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1st Nov 2015
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That’s it I’m full, no more new clients.

Yes the increase in fee income is nice and the ego boost from getting ‘more’ is good but I am full.

There may be some who would say ‘take on staff, outsource more…” but that’s not the way I want to go. The plan was never to achieve world domination, rather to have a good living from a manageable workload which fitted around family life.

October has been hard work, too many tight deadlines, clients providing information late and more and more turning up asking me to act for them.

The final straw came when I had filed a set of accounts last night at 8pm to avoid a late filing penalty and looked at my e-mail inbox which had more than 300 emails.

Now this isn’t as bad as it may sound, most of them didn’t require any action. For me it was just the fact that were 300 of them – I normally only leave e-mails in my inbox if they relate to outstanding work/queries and usually they number less than 30. This just indicated that things were getting a little out of hand.

Enough is enough.

I suppose the difficulty will come when very good potential prospects approach me, those who would be a good fit, will pay good fees and value the services I provide.

Do I then add them to the pile and find another 8-10 hours each year to get that work done, add them and remove a lower quality client or just say no?

Well I’ll find out, probably quite soon…

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Replies (10)

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By Glenn Martin
01st Nov 2015 22:47

Good you have hit the top.
But never say never.

I seem to remember someone told me a client stays with you for an average of 7 years.
So on that basis you need to require 15% new clients each year to stand still so I am sure any decent
Jobs that come along will be able to absorb into your workload as a few go by natural wastage.

I am hoping to get to where you by the end of 2016 as about 70% there now.

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By Red Leader
02nd Nov 2015 11:31

The 300

Were all those work emails rather than junk? If so, that is an enormous number.

These days I tend to only respond to prospects who contact me by phone, or who email me AND have been referred to me.

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By petersaxton
02nd Nov 2015 12:02

I'm in the same boat

I have been very busy but I don't have the inclination to get busier. I don't do any marketing other than a rubbish website but I get queries from the website and from recommendations. I only take on people if I think I'd get a good return from them and I don't put myself out for other potential clients so they will give up if I don't do things the way they want. I tell them how things would need to be. I think you can usually make things easier for yourself with existing clients as both you and them do things more effectively. I would never stop taking on clients but just be more selective.

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By petersaxton
02nd Nov 2015 12:08

45 emails this morning

But only about 5/6 from clients. The rest are notifications from AccountingWeb and emails from "gurus" and information providers.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
02nd Nov 2015 14:35

New clients

@Glennzy - In 4.5 years I've lost 4 clients to other accountants , none of them were a great loss. I've seen 6 go into administration/liquidation, 4 stop trading (doing other things) and 3 (soon to be 4) have been sacked.

My fee income now is higher than I anticipated achieving as a (largely) one man band and while its nice I don't need it to be this high. There are other things I would prefer to do with my time.

@RL - 75% work related. I tend to scan emails when received and if not urgent I'll leave them in my inbox until I have time to deal with them/file them as appropriate. Just got out of hand in October.

@Peter - I won't advertise the fact, but its how I deal with the new enquiries. If its a referral from a good client it will be more difficult to turn away.

May have to be a one in one out policy;o)

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
03rd Nov 2015 10:10

.

Well done, its a lovely feeling to stop quoting for a while.

I am probably going to "up the drawbridge" this week for SA or so until Feb but I will keep quoting for some high quality Ltd co. prospects on the basis there is always some churn, and if you don't quote now, you get nothing coming through in 6 months time.

Often the fact of being 'scarce' will make you much more desirable too. 

I would certainly consider a new year culling of low fee and/or high stress clients.  I don't have many left I don't like working with, a few are in the "tolerable" category, but I keep them on the basis they are 'trained' and a known quantity.   

One thing you may find is as you deal with issues and get clients on an even keel, you can do more volume in following years within the same time frame, so dont give up completely on quoting.  Just fish for the best ones for your practice and throw the rest back. 

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
03rd Nov 2015 15:50

Fishing

@ireallyshould... - its a strange concept really - saying no thanks to extra work.

Using a builder analogy but I keep thinking of some of the tradesmen I have used in the past who say yes to doing the work but then never turn up when they say they will because they're trying to juggle too much work.

I then get fed up and find someone who does turn up when they say they will, for a while.. 

I don't want to be that 'builder' I'd rather just say, sorry too busy/no room at the moment.

I'm also conscious that I've signed a few clients up in the last 6 months or so, for whom I haven't really had to do very much at all, yet - they need to be added to the existing workload.

This is the busiest time for the year for me with the build up to tax return deadline and the way a few financial year ends fall so its the right time to do it.

 

 

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
03rd Nov 2015 17:05

.

You are very much in my way of thinking with the builder analogy.

You kill the golden goose if you overdo it, start rushing, make mistakes, and before you know it you are the clients are voting with their feet and no longer recommend you. 

 

 

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Giraffe
By Luke
05th Nov 2015 14:46

Same boat

Although my website does now say that I am not currently taking on new clients.  I decided life was too busy and stressful a few months ago and to take a break from recruiting.  Like you I recruited several new clients in the last year and only now am I having to do the work.

It was a real relief to put the 'no new business' banner on the website.  Of course I will still do extra stuff for existing clients or take some referrals from good existing clients but I no longer feel obliged to tout the free consultations in the hope of getting a small job.  

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
05th Nov 2015 15:38

Loses its appeal

@Luke - good to hear.

There comes a point when the benefit of the additional fee is outweighed by the additional time it takes to do the work and the loss of 'personal' time.

Yes we could all in theory work 80 hours+ a week, double our fee income and watch the cash pile up but there really is more to life than that.

 

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