It’s still common for partners and managers of accounting firms to complain that their clients control the relationship – from the calling in of work to the paying of outstanding bills. Of course, many clients do the right thing, but how do you deal with clients that simply don’t follow the rules of engagement?
Progressive firms take control of client relationships by re-establishing terms of engagement, scope of work and fee arrangements each and every year. The best times to do this are at the beginning of the new financial year or as the client’s work comes in (or a combination of both).
Start the new financial year by establishing the rules of engagement. You’ll actually be surprised that clients welcome a clear statement that you’re being proactive in managing the relationship.
Reinforce this process by calling the client to explain your new way of managing the client relationship. Of course, not all clients will follow your lead, but you’ll certainly notice a significant difference with the majority of clients.
5 key steps to take control of your client relationships in the new financial year:
- Revisit your firm’s policies and procedures in relation to new client engagement. Do you clearly outline scope of work and terms of payment? Do clients really understand what’s without and outside scope of work?
- Decide when you will re-engage clients each year. Your options are (a) at the beginning of the financial year for all clients or (b) as each client’s work comes into the office.
- Consider the benefits of scheduling of work. Establish quarterly ‘batches’ of work to come in based on previous year’s experience and opportunities to re-organise client work. Let clients know of your plans, but also be flexible to accommodate their needs.
- In setting fees for the new financial year, go back to basics. Look at previous year’s fees and WIP, identify any special matters, try to consolidate tax planning into the annual fee. Also look for opportunities to engage clients with an ongoing advisory service in the new financial year.
- Ensure that all staff responsible for any aspect of the client relationship understand the scope of work and can identify ‘out of scope’ tasks as and when they appear.
Register Now For “Take Control of Client Engagement and Workflow in the New Financial Year”
In June 2015, we will be presenting a special 2 part online program on to take control of your clients in the new financial year. This is a great opportunity to challenge your team and put in place a formal re-engagement process that will work for your clients.
Visit www.trainingbeyondaccounting.com.au for further information on our upcoming programs.
Dale Crosby, Director, Training Beyond Accounting