1. Accountants not understanding the business of their accounting clients
This doesn’t need to be complicated, but some questions need asking. How is your forecasting looking this year? How did you perform against it last year? Business owners are sometimes let down by their accountant/ accounting firms so this is your opportunity to step in and win their loyalty over. A firm that has insights that can be unlocked and transformed into informed action to drive real results, without that much effort.
2. Not being visible
How often do you see or speak to your clients? If clients can’t see you, they can’t value you. Before the cloud, the world was different and a time delay was commonplace but, as more firms move to the cloud and adapt from being accountants to hybrid advisors, you can’t leave your client open to better services from another accounting firm. One of the biggest benefits of technology is that it will keep you informed of the right data and things to say to old and new clients, at the right time so you can just pick up the phone.
3. Failing to do forecasting
Serena Humphrey, Managing Director of F Word Training, tells of her experience meeting a client whose family business was four days away from running out of cash. The clients ran a nine-year-old manufacturing business in the UK, so had slim margins and tight cash flow. Despite becoming a household name, the company never had much cash to play with, and the clients started to suspect something was wrong.
The accountants nearly destroyed the business:
“Even in a business with very tight cash flow, he didn’t have a cash flow forecast. It appeared he just juggled week by week what they could pay.”
So how was this all fixed?
- Created a cash plan that allowed daily forecasts, and then weekly for the next four months. This took the constant panic out of the business and suppliers started to trust they would get paid.
- Put together real management accounts for the last year to see what the actual position was, and then put together an action plan.
- Found them a good management accountant to take over the monthly reporting.
- Put a strategy together focusing on the most profitable areas of the business
4. Being unable (or unwilling) to explain things simply
Keep things simple as a starting point – there’s no sense in confusing people with jargon. Your clients need your services and knowledge, so make yourself approachable and friendly – it’s the easiest way to obtain trust and a positive working relationship with a (small) business. Our client Square Mile Accounting, have insight on this:
“It’s simply not true that all accountants are poor communicators. It is true that some accountants use industry jargon as a way of keeping their clients in the dark and making themselves seem all that more valuable.”
5. New staff training and missed opportunities in accounting firms
Clients understand that newer accountants will need training as a starting point. However, they may not take kindly to you training these new employees during their consultations. Put yourself in their shoes, if you were faced with a bright young thing with no idea about your company, you, or what you’re trying to achieve, you might be a bit annoyed that you have to wait for them to learn it all again…