Before I select a restaurant or hotel, I always check the rating on TripAdvisor. In the same way, when I want to book an apartment for an overseas jaunt I go to a site like Airbnb and read through the feedback.
The same applies when going to a theatre, where the man in the street should always read a review or two before making a final decision. Even buying small items from eBay, you can make sure that the seller is reliable.
Although we've seen some accountancy review sites gather steam, there doesn’t appear to be one dominant evaluation platform covering accountants or, for that matter, any other providers of professional services.
Depending on your point of view, this is either a very good or a very bad position for the profession to be in.
As a naturally positive person, my view is that I would always like to have client ratings and feedback on my performance available to anyone who might wish to work with me.
If you provide substandard services, overcharge or merely have a knack of winding up clients then the last thing you need is any kind of publicity
That is because I am happy to back my performance against the competition and, as a result, would love to have someone institute a kind of TripAdvisor for the accountancy profession.
It would be equally easy to understand why some others may be far more reluctant to throw their hat into the ring. If you provide substandard services, overcharge or merely have a knack of winding up clients then the last thing you need is any kind of publicity, which is guaranteed to be adverse.
In the current age, one must imagine that hotels of poor quality are literally put out of business by finding themselves at the bottom of the TripAdvisor league table. Although I did once stay at what they regarded as the worst hotel in Guildford and it lived right down to expectations. That was one of the penalties of working for a penny-pinching firm.
Looking at this issue little more seriously, there can be little doubt that anybody who aspires to run a business which is subject to a ranking system will need to perform at a high level in order to survive.
If you have bedbugs, faulty plumbing and a kitchen that guarantees food poisoning to every fourth customer then having this announced to the world on a constant basis must certainly lead to business failure. Therefore, the natural consequence is that hoteliers will avoid these problems and seek to achieve a high standard of performance that makes their business more competitive than those who could otherwise take away their trade.
This column has spent an inordinate amount of time of late criticising accountants for their inability to do the basics at an adequate level. Perhaps if there was a genuine lead table that wasn’t based on sales income, the profession would feel obliged to pull up its collective socks and deliver the kind of service that our clients surely deserve. Who knows, we might even charge fair fees for doing so.