Motivating Clients to Change

Traditional accountants crunch numbers and send reports to clients. Proactive accountants analyze data and tell clients how to use that data to make their businesses more profitable. But sometimes telling clients what they need to do isn’t enough (i.e. You can lead a horse to water…). You must motivate them to implement necessary changes-changes that could mean the difference between a successful or a failing business. Examples of changes include cutting back expenses, increasing marketing efforts, or enhancing products and/or services. This elevates you from accountant to Profit Expert, making you much more valuable to clients. Often this requires that you take the time and energy to motivate them to see how these changes are in their best interest. Here are 7 ways you can accomplish that:Determine obstaclesBefore you even speak with a client, it’s a good idea to anticipate what obstacles for change might exist. This enables you to understand why a client may resist change. He/she may be concerned about those obstacles and need reassurance and education on how they can be overcome. A good way to approach this is to assume the client’s perspective. Then brainstorm all potential obstacles. This will enable you to better understand the client’s concerns and address them when you talk about your recommended changes.Align changes with client’s personal goalsIf you can present these changes as those which will better enable the client to accomplish his/her goals, then you are halfway there. But this requires you to know exactly what your client’s goals are. Determine what your client is trying to achieve and see how these suggested changes complement their objectives. This will demonstrate how your recommendations are truly in their best interest.Speak their languageRemember who you are talking to. Your client retained your services for a reason; accounting is not their specialty. Avoid using terminology that will confuse your clients and weaken your message. This doesn’t mean you have to dumb-down your message; it just means you have to present it in a manner in which the client can understand and appreciate.Keep it simple, stupid (KISS)Don’t muddy the waters by including unnecessary details and descriptions. The more complicated the message, the more likely your client is to resist and dig their heels in. Keep it as simple as possible, asking questions as you go to ensure they understand.Talk dollars and senseOften nothing motivates a client more than explaining how recommended changes will impact them financially. This is where specifics are sure to help. If decreasing expenses will improve their cash situation, then give them estimations which they can appreciate. If bringing in more customers will increase profits, share those estimations with them as well.Resolve concernsWhile you may be completely onboard with proposed changes, the client is not yet on the same page. As you share your message, closely watch their reaction. It’s your job to determine what their concerns might be, and then resolve them. And be prepared; you may have to dig a bit to discover exactly what their core concerns are.Encourage baby stepsSometimes the recommendations you want to meet exceed your client’s willingness to change. In this you might have to break things down into baby steps-manageable changes that they can make on a smaller scale. After taking these baby steps ensure that you acknowledge their accomplishments and show them how their changes have positively impacted the business. This will encourage them to implement more changes in order to see more progress.In order to be a truly valuable accountant, you must be willing to encourage clients to change some of their practices in order to increase profitability. This will make you their Profit Expert, and a much more valuable member of their team.

Let Universal Motivate You and Your Staff

We all need a pick me up every now and then. Universal Accounting Center has some exceptional speakers on staff who can motivate you and your team to excel. With a number of individuals experienced in a variety of topics they can help you better serve your clients, better market your practice, and better grow your wealth. Learn more about Universal Accounting Center’s speaker and book one for your next event!

What’s Your Business Manifesto?

A Quick Way to Get Some Focus

A manifesto is a public declaration of an organization’s intentions, principles, and direction. Political parties are the most common authors of manifestos. Not many businesses write them, so it’s by no means a requirement. But it can be a great way to find some focus and better direct your efforts as you run your business.There’s no set formula for creating your manifesto. It’s less defined than a mission statement but can still work as a guideline when making crucial business decisions. It can be a simple list of your core values. Charles Massimo, founder and president of CJM Fiscal Management in Garden City, N.Y, works according to his manifesto, “family, trust, loyalty, and discipline.” Or your manifesto can be a personal slogan. The Sloan brothers, founders of StartupNation.com, follow this manifesto: “Work as Freedom. Work as Family. Work as Fulfillment.” Whatever you choose, your manifesto should represent your own business intentions. Here are some things to consider when creating your own manifesto:

List Your Core Values

Without realizing it, your values influence your decisions. Why not lay all your values on the table so you can be more conscious of what’s directing your efforts? Even more important, why not decide which of those values you want to direct your efforts.Sit down and give yourself five minutes to list your values. Your values should each be one or two words that represent a concept that’s important to you. Integrity, responsibility, discipline, family, reliability, hard work, ambition, and faith are all examples of values. Once you have your list, you can narrow them down to those four or five that you want to drive your business forward.

Think about What Excites You

Something excited you enough to start your own business. Reflect back on those things that impassion and motivate you. Again, sit down and list them. Try not to censor or edit yourself as you write. Looking back on your list, you’ll find key words and phrases that might fit well into your manifesto.

Consider How You Want to Fuse Your Business and Personal Lives

When you’re an entrepreneur, sometimes that line between your business life and your personal life blurs. Before you let the momentum of your business dictate its impact on your personal life, take the time to decide what you want that relationship to look like. Once again, sit down and write about it. How much do you want them to intermingle? Many family businesses are run from the living room with everyone pitching in to answer phones, distribute flyers, and sell products. Some feel strongly about keeping them separate, and the priority becomes setting and keeping firm boundaries between the two. Explain how you want them both to ebb and flow together in order to achieve the desired outcome.Once you’ve had the chance to think through some of these ideas, the time comes to actually write your manifesto. Remember that with a manifesto, simplicity is key. It should be no longer than one sentence, and that one sentence should be succinct and direct. And never write your manifesto in stone. You should allow it the flexibility to change and evolve as your business does. Hopefully you can post your manifesto somewhere visible so that you can allow it to direct you as you move forward and grow your business. And the final test? Your manifesto should move and inspire you.

Need More Help with Marketing? UAC Can Help

Knowing what you’re about will definitely help you market your business, and a business manifesto can help get you in the right frame of mind to market your services. But do you find yourself wanting a little help actually promoting your business? It can be difficult to know where to focus your marketing efforts. >Universal Accounting Center can help. Their two-day Universal Practice Builder Workshop is a turn-key marketing solution for small business owners like you. You’ll not only learn 12 proven marketing strategies in just 48 hours, but we guarantee you’ll make $30,000 in annualized billings in just 12 months as a result of your attendance. Don’t wait another day to grow your business. Enroll today!

Should I Buy My Client a Holiday Gift?

Should I Buy My Client a Holiday Gift?(And Other Holiday Etiquette Questions)

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During the Holidays, doing business changes. If you’re in the retail business, you are very busy. But if you work outside of retail, often the pace slows down as everyone gets ready for the Holidays. There are Holiday Parties, Greeting Cards and Gifts for Clients and Bosses. What is appropriate and what isn’t for your professional associates and clients?Let’s take a few minutes and look at some Holiday Business Etiquette and how you can keep your business interactions during the Holidays appropriate for the season and avoid the mistakes that can hurt relationships and business.

Holiday Greeting Cards

For many, sending greeting cards makes it easy to keep in touch with clients through the holidays. You might want to enhance your current business relationships, attract new customers, remind old clients that you exist or show appreciation to those who have faithfully supported you during the year.If not done properly, your well-meaning gesture can actually offend.According to Lydia Ramsey, business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of Manners That Sell – Adding The Polish That Builds Profits, ” Start with a good quality card to show that you value your clients and colleagues. Skimping on your selection can be interpreted in a number of ways. Your recipients might take it as a sign that business has not been good or that they aren’t worth a little extra investment on your part.”Here are her five hints for Holiday Greeting Cards that will build relationships with your clients and make the right impression.

  1. Make Sure You Keep Your List Up-To-Date: Don’t make this a big chore. Keep your mailing list up-to-date during the year and you won’t forget anyone when the time to send out your greeting cards comes around.
  2. Sign Each Card Personally: Ms. Ramsey says, ” Sign each card personally. Even if you have preprinted information on the card such as your name – which is an impressive detail – you need to add your handwritten signature. The most elegant cards should still have your personal signature and a short handwritten message or greeting. Sound like a lot of trouble? If the business or the relationship is worth it, so is the extra effort. This is your chance to connect on a personal level with your clients and colleagues.”
  3. Address the Envelopes by Hand Too: Don’t make this a difficult burden, you can have someone else do the hand addressing for you, but do not use computer generated labels. A label generated by computer will make your holiday greeting appear to be a mass mailing.
  4. If Your Clients are Also Personal Friends, Include the Spouses Name on the Card: If you send your greeting to your clients home, include the spouses name on the envelope as well. Unless the spouse works at the office too, feel free to leave it off.
  5. Choose Generic Holiday Greeting Cards: There are many different religious holidays celebrated from the months of October through December from Ramadan to Christmas. Choose greeting cards with a more generic “Happy Holiday” greeting rather than a religious greeting.
  6. Don’t Be Late: “If you find yourself addressing the envelopes on Super Bowl Sunday, keep the cards until next year and send out a high- quality note thanking people for their business during the previous year instead,” says Ms. Ramsey.

Be sensitive to the religious and cultural feelings of your clients, follow Ms. Ramsey’s advice and build personal relationships with your clients during the holiday season.

champagneA Client’s Holiday Party, I’m Been Invited… Should I Attend?

Of course. Review the following list of things you should consider as you prepare for a night of Holiday Cheer with your clients and business associates. (Consider this advice for a company office party too.)Peter Hess, the 30-year- old founder and president of YAPA…a free Internet-based membership organization for young professionals seeking career and personal success, offers the following list of mistakes to avoid.

  • Mistake No. 1: The Blow-off. The biggest error is not going to a [client’s] party that is a “must-attend” event. You’re invited, you should attend.
  • Mistake No. 2: Forgetting [your client] is Watching. Your clients pay attention to how you handle yourself at special events.
  • Mistake No. 3: T-shirts and Sandals. Inappropriate dress draws attention, but the wrong kind. Says Kennedy – “The goal is to display professional qualities, not show how funky or daring you are. Skip the plunging neckline and heavy cologne.”
  • Mistake No. 4: The Business-talking Bore. Hess says – “Some young professionals let ambition drive them. They don’t know how to enjoy conversation unless it is only about business. They become bores whom [clients] avoid.”
  • Mistake No. 5: Me, Me, Me. Kennedy says self-centered professionals will have trouble working in teams with others…and your clients will pick up on this.
  • Mistake No. 6: Who’s the Boss? Make sure and introduce your client to your spouse.
  • Mistake No. 7: About My Pay. Never bring up billing issues with your clients at a social function like a Holiday Party. Appearing like a bore who doesn’t understand what’s appropriate and where is never good for business.
  • Mistake No. 8: The College Bash. Says Kennedy – “[Holiday] parties [with clients] are extensions of the workplace and not campus free-for-alls.”Using some of the speech and behavior allowed in college can show immaturity.
  • Mistake No. 9: Set ’em up, Joe. “Drinking to excess will kill a relationship instantly”…says Kennedy…”Don’t have more than two alcoholic beverages and better yet, don’t drink at all.”

giftWhat About Gift Giving?

If giving a gift to a client, the details in business etiquette gift giving will make the gesture truly memorable.According to Dr. Richard Beltramini, co-author of Gift-Giving, A Research Anthology, suggests a direct link between corporate gift giving and increased business. Choosing an appropriate gift, offered with sincerity will help enhance your business relationship.Dr. Beltramini offers the following rules for giving gifts to your clients.

Rule #1 – To Gift or not to Gift

Before sending a gift, make certain that you are familiar with a company’s corporate policy on gift giving/receiving. Most corporations allow for gifts of recognition, appreciation, and to generally thank a person for their help. Some corporations may place restrictions on the value of a gift. Many companies will have a set of guidelines through their human resource department. Keeping the gift tasteful and generally less than $100.00 will make your gift an honorable one.Rule #2 – Let’s Get PersonalThe more you know about your recipient the better. Choose a gift that will compliment your employees or client’s hobbies, tastes or interests. While giving a gift with a company logo is certainly appropriate at times, gifts that are more subtly monogrammed with a person’s initials might be seen as more personal in nature. Try a picture frame with a calligraphied note on company letterhead slipped in where the photo goes. The note can be easily removed at a later date but the frame will make the same lasting impression. If you’re still stuck for ideas or don’t know enough about your client personally, consider a professional business gift like a leather note jotter or desk clock.Rule #3 – “Tis not just one Season”While most of us remember to send a gift during the holiday season (see Fred’s special HOLIDAY GIFT TIPS) giving a gift during other times of the year will help make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Consider implementing a quarterly gift program or a gift on a client’s or employee’s birthday! It’s always appropriate to send a gift to mark a personal milestone, like the birth of a baby.While you never need a reason to send a gift to tell someone you’re thinking about them…here are a few other occasions that merit sending a present and help keep you in touch throughout the year:

General Thank YouThanks for Thinking of MeThanks for the ReferralThanks for Taking the TimeThanks for Going to Bat For MeThanks for the business A Job Well Done!A PromotionJob RetirementProject CompletionCongratulations! Employee MotivationYou’re a shining star!You’re the core of our business!Thanks for being part of the team! Personal MilestonesBirthday!New BabyNew Home or OfficeAnniversary

Rule #4 – Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Taboos from around the world in international gift giving can range from not giving a sharp object such as a pocket knife or letter opener in Japan because it implies that you have “cut the bonds of friendship” to not giving a leather gift to a person in India where cows are sacred. And while you may not be sending the gift out of the United States, you may still offend the recipient of that particular culture or ethnic background. Make sure that you are familiar with the customs of your employee or client in choosing an appropriate gift item. If you’re not sure, any reputable on-line or brick and mortar department store should be able to provide that information through their customer service department.Rule #5 – Timing is everything!Make sure that your gift is timely and prompt. Don’t choose a gift that’s been backordered or out of stock. Sheila Berndt, the Vice President for Commotion Promotions, an advertising promotional company says that “Generally three weeks is the rule! – If you can’t get the gift out the door within three weeks of the event, you might as well not send it!” Think how tacky it would be to recognize with a gift for something that an employee achieved four months ago!Rule #6– It’s in the cards!Always, always, always include a card with your gift. While a business card is adequate it’s not too personal. Instead choose a card that expresses your sentiments, and write a brief message that shares the moment of the occasion. It will add wonders to the gift alone and add impact to the fact that you took the time to notice this accomplishment or milestone.You do not need to write a three-page letter, but you have the opportunity to share your thoughts and leave a lasting impression. Be creative and consider matching your gift to your thoughts.

The Holiday Season is an Important Time to Build and Solidify Relationships

Like any business, building personal relationships make a difference to the health of your business. Although the Holiday Season complicates doing business with many of your clients, make it a time to build relationships with your clients. Take advantage of the natural opportunity to express appreciation to your clients during this time of year and reap the rewards in the coming months.

To learn more about efficiently running your own bookkeeping and accounting practice, simply click on the link below. Enjoy the Holiday Season.

Click Here to Learn More About Operating an Efficient and Effective Bookkeeping and Accounting Practice

The Right Investment, The Perfect Profession

Part Two of a Two-Part Series on The Right Professional Investment

A young family enjoys time together.We’ve examined the wonderful opportunity that exists in the business of small business bookkeeping and accounting and how most small business owners don’t have a complete understanding of the accounting function in their business. Wow! What a great opportunity to earn a very profitable income and create a wonderful lifestyle for you and your family.When you first heard this, you were probably a little skeptical. I think that’s a fairly understandable reaction. But as you’ve looked closer at what’s involved in starting your own business, the type of education you might need, the marketing methods you might employ to grow your business and how others like you have already achieved success, you might be thinking to yourself, “I can do this.”

You CAN Do This

If there’s nothing else you gain from our conversations together, know this: I know you can do this. In fact you don’t even have to take my word for it. As we talk to graduates of the Professional Bookkeeper program, and ask them about the success of their practices, they tell us that they are charging $30 to $60 per hour for their services. (And that’s the average, some charge even more.)Unlike many programs available, of 100 graduates of our program that we interviewed this year, 12 months after their graduation, 74% were working in the accounting field, had been promoted to a management position, or owned their own bookkeeping or accounting practice. The best news is this can be you, and you can create a wonderful lifestyle for yourself.

“Great success is commoner than great abilities.” -Luc de Clapiers de Vauvenargues

You might be asking, “What does this have to do with me?” Most people will agree that hard work, determination and integrity are what it takes to find success in America. It’s not great ability that makes successful people; it’s doing just what you’re doing right now – setting a goal, finding out what it will take to reach that goal and then taking action.

Only Invest in the “Right” Education

With the need for qualified professional bookkeepers increasing every year, the opportunity is greater today than it has ever been. And as the opportunity increases, the need to obtain the best possible education available has become more important than ever before.Last week I shared with you what I felt the “right” education must include. Let’s take a minute and review the list.5 Things You Should Look For in a Small Business Bookkeeping Education

  1. Flexibility
  2. Complete education
  3. Hands-on training
  4. A qualified professional to answer questions
  5. A guarantee

Click Here to refer back to our previous discussion on what must be in the “right” education.Universal Accounting Center offers the most complete small business bookkeeping curriculum that can be found anywhere-including the universities or franchises. Period.There are many courses that provide you with the training to get a data-entry type positions making $8 or $9 per hour, but they won’t provide the education that will create financial security and the type of lifestyle you and your family deserve.

Hands-on Training

Universal is “hands-on” learning. It’s been that way since 1979. Unlike other training programs available, Universal provides hands-on experience doing the books for different businesses. This will provide you with experience that allows you to demonstrate to potential clients and employers that you can save them money, experience that will build confidence in yourself and your ability to handle any type of small business accounting questions that you might face.

Get the Tools Necessary to Be Prepared for ANY Accounting Challenge

There are no filler classes here. You’ll learn small business bookkeeping, not 10-key or data entry. You shouldn’t be satisfied with learning only enough to be somebody’s clerk. Don’t limit yourself. When you’re finished with our course, you’ll be a qualified small business bookkeeping professional; and if you complete the course material and evaluation with a 90% or better, you’ll earn the exclusive designation of Professional Bookkeeper (PB). Universal will show you the best way to be successful in the least amount of time possible.

We’ll Help You Start the “Perfect” Business Once You’ve Had the “Right” Education

A couple sits together at a laptop.Look at the tools that ensure your success:

  • If you have questions, you can speak with a live voice on the other end of the phone for six months after you’ve completed your course. You can have confidence in your ability to help your clients because of your “support team” that is always ready to help you.
  • By learning proper client interview techniques, you’ll learn how to ask the questions that will allow you to properly evaluate what you can offer your clients and what to charge for your services. You’ll be able to address all of your client’s needs because you’ll know not only what to ask, but how to ask it.
  • The exclusive PB (Professional Bookkeeper) designation demonstrates to your clients and peers that you are a trained and qualified bookkeeping professional. Earning the PB designation allows you to enjoy a level of professionalism that demonstrates your commitment to both your clients and your profession.

Any bookkeeping and accounting course that doesn’t offer you the tools to either find a great job or start your own business is incomplete.

The Good News? This is Good for You!

The education you receive from Universal Accounting will make you a valuable asset to your clients. You’ll know everything you’ll need to know to provide the type of service to your clients that will help them save money.

Affordable Student Financing is Also Available

You can get started with a student loan; there’s no credit check and you’re pre-approved if you have a major credit card. Once your financing is arranged (which takes about 5 minutes online when you click the “Finance” button), you’ll get the entire set of course materials delivered to your door. No waiting.

Universal’s Ironclad Money-Back Guarantee Removes All Risk

If, after completing the course materials, you feel the course didn’t live up to your expectation, simply return the materials to Universal, for a 100% refund of any monies paid.Do colleges and universities offer that type of guarantee? What about the franchises? (And unlike franchises, it won’t cost you up to $80,000 to get started.)

If It’s About Accounting, It’s Universal

The Professional Bookkeeper Program LogoUniversal Accounting Center provides finest education in small business bookkeeping anywhere, with no hidden costs for books, tests, etc. I think you’ll agree that now is the time and Universal is the place.Enrolling in the Professional Bookkeeper Program is the “right” choice for you. And when you order today, you will receive an additional 6 months of free coaching following your completion of the course. That means you can call us with a question at anytime for an entire year after you complete the program materials! Don’t wait another day to take advantage of the best investment you can make-in yourself! It’s the perfect start to the New Year. Enroll now.

How To Disagree With Your Client

An occasional difference with your client is not to be feared. It may even be an opportunity, as long as it is addressed properly.

For instance, you might not agree with something your client is doing, or may wish your client was more timely in providing you with the accounting information. Whatever the reason for your concern here are five strategies for effectively getting your views heard:

1. Wait until the timing is right. Common sense will help you determine the best time to express a concern. Don’t bring a problem to your client when either of you is tired, angry, rushed, or preoccupied.

2. Keep it private. Take your concern directly to your client. Do not discuss it with others, particularly employees of the client’s company. Complaining to others may get you sympathy, but it won’t provide a solution and can make the situation worse if your client hears about the issue through the grapevine instead of from you.

3. Get right to the point. Address your concerns directly, without long lead-ins, apologies, or excuses.

4. Voice your opinions constructively. Outline the issues and offer solutions. Your client may not realize the problem exists unless you point it out.

5. Agree to disagree. Point out to your client that it’s important for you to be able to take your concerns to him or her, even when you may have a difference of opinion. Let him or her know that you respect their position as owner or manager of the company.

Taking the time to tell your client you don’t agree with a policy, procedure, or decision tells your client that you care about his or her company. And sharing your concerns with a solution in mind will stand you in good stead.

The Day-to-Day Operations section of this site gives other great tips to keep your business running smoothly.Click HERE to learn more ways to increase the productivity of your Accounting and Bookkeeping business.

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