Most firms have high retention rate per client. That means their clients stay clients of the firm for a long period of time. Somehow the Accounting profession has got most of their clients bluffed that it is hard to change Accountants. It’s actually not.

Partners will argue that clients remain with the firm because of the great relationship they have with their clients. I beg to differ. How can you have a great relationship with someone when you see them once or twice per year?

Imagine what your relationship would be like at home if you only saw your life partner once or twice per year? For some of you reading this it would be better!

I do not think retention rate is high because of great service, relationships, value for money or services offered.

I think retention rate is high because the Accountant knows about the clients financial affairs.

The reason Accountants have high retention rate is because of financial intimacy.

Most people do not speak openly about their financial affairs – it’s a very private matter. And if they only speak to a couple of people about a very private matter a lot of trust is built up. Not relationship – trust.

Your clients trust you to not tell others. So they don’t leave.

However, the real measure is how happy they are to be a client of your firm. I think that metric is based on the number of referrals you receive each year per client. If you divided the number of referrals (enquiries) you get annually into your total client base this will give you a startling reality of how happy your clients actually are.

Now the flip side to that is they want you all for themselves and they do not want to refer! Possibly.

Focussing on building relationships (retention rate strategies) is not about increasing the retention rate number (it’s already high), it’s about making memorable experiences with existing clients so they buy more from you and refer more to you.

You should be aiming for a retention rate of 95% and at least 1 referral per client per year.

I have written an extensive report on Accounting firm performance. You can download the full report here.

Enjoy video # 10.

In today’s Australian Financial Review, Accounting journalist Agnes King puts forth an argument that (first line) “Accounting firms have no business being on social media”.

She continues “Honestly, what do social media campaigns actually offer the clients of accounting firms? They might be a cheap way to distribute monthly newsletters but that’s hardly revolutionary.”

C’mon Agnes – get with the times!

That is like saying that in the 80’s Accountants should not have a fax machine, in the 90’s they should have not had a computer on every desk and in the naughties every person in an Accounting firm need not have a website or individual email address!

We’re in the social & community re-building age – every firm needs a social media strategy and every firm needs to embrace it.

The esteemed (and very one sided in this matter) journalist continues:

“Most accounting firms profess an increased investment in social media. When pressed, however, they’re just as likely to admit they don’t understand it. But they also know they can’t ignore it. Admitting this seems to be a horrifying sign of weakness. The sooner they get over this notion, the better for all concerned as they can start focusing on the value again. Don’t ignore social media but consider it a research and development exercise until it proves itself to be something more”.

Research and Development – is that it? It will be something more if firms want to make it something more.

I thought journalists were not supposed to have an opinion. Weren’t  they supposed to give a balanced view of the subject at hand?

Her argument is fundamentally flawed because she does not understand how these new communication tools can enhance the relationship between Accountant and business client.

If the Accountants of this world are supposed to be the ‘trusted adviser’ and their clients look up to them for leading business advice then surely this medium is a way to distribute information and enhance the experience of dealing with the firm.

Surely a sign of ‘being modern’ and ‘keeping up with the times’ is that leading firms MUST have a social media presence & active and ever evolving presence.

The social presence must add value to clients otherwise it will be like the first ‘static’ websites of old where it was an online brochure with 10 year old pictures of the partners!

The beauty of a social presence is it is alive, interactive and very easy to use.

Here’s an example (and a cracking idea if I do say so myself):

Just imagine if a Proactive firm (one of my members perhaps!) started a ‘closed’ or ‘private’ group on LinkedIn or Facebook. They invited all of their clients to participate. Their employees participated as well and the Accounting firm lead discussions about topics. They started a ‘forum’ just for their firm where they brought their clients together. They stimulated clients thinking by offering case studies, testimonials, wins, content, discussion and tools. They updated everything through the closed group. The firm’s clients could do business with each other and interact with the people in the firm more. They could even offer ‘concierge’ service – connecting people to other people.

All this can be done for free right now.

It’s about building a community. Standard communities are deteriorating around the world due to media hyping up the next killing/abduction/robbery or car crash. The media has driven fear into the local community of old with their sensationalism, insinuation (it’s not safe to go outside kids) and negative driven news service. Just watch the news at 6pm tonight, or read tomorrows paper and count the negative to positive ratio of stories!

Social media used properly can re-build communities. They’re just different communities – a place where people feel like they belong.

On a final note. No one deals with a business, we all deal with people. It’s not business to business – it’s people to people. I do not deal with the Accounting firm because of their offices, pretty logo or brochure. I deal with the people in the Accounting firm – just as they deal with the people in my business.

Social media platforms are about bringing people together. To share, debate, exchange, inspire & communicate. Period.

Below is the June 2012 and financial year to date results of a very high performing Accounting firm. Through our network of 300+ firms we monitor their performance every single month through our cloud based monitoring system. I have circled the keys to this firms success. It is a 3 partner firm in the suburbs serving small businesses.

As you can see their ‘lock up’ needs some attention but other than than they are doing exceptionally well. Our strategies work for small firms and large firms. This firm is a shining example of implementing our strategies. Make an enquiry if you are looking to revolutionise your financial performance!

High performing firm