We are always being told to offer more added value services to our existing clients, and the feedback I often get from accountants is that ‘my clients are too small!’. While this statement seems to make sense, I believe that clients are never too large or small financially for your help – it’s all about dreams, goals and perspective.
Let me give you an example.
I know a self-employed therapist that works part time from an office in her home. As her accountant, on face value it would be easy to say that she is just self-employed and doesn’t earn enough money to need business development help, and so very easy just to do her accounts and tax return and send her on her way.
As her accountant if you actually took the time to talk to her, you would understand that she has dreams of building her own business, employing therapists throughout the whole of the town, thus enabling her to earn without doing the work herself. Unfortunately, in order to make this dream a reality, she needs help specifying her goals and putting a plan into action. And then, because she is working in the business, and it is easy to become distracted, she needs someone to be there to push her towards achieving those goals and taking the action. She probably also needs to know which numbers she needs to be measuring and what action to take each month to improve those numbers. As someone running her own business, she needs support and mentoring, and someone to talk to when things are tough, and you, as her accountant can be that person.
Now, you may be thinking “but how will she afford to pay me?”. And that is a fair question. Life is all about perspective – if you want something to happen and can see the benefits of making the change, then you find a way to make it happen. It could be that she takes out a loan to fund the help from you, or that you help her a little each month for a small fee, and as she starts to earn more, you are able to provide more help and support to her.
What hints are your clients giving you that they need help?
A comment from an accountant I spoke to recently said “my clients just say they needs more sales”, and to me that is someone that is asking for help and doesn’t know where to turn. This is where you get the opportunity to say to them “would you like us to sit down together and work through a process to see how you can increase your sales?”.
They might also say things like “I’m struggling to get my customers to pay”, or “my customers don’t see to value what I do”. Here’s where you offer to help them by explaining the additional services you can offer.
So, are you prejudging your clients?
It’s easy to prejudge your clients, but why not make a point of just asking them this simple question the next time you speak to them? “How would it make you feel if we could help to improve….(your sales, your cashflow, your debtors etc)?”. All you need to do is to choose the appropriate sentence depending on the conversation you are having with your client about their frustrations. Or you could start the conversation with “what is the one thing that is frustrating you about your business today?”.
Why not add a prompt onto the bottom of your meeting agendas to make sure you ask these questions with each and every client?