12 issues that might not have been addressed. By Ed Mendlowitz The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor QUESTION: I was asked to do a quote on a business valuation for a startup that will be raising money on their second stage financing. How do I quote this? ANSWER: This is a wide-reaching question and it is not possible to know initially what the client really needs. They could need a valuation, a business plan or a method of bringing in the investor. Here are some of the many issues and variables:
Topic: client service
Automation can send the wrong message. By Ed Mendlowitz The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor QUESTION: I have an automatic email response and some clients and contacts criticized me for it. I am overloaded during tax season and this takes some pressure off of me. Here is the automatic email response I am sending out: THANK YOU for your e-mail. Please accept my apology for this automated response. During tax season, most of my work days are scheduled with appointments and calls. I most always reply to emails and phone calls as soon as I can, usually the same day. Replies are slower during the months of February, March and April. Thank you for your patience. ANSWER: That’s terrible! MORE PRACTICE DOCTOR […]
If you don’t ask, you can’t know. If not now, when? By Jean Marie Caragher The 90-Day Marketing Plan for CPA Firms Tax season is the perfect time to identify cross-selling opportunities, strengthen client relationships and ensure client satisfaction. Consider asking your clients the following 14 questions this tax season. You may discover a new gold nugget of opportunity:
Make sure they both agree and you should be OK. QUESTION: I have a long-term tax client who is going through a divorce and have been asked to meet with both spouses (soon to be ex-spouses) to perform tax and financial planning services. Is representing both of them a conflict? ANSWER: It has the potential to be a conflict if not handled properly. Here is an engagement letter that Martin H. Abo, CPA/ABV/CVA/CFF uses in such circumstances. It is included here with his permission.
Take this quiz to see whether you’re phoning it in. Do you seek out opportunities to learn new things that will help your clients overcome their most difficult challenges? Selling value-creation advisory services is truly a slam dunk with most modern business owners, according MentorPlus. The bad news is that, although most CPAs would say they are their clients’ most trusted advisor, few could answer the following questions in the affirmative.
Turn the habits of everyday friendship into business skills. By Jean Marie Caragher The 90-Day Marketing Plan for CPA Firms Since strong client relationships contribute to client satisfaction, longevity and lead generation, partners often encourage their managers and staff to build relationships with their clients. But these managers and staff look at the relationships their firm’s partners have built over time and think it’s impossible to replicate their results. Building relationships with clients can be done using the same behaviors that we use when building friendships and courting our spouse or significant other. Consider these 12 tips to build client relationships, especially during tax season, prime time for in-person client contact.
Here are 8 concrete suggestions. By Ed Mendlowitz The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor QUESTION: My largest client does over $100 million in annual sales and accounts for 40 percent of my total revenue. Its bank has expressed their concern to me and the client about the existence of a contingency plan for accounting and tax backup in the event of my untimely death or long-term medical issues. This is a very important issue for me and I would appreciate any advice you can provide.
With the right approach, you may be able to save the relationship. Unhappy clients won’t tell you they have a problem; they’ll simply move their business elsewhere. So, if a client gives you a chance to repair a bad situation, take it. Here are a few tips from Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of “The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life,” to keep your business relationships from going bad — and rescue those that have started to sour:
We’ve found at least 50 items. What would you add? By Ed Mendlowitz The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor QUESTION: What type of information should be kept in, or as, permanent files? RESPONSE: A permanent file should be maintained for each of your clients. This would include the following: Engagement letters Representation letters – I would keep these in the permanent file. An example is that a claim could be made after you no longer have the work paper file associated with the matter. This is especially so with estate planning consultations where a claim could arise many years after a gift tax return was filed. I would keep copies of Crummey letters in the file for the gift tax returns, if […]
Use these busy days to get to know your clients better. With a few quick questions, every client meeting can turn into a new relationship-building opportunity. Ask how the firm is doing as a whole to assess satisfaction. Ask some open-ended questions about the client’s current situation, challenges and goals for the year. Delve a little deeper into potential specific services, such as multi-state tax requirements or pension plan audits. Request referrals. Keep it short and be sure to have a mechanism in place to follow up on the information that you learn from these interactions.
Try these 6 ideas to stop losing business to competitors. By Sandi Smith Leyva The Accountant’s Accelerator It’s rare that I lose business to competitors, and it’s also not an accident. If you are losing business to your competitors, here are some strategies you can use to “become a category of one,” as they say in marketing.
Project management for accountants, by Ed Mendlowitz, the CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor…
Set an agenda; call a meeting. By Ed Mendlowitz The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor QUESTION: I have many small business tax clients and seem to lose them as they grow. I provide good service, never have extensions and call the clients in July to see if I can update their books and in December if they want any year-end tax planning. What else can I do? RESPONSE: Based on our conversation, you are their tax preparer and they do not think of you as their “accountant” or business advisor. And based on what you told me, you aren’t, although you obviously have the skills.