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Promoting your Practice - what's acceptable these day?

Promoting your Practice - what's acceptable...

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As an accountant in practice I'm keenly aware I'm in competition with other accountants for our work.  We do our best to compete across the mix of price, quality of service, specialisms and experience.  And we'll do what we can to put ourselves in the best possible light.

What we don't do is spend time and effort in actively putting our competitors down.  Maybe it's some 'old school' professionalism on my part.  Maybe it's naivety.  One aspect that's thrown this into light recently is on our firm's Facebook page where you can rate the page (and by inference the practice) between 1 and 5 stars.  One of our local competitors (who I won't name as I'm true to my word) has taken the trouble to rate us as 1 star.  What do others think of this approach? Is it a fair, commercial way of trying to get 'one up' on the competition? I'd be really interested in your thoughts?

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
13th Oct 2014 10:46

.

Bit pathetic quite frankly. 

Send them time wasters and your sacked clients!

I try and maintain good relations with my local firms and with a couple we cross refer our specialisms even through techncially we are in competition it never feels like that.

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By MzEden
13th Oct 2014 11:04

How pathetic!

We share the building with another accountants, used to be 2 other firms.

We share information and expertise with both the current and former 'sharers', it's always been that way. We would never steal their clients and / or put them down publically. Maybe we work to a moral code as well as a professional one?

In theory, all of us on here are in competition too. By this firms reckoning we should be giving out incorrect information to make each other look bad!

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By carnmores
13th Oct 2014 11:49

send them a letter before action

threatening to sue them for Libel because that is what it is , should put the wind up them at least

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By Manchester_man
13th Oct 2014 19:20

Sounds like they've sunk to a level which would be deemed unacceptable my any decent, upstanding firm. They obviously see you as a threat / better than them.

Does Facebook tell you who actually gave the rating, or can the 'rater' put any name down? If the latter, it may be a different competitor putting the name of another competitor to cause trouble?

I'm not familiar with Facebook so just a thought.

Otherwise, how stupid of them to effectively 'slag you off' when you know exactly who it was who did it !

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By Old Greying Accountant
14th Oct 2014 12:34

I'm with the OP ...

... don't slag off competitors, or predecessor accountants.

On firm near me is I think very unprofessional, they take any chance to put competitors down, undermine them, pick holes in their work etc. etc. They are a large firm too with a high profile partner, but they do use value pricing so that most likely explains it.

My view is there is enough work to go round and if we stopped under-cutting each other we could get a fair price for the work too!

 

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Replying to stepurhan:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
14th Oct 2014 09:04

ouch

Old Greying Accountant wrote:

but they do use value pricing so that most likely explains it.

First smile of the morning. 

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By RFL H
14th Oct 2014 08:41

Agreed - they have behaved badly

If you feel able I think you should have a word with their boss - it may be that a junior / immature member of staff has posted and s/he is unaware.

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
14th Oct 2014 10:58

Not acceptable but adverts that will be coming soon!!

Paying too much tax

 

We are Accountants for You.

 

[ Starts of with one male accountant with a Butterworths under his arm striding down street, soon joined by three others similarly attired (2 more men and a woman) carrying Accounting Standards, Company Law handbooks etc- think Reservoir Dogs-needs suitable music}

 

Have you had misfortune with high tax bills, have your accounts failed to balance, Accountants for You can help.

 

{Turns face to camera, flick hair from forehead, ingratiating smile}

 

We achieve lower tax bills than any of our competitors. Our fees are set as a percentage of the tax we save you.

 

{ Pan camera to attractive woman accountant with winning smile and slight pout to camera}

 

 Accountants for You, we are different.

 

To speak with one of our highly skilled representatives call

 

0876 543 210

 

Accountants for You, we make a difference

 

{Warning- in very small print and scrolling quickly on screen with an earnest voice over spoken  very quickly}

 

Accountants for You have no liability in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs investigation into your tax affairs. Fees are set based on the difference between 40% of your previous year assessable profit and the tax bill for this year as calculated by ourselves. Accountants for You are regulated by the Lollipop Guild inc, Po Box 5, Yellow Brick Road, Oz.

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By jndavs
14th Oct 2014 11:08

What???

We are not solicitors you know!!

 

The will have us chasing ambulances next.

"Been in an accident, not your fault?

Your award may be taxable, we can help"

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By MSD1968
14th Oct 2014 22:46

In the trough?

jndavs wrote:

We are not solicitors you know!!

 

The will have us chasing ambulances next.

"Been in an accident, not your fault?

Your award may be taxable, we can help"

Multi-disciplinary practice anyone? Contingent fees all round! Hurray!

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By Glenn Martin
14th Oct 2014 11:29

@DJKL

Have you just peaked at my latest marketing literature. LOL

That is a but Micky Mouse if your rival to do such a thing, but if he will stoop that low it makes you wonder what standard there accounts work is.

I was aware rival restaurants did this type of  thing in the early days of Trip Advisor but I think they have changed how it runs to make it difficult to do that. On Facebook can you not just delete bad comments?

 

 

 

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Replying to Tim Vane:
By mrme89
14th Oct 2014 15:19

Facebook

Glennzy wrote:

 On Facebook can you not just delete bad comments?

 

 

 

If you use a FB page, you cannot delete reviews. However, you can hide them completely.

 

A way around this would be to use a profile rather than a page. You can then ask clients to leave reviews on your 'wall' - you have complete control over your wall and can delete unwanted comments. The drawback of using a profile is that it doesn't look as tidy as a page and there is a friend limit of 5000 friends. This sounds like a high limit, but in social media terms, it is very small.

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Replying to sherodwilliams:
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By B Roberts
14th Oct 2014 15:51

Apologies for going off on a slight tangent ....

mrme89 wrote:

Glennzy wrote:

 On Facebook can you not just delete bad comments?

 

 

 

If you use a FB page, you cannot delete reviews. However, you can hide them completely.

 

A way around this would be to use a profile rather than a page. You can then ask clients to leave reviews on your 'wall' - you have complete control over your wall and can delete unwanted comments. The drawback of using a profile is that it doesn't look as tidy as a page and there is a friend limit of 5000 friends. This sounds like a high limit, but in social media terms, it is very small.

.... but if anybody knows a way to delete these comments and ratings I would be glad to understand how this is done.

My wife has a similar issue in that her business page has a rating of 4.5 stars as there are about a dozen ratings (amongst the hundreds) that have given a 1 star rating - even though they are from people she has never heard of who are based at the other end of the country !

This must be a common problem and I am surprised that Facebook do not appear to have a simple solution.

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Replying to brumsub:
By mrme89
14th Oct 2014 15:58

Not possible

B Roberts wrote:

mrme89 wrote:

Glennzy wrote:

 On Facebook can you not just delete bad comments?

 

 

 

If you use a FB page, you cannot delete reviews. However, you can hide them completely.

 

A way around this would be to use a profile rather than a page. You can then ask clients to leave reviews on your 'wall' - you have complete control over your wall and can delete unwanted comments. The drawback of using a profile is that it doesn't look as tidy as a page and there is a friend limit of 5000 friends. This sounds like a high limit, but in social media terms, it is very small.

.... but if anybody knows a way to delete these comments and ratings I would be glad to understand how this is done. My wife has a similar issue in that her business page has a rating of 4.5 stars as there are about a dozen ratings (amongst the hundreds) that have given a 1 star rating - even though they are from people she has never heard of who are based at the other end of the country ! This must be a common problem and I am surprised that Facebook do not appear to have a simple solution.

 

It's not possible to remove comments in isolation. You can only leave them be or hide the reviews completely.

 

It's not ideal, but anybody wit half a brain would ignore the negative reviews in between 100's of good reviews.

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Replying to 0098087:
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By B Roberts
14th Oct 2014 16:42

I do agree ....

mrme89 wrote:

B Roberts wrote:

mrme89 wrote:

Glennzy wrote:

 On Facebook can you not just delete bad comments?

 

 

 

If you use a FB page, you cannot delete reviews. However, you can hide them completely.

 

A way around this would be to use a profile rather than a page. You can then ask clients to leave reviews on your 'wall' - you have complete control over your wall and can delete unwanted comments. The drawback of using a profile is that it doesn't look as tidy as a page and there is a friend limit of 5000 friends. This sounds like a high limit, but in social media terms, it is very small.

.... but if anybody knows a way to delete these comments and ratings I would be glad to understand how this is done. My wife has a similar issue in that her business page has a rating of 4.5 stars as there are about a dozen ratings (amongst the hundreds) that have given a 1 star rating - even though they are from people she has never heard of who are based at the other end of the country ! This must be a common problem and I am surprised that Facebook do not appear to have a simple solution.

 

It's not possible to remove comments in isolation. You can only leave them be or hide the reviews completely.

 

It's not ideal, but anybody wit half a brain would ignore the negative reviews in between 100's of good reviews.

..... however I find it annoying that it could be 5 stars if not for the few people who post ratings for "a laugh" for some reason (although it does seem to bother me more than it bothers my wife !).

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Replying to brumsub:
By mrme89
14th Oct 2014 15:58

Not possible

B Roberts wrote:

mrme89 wrote:

Glennzy wrote:

 On Facebook can you not just delete bad comments?

 

 

 

If you use a FB page, you cannot delete reviews. However, you can hide them completely.

 

A way around this would be to use a profile rather than a page. You can then ask clients to leave reviews on your 'wall' - you have complete control over your wall and can delete unwanted comments. The drawback of using a profile is that it doesn't look as tidy as a page and there is a friend limit of 5000 friends. This sounds like a high limit, but in social media terms, it is very small.

.... but if anybody knows a way to delete these comments and ratings I would be glad to understand how this is done. My wife has a similar issue in that her business page has a rating of 4.5 stars as there are about a dozen ratings (amongst the hundreds) that have given a 1 star rating - even though they are from people she has never heard of who are based at the other end of the country ! This must be a common problem and I am surprised that Facebook do not appear to have a simple solution.

 

It's not possible to remove comments in isolation. You can only leave them be or hide the reviews completely.

 

It's not ideal, but anybody wit half a brain would ignore the negative reviews in between 100's of good reviews.

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Replying to brumsub:
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By jford
15th Oct 2014 08:10

Deleting reviews
I'm the OP. We had another 1* review from a lady we'd never heard of. I put a comment saying that we didn't know her and hadn't done any work for her but if she was unhappy with us in any way then to let us know and we'd do everything we could to sort out the problem. She replied to say she had no idea why the review was on there as she'd never heard of us either!! I replied saying if she thought it was a mistake she could delete her review - which she did. Problem solved.

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By David Winch
14th Oct 2014 14:58

Eh?

Why, @OGA and @Ireallyshouldkn..., might there be any suggestion of a causal link between the laudable use of Value-Based Pricing and the pointless practice of rubbishing your competitors?

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By Old Greying Accountant
14th Oct 2014 15:14

Generally ...

... that would follow the inevitable question of why are you 10x times the price Joe Bloggs and Co quoted for the same work!

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By David Winch
14th Oct 2014 15:56

Ah!

But if the Value-Based Pricing Sales Conversation had been conducted well, the prospect would see why your price was a reasonable investment in order to achieve their return.

If Bloggs and Co had come up in conversation, it would be reasonable to have asked what the prospect had been promised for the lower price, and what Bloggs's 'package' would be worth to them.  No aspersions will have been cast on Bloggs by doing this.

In order to compete with the Bloggs offer, you would have to uncover more than Bloggs managed to uncover concerning additional, related issues that the prospect would find valuable to have resolved, and include resolving these in your proposal.  Presuming Bloggs are not as skilled as you at uncovering hidden value, this should not be a problem.

The mantra of "a different price demands a different package" cuts both ways.  If, on detailed scrutiny, you were offering exactly "the same work", then there's no reason for a price that isn't exactly "the same".  But it would be quite difficult to deliver precisely "the same work" as Bloggs!

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By Old Greying Accountant
14th Oct 2014 16:15

If you are ACCA ...

SECTION 150

Professional behavior

150.1 The principle of professional behavior imposes an obligation on all professional accountants to comply with relevant laws and regulations and avoid any action that the professional accountant knows or should know may discredit the profession. This includes actions that a reasonable and informed third party, weighing all the specific facts and circumstances available to the professional accountant at that time, would be likely to conclude adversely affects the good reputation of the profession.

150.2 In marketing and promoting themselves and their work, professional accountants shall not bring the profession into disrepute. Professional accountants shall be honest and truthful and not:

(a) Make exaggerated claims for the services they are able to offer, the qualifications they possess, or experience they have gained; or

(b) Make disparaging references or unsubstantiated comparisons to the work of others.

150.3 A professional accountant shall behave with courtesy and consideration towards all with whom the professional accountant comes into contact in a professional capacity.

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By Old Greying Accountant
14th Oct 2014 16:35

Ah but ...

all VBP is equal, but some more equal than others. As in any walk of life, it is not always the pure form that is used. But , by definition, if you say what you will do is more than Bloggs and Co, you are by definition dissing them, after all, in theory, if both firms are say ICAEW, then there should be no difference in their skill sets, at least to the ubiquitous man on the Clapham Omnibus.

Also, see 150.2 (a) above (as an aside, I wonder how that interacts with aggressive tax avoidance schemes as I am sure ICAEW rules are identical!).

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By jford
14th Oct 2014 23:07

An update...!
Thank you all for your contributions and thoughts. The 'culprit' has now deleted their review after I posted a reply to thank them for their 1* review and their interest in our firm.
I don't think FB used to let you see who had posted the reviews. I'm not sure if things have changed recently but it was obvious who it was when I looked. I'm pretty sure they thought it was anonymous when they posted it.
The firm/principal concerned are very into their value based pricing - make of that what you will. :-)

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By David Winch
15th Oct 2014 15:46

Just To Be Clear

For @OGA and any others who are interested:

Offering to do more than Bloggs & Co is NOT disrespectful of their qualifications, skills, experience, standards, quality, ethics or whatever.

It is a statement of fact, well at least of intent.  If Bloggs offered to mow your lawn and I offered to mow your lawn, weed your flower beds and prune your shrubs, I would be offering to do more work than Bloggs is offering to do.  Their standard of workmanship doesn't come into it.

Of course, if the prospective client on the omnibus wanted nothing more than to have their grass cut, I would have been foolish to offer additional services of no value to the prospect because I should have discovered this during the Sales Conversation.

Rather than compete with Bloggs on price, I could offer to come a time of the prospect's choosing and pay them for the grass clippings I would take away (and turn into a potting compost I could then sell!) - presuming that the prospect had told me they were perturbed that Bloggs could only come at 9:00am on a Tuesday and that they would make an extra charge for taking away the clippings which they - the prospect - have no means of either composting or disposing of.

In short, I would have uncovered more hidden value than Bloggs was able to uncover, enabling me to charge more for more value, without ever resorting to saying unkind things about Bloggs.

How much more I might charge would be based on asking the prospect what it was worth to them to have me do the work rather than Bloggs.

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