When it comes to retaining accounting clients in your PA practice, relationships are key. When you build strong relationships with your clients, they will stay and they will tell others about you. But how do you build those strong bonds with your clients? Communication, quality contact, and services.
If you only communicate with your clients at tax time, you’re going to lose a lot of them. This level of contact may be enough for an individual with a fairly simple tax return, but it isn’t enough for your high-level individual clients, and it’s certainly not enough communication for your business clients. Even the individual with the simple return may just switch to a DIY method if he never hears from you.
Think about what information your clients may need throughout the year. To your individual clients, send updates about issues like:
- Changes in tax law
- Tactics to improve your credit rating
- Suggestions about how to keep documents that will be necessary at tax time
- Awareness of various tax exemptions, deductions, and credits they may be eligible for
- Life changes that may affect taxes (marriage, divorce, new baby, job change)
To your business clients, send reminders and updates about things such as:
- Quarterly tax payments and financial statements
- Document security
- Tax effects of major purchases
- Tax changes that may affect them
- Development of long-term goals and financial plans
- Business loans
- Drilling down debt
Don’t be content to just have your client drop off the paperwork to you. Make time to have face-to-face conversations, especially with business and high-income clients. Phone calls may suffice for most of the year, but at least once or twice a year, have your client into the office to discuss his or her financial situation. You may think this takes time away from your work, but it IS your work. Knowing your client means you’ll know what your client needs. When you know what your client needs, you’ll know what services to offer.
Your communication and your quality contact time will inform your decisions about what services to offer. The communications that generate the most replies or phone calls are those that hit on a real need that many clients have. And your personal conversations with your clients will help you uncover specific concerns to which you can tailor your services.
To build relationships and expand your business, you want to offer your clients more than just tax preparation. Think about what other interests and skills you have and how they dovetail with the needs of your clients, and begin to develop those services. Broad categories may include:
- Financial services: If you have additional proficiency in financial options such as stocks, funds, real estate, bitcoin, or other investments, you may offer an add-on service to your best clients.
- Business services: This may include things such as consulting, auditing, accounting technology guidance, strategic planning, or acting as a part-time CFO.
- Personal and business financial planning: You could provide additional consulting services to develop short-term, mid-term, and long-term financial plans, help with cash flow, and create emergency plans.
- A well-developed Advisory Service Plan: Offering two or three levels of service may be very attractive to certain clients. They can choose their level of access to you as well as the types of services you provide them.
By taking the time to develop in the three areas of communication, contact, and services, you will strengthen your client base and successfully grow your business.