Defining Expectations With Your Client: Starting Off on the Right Foot(Part III of a four-part series on Getting and Keeping Clients)
Many of your clients may not have worked with an accountant or bookkeeper before and are unsure what to expect. The rest have and may be running on old expectations. Whatever they may be this is your time to be able to “train” them properly on how a healthy and vibrant business owner / accountant relationship is supposed to be.
Now you may think that you will go into the working relationship and be able to establish yourself with your work and your charm. And you’re right to a point. There are those business owners out there that have been doing it one way (and many times the wrong way) and don’t see the need to change. It is up to you to be able to take charge of that financial situation and set everything into order so the company can grow as it needs to, and as you and the owner wishes it to.
It’s important to set the expectations of what you do and what you will require of the business owner and his employees to do in the process of keeping the small business financially healthy. As the Profit Expert you want to become, you need to have the confidence in your abilities to do what’s right for the business. If you don’t have that confidence that springs from the right training and knowledge for yourself, Click Here To Find Out How To Get That For Yourself.
In the process of gaining a client you need to portray to those you are meeting with where you define the business relationship and your expectations. You are in the drivers seat and while you listen to what the potential client is needing to be done, simultaneously, you need to establish the foundations that will make this account a success. Here are some things to consider when defining those expectations.
Determine the information pipeline: How will you need their information be exchanged? Do you prefer email? Does your client prefer fax? This can be as simple as asking the question on what state the keeping of the books are in. However you are comfortable and it can match up with your client’s ability to get the information to you set in stone the best way to keep the communication back and forth flowing easily.
Methods and acceptable times for interaction: When you have your own business, it’s important that you not place yourself on-call 24/7. It’s hard to leave the office when it is in the home. In order to preserve your own personal time, you should set up acceptable times for correspondence. If theclient calls after your establish office hours, don’t feel bad about letting it go to your voicemail. Likewise, if they are requiring that you be accessible at odd hours and times, you need to be amply compensated for the irregularity of that schedule. Establish that the “done yesterdays” are going to be extra from your normal and customary fees.
Set boundaries and keep them: As moving boundaries and requirements confuse our children, so will it confuse our clients and make your professional life take over your personal life if you don’t stick to the expectations and boundaries previously set with your clients. This also includes how and in whatform the financial information of the company is communicated to you. When you train the owner and his employees the right form to keep and to maintain important documentation of funds and transactions, you save them a ton of money in lost profits and potential penalties and fees, but also you spare yourself a lot of possible headaches sorting through and raking among the mountains of useless information to find what you need.
Determine the services they require: Ensure that both you and your client understand the services they need. Do they just want you to manage accounts payable and receivable, or are they also interested in having you run their payroll? Obviously, the more work you do the more you get paid; but you don’t want to assume your client expects full-service accounting only to find out later they just wanted you to keep their books.
Each client large and small can have the potential to grow larger for you and be a bigger part of your bottom line. When you educate yourself in the correct ways of being a Professional Bookkeeper you can see and plan for that expansion of your services with each client you bring on. (If you haven’t taken advantage of Universal’s offer of the most comprehensive accounting and bookkeeping training do so now by clicking here.)
Be realistic:Don’t promise the moon.Be realistic when estimating the time it will take you to accomplish their requested services.Significant underestimation of time and cost will result in client dissatisfaction once the invoice arrives.Also be realistic in estimated deliverables.Don’t promise your clients that you can help them double their profits unless you have evidence to back it up.
One rule of thumb that I’ve heard in the marketing arena, if you estimate that a project will take two days, let’s say, to accomplish that you double the time when you give your timetables to those who you are doing it for. So in this case, report that it will take you four days to accomplish the task. Why would you do that? Well, first of all, most times you will have several other projects you are working on. When they eat up your time you’ll be happy that you gave yourself double the time to accomplish the task
Secondly, if you are able to get it done in that original two days, you have the option of triple checking your work and the finished product, and then receive the praise from your client about getting done what you said you would in an earlier time frame that was first thought.
Building healthy relationships with your clients depends on clarity: they should know what to expect from you, and you should know what to expect from them. Once those expectations are set, you can work on fulfilling them. Fulfilled expectations make for happy clients. And we all know what happy clients can do for us in growing and maintaining our own business efforts.
You’ve waited long enough to make the move to getting for your future the difference between success and mediocrity. The easiest decision you can make is enrolling in The Professional Bookkeeper’s Course. Make the difference in success, the PB designation, work for you. Don’t delay!