Why didn’t you tell me you could provide this service?
As an accountant with years of experience behind you, you’re better placed than most to be a great business teacher. And yet many accountants forget about the greatest asset they have…their knowledge. The result has been the rise and rise of the business coach, taking valuable work away from the one person who is best placed to share their experience.
What can you do to take back some of this lost ground? It’s not complicated, you just need to spend more time listening to your business clients. You also need to tell them what you can do to help them. Then put in place a structure to deliver the service to your clients.
Some hints from successful business coaches:
1. Make time to listen to your business clients. This means that you need to engage them, face to face, in discussions about their issues, challenges and plans for the future. You need to ask open-ended questions that really drill down to what’s important to them. Develop a list of questions that will get the sort of answers you are looking for.
2. Ask your business clients to complete an ‘audit’ of their current situation. This will give you a clear perspective on what they’re doing well and what they need to improve. It will also give them a clearer picture of their business.
3. Provide a proposal with a clear value proposition. If you’ve done your ground work well, you’ve already identified some key issues that need to be addressed. The value proposition should incorporate their goals and objectives and an outline of how you will help them to stay on track.
4. When presenting the proposal, give the client some options in relation to level of service and fees. This will allow the client to more clearly understand the value you are bringing to their business and the relationship between service and fee.
5. When you’ve got your clients on board, set realistic expectations about the results that they can expect initially from the project. Start with small wins, things that can be implemented easily to make progress. Then start tackling the more difficult tasks that require real behavioural or structural changes.
6. Set some clear key performance indicators and monitor monthly. Manage the client’s expectations. You’re not expecting that every goal will be achieved in the time-frame discussed, but there should be a clear perception of progress towards achievement.
7. Review progress regularly. Monthly meetings are preferable, and should be supplemented by regular phone and email ‘how’s it going’ conversations. It’s the regular contact that clients will value.
8. Within your firm, create systems and processes around your business coaching activities. If you don’t, it’s likely that you’ll find you’re exceeding the WIP budget on a consistent basis. It’s important to have the internal support to ensure that actions happen when they’re supposed to.
9. Use external experts as required to be part of your project team with the client. You’re not expected to know everything about marketing, logistics, people management or IT. But as a coach, you should be able to work with the client to ensure that they make the right decisions about the services they request and the outcomes they expect.
10. Finally, review progress with the client on a regular basis. Don’t wait until they come to you do discuss how things are going. As a business coach, you need to be on the front foot. You need to drive actions, challenge the client, suggest solutions and be there to support the client as they grow their business.
It sounds like a lot of work, but with careful planning and strong internal systems and procedures, you can deliver great service to business clients within a fee budget that suits both you and the client.
Register for upcoming online program ‘Become A Better Business Coach’
In July 2014, Training Beyond Accounting is running a 2 part online program on business coaching essentials for accountants.
In session 1 we’ll reveal the tricks of the trade: How is it that business coaches are so effective in engaging business clients? You’ll receive a step by step guide to successfully demonstrating the value of business coaching to your clients.
In session 2 we’ll take you through a 12-month business coaching program that you can offer independently of accounting and other advisory services.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION, CLICK HERE.
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