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Lost a client, feeling down

Lost a client, feeling down

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Long standing client just calls to say they are moving. Nothing wrong with our service, we have been very good, but just a business decision!  Informally I ve been told by an acquaintance of his it could be because I work from home and this may have an effect on their image, especially as they are looking to franchise their business.

Feeling really down. Thinking of getting a virtual office, but that doesn't seem genuine and clients will see through that 

 

Any advice please?  

 

Replies (23)

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panda ketteringUK
By ketteringUK
08th Nov 2019 16:00

Don't be it's just natural to feel that way. Few months ago we received an email (friday evening) from our very first client stating that they're moving to another practitioner. It hurt even more because we've met few days earlier and we had no suggestion that this will happen.

He left with us other 2 businesses but now we feel like 'eff it'. Life to short, we have another 150+ clients which need our care and attention.

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Replying to ketteringUK:
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By aadil
08th Nov 2019 20:29

My situation is similar. Just met him 2 days ago when he brought the Vat papers. No sign whatsoever that he was leaving.

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Caroline
By accountantccole
08th Nov 2019 16:08

It happens - just leave the door open "Best of luck for the future, you know where I am if you need any further assistance".
If the new accountant is rubbish they'll be back and will pay a premium.
Maybe do a disengagement questionnaire asking for honest feedback so you get info to work with?

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
08th Nov 2019 16:12

Whilst i tend to take it personally when I get sacked and it is me and not them all you can do is listen to what they say and decide if (a) its good feedback to take on board, or if (b) they are no longer the right clients for your business.

Clients come and go, its just happens.

Trying to hide behind a virtual office is not going to really help you. Just be you, and sell what you do well, not what others do.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
08th Nov 2019 16:13

Sometimes clients outgrow us. I doubt that you working at home is the issue, more likely they feel they need a larger firm. You've now got room for more clients, so perhaps get out networking and find some new ones. Nothing wrong with virtual offices, we have several as we are close to London and they are useful for holding more formal client meetings.

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By Maslins
08th Nov 2019 16:43

Three different situations for us when a client leaves:
1) closing the business. Fine, it happens.
2) we'd had a frosty relationship for a while. Great, it's a relief.
3) we liked them and hadn't picked up on any signs that the departure coming. These ones hurt. Makes you think back, racking your brains for what possible thing you might have done/said to make them want to leave.

As others have suggested:
- I doubt a virtual office would make a difference,
- be nice about it...you never know, they may come back,
- if you're feeling brave, politely ask if they have any feedback. Where we've done this, typically people have either avoided the question (perhaps typical Britishness, don't want to be openly rude/cause confrontation), or given us something very vague that doesn't help much (eg "we just feel they're better suited to our business" or something like that).

Chin up, move on, plenty more businesses in the sea...or something.

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By gainsborough
08th Nov 2019 16:46

Absolutely - try not to focus on the negatives. You've retained a client for a long-time, who is leaving you in an amicable way and telling you that you have done very good work - there's a lot of positives there.

I agree with the two points made by Arthur in that clients sometimes just outgrow us and that there is nothing wrong with serviced offices. I use mine mainly because I don't want clients turning up unannounced at my home but all my clients are aware that I do most work from home and just use the office for meetings as and when needed.

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By Red Leader
08th Nov 2019 17:27

I would ask myself:
- in retrospect, was there a mismatch between this client and my offering?
- does this help to clarify for me what types of clients make the best match with me?
- (assuming you're a one man band), play to your strength: all the work is done by you, so it isn't delegated to junior staff.

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By aadil
08th Nov 2019 20:26

Yes, just by myself. I do use a freelance bookkeeper for high volume processing, but review it thoroughly myself. I suppose this can be a strength. I have had clients from larger firms with unbelievable errors in the accounts.

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Replying to aadil:
By Red Leader
08th Nov 2019 22:58

Yes, it absolutely is a strength. The client is getting a partner level person dealing with all their work.

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By aadil
08th Nov 2019 20:20

Thanks for all the comments. Makes me feel better. Yes I think it would be worth sending a feedback questionnaire after the handover is complete. I have pretty much sent over all the standing information required by the new advisers in their professional clearance letter, within two days of receiving it. Just need to complete the 31/10 accounts and CT600 and that can be sent over too.

I shall look into Virtual Offices, just to hold the the odd meeting when clients require. I am in London, any recommendations for this service?

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Replying to aadil:
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By free-rider
09th Nov 2019 06:30

I also work from home and use https://www.andoffices.com/ for occasional meetings in London.

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Replying to aadil:
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By Matrix
09th Nov 2019 07:18

If you are a member of ICAEW you could use the Moorgate Place meeting rooms.

I either get clients to come to my home, go to their home/work or meet in local cafes or pubs. It has never been a problem.

Whatever you are doing has been working for over 10 years so don’t be put off because someone leaves for some unknown, probably random, reason. There is plenty of work out there, so keep on choosing how you work and with whom you work.

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Replying to aadil:
By petersaxton
12th Nov 2019 12:54

I really prefer meeting at my home office because I have a lot of information easily to hand if I need to explain anything.

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By lesley.barnes
09th Nov 2019 10:03

Don't worry clients leave because they think the grass is greener somewhere else. I had a large client leave about twelve months ago and move to a large practice. They were very sneaky I had a meeting with the Directors in the morning to plan for the next twelve months. I found out afterwards in the afternoon they were meeting their new accountants. When they left the reason they gave was I wasn't creative enough. I took that as a compliment and a relief that I wasn't going to be involved in whatever they planned to do next. I'm also comforted that they've just called in the administrators one of the creditors is the new accountant owing £3k so I dodged that bullet to.

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Replying to lesley.barnes:
By Red Leader
09th Nov 2019 11:52

Creative as in: get us out of this s h 1 t hole we've created.

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Replying to Red Leader:
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By lesley.barnes
09th Nov 2019 13:08

How did you guess?

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By JDBENJAMIN
09th Nov 2019 13:45

Don't give a toss, don't worry about it, don't even think about it. Clients sometimes leave for no reason that is rational or clear, so just suck it up and move on. It's probably nothing to do with you working from home.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
09th Nov 2019 14:03

"Now ain't it good to know that you've got a friend
When people can be so cold
They'll hurt you, yes, and desert you
And take your soul if you let them
Oh, but don't you let them"

Carole King

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
09th Nov 2019 16:09

I would give the same comment as others... life moves on. I wouldnt analyse too much. If other clients are staying and therefore think you are great well ...then it's them not you.
Re virtual offices.. yes... use them by all means esp if you are in a town but really, clients will get to know that you work from home so why spend the money?
I dont see clients at my home office.
If I see any clients (and many of mine are away/abroad so I dont) then I meet them at the lovely George Albert hotel up the A37 a few minutes drive from me. The staff leave you alone to have your meeting away from others for as long as you want so long as you buy a coffee. Clients love it.

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Replying to Jennifer Adams:
By slipknot08
11th Nov 2019 11:38

We were at the Acorn Inn in Evershot just this Saturday... I actually knew the eponymous George Albert when I was little - my dad part owned the go-cart track with him back before the hotel was built and it was all farmland, so we went out there every weekend :-) - which end are you? Yeovil or Dorchester? (I'm in Wareham)

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By aadil
09th Nov 2019 19:53

Thanks all for the comments. They are really encouraging.

Makes me appreciate this forum even more, being sole practicioner is a lonely job and it is great to have fellow accountants on here for support.

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By busacrun
11th Nov 2019 10:40

Sadly you cant please everyone, and some people are easily swayed by comments of their peers

we had a long standing client leave earlier in the year, out of the blue, because they'd got a new business associate who'd suggested they need this, that and the other and their accountant could do it for them.

The client in question had previously shown little interest in these type of services, we'd offered them ourselves several times over the years, but the client thought they were not needed by a business like theirs, so it was was naturally disappointing that when they do need them they move on

you can't win them all

I would look at other indicators - volume of clients coming in, and how you get them - if most clients come from referrals, you know that you must be doing something right

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