The Practitioner: If you don’t ask you don’t know

I’VE NEVER PARTICULARLY enjoyed asking clients for fee increases, but at least I always ask!

I got asked to go and see a potential new client last week who was unhappy with their existing accountant. The main cause of their unhappiness was that they received an unexpected invoice in the post.

They even told me in the meeting that had the accountant phoned them to explain the reason for the invoice before sending it then they probably would have been ok with it.

I can understand where they are coming from. If I think of things that I pay for, utilities, services, etc. if I ever get charged more than quoted without explanation then it always leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Larger companies can get away with it to some extent, as we have seen recently with the utility and telecom companies implementing price increases by referring to a deeply hidden clause in their T&C’s.

Accountancy firms don’t have that luxury I would suggest, or the cheek.
So, anyway I’ve needed to ask a client for a couple of months at least now, for an increase in the monthly fee we charge him. It’s one of those where you are scared of asking for the increase in case it makes him realize how much he’s actually paying and he decides to cut the costs.

As it turns out he was absolutely fine about it and agreed without quibble to the rise I proposed. Honesty is always the best policy I find, and when sending him the detail of the proposed increase I laid out everything clearly, and honestly.
Today I had another situation that prompted me to call a client and ask for an increase in the annual accounts fee.

This particular client has a history of being on the last minute every year and their SAGE file not being up to scratch. This year it was worse than ever, with the bank account not having been reconciled even.

I called the client, again a little bit apprehensive as to what she might say, but I needn’t have worried. I only wish I had asked for more of an increase!

If you don’t ask you don’t get!

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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