The Profitable Way to Onboard New Clients
I’m continuing our series on the new book, “Double Your Accounting Firm: Lessons Learned on How Top Firms Grow Faster, Build Stronger Teams and Increase Profit”,
This book is on Amazon right now and hit ‘best-seller’ status in various categories when it landed! It’s not some cheap ebook either. This is a 180-page manual to truly catapult the growth of your accounting firm.
This is Part II of our series where I, David Cristello, talk more freely on key pieces of the book.
In this special episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, I discuss:
- How to onboard new clients to set you up for future success
- Steps to make sure each client doesn’t become a headache later
- The art of setting expectations with your fresh, new client
Why Having Steps to Properly Onboard New Clients is as Critical Than Ever
I hammered home in Part I of this special series that before you begin scouring the city for new clients, you must have processes in place for efficiency purposes. Nothing cripples the growth of an accounting firm more than faulty processes.
Remember, the worst your process is, the less clients you can take, the more staff you must hire. Loss of revenues, increase in cost. That’s not what we’re looking for. In Part
I, I gave some tips to nail down your processes and really open up the floodgates to productivity.
Now, when you’re changing up your processes and (now) onboarding new clients, it’s easiest to do test runs on new prospects. The reason is simple. These new clients don’t know how you work, so you’re not changing anything up for them.
The key we do this is because: we don’t want to bring in new clients into a broken system.
The right processes save a lot of time and money. One of my past guests, Stacy Kildal, was able to trim down her entire client thanks to the right processes mixed with a seamless onboarding experience.
Now, she has a waitlist to work with her!
She also finds clients are willing to pay more for her services.
Who Should Onboard New Clients in my Firm?
Normally, I suggest having a partner onboard the client with the accountant taking care of the day-to-day processes sitting in. Who does your onboarding right now?
Clients want to feel connected to your firm. An emotional attachment they take home and assures them when they sleep at night that they picked the right firm.
Putting together the right onboarding process sets the stage for referrals and client retention. Remember, when a new client walks into your door, they are still second-guessing they made the right decision.
Onboarding Steps to Turn New Clients Into Great Clients!
You need a game-plan whenever you step into the “ring” with a new prospect. You’ll also need a spoonful of confidence. Your first onboard meeting with a new client is just as important as selling the product. Confidence projects authority. You may have heard me talk about the sales call in past episodes. In sales, confidence is the ingredient to getting what you want. On a sales call, if you keep control of the conversation, you’ll have the upper leg when it comes close time.
Even if they already agreed with working with your firm, you’re still selling the same process and the same value. When they walk in the door for the first time, know they are second-guessing their discussion to work with you. The faster you relax them, the easier to set expectations.
In an onboarding meeting, you must set expectations upfront. Some examples are: when you receive work (add fine for late), or cap on how many calls they may get, etc. Get real concrete in these explanations or else you’ll end up in disagreements later.
Here are two expectations you should set as a general rule:
- We, the firm, are not a bean counter. Our goal is to help grow your business. We will help in all aspects.
- Treat all our team members with kindness and respect, no questions asked.
Doing this onboarding process really spotlights your firm as being professional and organized.
Another key piece to this onboarding meeting, you want to understand what the client values and what they can expect from you. First, every client may value things differently. Some may value promptness in work product, others may just need a few extra phone calls. You must talk to their *want it* side to get a sense of what they value most.
Major point here: This does not mean creating specialized, custom packages for each new client. No, remember, we want processes to be seamless throughout the firm.
Different strokes for different clients will only cause a mess. The point of finding ‘what a client values’ is so you’re able to overdeliver. If clients expect work in 2 weeks and they value punctuality, deliver it in one week.
On the flip side, you must demonstrate what you (and the firm) can expect from you: How do you communicate with clients, what’s your timeline for getting work back to the client, what are the rules of engagement…etc.
Tactics to Implement With Your Onboarding Process:
Listening during your onboarding meeting is essential to hitting all these points above. After the client tells you what they expect, parrot back to them all the points so they know you’re listening and you have the correct info. This is what I call “sprinkles on the ice cream!”
New clients will be unsure you’re the right person until you add the sprinkles. Meaning, you’ve demonstrated you understand their needs and showed them the confidence you will solve them.
Stacy Kildal, like I mentioned, has a waitlist to work with her. Here’s her onboarding process:
- First, she does a ‘quick review’ of a client’s book. She charges them right away from this (a few hundred bucks) because the client won’t value her review if it’s free.
- After she goes through the books, she eliminates those who aren’t a good fit. Very short life cycle for some!
- She’ll send over the rest of her suggestions to the new client. If they like the changes, she will move forward.
That brings us to our last crucial piece for a successful onboarding…deliver value upfront. Instead of worrying about where to bill your time for the first meeting…think about laying the groundwork for a long relationship with the client in front of you.
That will pay more dividends than any billable hour.
IF YOU FIND THIS PODCAST FORMAT HELPFUL OR NOT HELPFUL…
SEND AN EMAIL TO David@jetpackworkflow.com and let me know your thoughts!
On July 25, 2017, our book “Double Your Accounting Firm: Lessons Learned on How Top Firms Grow Faster, Build Stronger Teams and Increase Profit” was released on Amazon. Hardcover copies will be available in the coming weeks.
With this book, we plan to add even more value to your accounting firm besides just workflow processes.
- Page 52: Actual scripts to move clients into the more profitable fixed and value pricing model
- Page 89: Top 2 crazy good strategies to get new clients in your firm this month
- Page 136: Step-by-step process to meet and close new prospects (scripts and blueprint included)
- Page 220: Building out 6-figure profit centers this year to double your firm