Don’t Agree to Every Request
Because you want to help, saying no feels difficult. Of course you agree to do things when asked. Later when you’re alone, you regret agreeing to the request.
This is especially true with new clients. Someone wants to hire you to manage their finances. The bookkeeping needs for their industry are not your favorite tasks. But, you accept them as a new client anyway.
You know they’re NOT going to be a great client. And once again, you totally ignore the soft whisper warning you not to accept them into your accounting practice.
Instead you justify your decision.
I could use the money.
After awhile I’ll stop working with them.
I can help them and don’t want to turn them away.
Saying yes to everyone isn’t a great idea. Non-ideal clients distract your focus and drain your energy. Even if they’re nice people, what they require isn’t a good match for your accounting firm.
The High Cost of Working with the Wrong Client
Let’s face it, not all clients get the same results. Some factors, like personality, culture, readiness and follow through, exist beyond your control.
Plus, non-ideal clients frequently require extra time and energy. Even with the additional attention, they don’t get the same results as your best clients.
Then why work with everyone when some clients aren’t a good match?
Take the time to define what contributes to a great client relationship. As you gain clarity, screen all potential clients for those specific qualities. Then only accept clients who fit your criteria.
Common Traits of Ideal Clients
Ready to only work with ideal clients? Consider these criteria as you figure out your ideal client:
1. Appreciation. Imagine only working with clients who recognize your unique value, appreciate your quality of work and respect your input.
How much does the client relationship matter to you? If it’s a high priority, then choose clients whose personality works well with yours. By the way, sometimes it’s a process of elimination. You initially identify the qualities of non-ideal clients.
2. Enjoyment. Early in my career I learned that all my clients make me smile. For some, I smile as they walk IN the door. For others, I smile as they walk OUT the door.
I wanted my entire day to be highly enjoyable and rewarding. With that realization, I decided to only accept clients who were a good fit. My clients value the client relationship, seek growth and are receptive to change.
When the relationship and the work is enjoyable, everyone wins. Peak performance studies affirm you get better results from reward, not punishment.
3. Referrals. People socialize with others who are just like them. Their network includes others with similar needs and interests. It’s a bonus when your ideal client starts to refer new clients who are a great match for your accounting firm.
Two more signs you booked the right client
1. Niche. Does your niche serve a particular profession? Even within a specific industry, not everyone’s a good match. Figure out the specific characteristics of your best clients. Their personality is more important than their profession.
Don’t solely focus on the obvious qualities. Pay attention to the more subtle ones. For example, my clients value personal growth. They’re tired of wanting more, but realize they can’t achieve what they want on their own. An investment in their accounting practice is an investment in themselves.
A specialty grows your accounting practice faster. Often, micro-specialties exist within a niche. Those under-served populations are eagerly waiting for someone who caters to their specific needs.
Michael Quaranto started cleaning movie theater screens as an after school job at age 15. Around 1990, IMAX theaters started to gain popularity. Like movie screens, they require periodic cleanings to maintain sharp picture quality. An opportunity appeared and he seized it.
Quaranto developed equipment to clean those 8 story tall screens without damaging them. Now his international screen cleaning business generates over $1million each year. By the way, he charges $5ooo for 8 hours of work.
High value clients prefer to pay a premium fee to work with someone who possesses specific knowledge rather than pay less for a compromise.
2. Select. Figure out who you want to work with. Is it a specific industry, personality type or both? Then gradually replace your non-ideal clients with ideal clients.
Gradually replace your non-ideal #accounting clients with quality clients. Let them know your shifting your firm’s focus and can no longer provide services. Read full post. #getpaidwhatyoureworth Click To Tweet
Remain professional as you notify your non-ideal clients about ending the relationship. Let them know you’re shifting focus in your accounting firm and can no longer provide services. Include an end date for your services. Then stick to it.
Start to Cherry Pick Your Clients
If you want to only work with ideal clients, screen your prospects with a consultation. Discuss their requirements and qualify them according to your ideal client criteria.
Ready to move in this direction? Consider these five things:
1. Pricing. Don’t lead with your hourly rate. Connecting your fees to time is unfair to you and to your clients.
Price your services according to the value, rather than the time spent working in your client’s file. Value is subjective. Clients hire you when they believe what they gain from your accounting firm is greater than your fee.
2. Screen Clients. Be selective about who you speak with. Screen potential clients before you set an appointment for an initial consult.
Let’s protect your time. Only schedule a consultation when they meet your minimum requirements. This reduces the chance of taking on a non-ideal client.
3. Consult. Guide the conversation with specific questions which reveals your potential clients needs. Great questions determine if you can solve her problem and if she is a good fit for your services.
4. Relationship. Is this someone you want to work with? Or, did some red flags appear? Listen to your gut. Consider her personality, attitude and expectations. Only offer to work with her if she’s a good fit.
5. Trust. Your testimonials, case studies and social media presence position you as an expert. They develop your credibility. Trust starts to build before they even reach out to you.
The #1 Oversight Most Accounting Professionals Overlook
Here’s an advanced tip. Ask great questions which uncover your potential clients ‘what’ and ‘why’. What do they want to achieve or fix? Why does this matter now?
You’ll discover exactly what she wants to achieve. As a result, you quickly address her specific needs rather than offer a general recommendation. With those insights you expertly discuss the solution and “how” to best solve her problem.
Only Work with Ideal Clients
Create a list of specific questions to ask during your consultation. Notice any red flags that arise. Don’t offer to work with someone if they aren’t a good fit for you.
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