When starting your accounting practice, you’ll likely spend a lot of time on marketing and finding clients. As your business grows, you may have less time for these activities.
No matter how good your services are, if you don't have a process in place to retain your accounting clients, you'll eventually lose them. Here are 9 tips to help you build client loyalty and maintain these important long-term relationships.
1. Calculate Your Clients’ Lifetime Value
When evaluating your client retention strategies, consider the lifetime value of your current client base. Take the annual billing for each client and multiply it by the average number of years you typically provide service to them. For example, if you charge a client $2,500 per year and work with your clients for an average of 20 years, the lifetime value of that client is $50,000.
While every client is important and deserves excellent customer service, high-value clients may expect a greater degree of care. Once you’ve considered the lifetime value of your clients, it will be easier to direct your efforts toward your highest-value clients.
2. Make Retention Your Priority
Accounting firms rely on clients for both their income and their reputation. Therefore, it’s essential that you take care of your existing clients. You can spend lots of time and energy trying to drum up new business. When you consider the cost of those efforts, you’re much better off making sure your current clients are satisfied rather than looking for new ones.
If you’ve assessed the lifetime value of your clients, you’ve already identified your most valuable clients and can prioritize services for them. This means providing them with the highest level of service possible and maintaining open lines of communication.
You’ll also want to be proactive in identifying any potential problems and offering solutions. By taking care of your existing clients, you can ensure the long-term success of your firm.
3. Find Clients That Fit Your Business
Focus on finding the clients that fit you best. Who are the ideal clients for your business? That depends on what your strengths and areas of expertise are. Figure out who you love to work with, and ask yourself why.
This may sound like a daunting task, but there are ways to ensure you’ve got the right clients for your firm. A great place to start is by looking for any areas of improvement within your current client base. If you find that you’re constantly adjusting your services to meet the needs of your existing clients, it may be time to look for new ones.
Another option for finding clients that fit you is to ask for referrals from your best clients. If they’ve had a positive experience working with you, they’ll likely be more than happy to share your information with other businesses in their industry.
Finally, you can use online resources to search for potential clients. There are a number of websites that allow businesses to post their information and services, making it easy for interested parties to find them.
By taking the time to locate your ideal clients, you can increase your chances of success while also delivering the best possible service.
4. Be Outstanding
At the end of the day, what separates a good accounting firm from a great one is the level of customer service it provides to its clients. Whether it's going above and beyond to answer questions or taking the time to explain complex financial concepts, outstanding service is key to building a loyal client base.
Identify the competitive advantage your firm offers. This might include customized services such as pick up and drop off for local clients or expertise in a certain area such as the research and development tax credit. Once you’ve identified your specialty, figure out which clients will most benefit from your services and market directly to them.
Of course, providing great service is easier said than done. Constant attention and dedication are required to meet the needs of your clients, even when it's inconvenient. However, the payoff is worth it. When clients feel valued and well-served, they’re much more likely to stick with you, even during tough economic times.
5. Be Accountable
Being accountable to your clients means offering accurate and reliable services that meet and exceed their needs and expectations. It’s providing them with a dedicated point person and following through on your promises.
To be accountable, you must establish clear lines of communication so that your clients understand what services will be provided and when. Your firm should set realistic expectations for turnaround times and keep clients updated on the status of their projects. You need to adhere to all due dates and clearly communicate any changes to your schedule well in advance.
Measure your success by how well you meet your goals and deliver quality work in a timely manner. Through accountability, you build trust, a sense of consistency, and relationships that last.
6. Be Empathetic
“Celebrate their new baby. Offer sincere condolences when a parent dies. Help them understand that there aren’t many true accounting or tax emergencies.”
— Jackie Meyer, Business Coach for Accountants
You need to genuinely care about your clients and the events taking place in their lives. Whether sending a birthday card or following up after an appointment to see if they have questions, these personal touches go a long way toward cultivating client satisfaction.
Keep in mind that most clients find managing taxes and finances to be overwhelming. Clients often panic if they receive a notice from the IRS. As an accounting professional, you may know that most notices are nothing to worry about and easily resolved, but your clients may not understand that. They’re counting on you to be their trusted advisor whenever they’re concerned.
7. Be Engaging
Every client is unique, and each one requires a different approach. That's why it's important to be engaging when providing service to your clients. It can be the difference between having a satisfied client who continues to use your firm's services for years to come or a disgruntled one who takes their business elsewhere.
The key to being engaging is listening to and understanding your clients’ needs. Only then can you provide the level of service they're looking for, whether that means going the extra mile or simply providing a higher level of personal attention. Making that effort is essential to keeping your clients content.
8. Be Revolutionary
Providing exemplary accounting services means you’re always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to improve the client experience. Whether it's tax preparation, bookkeeping, or financial consulting, when you expand on ways to serve your clients, you demonstrate your desire to help them succeed.
9. Be Organized
When it comes to keeping clients happy, meeting deadlines is crucial. You should have standardized workflows to ensure that no steps are overlooked and no due dates are missed. You can use a written to-do list or create an online spreadsheet, but the simplest solution is to implement an automated task management system as your team grows.
That’s where Jetpack Workflow can help. Jetpack Workflow is a workflow management system trusted by over 6,000 accountants and bookkeepers. The software comes preloaded with over 50 templates that cover the most common accounting tasks, helping you track your team’s tasks, monitor deadlines, and manage hours.
With an efficient workflow system in place, you’ll know exactly where you are every step of the way. Even better, you’ll give your clients a great reason to stick around, knowing their financials are in good hands.