Networking with vendors and associates

This article discusses using your vendors and associates to send you referrals, an excellent source of new clients for your accounting service.

In addition to the finder’s fee, there is another great advantage about having associates — the client resource. Each of these professionals is a potential resource for referrals for your business. You should fully expect to find business from each of them. I have gone as far as changing associates simply because one is better at referring potential clients to me than another.

Tax preparers are an excellent source of new business. Most tax preparers don’t know a debit from a credit; and they don’t need to. Their job is to transfer information to the right forms, and calculate the taxes. They can do this very successfully with a set of financial statements prepared by an accountant. Without the financial statements, they are often like a fish out of water in an area they know little about.

Tax preparers, as much as anyone, understand the value of well-prepared information they can use to complete the taxes. They will gladly refer business to you, if they feel comfortable you’ll refer business back to them.

Other Articles about starting your business:

Selling:

Selling the benefits of your bookkeeping service

Make your first impression count

Five Tips to Strengthen Your Client Presentations

Outsourcing your bookkeeping

Marketing:

Finding Clients near home

Find leads at networking events

Promote your website

The best marketing strategy: word of mouth

Get a new client every week

Trade shows can be a gold mine!

Networking to Promote Your Accounting/Tax Service

Time is Money, and Networking is More Money

Some might think that time spent networking would be better spent doing something more productive, something more profitable. But when you dedicate just a little bit of time every week to making and maintaining business associations, you’re banking your efforts and will be amazed how much interest it will earn for your accounting business in the end.

A Little Networking Goes a Long Way

To give you an idea of just how profitable networking can be, imagine attending one networking opportunity each week.  Let’s say that you get two referrals at each of those weekly networking opportunities; that’s 8 contacts per month.  Now, what if one of the eight contacts becomes a client?  You’ve spent four hours networking and have obtained one client bringing in approximately $300 per month, or a lifetime value of $10,800.  That’s a profitable 4 hours. Now imagine if you spent 4 hours networking every month.

Making the Time

You might be so focused on your day-to-day workload that you feel ‘too busy’ to participate in networking activities. But consider this; networking is one of the least expensive and most effective marketing strategies for accounting services. As such, it should not be overlooked by the ‘time deprived.’ Schedule networking like you would an appointment with any of your paying clients. It won’t be long before your networking efforts give you more clients to fit in to your already busy schedule. You would make time for new clients, wouldn’t you?

Networking need only take a small amount of time, but it should be undertaken on a regular basis. Whether it involves a telephone call, card or e-mail message, it is still a networking activity, and this contact will keep you in front of the people with whom you are communicating.

Finding Opportunities – Networking Groups

Three common organizations provide a forum for effective networking. They include your local Chamber of Commerce, various industry associations, and professional networking groups such as Business Network International (BNI). Join these and enjoy the many different benefits associated with them. Attend the meetings regularly, and volunteer to help out. In this, the networking group is much more inclined to become a source of clients.

Tax Preparers

Networking is not limited to the attendance of networking-related functions. While there are distinct advantages in these activities they are just the tip of the networking iceberg. For example, nowhere else is networking more advantageous than in associating with a tax preparer. Most tax preparers do not do bookkeeping, but regularly work with clients that need help with their finances. As an accounting professional you meet many tax preparers. Get to know them well and be sure to exchange business cards.

Natural Business Partners

In addition to tax preparers, there are other professional relationships that you will want to nourish. These are called “Natural Business Partners” and include individuals that the deal with the same type of clientele you would work with.

Volunteer Work

Another networking angle that is often overlooked is volunteer work. If you’re a member of any type of organization, whether it be religious, civic, trade, hobby, or even a ‘home owners’ association, then you have an opportunity to focus on helping them with their accounting. This provides you with yet another opportunity to meet potential clients.

Effective Networking

To best use your time when attending a networking meeting, you must talk to as many people as possible in the short time frame of the gathering. Develop a 30-second commercial that feels comfortable and fully describes the benefits you offer.

To be a good networker you must also have the ability to listen. The old adage that "God gave us two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that order" is one that has great application in networking. Avoid being impatient to talk about yourself and your own business activities; your focus should be on learning about your new friend, their business, and discovering how you may be able to help him or her.

Of is utmost importance that your networking activities develop a feeling of trust, as trust is the universal foundation of business.

Rules to Network by

There are two fundamental rules that should be followed in order to reap the benefits of networking:

  • Give without remembering, and receive without forgetting
    When it comes to networking you should not keep score. Do what you can for your contacts without expecting payback. Conversely, you should always be grateful for what your contacts give you. Express thanks often and memorably.
  • Be generous with information and connections – there is always a lot to go around
    If you’re interesting in obtaining referrals, your initial strategy should be to give them to others.

These two rules are based upon the idea that what you give comes back in spades.

Conclusion

If you want to steadily grow your business, you can’t afford not to network. Take some time today to schedule in weekly networking opportunities.

Master Marketing Skills

In the course of a week, you run into potentially hundreds of small business owners that struggle to do their own books and taxes. They need the kind of service taught in the Professional Bookkeeper™ and Professional Tax Preparer™ programs. With their emphasis upon real-world small business accounting and tax, you will have an incredible edge when it comes to servicing their business that is taught nowhere else. The Professional Bookkeeper™ and Professional Tax Preparer™ programs teache you how to find paying clients and to service their accounts efficiently, all while keeping your clients pleased with your unique talents.

Learn How the Marketing Method Taught in the Professional Bookkeeper™ Program Gets You Clients Fast!

Marketing and Selling Accounting Services – Archives

Your Unique Selling Proposition
What makes you different from your competition? Find out, and learn how to show that advantage to potential clients.

Use Local Newspapers to Market Your Business At No Cost
There is a way in which to use your local newspaper to expose your business to potentially thousands of clients…and it doesn’t cost a dime!

Selling your bookkeeping service: make first impressions count
Are you making the right first impression? Here are some ideas that may help.

Building Your Referral Base
Learn to find new clients through existing clients, family, friends, and neighbors.

Networking: Meetings Made Easy
Working within a network of potential clients could well be the very easiest way to find great-paying clients!

Outsourcing your bookkeeping
How to move a non revenue task to your accountant and save money

Networking with your vendors and associates
How to get new clients from your vendors and associates

Trade shows can be a gold mine
Trade shows are full of businesses and with a few hints, you can build your business by attending them

Create Your Own Marketing Roundtable
Instead of trying to find a marketing group that meets regularly that doesn’t already have competing accounting businesses, learn to start your own. It’s easy, and very profitable!

Use networking events to get leads for your accounting service
How would you like a network of marketers, working for you, and not have to pay them?

Save time and money by finding clients near home
Most accountants can fill their practice with clients with-in a mile and a half of their home. Here’s how…

Master Marketing Skills

In the course of a week, you run into potentially hundreds of small business owners that struggle to do their own books. They need the kind of service taught in the Professional Bookkeeper™ program. With its emphasis upon real-world small business accounting and bookkeeping, you will have an incredible edge when it comes to servicing their business that is taught nowhere else. The Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you how to find paying clients and to service their accounts efficiently, all while keeping your clients pleased with your unique talents.

Learn How the Marketing Method Taught in the Professional Bookkeeper™ Program Gets You Clients Fast!

Should you use a contract for your services?

This article examines reasons why insisting on a contract may not be the best thing for your accounting and bookkeeping service.

You’ve finished your marketing presentation to your most promising potential client. They’re impressed with your confidence, energy, and offer. They’re ready to say “yes.” Do you pull out your bookkeeping service contract, or not?

In most cases, the answer is “Not.”

Most experienced freelancers have learned (the hard way) that small business owners avoid contracts – almost to the point of paranoia. They’ve heard all the horror stories where businesses signed a contract – any contract – and lived to regret it. Taking out the contract right now may kill the deal.

Not only does it put the potential client relationship in jeopardy, but you have to consider what value the contract is, anyway.

To begin with, the service contract simply formalizes your verbal agreement with the client. You can accomplish this just as well with a letter to the client, called an “Engagement Letter,” which you prepare and send when you return to your office. This one page letter, on your company letterhead, thanks the client for their time, lists the services you’re to offer, and restates your monthly fee.

Secondly, since you will pick up the set-up fee before you do any work, then request payment from the client upon delivery of financial statements, your greatest potential loss is one month’s billings. So the contract isn’t required for payment purposes, either.

Finally, since you guarantee their satisfaction, you’re taking all the risk. If they don’t like your work, they’re not going to pay for it – contract, or not.

However, on occasion a client might ask for a contract for their records, and legal peace of mind. If that be the case, here’s a contract form you can customize to fit your business and services. To download this form, click here.

 

Your Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) will distinguish you from your competitors providing a terrific competitive advantage.

Your USP indicates your distinct advantage and represents the reason why clients will choose to transact business with you ahead of your competitors.

Why Should Clients Buy From You … and Not Your Competitors?

It’s what makes your business unique that may be the major benefit to your clients.

Reflect for a moment about how memorable the USP of Federal Express is: "When it absolutely, positively has to be there" really says it all about the Fed Ex reliability regarding deliveries.

Use Your Unique Selling Proposition to Sell Yourself

You need to use your USP to dominate your market and to do this you must promote it. You can achieve this through:

  • stationery
  • advertising
  • e-mail signature
  • Web site
  • signage
  • brochures

And what about your "30 second networking commercial"? Obviously you need to make mention of your USP when discussing your business with a new contact.

Your USP should be specific and create both a perceived and real advantage in the mind of your prospective client.

Developing Your Unique Selling Proposition

Determining your USP is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction. You should spend some time to develop a USP which will not only draw attention to your business but also, most importantly, one which you can live up to.

For an accounting service a USP such as "Bigger profits" while certainly gaining attention is one which is tacky and unable to be sustained.

It would be more appropriate for your USP to state "Profit is our business", or "Our 10 point plan simplifies your bookkeeping problems" or, "We take the worry out of tax time". These are clear and precise messages about the services which you offer and, with your own particular expertise, you can live up to them.

Put your thinking cap on now and start exploring all those USP alternatives. It will give you a real sense of satisfaction when you discover the one which is just right for your business.

Learn to Take Your Skills to Market

With the best accounting and bookkeeping skills, you only make money once you find paying clients. Most accountants don’t have a lot of sales experience. The great thing is that you don’t need to be a great salesperson to find enough clients to make a great living. Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you how to quickly find more clients than you can handle on a shoestring budget.

Learn How the Marketing Method Taught the Professional Bookkeeper Program Gets You Clients Fast!

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