Can't talk/won't talk?

The Practitioner
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I suppose every practice has clients who phone up every other day and generally make a nuisance of themselves, and others who never call at all. Makes for an interesting balance!

One of our clients in the latter category does seem to actively avoid us though. They are as good as gold with the annual accounts and tax returns, aways get them in to us on time and keep excellent records. But try to speak to them or arrange a meeting and they just disappear. Last time I sent out the draft accounts I included a note asking them to read through them and then call me to arrange a meeting. Well, they called - but only to grill me as to why I wanted a meeting! It's not a question of cost - they pay well - I'm beginning to suspect there's something else going on here. Maybe the owner is dyslexic, or can't read very well, or just doesn't like to admit that she doesn't understand her accounts. Thankfully they employ an excellent FD to oversee the finances or I'd be worried.

I'm still concerned that I can't get a conversation going on tax planning and exit strategy, I guess I'll have to just keep chipping away.

Meanwhile one of my assistants has just returned from a farm where he had arranged to call in to do some VAT work. The farmer met him in the yard and told him to go round to the front door and he'd let him in... and completely disappeared! My chap has no idea where he went, but he never let him in, wouldn't answer either his landline or mobile number and couldn't be found around the house or yard! He eventually gave up and came back to the office. 

(We have spoken to the client since so we know he's OK, but as to what went on we're all totally mystified!!)

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By Flash Gordon
08th Aug 2012 15:13

Some of us hate meetings & face to face contact

So it may be that your meeting-avoiding client is one. I firmly believe that there isn't anything that would be said in a meeting that can't be said in a letter or email. So why not write to them instead, offer a meeting but show that its not essential & put down your ideas instead. You may find that they're more interested in communicating that way...

And as for the farmer - well I might try that avoidance tactic myself sometime!!

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10th Aug 2012 21:09

I think it is important to have face to face meetings from time to time, I agree with @flash that most issues can be dealt with in emails, but the amount of times I have gleaned very useful info from a client over a coffee, has made me continue with this uphill struggle. Thing is most clients understandably may not know when something is important and that the info should be shared with their accountant. I've often found that this "mopping up" process can be a lot more frustrating than putting the time aside to actually see people. And most really appreciate it and you get some brownie points too! As for the farmer, I hope you told the assistant not to take it personally, vat is only interesting to the accountants!

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