When you look at your practice from a sales and a marketing perspective, make sure you have enough leads coming in your door because you have to be okay if someone doesn’t like your fixed price. As accountants, we accept way too much bad work just because it’s there under the guise of the firm needs to “pay its bills.”
As your firm matures, you have to get rid of your yucky customers because your yucky customers will bring you down. They bring down your firm and your team will get frustrated. Bad customers are culture killers. Part of running a good firm is clearing out the bad customers.
Look at those A, B, C and D list customers, and get rid of the D and maybe some C customers so that you have more capacity to serve the good ones. If they’re not the right fit for your firm, you have to be okay with that. Just know, there’s another one going to come along soon. As Ron Baker says, “You can never price the wrong customer.”
Delivering What You Promise
I’ve been getting some new, younger customers who are using cloud software. They’ve come to us and said that they believe their professionals weren’t offering any value add other than the fact that they’re just doing the bookkeeping in the cloud. They were told that this professional was going to be their trusted advisor. That they were going to be connected. And yet they don’t have that experience.
Collaborative partnerships do not begin in the cloud, they begin as a trusted business advisor role. A lot of vendors say, “If you can use the cloud, you’ll automatically become a trusted business advisor.” That’s not true. The cloud exemplifies a way for us to get closer and more intimate with our customers and that’s important. But it takes work and it doesn’t just happen.
The term “trusted advisor” is overused in our profession. We really have to define what it means and we have to think about how we’re adding value to our customers. It’s not just a matter of providing “bookkeeping in the cloud” for two minutes and then moving on to someone else. We have to make sure we deliver the value add they expect, deserve and really, quite frankly, want.
It’s hard to do if you don’t have the skill set. If you don’t educate team members with that skill set so they can provide those additional levels of services to your customer using the cloud, then does it really matter?
Who’s In Your Customer Sweet Spot?
When you are thinking about your typical customer, the customer, you ideally want to work with, you have to think about it from a perspective. As someone interested in your firm, it’s important you ask good questions that will get you real answers:
- What do you expect from us?
- Do you want to grow?
- What don’t you like about your current firm?
- What do you like about your current firm?
This puts the focus on your customer and demonstrates an interest in understanding their needs, instead of just pushing a product you’re trying to sell. A part of value-based and fixed pricing is really understanding the customer. It’s not, “This is what you do, this is what we sell: take it or leave it,” it’s saying, “Oh, what do you need from us? How can we customize it to meet your needs?”
Originally published on CPA Trendlines, Oct. 24, 2015.
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