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My Week – Saying goodbye is the hardest thing to do

1st Aug 2015
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If you are a practice owner, I have no doubt you know, it is not easy to build a client base. Especially in your early days of practice when you do not have a sound referral network.

I have found building a client base takes time, money, determination and patience. I have to stick to it. They are days when I ask myself can I make this work? This is when there is a gap in potential client calls and costs are piling up. I then say to myself I can only do what I can do.

When a good quality client leaves the practice, it gets to me since it has taken so much to turn them into clients. Not only this but also over a period to mould them to work in the way that fits with my practice. As a result, they become lucrative clients.

As I mentioned in My Day blog, I lost an excellent quality client. Through her feedback, I accepted and understood why she left.

My client leaving coincided with a copy of Crunch’s goodbye letter received by another one of my clients. My client forwarded me the letter. I learnt how to say goodbye to clients from the letter.

Crunch’s letter was well written and provided helpful information. It included information such as all the tax reference numbers and at what stage of accounts and tax return work the client was leaving. For example accounts for the year ended xx need to be completed.

The tone of the letter made me feel, if I was their client, was I right to leave Crunch? Further, it also left the door wide open, should I ever decide to go back to Crunch.

The letter made me realise that even though goodbyes are hard, they are as important as hellos. Through my goodbyes, I need to make my clients feel that the door is open for them to come back at any stage. Further, to make the transition to a new accountant painless for them. This way they will leave with a positive experience of my practice.

The long term benefits of my clients leaving with a positive experience may include referrals. I may not be the right accountant for them, but I may be suited to other people in their network. As I mentioned earlier, they may decide to come back. Let's also not forget about the multiplier effect of negative client experience. Bad news always reaches more ears.

With my goodbyes, I want to be a Crunch and not a sour grapes accountant. 

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By KPEM online
01st Aug 2015 07:47

100%
Saying hello and goodbye are 2 key points in a client relationship. A nice "hello" can be the start of a long and loyal relationship. A nice "goodbye" can mean a return to you someday.

Plus being nice costs nothing and is a very positive thing.

I find too many accountants reacting poorly to clients leaving. They take a long time during handover and the tone of communication does smell of sour grapes. Some issue unwarranted leaving fees (my phrase) which is poor form.

Keep your reputation in tact. Never sound like a spoilt brat! Accountants should always remember one key point........no one owns a client. Many have yet to learn this lesson.

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By MrotsylliD
01st Aug 2015 10:42

Thanks.

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By andy.partridge
01st Aug 2015 14:35

Emotional intelligence

If you are a sole practitioner it is difficult not to take it personally when a client decides to leave for another firm. If they are leaving the area, retiring or closing down that is one thing, but if they are leaving because they think their interests will be better served elsewhere it can be tough to take. It can feel insulting, so having a process in place, like Crunch, can take the heat out it.

Of course, sometimes when a client tells you they are leaving you breath a sigh of relief.

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