At TaxAssist, how often we talk to clients it depends on the type of relationship we have with them:
1. Clients who use us for the completion of a basic self-assessment tax return each year, tend to only get in touch at the end of the year, which is fine as there usually isn’t too much scope to add value for these clients.
2. For our clients with businesses, we try to keep in contact with them regularly, so that we are at the forefront of their minds when they are thinking of making business decisions or need some advice.
Here are a few tips for becoming an invaluable business partner to your clients.
1. Be approachable
At TaxAssist, we pride ourselves on being a very approachable firm, so we regularly have clients walking through our doors without appointments, with general questions about their businesses. When clients have a more in-depth or significant question, then they tend to request an appointment, and we have time to prepare reports and consider all options ahead of the meeting.
We encourage our clients to contact us as much as possible, and we assign each client a manager so that they know who their first point of call is, and we provide their client manager’s email address and direct phone number.
2. Make sure you have up-to-date information
Dext Prepare has been vital in enabling us to get up-to-date client information, so that our reports are up to the minute, making them more relevant and reliable. And instead of preparing calculations for strategies, such as incorporation planning, based on profits from months ago, or since the last set of accounts were prepared, we can now get current information to see our clients’ exact position, which enables us to plan forward much more easily.
3. Know your clients, develop a close relationship
Communication is key. If you have business clients whom you only speak to once a year when they are bringing their records in or you’re sending their accounts out to them, they will see their accountant as merely a compliance solution, and will be more likely change accountants based on price, as another accountant may offer the same service cheaper. When clients see you as an important business partner, and come to you for advice, receive valuable information from you, and there is a good relationship built, then they are less likely to look at changing accountants, as they will realise the added value that you provide and will not be certain as to whether this level of service will be provided elsewhere.
4. Add value
The majority of questions clients have are related to business growth and tax planning. We are always looking for ways that our clients can save tax, or grow their businesses, and we identify how they can do this on a regular basis and present these strategies to them.
Sometimes clients will ask us whether they should incorporate, or if they need to be VAT registered, and because we have good knowledge of their businesses due to strong relationships with clients, we can usually answer these questions without too much investigation. We prepare incorporation planners and VAT calculations and communicate these to clients with explanations of whether there would be benefits in changing. If there would not be an immediate benefit to the strategy, we advise them at which point there could be.
5. Keep in touch
We send relevant updates and information out to our clients (who have opted-in) throughout the year. And these emails and newsletters have been immensely appreciated throughout the pandemic, as we have guided them through the grants and encouraged them to plan ahead with their business affairs.
The more positive contact that we have with clients improves the relationship that we have with them, and our clients see us as a valuable business partner.
A good relationship with a client will improve the retention period, therefore, when a client is satisfied with the service that is provided they will stay with you for years. For the client, a long-term relationship with their accounting firm means that the accountants will have an excellent understanding of their business. This means that the advice that is provided from the accountant will be better-informed and more fine-tuned to suit the client, which will impact their revenue and make you an invaluable business partner.
About Laura Rushton
Laura is a Senior Client Manager and Chartered Certified Accountant focused on providing a friendly, reliable service and support to businesses. She joined TaxAssist Accountants Lincoln in 2008 as a trainee accountant. Since then she has achieved three qualifications (AAT, ACCA and BSc (Hons) in Applied Accounting) and has continually improved her knowledge and skills through taking advantage of the opportunities that are on offer, both through the local business in which she works, but also from the national training courses which are provided through the Support Centre.