Jul 13, 2020

Client Base Growth: Building Your Book of Business During a Crisis

Tom Wheelwright, CPABy Tom Wheelwright, CPA

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted nearly every industry. Even though accounting was deemed an essential service, it was not immune. From canceling in-person client appointments to working from home, the pandemic has upset nearly every physical dimension of our field, all while clients needed our support more than ever. Some CPAs believe the only thing that matters to clients is compliance and technical skill. The reality is that they are often looking for more, especially during times of crisis. The steps in this blog will help you build a loyal client base especially during times of crisis.

Communication Is Everything

When we think of our role as CPAs, we tend to think that it consists of 90% technical skill and 10% communication; the reality is quite the opposite. When clients are concerned about their financial future, that’s the time to overcommunicate. CPAs shine when they can reduce a client’s stress, so what better time to show your worth than in a crisis? Due to the pandemic, face-to-face meetings may be a thing of the past for some time to come, so show you can adapt to the situation. Reach out and schedule ongoing video meetings. Communication is vital when working to show your clients that their future is in good hands.

Create an Excellent Experience

Being client-centric is the most important function of your business. It encompasses how you onboard customers, how (and how often) you communicate, how you train, how you create results, and even how they feel about you. Creating an excellent experience will lead to multiple referrals to ideal clients on a regular basis.

Build a High-Performing Team

Leader assembling a high-performance team of CPAsTo attract and retain high-net-worth, highly profitable, and even high-profile clientele, you need to build a high-performing team that doesn’t need babysitting. The key is to keep your highest performers for the long haul and train “B-players” to become “A-players.” When your team is strong and has mastered the softer skills they don’t teach in school, they will be able to work quickly and efficiently while still maintaining a high level of customer service.

Provide More Value While Spending Less Time

A great way to provide more value while spending less of your time is to train your clients to do what’s in their best interest. Training empowers them to make educated decisions on simple matters while allowing the team to focus its efforts on larger decisions. In addition, simplifying the process of achieving consistently great results reduces time spent while increasing benefits for your clients.

Don't Be Afraid of Money

During times of financial downturn, some CPAs feel uncomfortable billing for their time because they don’t want to lose clients. Don’t be afraid to bill for your value. So long as you tell your clients up front how much a service will cost, they will never complain about paying for that service. Everyone deserves to be paid for their work, and this shows your clients that you’re confident in your team and the future. While a temporary relaxing of payment due dates may be important for clients who are struggling, relaxing payment due dates or price too much can set up a client relationship to implode because it can be difficult to get regular billing back on track. Stay steady and keep payments on a regular schedule.

By taking the time to implement new procedures and build a strong team, you’re setting up your company to thrive no matter the circumstances.

Tom Wheelwright, CPA, is CEO of WealthAbility and author of Tax-Free Wealth. He is also a speaker and host of the podcasts The WealthAbility Show with Tom Wheelwright CPA and The WealthAbility for CPAs Show. He can be reached at wealthability.com/schedulecall.

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Statements of fact and opinion are the authors’ responsibility alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of PICPA officers or members. The information contained in herein does not constitute accounting, legal, or professional advice. For professional advice, please engage or consult a qualified professional.