Signing the contract is only the beginning. Going through the process to onboard new clients is where the real money is, and Chad Davis from LiveCA will show you what to do.
On top of that, Chad will also show you how his firm manages to stay profitable despite having an all-remote team.
On this episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Chad Davis dive into:
- Chad’s dream profit margin, but why he’s not obsessed with getting there
- How they manage a remote team through unique metrics (such as “mushy points”) and more
- How they created a world-class experience to onboard new clients
Click Below to Listen to the Interview or Find Us on iTunes
Understand This One Thing, and You’ll Always Have a Smooth Client Experience:
Chad Davis, Partner at LiveCA (with past Jetpack guest, Josh Zweig), is a CA (Canadian equivalent of a CPA in the United States). He started off his career as most in this industry do — he got a degree, an MBA, became a controller, did accounting gigs like accounts payable and P/L work.
At the time, he worked in the Grand Cayman Islands. His clients were all around the world — this was his first taste of working in accounting but remotely.
He discovered that he mostly enjoyed the technology side of accounting moreso than just doing the financials. Chad dove headfirst into tech consulting. This led him to his boldest move yet…
He convinced his wife they should set roots down in Canada and launch a technology consulting business. As you can imagine, there was plenty of risks built in here. As most accountants, Chad isn’t a massive risk-taker…but he was here.
And that wasn’t even the craziest part of the story. They moved and launched the business with zero clients and zero connections. The first year as a full-blown entrepreneur was tough. Chad wasn’t an experienced salesman, so it was tough to handle.
Then, something clicked…
He realized one important thing inside his tech consulting business…
Everyone has an issue. They need that issue solved. We all have problems. The way to show he could solve it was push to demos of tech products so they could see the solution themselves. This worked well, except Chad was underpricing like mad.
That led him to work more on the right process to onboard new clients. More on that in a second.
A New Partnership That Changed His Onboarding Process
In 2013, Chad got an interesting message through the Xero website. It was from a guy named Josh Zweig. Josh was a ‘Skype Accountant’ who, like Chad, worked remotely with his clients. Josh needed help on the tech side — Chad had clients needing straight accounting. After some back and forth questions, they realized it was a perfect match to work together.
They started with updating the onboarding process to better retain clients — and better retain clients they like!
At a top level, Chad’s method of providing a demo was a good start i.e. listen to a problem, show solution, demonstrate the solution. This builds trust…the foundation of a long-time customer.
At a deeper level, the onboarding of a new client was smooth and broken up into 3 parts.
- Introductory discussions — go over pain points, the issues, top 5 expenses at the client’s company, plus any other problems they’ve had with accountants in the past.
- The value conversation — go over a plan of action, determine the outcome that best fits their business, prep the demo to show, and keep the solution top-of-mind for them. Then, they go through the top applications while keeping a close eye that the tech is covering their needs/wants completely
- Actual pricing and finalizing contract — show them the outcomes again, reveal multiple packages for the client to choose. The key here is to ‘reduce surprises.’ Your pricing should also reduce their expenses in total.
Since we are on the topic of pricing, Chad definitely believes the price should be agreed upon before any work is done. Compare that to billing by the hour. On top of that, make sure you work on payment terms that fit your client’s business. Their business may be seasonal. You will know about this seasonality in the onboarding process as you collect information.
Of course, you need the right team members in place to make sure these steps go off without a hitch. That’s why Chad and Josh work tirelessly at hiring the right remote workers.
How to Hire & Work Efficiently With a Remote Team:
To keep your clients happy, you need happy workers. That means you need to spend as much time vetting new hires as you do searching for new business. Bad employees, especially if they’re working remotely, can breed fast. You need to put in systems to catch these early.
To start, they put new employees through a ‘trial’ spot. During the trial, they are meeting with team members, understanding how they work, and how they click. They use SLACK to keep in contact with each other. This, without a doubt, helps cut down wasted efforts on emails. Actually, Chad says emails are virtually ‘non-existent.’ During the trail, Chad and his team are looking for high performance and that the team member is trustworthy.
Outside of just communicating, they’ve also added Workflow MAX. This software keeps track of items concerning clients. A few kinks are still being ironed out.
As part of the onboarding new clients process and overall retention of the firm…it is important to keep track of your clients. The sale doesn’t simply end at the handshake. Instead, you must keep tally on how your new onboarded clents do.
A bad client can poison an entire team.
But, there were no tools to track clients after onboarding. That’s why, while on a company retreat, Chad and his team hatched the idea for a “mushy point” as a way to measure a client. This is completely subjective in many ways, but when consistent, it’s very telling.
A ‘mushy point’ measures “How do you feel about a client from 1 to 5. Rate them.” This number, then divided by revenue is a measure of how the client fits into the firm overall. That number should match your emotion and your team’s. Very rarely are the numbers horribly different. In the end, a client is measured along these points:
1) do they match our ideal client?
2) Do they communicate well with everyone on the team?
3) Do they possess the skills to survive? “
We do not want ourselves to change for the client. This causes inefficiency and overstretching. We built this company. However, a poor client is required to always follow the above. If their ‘Mushy Point’ isn’t top notch, they can get a warning/help, then it’d be time to decide if they stay on as a client. You should know what the client values because you spoke about it in value conversation.
This idea is different, but it just might work…
WHAT”S YOUR ONBOARDING PROCESS? SHARE BELOW.