The Practitioner: Promising clients the earth

LEARNING HOW TO COPE with clients’ expectation is getting more and more difficult, the more involved I get in the management of the practice.

Maybe I should be educating the clients on the fact that, while I signed them up, sold them the dream, and promised them the best accounting experience they have ever had, it won’t actually be me that they get access to 24/7.

New clients are especially difficult and, to be honest, I sometimes feel guilty about signing them up knowing they are only going to see me a couple of times a year, at best. If they were willing to pay more, that would be a different story, but in today’s cost-conscious environment, trying to get them to sign up in the first place for the general compliance work is hard enough – never mind sticking additional fees on the quote for my time.

Referrals from existing clients are often the hardest ones to deal with. For example, we had a referral last year from one of our biggest clients.

He had told his friend how great the service is, how much contact he has with the partners, and how he is able to phone us up at any time of day or night and get queries answered. This is all true, of course, but he does pay a hell of a lot of money for the privilege!

The friend referred to us, however, was only a small business and had a much smaller budget. As a consequence, he wasn’t willing to pay for the same service that our existing client enjoyed.

Being the great firm we are (ahem), and not wanting to upset our biggest client, we did give his friend a very similar service, for a much, much lower price.

I can only hope that the two friends, when next having a drink together in the pub, don’t discuss how much we charge them, as we may end up losing our biggest client!

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from the coalface of a regional firm in the heart of England

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