I Lost a Client to an Accounting Firm with Cheaper Fees

Businessman holding two papers with happy and angry face each on themWhy they came back.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I have never been the lowest-priced accountant, but neither was I the highest.

MORE: Getting a Referral from an Adversary | The Background to Saving a Business | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech | What Consulting Is
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Sometimes prices charged are subject to the perception of the client and not reality. Fees are always related to the value provided, although that isn’t always evident.
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Getting a Referral from an Adversary

Businessman standing outside the office on the phone with coffee... but don't go fishing for one.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

One time I received a call with a referral from another professional who was an adversary in a contentious deal on which I represented a client.

MORE: How I Saved a Business | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee | Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot | You Must Push the Pencil | The Art of the Deal: Starts with Listening | Be a Sounding Board to Your Clients
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I thanked him but expressed surprise because we seemed to always be at each other’s throats.
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The Background to Saving a Business

Pay attention to the parameters and you can do great things.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

It’s important to get an up-close look at a client’s business in order to save it.

MORE: How I Saved a Business | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Am I Happy? | My Boss Hated the Client | Fired from My First Job
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I’ve discussed how I rescued a business that was in danger of closing because of unpaid taxes. I thought about some additional details that should be shared with readers, so here goes.
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To Save a Business, Plan the Details

a businessman with some jigsaw puzzle pieces in his handDesperate times might require bold moves.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I once saved a client’s business that the IRS was in danger of closing. Here is the nitty-gritty.

MORE: How I Saved a Business | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Am I Happy?
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The owner wanted to be able to walk away without her business. She would be broke and would lose her house, but she wouldn’t have a continuing debt for unpaid payroll taxes.
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How I Saved a Business

Happy business professionals giving high five hand slapA step-by-step breakdown.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Saving a business creates one of the greatest highs you can have in accounting.

MORE: Start with the Cash | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results
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I remember one instance when I received a referral for a business in another state requiring a plane trip.
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Start with the Cash

Extreme close up of female hand with pen pointing on cash flow document.After all, what is most important?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

One time I was asked to audit a hotel in Florida that was going to be foreclosed on by the mortgagor and for which I was paid in advance.

MORE: Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee | Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot | You Must Push the Pencil | The Art of the Deal Starts with Listening | Working for a Jerk | The ‘Wrong’ CPE
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The audit was planned and scheduled, and it looked like we had everything under control from our end as much as we could.
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Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh

Woman and man shaking handsWhat do you do?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Einstein developed a simple formula that provided the solution to the cosmos, energy and matter. Well, by working on it long enough, with determined, focus I just developed my own formula for the solution to client financial success.

MORE: The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Am I Happy? | My Boss Hated the Client
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It's E=fs4Uh. And it stands for "Ed = financial security for You at a higher level."
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The Staffer Who Was Too Smart

Businessman writing on paperWhy I fired him.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

One time I got a client who was on the verge of going out of business and he asked if there was anything we could do to stop it from happening.

MORE: Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself
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After my usual tour of looking around, I sent in a staff person to get some numbers for me. I didn’t want the numbers in the financial statements, but the numbers that would show me how the business was really doing, what the trends were, how much business he did with his top five or 10 clients and vendors, the largest-selling items, his pricing methods, who his higher-paid employees were and maybe whether there was hidden value in the business. My staff guy was told what to do, that he had three days, and this was a very high priority.
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Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters

Business people laughing at lunch in a cafe outdoorsKnowledgeable clients are better clients.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

One of the best tools to evaluate a business and get a quick handle on the knowledge of the owner or manager is the break-even analysis.

MORE: Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee | Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot | You Must Push the Pencil | The Art of the Deal: Starts with Listening
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Break-even analysis is a simple calculation that tells how much sales are needed to break even, and how much will be lost or earned when sales fall short of that amount or exceed it. A key part of this is to determine the “product lines” a business has and its direct cost structure.
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Ask Stupid Questions Early

Group of businesspeople hiding their faces behind question mark signs at officeLate queries give a poor impression.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

One time I was working for about a month at a client who was a stockbroker. Throughout the office were signs that said P&S with arrows.

MORE: Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee | Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot | You Must Push the Pencil | The Art of the Deal: Starts with Listening | Working for a Jerk | The ‘Wrong’ CPE | Be a Sounding Board to Your Clients | Roger Is My Only Client
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When I got started on the account, I did not pay much attention to the signs. Instead I concentrated on learning what to do and then doing it. After a couple of weeks I looked at one of the signs and had no idea what it meant, never coming across anything referring to it.
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Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections

Young businessman in office on phoneThe takeaway? Don't say no to new types of business.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

After I received a Mercedes as a fee to help a pair of businessmen resolve their tax withholding problems with the Internal Revenue Service, I soon became an expert in IRS collection matters.

MORE: How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee | Mendlowitz: How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Am I Happy? | My Boss Hated the Client | Fired from My First Job | Staffers Need to Speak Up with Clients | Bored by CPE? You’re Missing Out! | Clients Buy Solutions, Not Hours | Roger Is My Only Client
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After that job was completed, their attorney recommended a few other clients and I became quite active with collections. Each time I got a new client, I took giant steps in learning how to handle these matters. I also got to know many IRS revenue officers, at least one in almost every IRS office in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. While I was learning, it seemed as if everything built on what I had previously learned, and I was becoming an expert in settling tax delinquencies.
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How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee

Car driving on road on pillars through Swiss mountainsA true tale of the IRS being helpful.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

At one point we had a client that was going out of business and they asked us to negotiate a final settlement with the IRS in which the two partners could walk away broke but without being in debt to the IRS for unpaid withholding taxes.

MORE: How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | Employees Have Better Memories than Bosses | When Writeups Went Extinct
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Neither my two partners nor I had experience at that time in this.
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Mendlowitz: How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant

Hand watering small plant in pot shaped like upward arrowAnd 3 lessons I learned.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

My childhood dream had two parts. One was to have my own CPA practice and the other was to own a bunch of businesses.

MORE: High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | Hot Shot Sales Manager Is Not Such a Hot Shot | You Must Push the Pencil | The Art of the Deal: Starts with Listening | Working for a Jerk
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The CPA part worked out great. The businesses part did not.
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