Do you ever worry that your growth potential is limited by clients who are constantly price-shopping? Creating long-term business contacts is certainly the key to being a successful accountant, but at what cost? Many clients have an unwavering focus on price, and it's up to you to make them realize why money should not be the deciding factor.
It's essential to find that crucial balance between customer retention and being overly generous. You never want to be forced to sacrifice increases because of a client's focus on price. In order to combat your client's feelings of not receiving a fair deal, it's up to you to go that extra mile — without offering discounts. Developing and cultivating a more personal and meaningful business relationship is not difficult, but it does require some effort on your part.
For example, rather than just sending out the typical birthday and holiday cards, you could try asking about your clients' hobbies. If you have a valued client who loves a certain baseball team, gifting some tickets is not going to cost you nearly as much as losing business due to a client's strong focus on price. This simple act will go a long way in securing you as the type of person to stick with in the long term.
Of course, it's important that tokens of appreciation do not inadvertently become bribes. Be sure to keep your business relationships professional, while branching out just enough to let your price-shopping clients know that there is a reason why they chose you. Sometimes, all it takes is asking how the kids are or if they've tried the new restaurant nearby.
If your clients simply view you as they would any other accountant — like a glorified calculator — they're going to go after that bottom line. After all, if they can achieve the exact same results for less money, why wouldn't they? Make your value known, and not just through building more meaningful relationships with price-shopping clients.
If your client's focus on price will not subside, consider offering additional accounting services while maintaining the same fees or even raising fees slightly, depending on the situation. This can be done deliberately according to an agreement, or just start overachieving on your own until it's noticed. Either way, this removes the focus on price, and shifts it to a focus on your performance.
For instance, rather than just handing clients their bare-bones financial statements, you could analyze their data and offer advice on how to make improvements. Even if they don't follow it, they will appreciate the additional effort. Clients know what they are paying for, so it's up to you to make them feel they are getting extra work for their money. As an added bonus, never underestimate word-of-mouth marketing from satisfied clients as a tool to generate new ones.
Only you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd, on both a professional and personal level. Mutual respect and cordiality goes a long way in the business world, and some very simple steps can turn a client's relentless focus on price into a distant memory.
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