Why do you lose a client and why do you win a client?

The answer is the same. I am talking to business people and Accountants every day and the answer is one or both of these:

  1. Service. Customer service,  limited relationship, rude, not proactive, not returning calls/emails/correspondence, no love, no phone calls, visits etc
  2. Services. Range of services, value for money, didn’t know how much it was going to cost, don’t know what it all means, I need more help etc

They are the same 2 reasons they leave you. Just ask the next one that leaves. Or ask the next new one you got – “why did you leave your current Accountant?”

If they say “they are too expensive.” That is not the real answer. The real answer is “they did not value add to what I am already paying”.

You can stop the bleed by focusing on service and services. You can gain new clients by being an ace at service and services. At the end of the day your clients do not know if you are a good Accountant or not. They just know if they know you, like you and trust you!

Last week I was in Bahrain at a leadership conference for Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) for 4 days – well the conference was 1.5 days. I am proud to be a board member of the Brisbane Chapter of EO. The Brisbane chapter is one of the fastest growing chapters in the world. In Bahrain we had 350 EO leaders from around the world gather to learn and share experiences. I had never been to Bahrain before so I was looking forward to it.

Day 1:

I flew over on Etihad business class which was ontime, pleasant, flat bed seat but nothing real remarkable. By the time we got to the Hotel – 21 hours after leaving Brisbane – it was 10am local time. So off to a massage at 10:30 and then hit the golf course for a 1:30pm tee off at the Royal Golf Club Bahrain. It was very weird playing golf with oil pipes running past the fairways and oil pumps actually pumping oil when you are playing. The course also had the worlds biggest bunkers! I shot 82 off the stick which included 3 birdies so I was happy with that. I won the day and the money!

We pushed through the jetlag as acclimatized to local time. That night I met up with some other EOers and had dinner and few drinks.

Day 2:

My mate Matt and I were able to book a charter boat and “dive guide” to go pearl diving with scuba gear on. By the time we had gotten to our destination (30 minutes off shore) we had seen dolphins, sting ray, a US Aircraft carrier and countless oil tankers. It was an awesome experience hunting for pearls. They grow in wild oysters so we were literally hunting on the ocean bed for them. We caught about 100 oysters, shucked them and got absolutely zero pearls. I have a feeling we went to the wrong spot – particularly when our guide told us afterwards that this was the first time she had been pearl diving!

We got to see a bit of the architecture which is just amazing. I suppose when money is no object you can build what you want.

We got back to base just in time for the conference to start at around 3pm. The conference was at the Bahrain International Circuit – home of F1 in Bahrain. After the opening sessions we had a cocktail party / dinner then “after hours” – which means a drink (or 5) at the bar.

Day 3:

Started the day with a photo on the start / finish line of the grand prix circuit. You don’t get to do that every day. Then it was into conference all day and then finishing with a gala dinner in the National Museum of Bahrain. We were the 3rd ever group to have a function there – very cool. Conference over. More “after hours” and little sleep.

Because of the riots a few months back the police station themselves (just before dusk) at every intersection and roundabout with massive SWAT type 4WD vehicles. That didn’t stop a fire bomb going off in front of some friends of mine in a taxi as they came back from the night club.

Day 4:

Decided to play another round of golf in the searing heat and howling wind. We were in the middle of a sand storm that had blown in from Saudi Arabia. Not at all pleasant – we gave up after 9 holes. That afternoon a bunch of us went go kart racing at the F1 track. As you’d expect I won the day and the money – bit of a pattern going on here! I am not sure that my very tall German friends appreciated been beaten by an Aussie!

We were about to head back to the hotel when we were able to talk our way into the neighbouring drag racing track. The security guard with the big gun was not that helpful but when one of our shuttle busses turned up we had some leverage to get in. This thing was amazing. It did 0-100km in 1.6 seconds. 1050 BHP and covered the 1/4 mile in 8 seconds reaching 250km at the end. It felt like your eyes were put in the back of your head as it accelerated. It was a 3 seater special with the driver at the front and then 2 passengers. They are planning a proper F1 car with 2 seats so you can experience real F1. Might have to go back for that one.

After 2 hours sleep it was wake up, limo to the airport and then fly Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Brisbane – another 20 hours or so to get home. Awesome trip. Full on but very enjoyable – and the conference was worthwhile as well. Enjoy the photo’s.

Golf in the desertMassive BunkerOli pipes and rig while playing golfPutting next to oil rigWinnerOil refineryCool buildingOn the F1 trackWinner again3 seater drag carThat's a lot of horsesJust been very fast

Accountants are notorious for it. Discounting before sending the bill out. Commonly called a “write down”. Why oh why does this happen? Are you not proud of your product? Do you not have the guts to face the client and tell them the price? Do you not believe your team did a good job?

Some firms are great at doing this particular activity. I was in a firm once and they had $2.7M in write downs. To make a point I found a picture of a house worth $2.7M and then said that if they burnt it to the ground it would be more fun. Get a slab of beer, sit around and watch it burn baby. That’s effectively what this firm was doing.

What are you burning each year? A house? An apartment? A luxury car? Or even a motor bike? That’s gotta hurt!

House

Burning house

If you follow any of my material you will know that my preferred model is to give the client a price before you start the work. The have an hours budget on each job and drive the time down. In that case you get a ‘write up’ in most occasions.

If you are not pricing up front then you better not be ‘writing down’ the work at the time of billing. It’s just waste, loss of income and it says that you do not value what you do. STOP IT.

The other day I was in a retailer and they gave me a discount without even asking for it. I wonder if their Accountant advised them to do that because that is what they do!!!

This morning I delivered a short speech (25 minutes) to 150+ Accountants. At the start of the speech I asked the question “On a scale of 1 to 10 how relevant is the Accounting profession today”. The resounding response was 7 out of 10.

When I finished my speech 25 minutes later I asked the same question in a different way. My question the 2nd time was “If the profession does not change in the next 7 years how relevant will it be”?

I started at 10 and my first taker was at 6 as I went down one each time. The overwhelming response was about a 1 in terms of relevance. I was blown away – a 1 out of 10 in terms of relevance if no change occurs in the way the profession operates.

So obviously in 25 minutes I caused a stir. What was I talking about? I made 3 key points:
1. The commoditisation of compliance. With the ‘cloud accounting’ revolution well upon the profession this will drive efficiencies, margin squeeze and the rise of “the internet accountant”. The photo below depicts what it may look like. Not a good look!

Accountants Sweat Shop

2. The way accountants explain compliance (the history) to their clients. Just sending out the year end accounts with the inane ‘sign here’ stickers and not explaining what it all means is just not good enough. Clients do not understand and therefore the value of the history paper is useless. It’s also out of date – by at least 12 months! But the history paper does have value – if it is properly explained. Using technology and a process (we call the process PANalytics) to demonstrate the history makes more sense. Our new internet product (Proactive Success System) explains in laymen’s terms where the money went and what it all means. An example screen shot is below.

Historical 3 year analysis

3. Adding value. To remain relevant an Accountant must add value to the history document and then help their clients make history. The making of history bit involves real time numbers (available in the pocket or brief case at all times) and the offering constructive suggestions on improving the numbers. Our new “Client Alerts” product tells the Accountant real time what is happening in their client business every day. Being proactive takes on a whole new level with this product & process. When something that you pick up in your client business is not going so well then make the call and explain what you have picked up and what the client needs to do about it. What great client service and what a great tool to sell additional services. See below.

Client Alerts

Client Alerts Coffee

I think the sweat shop above will exist in the future. But that is not the answer. To remain relevant the profession must add more value – plain and simple. It’s time for change. My audience this morning knows it. They are up for it. Are you?