How well is your team really managing client expectations?
Partners and Managers of progressive accounting firms increasingly recognise the need to take control of their client relationships – particularly in relation to communicating terms of engagement and scope of work. Issues most often arise when clients are unaware of changes in scope of work and fees until the job is completed.
Our experience with many accounting firms throughout Australia confirms that whilst firms are aware of the benefits of up front discussion about scope of work, FEW FIRMS ACTUALLY DO IT EFFECTIVELY. Chances are, you’re one of these firms. Underlying reasons include fear of upsetting clients by actually telling them what to expect. Challenge your team to really engage with their clients in the 2013/14 financial year.
This is increasingly becoming an area of concern as firms shift from annual fees for compliance to periodical payments for management and other advisory work. Without clearly defined scope of work, firms may find that they exceed their WIP budgets for jobs, resulting in dissatisfied partners and possibly clients who get surprised with the value of their bill.
The new financial year presents an ideal opportunity for firms to redefine the relationship that they have with all of their clients through a formal engagement process. The process you develop for your firm should outline what the firm will do, when it will do it, how much it will cost and how variations in scope of work will be communicated.
June is the best time to sit down with your team and review terms of engagement with all of your business clients.
The benefits for your firm are significant . You can clearly communicate your expectations of the client in terms of quality of work required. In establishing the terms up front, it’s a lot easier to go back to the client to discuss options associated with changes in scope of work. Finally, the re-engagement process provides a great opportunity to let the client know about the real value of the work you do for them (not just the cost).
Key steps to consider:
- Consider timing of re-engagement of clients
- Establish workflow schedule for the new financial year
- Determine fee range for the new financial year
- Consider terms of payment
- Determine timing of work in and completion
- Send out re-engagement letter or email
- Establish process for dealing with changes in scope of work
Attend upcoming online session on Client Engagement
If you’d like further information on how to do this, just register for Training Beyond Accounting’s next online training session on “Client Engagement and Workflow in the New Financial Year.” Click here for further information.
Visit www.trainingbeyondaccounting.com.au for details of other upcoming online programs.
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