Practice management: Using your clients as salesmen

Certainly, we should be persuading staff, banks etc to refer us work, but the focus of referred work is undoubtedly the clients.

They are, after all, the group that actually see and benefit from our advice and service. The trick therefore is to persuade them to be your salesmen.

The first and most obvious step is to literally ask them to send us work. The way to go about this is to continuously let your clients know that you are looking for more work. This can be done on the telephone, at client meetings, on social occasions, at seminars and in the client newsletter. Never be afraid to repeat yourself.

Secondly, it is clearly crucial to give your clients a standard of service which warrants recommendation.

The issues to focus on are:

Responsiveness, fees and contact, and not surprisingly, technical competence. Of course, I am not, suggesting that we do sub-standard work – but it is worth bearing in mind that clients EXPECT technical competence from their accountants – after all you are qualified!!

In summary, set time policies for responding to telephone calls, letters and producing accounts etc and let everybody know – especially your clients.

Ensure all your clients understand how you have arrived at a bill and let them know when to expect the bills. Sometimes it is well worth the effort of showing them your timesheets and explaining the whole billing process – how can you possibly aim to issue “value for money” bills if your clients do not understand how they have been cimpiled and what has been done.

Lastly, you absolutely must commit some more time to contacting your clients regularly – contact is the single action that enhances many other aspects of “good” customer service – it helps “responsiveness” and allows for a better understanding of fees by the clients, amongst others.

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