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Is their a polite way!!

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Recently I have been overwelmed with requests for accounts to be completed for various reasons such as a mortgage application is needed, or wanting to reduce a payment on account or just wanting to know what their tax bill is. It's been very trickly explaining to clients that they are not the only client and I have many others that I also need to keep happy.

Is their a polite way of say sorry but too busy to have your accounts completed by tomorrow and may take some time?

Anyone else experience this?

Hence working on Saturday!!!

 

Replies (16)

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By Maslins
28th Jul 2018 12:18

Certainly can be tricky. Whilst of course clients will know you have other clients, they don't want to hear it, as it implies their own work isn't important to you.

I've got a couple of different thoughts around this:
1) which work is actually urgent. Eg sometimes people want things done swiftly, but for no good reason other than they just want it done. Compare this to someone needing a mortgage reference/whatever.

2) consider how good each client is more generally. Are they consistently ignoring your requests for info, then provide you stuff and expect you to drop everything to do their work immediately? Or are they normally really great, reasonable clients, who just happen to be in a bit of a one off pickle.

Ie I'd suggest prioritising work based on what's actually the most urgent, combined with which clients are great vs sucky. Reasonable people will understand their work isn't that urgent. Unreasonable people are probably the crappy clients that if they get fed up waiting a week or two when they're always slow and hence they go elsewhere, no big loss to you.

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By Red Leader
28th Jul 2018 12:28

"Sorry John but there are quite a few other clients who have sent their work in earlier. It would be unfair to them if I didn't deal with their work first."

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By samnico
28th Jul 2018 12:44

Thank you both, really useful.

I also suffer with interruptions which is the real reason I am so behind with work. For Example I'm working on year end 31st October 17 accounts today although I've had nine months to do this work ... too may urgent requests!!

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By snickersinatwix
28th Jul 2018 12:46

Yes, we had a client on Thursday who rang to say he would be needing draught accounts by next Friday (when he goes on hols) so he can renew his mortgage. He must have known this was coming for months. Anyway, not a hope in hell, we are snowed under with work (quite a lot just as urgent as his mortgage application) so I told him it would be late August at the earliest.... His accounts are also always a nightmare so there is no way I will be rushing to assist him. he can get in the queue. But yes, it does seem to be especially bad this year.

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Replying to snickersinatwix:
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By forgeron
31st Jul 2018 10:36

Do you prepare "draught" accounts because he has liquidity problems?

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By samnico
28th Jul 2018 13:02

But do you ever worry in case you then loose that client, which is why I sometimes go into panic mode?

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Replying to samnico:
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By andy.partridge
28th Jul 2018 17:18

If your dealings with the client are polite, professional and reasonable it is very unlikely you will lose the client.

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Replying to andy.partridge:
By Red Leader
28th Jul 2018 19:08

I wouldn't recommend that route. Keep it simple. FIFO.

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By andy.partridge
28th Jul 2018 17:16

Of course you could make an offer to jump the queue for a premium fee. If they agree it shows their need is serious and they are not taking you for granted.

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By marks
28th Jul 2018 19:20

How I deal with things

1. We always tell clients that we work on a FIFO. If they hand in and say it "shouldnt take you long to do you should get it done in a week or so" I say that we work on a FIFO and we already have x number of accounts already in ahead of them.

2. We always tell clients we work to a 30 - 60 working day turnaround from receipt of all information. Sets an expectation then.

3. We also offer option of a speedy turnaround of less than 10 working days, between 10 and 20 working days and between 20 - 30 working days. Though there is an uplift of 33%, 25% and 10% on their fee respectively if they want a speedy turnaround.

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By adam.arca
29th Jul 2018 10:16

Even after a millennium or two doing this job, I'm still gobsmacked by the number of clients who seem to assume you're sat there, feet on the desk just waiting for their records. And they're nearly always jobs with a quirk, or worse, which means they're not straightforward to complete.

As others have touched on, the crux of this is a managing expectations issue.

My personal rules are:
1. FIFO
2. The job only gets into the clock once we have ALL the records incl the up front payment
3. If we have to ask for missing info, the job goes to the back of the queue and will have to wait its turn before re-starting

I regularly break all these rules when it suits me but at least it gives a framework so clients know where they stand.

You don't need to be aggressive about your rules or ram them down the client's throat, however: just print them somewhere the client should have looked (even though he probably hasn't). In my case, these rules are all clearly highlighted on my initial info requests.

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By bernard michael
29th Jul 2018 13:54

I give mine a time/day/week when they will get an answer and am not bullied. If they don't like it for valid reasons I disengage

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By SXGuy
30th Jul 2018 12:31

All of my clients understand the turn around time I work with. If they want it done sooner for a reason I'm happy to accommodate.

However as an example, an April end client came in 1 week before July 31st asking for accounts to be done so they have the figure for WTC.

In that senario it's hard, because do they usually leave everything till last or is this a one off? I think continued lateness each year deserves some sorry will have to wait attitude. After all it has to teach them to be sooner in future.

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By Duggimon
31st Jul 2018 10:22

FIFO with a caveat that if someone does want/need them urgently then I jump the queue at my own discretion. I will only do so if their records appear soon after their year end. If they've sat on their behind for six months doing nothing but then decide they want their accounts in a week they can whistle for it.

It means you can plead you operate strictly FIFO and to the problem clients who complain you have the fallback position of "well you could have handed the books in four months ago". If they're still upset and ditch you then they become someone else's problem. The good clients get their accounts done quickly because they get the records in quickly.

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By pauljohnston
31st Jul 2018 10:27

I have an assisatnt who write to every business client a month before the year end requiesting the papers by [2months after year end]. If they are not received they are chased. We expect to turn round accounts within 5 months of the year end.

The remainder get a phone call from me and the threat that if we dont get the papers that the company could be fined by Cos House for late delivery.

Sometimes you have to be hard on clients to get the papers. They may decide to go elsewhere but all of mine say sorry and get us the data. If they go elsewhere they were not good clients and you can use the time to get a better type of client

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
31st Jul 2018 15:15

There's probably a couple of different issues here.

The obvious one is managing clients' expectations.
Being clear that you work for your clients by reference to when they supply their data and how easy they make it for you to help them. You then need to decide whether there is a price to treat their work as higher priority.

"Sorry Dave, my week is fully committed. I could work overtime for you at the weekend but there would be an additional charge for that. And to avoid any confusion I'd ask you to pay this upfront please."

A second issue is how busy you are and how you keep on top of the work that needs doing. There are an increasing number of software solutions to help accountants here - in place of simple spreadsheets.

I recently wrote a short guide to 6 simple and popular time management secrets for sole practitioner accountants. When you have the time, feel free to download it. No charge >>>
http://bookmarklee.co.uk/time/

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