Turning away a customer for a professional service provider (lawyer, accountant, financial adviser, bookkeeper) isn’t something she takes lightly. When starting out a professional will take anyone with a heartbeat and a cheque book. But the short-term pain of turning down lucrative business can pay off in the long run. With a mindset of selectivity comes respect: people want to work with a consultant who holds herself to high standards.
Consider a scenario: a prospective client calls “Help! My records are in a mess.” A business’ ability to maintain accurate and organised records is a good indication of its overall wellbeing. Its probably an indication too that when a business is experiencing difficulty, it’s management can tend to focus less on maintaining up to date records: it can be a warning sign for impending failure.
Best practice for identifying the ‘perfect’ bookkeeping client
What is best practice? Surely it is the ‘perfect’ advisory relationship that is the imperative? Sadly, there is no single recognition factor. There are stages of discovery:
• Stage one is an initial assessment of needs. In short, the focus here is to understand the prospect’s pain points and to engage in a deep conversation about the operations, methods of invoicing, managing accounts receivable etc. and how they would define an ideal bookkeeping/trusted advisor relationship
• Stage two (once it is established that you can solve their needs) is to – if you’re game enough – become clear how the client perceives their business advisor and whether they (the business owner) have the personal characteristics of a potentially great client
• Tech friendly? Some data suggest that a majority of SMBs are desk top (or shoebox). That may be the case but today’s savvy business owner expects you to be contemporary. Virtually everyone uses cloud computing today, even if they don’t realize it. If your clients access their bank accounts or their super accounts online, or stream a movie on their tablet or smart TV, guess what? They are already using the cloud. In today’s world, clients expect it.
The bottom line is that cloud-based technology not only enables you to build stronger relationships with clients, it also makes it possible for your firm to become more efficient and productive.
When talking though challenges (outside of compliance), faced by a client, see how they respond to opinions. If they’re asking questions in a respectful manner and want better to understand, that could be a sign of an ideal client. If they want to haggle about your hourly rate, that’s probably a sign of a client you can let go.