When building your client base for your Pennsylvania accounting firm, you’ll want to make sure the new client is a good fit for your firm’s strengths. You’ll also want to get a sense of what kind of client this person would be: easy or difficult to work with? Cheap or willing to pay appropriate fees for services rendered? Timely in payments or not? It may be difficult to turn down work, especially when you’re just starting out or trying to expand but it pays, in the long run, to be picky.
Besides determining whether the client would be a good fit, an initial consultation can set the tone of professionalism, giving the client a sense that you are interviewing him or her as much as he or she is interviewing you. This strengthens your value in the client’s eyes. During the conversation, you can also ask questions that indicate additional services you might offer. Below are five categories of questions you can ask your potential client.
Questions about the business
- What do you do?
- What is your business entity?
- Do you manufacture, carry inventory, provide services?
- Do you have employees, contractors, or both?
- Is there a union?
- Are there any current workforce issues?
- Do you report sales tax?
- Are you in a regulated industry, or do you have any regulatory challenges?
2. Questions about taxes and finances
- Are your current taxes up-to-date? Accurate?
- Do you have any current or past audits?
- What financial accounts do you have? Ex: loans or lines of credit, bank accounts, credit cards, PayPal, investments, etc.
- Do you keep personal and business finances separate?
3. Questions about previous financial or accounting support
- Did you have a previous accountant or bookkeeper?
- If so, what prompted you to change?
- What did your previous accountant do well?
4. Questions about current tools
- What tools do you use for invoicing and for paying your bills?
- Do you have accounting software? Is it online or offline (cloud vs. desktop)?
- Are you open to a change (if the tools being used seem inadequate to you)?
5. Questions about the company’s challenges/goals and the client’s expectations
- What are some of your company’s financial challenges/business challenges?
- If you could solve one problem, what would it be?
- Do you have any plans to expand or scale back?
- Do you have a short-, mid-, long-term business strategy?
- In your view, how can I add value to your company?
- What are your expectations for this project (timeframe, results, etc.)?
These questions are not exhaustive, but they should help you brainstorm your own set of questions. Be sure to add questions that lean toward your own interests and expertise. For instance, if you offer financial advisory services, you’ll want to ask more detailed questions regarding current investments, personal or business goals, etc. Take the time to thoroughly vet potential clients and you will have a base that you will be happy to work with for years to come.