After having spent 3 years auditing at Grant Thornton in South Africa I packed my bags and left to go on a journey to the epicentre and the hub of the financial world, New York City. I was keen to learn from the best and see how they do things differently and what makes them one of the most efficient cities in the world.
One of the first and major differences I noticed instantly between the rest of the world and New York City were the quality of the clients. I couldn’t believe the rapid response from the clients when queries were asked as well as the overall state of their books, they were up to date and well referenced.
At first I thought this was just how everyone did things in New York and that all clients were efficient and on top of things. I decided to discuss this with one of my partners at the firm and the answer he gave me was not what I expected, he responded “not at all, some clients books are really poor, once we realize their books are a mess and we are going over budget or they are slow to pay, we simply get rid of them and find new clients.”
After this discussion I decided to investigate this further to determine how in fact they were able to get a consistent flow of new clients and were able to choose their clients instead of their clients choosing them.
What I found was rather interesting, their online presence was incredible. A lot of potential client meetings as well as general client catch up meetings were happening through online platforms like Zoom. This gives them an opportunity to have meetings with multiple potential clients a day without spending time in traffic or wasting time trying to get to opposite sides of the city to attend meetings.
Another aspect they do differently is they take sales and client acquisition very seriously! They invest money into getting new clients. Accountants were usually thought of as outdated and old, but not this firm, they were open to new ideas and took decisive action.
Word of mouth wasn’t the strategy they relied upon but was seen as a bonus to all their efforts and a service quality test. They saw the problem that you can't increase your prices when there is a word of mouth referral and you won’t have that abundance of choice when it comes to you choosing your clients.
Before leaving for New York I remember having the same discussion with my audit partner in South Africa about a client whose books were a mess and we made a loss on the client every year! I suggested to the partner on the audit that we drop the client to which the partners response was “ No we haven’t got any other options at the moment and we need them to potentially give us a word of mouth referral.
I realized it was a difference in mindset because one firm had an abundance of choice and the other firm had a lack of choice. This made the firm in scarcity afraid, overworked, underpaid and desperate to hold onto their existing clients. The other firm had choice in their clients so they always felt valued, appreciated and of course paid by their clients.
Does this makes sense to you and can you picture yourself scaling your practice?
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