Love them or hate them, clients are the lifeblood of every single firm of accountants. Anyone who thinks otherwise is in denial.
Without them, we could not buy the office furniture and IT equipment, pay our staff or fund our own lifestyles. We would also miss out on the entertainment that so many of them provide either socially or by allowing us to get a glimpse into the operation of often complex and very successful businesses.
However, without some of those that would naturally fall into that legendary category of “the client from hell” we would also avoid the kind of stress levels that could all too easily result in a heart attack.
Treated correctly, clients should regard professionals such as accountants and lawyers as valued and trusted advisers, to whom they will turn in times of trouble and whose assistance they will value, paying regally for the kind of service that they see as exceptional but we should regard as standard practice.
Accountants are busy people and we have a tendency to firefight rather than step back and look at our practices in a strategic manner. This means that far too often short-term decisions are taken on the fly when a wider view would lead to a conclusion that was the polar opposite.
This series has been designed with the intention of allowing readers to stop and think for a few minutes about a number of different issues relating to their practices and more particularly the client base that they serve. While there may be a degree of repetition, it has been designed to complement articles in previous series, all of which are still readily accessible on AccountingWEB.
Therefore, as an example, there is no dedicated section replicating the advice about the most effective means of determining how much to ask clients to pay for specific pieces of work.
The series is broken up into the seven sections shown below. These will be presented fortnightly and should build to a comprehensive overview of the way in which firms can optimise their potential by focusing on the kind of clients that they wish to service, the services that they want to provide to those clients and ways of treating clients that will help to retain them and maximise fee income, while at the same time suggesting operational strategies that might help to minimise some of the stress and hassle that can make our daily lives so difficult.
- Composition of practice
- Finding clients
- Keeping clients
- Profiting from clients
- Sacking clients
- Key points
As always, if any reader wishes to assist others by giving advice derived from his or her own experience that can shine a light on any of the specific topics raised in a particular article, this will be very welcome.