How to Stop the Struggle to Attract Clients to Your Accounting Firm
While there are a lot of challenges facing accounting firms today, knowing how to bring more clients in the door probably sits at the top of your list, and we can probably add to that keeping the clients you already have.
You and your partners may be experts in your field with many years of solid industry experience, and you know you are offering your clients a quality service, but over the past decade the accounting industry has been going through a fundamental transformation. Accounting software, cloud computing and storage, mobile computing, Artificial Intelligence, and rapidly shifting consumer habits and trends, are all changing the way financial information is recorded, stored, and analyzed. It's also changing what clients are looking for and expecting from their accountants. For this reason, traditional approaches to bringing in new clients don't always yield the same results they used to.
Today, if you want to have a healthy client pipeline then you need to not only be in tune with the current environment, but figure out how your firm fits into it.
Playing To Your Strengths
In areas like client acquisition and business growth and development, many accounting firms don't fully tap into the skills that they already have at their disposal. These firms may be filled with talented professionals who are hired to help their clients maximize their resources, achieve financial growth and stability, and ultimately see patterns that their clients don't see themselves. In other words, these accountants know how to connect the dots.
Yet ironically, these same professionals struggle when it comes to connecting the dots in their own business. It's as if their own systems sit in their blind spot.
It doesn't have to be that way! The very same skills and qualities that allow you to serve your clients can be utilized to generate new sources of revenue and take your firm to the next level.
The Three Pillars to Getting More Work in Your Accounting Firm
When your accounting firm is not generating the sales you would like it to, then you should pay particular attention to the following three categories:
1. Having a clear brand. Often, when I ask firm owners what makes their business special, they'll automatically rattle off a list of their accounting services. That's not enough! If really you want your firm to attract a healthy flow of new and returning clients, then you need to be clear about the things that make your practice unique, such as focusing your services on a targeted niche, a particular skill set, or even the quality of the experience you offer your clients.
2. Cultivating employee buy-in. Many firms function as a group of accounting professionals who just happen to be working under the same roof. There is no other unifying quality. Good firms, on the other hand, resemble an organic entity with the potential longevity to “outlive” its founders. There is a culture of loyalty, engagement, succession, where senior partners know they must identify and groom their successors right from the beginning.
If all of this seems like it has nothing to do with clients, think again. Your employees' passion, enthusiasm, and ownership is contagious, and it will help to attract and retain your most suitable clients. So too, will the sense of stability that your firm gives off when clients become firm clients and not partner specific clients.
3. Being adaptable. Technology has certainly altered the landscape of the accounting industry. As much as your accounting firm needs to be stable and grounded, you still need an element of flexibility and nimbleness. This means keeping your eyes and ears open to new technologies, changing client preferences, and new opportunities.
Bottom line: the accounting industry may not be what it used to, but that doesn't mean your accounting firm can't attract good, well-paying clients. You just need to open your eyes, be clear about what your firm has to offer, and be willing to make a few changes where it matters the most.