3 Keys to attracting and retaining higher-paying clients
Whether your accounting firm is small, medium or large, one of the biggest issues you’re facing is attracting and retaining clients. Survey after survey, including a recent one by Accounting Today, finds this to be among the top issues keeping accountants awake at night.
But most accountants know that it’s not just the number of clients you attract or retain that’s important to the practice; it’s also what kind of clients they are. If your practice is filled with price-focused clients who want and use only routine tax and accounting services, you are probably working harder every year with perhaps not as much to show for it in the way of revenue growth or security.
“Taking the wrong clients can delay the success of your business,” says Nancy Fox, president and founder of consultancy The Business Fox.
Even if your firm already has some ideal clients, you could be spending more time on the work you enjoy or find rewarding by upgrading your client base more broadly. This time of year is an especially good time to make changes to help your firm attract and retain the kinds of clients you most want so that you can spend more of 2015 working with ideal, higher-paying clients, according to Fox.
Here are three keys to attracting and keeping the best clients:
Your mindset. In order to get and keep ideal clients, your accounting firm must offer value that deeply resonates with the type of client you want. “This starts with thinking like a business owner and helping clients grow their businesses,” Fox says. It could be that you need to begin offering more value-added business advisory services, such as business planning or business valuations. Or it could mean identifying a niche as described below. In any case, leaders at the firm must acknowledge that the goal of attracting better clients is worth working toward.
Your focus. Fox says she learned early in her business career that “when you identify the right product with the right markets, you have success after success.” By identifying the right niche market, you can take a more focused approach toward developing expertise, networking and marketing your services. Your firm can become the go-to service provider for businesses in an industry niche or for businesses needing a specialty service you provide. “It seems like a counterintuitive perspective that if you narrow your market, you’ll be able to attract more clients, but if you select the right niche and generate knowledge about that niche, you’ll be able to generate better revenue, and people will pay more for that,” Fox says.
Your networking. Fox believes most people make the mistake of “networking down,” or trying to meet and interact with smaller groups or players in an industry, rather than aiming high and seeking the decision makers or biggest players. “They do this because they’re terrified of looking silly or not ‘top tier’ enough, but don’t let your mind think small,” says Fox, author of Network Like A Fox.
Once you’ve identified a niche for your accounting practice, you can branch out and find those markets or networking opportunities where the ideal clients for that niche are. “Then you can work to become a top tier networker,” Fox says. “You have to make the effort to research their world, to understand what’s important to them so you can speak to them in their language.”
Fox learned in her own business that to attract and land top-tier clients, she needed to interact effectively with top-tier prospects. “You have to fish where the fish are swimming,” she says.
To learn more about networking and other aspects of attracting your ideal clients, listen to a free on-demand webinar featuring Fox: “Upgrade Your Practice: Top ways to attract and retain higher paying clients in 2015.”
To learn strategies for establishing an industry niche and positioning your firm for future growth opportunities, download the free whitepaper, “How to Develop an Industry Niche in Your Accounting Firm.”