by Bruce W. Marcus Professional Services Marketing 3.0 While some firms have explored the idea of client service groups, and leading thinkers like Patrick McKenna have been training firms in the concept for several years, few firms have developed the art and science of the team as successfully as the Washington-based law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld. More for mid-size and large CPA firms: What We’ve Learned Since Accounting Marketing Was Legalized • Do Accounting Firms Really Want an ‘Image’? • What Accounting Firms Need to Learn from Personal Financial Planning Specialists • The Delicate Art of Positioning Your Firm in the Mind of the Prospect • Even a Random Disaster Can Be Controlled with Risk Management • [...]
By Ed Mendlowitz, author of “Implementing Fee Increases“ Question: I haven’t raised my fees in three years. How do I suddenly go about it now and how much should I raise them? Also, I have many business clients where the individual returns are done as part of the yearly service with extra billing. How can I start charging for this?
This time, I have a question for you. But I’ll start with a story. Last Sunday evening my wife and I went into a reasonably upscale restaurant and we had terrible service from everyone we interacted with. When we were seated, the table wobbled and we asked if they could do something or move us to another table. Ten minutes later someone showed up with a wad of napkins that made it worse. Five minutes later they asked if we were okay, and put us at another table. ten minutes after that they took our order, but we asked for some drinks right away, which we only got after we complained to the manager.
It’s good for business and considerate to clients. by Ed Mendlowitz Tax Season Opportunity Guide Tax season is a business and businesses need to be paid. It is harder to justify prices when providing services rather than products. Products are usually priced before delivery while many times services are priced after delivery, i.e. performance. More on busy season management: Tax Season Trends, Issues and Opportunities Many accountants price returns before they are worked on, usually basing the fee on last year, or a rate schedule. Sending a bill with the return establishes the relationship that you should be paid promptly for the work done.
Including a sample engagement letter. Question: Some of my clients are getting older and are becoming unable to handle their own financial affairs and I have been asked if I could assist them. What is involved and how do I charge for it? Ed Mendlowitz, VPA, PFS, ABV, responds: Many large firms provide “family office” services. This is a complete one stop financial service that helps clients manage their money, pay their bills, collect their dividends and interest, and make sure insurance isn’t cancelled, mortgage, car lease or condo fee payments aren’t skipped, and tax payments paid on time. More from Ed: Seven Ways to Increase Fees in 2013 | 10 Best Practices for Tax Season | Nine Healthy Things To [...]
The pragmatic six-step way to evaluate potential new clients. By Sandi Smith, CPA Accountant’s Accelerator Every week, do you get wonderful, exciting calls from new clients who want to use your services? You might want to talk with every one of them to get the sale. The problem is, if you do, you’re likely to go bankrupt. Let me explain. More for soloists and small firms from at CPA Trendlines: Five Ideas to Reduce Client Price-Sensitivity • Rise to the Top with a Fresh Elevator Speech • Four Ways to Practice Entrepreneurial Perseverance • 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking New Clients • The Success Secrets Women Already Know • His and Her Brains at Work in Tax and Accounting • The Power of Deadlines in [...]
Clients say: Not as long as you think. If you’re a finance manager on the client side, what do you say? by Rick Telberg Are most CPAs fooling themselves? If you ask a CPA, as CPA Trendlines has been doing since 2006, how long they typically keep a client, you’ll get a fairly consistent answer through the years. If you ask a client how long they’ve worked with their current CPA firm, you’ll also get a fairly consistent answer. The problem is: The CPA and the client disagree.
Plus, five more essential pieces to the profit puzzle. by Marc Rosenberg, CPA Author of “What Really Makes CPA Firms Profitable?” I want to de-bunk a myth about niche marketing. Many CPAs that I have talked to think that niche marketing means that most, or all of their business, needs to be in their niche. RELATED: Practice Development Is No Longer an Optional Activity • 10 Good Ways the Achieve Partner Accountability • Pick Your Partners Right to Begin With • The First Nine Questions Your Partner Team Needs to Embrace for Optimal Profitability • Profitability and The Value of Strategic Thinking • The Five Essential Building Blocks for Creating a Strong Accounting Firm • The Seven Signs of Great Leadership [...]
Are we giving it away too easily? Ed Mendlowitz answers some of the toughest questions practitioners can throw at him. He’s the right one to ask. After more than 40 years in the business – building his own practice, running the firm, and eventually selling it to a major regional firm, WithumSmith+Brown, where he remains a senior partner and consultant to professional services clients – he has the answers. RELATED: Measuring Growth in Yourself, Staff and Partners | What Do You Think You’re Doing? | Can You Teach Judgment? | Clients’ Calls At Home | What You Need to Know before Expanding into Business Valuation | Asking an Attorney for a Referral Fee | Are Partner Retreats Really Worth the [...]
A short discourse on random and statistical risk. by Bruce W. Marcus Author of Professional Services Marketing 3.0 Risks are different in context and magnitude. A good mathematician can often statistically quantify the boundaries of risk, such as telling you that one in every hundred people will slip in the bathtub and break a bone, but that depersonalizes it and tells you nothing to help you avoid it. And that’s only half way to understanding it. More for CPA Trendlines PRO members: The Three Degrees of Risk • Four Essential Habits for Building Client Trust • The Nine Hallmarks of a Marketing Culture • The Four Cornerstones to Building A Marketing Culture • Getting the Client is [...]
What you need to know. How finance executives pick accounting firms: Join the survey; get the answers. by Rick Telberg Here’s some good news for accounting firms: Most companies stick with their CPA firms for at least five to 10 years. And they are loathe to change. The reasons are myriad. The inherent cost of switching – getting a new set of outside accountants up to speed – is certainly one. However, another, less tangible reason, cannot be denied: The vast majority of CPA firms develop strong and deep relationships with their clients. And yet, there is some fragility in the relationship to which no CPA firm, or corporate finance manager, should turn a blind eye. A surprising number of [...]
Dazzle them with the pre-meeting meeting…
One of the key ways to improve client and workplace relationships is by showing appreciation. “Too often” Leo Buscaglia, the author, once said, “we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” We can extend appreciation anywhere and everywhere — at home, at work, at school, and wherever you want to acknowledge those who make your life brighter. Here are a few ideas that might work for accounting firms:
Accountants take note: Clients may be the lifeblood of a business. But remember: Managers manage, leaders lead. It’s YOUR business. To make the point, here’s an email we received from one reader, name withheld for obvious reasons: Rick, I was wondering how many other firms are managed by their clients. I understand the ‘customer is always right’ and ‘customer service is important’ mentalities. But I am sure there should be a limit. Our firm has let our clients, especially the unorganized clients set our schedule, our working hours and worst, our fees. Our worst clients are the ones we are bending over backwards for. We have given up holiday weekends and evening dinners with our families (in May and June [...]
What we know that clients don’t even know they need. By Sandi Smith, CPA Accountant’s Accelerator I’m pretty sure that I am not the only accountant who has made the following mistakes with clients. Here are a couple of ideas to help us remember what we know that the client doesn’t and why it costs us when we forget. 1. Clients do not know how to evaluate our technical skills. If you need to hire an accountant, chances are you don’t know a lot about accounting. It just follows that you’re not going to be perfect at hiring an accountant. As accountants, we need to remember that it’s not our technical prowess that gets us the job since the client [...]