I'd knock 25% off the year end fee, after all I've done a fair bit of the work already when doing VAT returns and want something rather than nothing out of it.  Well he emailed last week there was "really nothing to do" asking if we could "come to an agreement" over the year end fee!  I replied saying yes we came to an agreement last time we met and I wasn't keen to reduce any further.  If he kicks up a fuss next week when we are due to meet, I shall invite him to do "nothing" himself if he's not willing to pay.

Well it was good to rant!!  But generally my clients are lovely,reasonable and personable and I enjoy working with them, but thanks are always nice.

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10th Nov 2011 09:57


We get lots of 'general' type thanks, and occasionally get some really 'grateful' thanks. We have only had a handful of 'thank you' letters over the years, but they do have a massive 'feel good' effect on us when we do receive them.

I agree with Luke that some clients have unrealistic expectations (without good reason!), but it does seem that the most demanding clients are quite often the least appreciative. Have fun sacking them Luke. You will feel great afterwards.  :)

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10th Nov 2011 10:24

Nice post and in agreement

Re-assurring that it isn't just me then. I get the odd thanks, etc but the expectation by most clients is that I could have done better, reduced their tax bills to minus £1,000 so it paid for their holiday and done it all for the cost of half a pint of bitter.

I replied to a post yesterday and said I thought the client of the original post was stupid. Perhaps he was just naive. It was to do with CIS returns. I suspose it is sometimes frustration. But I often feel that we are the only profession/service/trade, what ever you want to call us accountants, that constantly bend over backwards for clients that just do not want to do things right themselves and do not want to pay someone to do it for them and when it all goes wrong it is never their fault. Most other trades/professions/services would just simply say sorry not my problem. However us accountants take it on the chin and get the client a cracking deal (maybe save them £2,000 in tax/penalties/etc only for them to reply, that what I pay you for, but excluding the words "thanks "

Rant over.

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By Monsoon
10th Nov 2011 10:26

Job satisfaction

I feel like I get thanked a lot. Whether it's for "all your hard work" or "that's brilliant, thank you" or "thanks for explaining it so clearly, no-one's ever bothered to do that before" I feel like I get positive feedback on a fairly regular basis. I don't expect thank you letters or tips, I can't say they'd ever crossed my mind.

I agree with Shirley; the most demanding clients are the least appreciative, more often than not.

Luke - enjoy sacking those clients, sounds very necessary! I hope you enjoy it as much as I expect you will!

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10th Nov 2011 10:31


I think what is better than all the thanks you could possibly receive is the unrivalled trust and respect you can earn from your clients through consistently doing right by them and looking out for opportunities to save tax on their behalf. I don't think you can get that as a plumber or builder. It's something more than a thanks in my opinion.

That's where I think you should get your job satisfaction from. Absolute trust.

Tips.. well... Who cares really? It would not sit right with the image of the profession.

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10th Nov 2011 10:40


I tend to find you get thanks for doing something quickly more often than getting thanks for dealing with something tricky!

I would agree that referrals are a big compliment.

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10th Nov 2011 10:46

Some very nice thanks

I've had some very nice thank you emails over the last few months - one client said 'It’s always a pleasure paying your invoices'. How nice is that! It really made my day (hence I kept the email).

And one says lovely things every time I send him advice! But my clients are all accountants - and their clients actually end up paying my bills - so maybe they are more inclined to appreciate what I do without having to worry about the cost. Or maybe I just have lovely clients!


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10th Nov 2011 12:27

Actions not words that matter

I really don't expect thanks from a client and get quite embarrassed if they start thanking and praising me when I meet them.  What matters to me is when clients stay year after year and don't moan or whinge.  I regard that as client satisfaction.  Perhaps I'm easily pleased.

What's even better are clients who refer their family and friends, which we get a lot of, even sometimes from clients who I don't feel I have a good rapport with but who are, surprisingly, happy with the service, even though they don't show it.

But the time you know that you're clients are really happy is when they come back after a break.  I have a lot of IT contractors, so they often give up and get a proper job, or move abroad, or whatever, but it never ceases to amaze me how many search me out when they return to contracting.

The best, though, was a client whose business had grown way out of my comfort zone and I'd been struggling to deal with their needs and eventually had to suggest they went elsewhere, feeling very guilty to cut them loose.  They sent me a VERY expensive christmas hamper (several hundred pounds) as a thank you and I still do their personal tax returns.  Now that's the kind of "thanks" I like!

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10th Nov 2011 13:00

What do you expect?

Do you phone your utility providers up and say thanks?

If you are doing low value commodity work the chances are you are not going to have an impact on someone so there is no emotion.

Bob Harper

Portfolio Marketing - specialists in emotional marketing

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13th Nov 2011 17:24

Dying profession....


My conclusion is that we are members of a profession nobody really appreciates. The situation used to be much be better in the past, but year after year the government has been removing from us all reasons we had to give value to clients (if value is defined as the difference between what a client receives and their monies), e.g. the government has closed all or almost all tax loopholes - opportunities to save tax (no doubt the most important reason a client would be thankful for to his adviser).

I think ours is a dying profession - I was at CPD course this week and they are discussing bringing in accounts for companies up to £400k turnover prepared on a receipt and payment basis and no adjustments for tax comp. I wonder why did we bother and went through the pain and hassle of qualifying? It seems to me that the Bodies are unable to defend their members' interests as they have no powerful voice. On top, soon HMRC will have us doe their work (and hence take the blame and stick from clients) as an easy way out of their inefficiency and cost cuts. I don't think it's easy to recover additional costs from clients for the increased work.

Accountants seem to be the easy target. Perhaps the larger firms can make it because they have muscle but what about the smaller practitioner? Personally there are times - more and more recently- when I feel like a parasite with clients - me unable to give any real value in terms of money savings and them lot being stuck with me. I don't get any job satisfaction and I wish I could do something else. One thing is for sure, I am even thinking about telling my son to become an accountant.

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to JC
13th Nov 2011 23:15

raise your game!

the accounts themselves are just a part of the service we provide.  the main service is tax-panning - and this is the area that most clients are interested in.  


we also do a business review that picks up key ratios, analyses the asset/liability position, flexes the business result to show different results based on changing margins, discusses credit control, benchmarks against other similar clients, break-even point .......etc.  this makes for a useful review document for the year-end.  i position this with clients as our 'Finance director' business review - a 'fresh pair of eyes'. the odd client will say "just do the accounts" - fine, i say, but your competitors are doing X, Y and Z ... are you aware? etc ... you have to have a good rapport but its a very rare client that says they don't find the review useful. 


we provide all sorts of tools and templates, useful documents, regular newsletter etc.  wrap it all up into a "Private Client Service", rather than just accounts/tax return.  


i think the other key is to only take on clients that are enthusiastic about joining us. if they're so-so, indifferent etc, i tend to quote high or suggest they stay where they are.  we can only service so many clients, and being selective enables us to work only with "nice" clients. we get thanked regularly although you can normally tell if the clients happy by their manner - i've had the odd one who we've done a great job on, and they were indifferent - and so i prodded them to ensure they appreciate exactly what we have done for them - sometimes they dont actually realise!

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13th Nov 2011 22:02

It could be worse . . .

 . . . you could be a solicitor!


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14th Nov 2011 09:07

I can't remember the last time I wasn't thanked!

Predominantly I am doing something for clients that they find daunting and it seems natural that they would thank me for taking away a problem. 

By the way Cathy .... thank you x 2 if I forgot at the time but I do appreciate your help!!

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