We’re living in a time of monumental change—a time that will be reviewed and studied well into the future. How should we be thinking about it and what’s to come from this tumultuous period? How does it impact your business model?
In their recent Better Every Day podcast, Darren Root, Chief Strategist for Right Networks, and John Mitchell, Culture and Workforce Advisor for Right Networks, explored a new way of looking at the world and how your accounting firm can—and needs to— contribute to society in order to remain a thriving part of the post-pandemic world.
It all starts with being intentional in the way you think about your business—what we call Smart Client Management. Simply put, it’s the active daily management of your firm’s business model. Smart Client Management helps you prioritize your firm’s two most valuable assets and gets you away from the “more is more” thought process.
So, let’s dive in.
Your firm’s two most valuable assets
With Smart Client Management, the first thing firms should focus on is the WHO. As John mentions, the pandemic made us remember that people matter most. And when it comes to your firm, the most valuable assets are your people, too: your clients and your team. Because if you lose them, you don’t have a business.
You have to intentionally prioritize your staff and your team. That means you need to focus on your ideal clients and support your staff. If you’re more focused on bringing in any and every client who walks in the door, you start to lose focus on those long-time or lifetime clients—the ones who have been loyal to your business and consistently use your services.
And, if you’re just building your client list to build numbers, you’re doing your team a disservice by overworking them. As Darren says in the podcast, “[Many firms are] lobbing more into the system and putting all this pressure on their existing team…They’re spinning every single day, trying to get new things done.”
Firms need to think about the WHO in their business model: Who are we supposed to be serving? Who is our ideal client?
The bottom line: Don’t passively manage your client list and your staff—be intentional and give them the active daily focus they need and deserve.
Why “more” isn’t better
Darren and John also talk about big business and big data…and how they’re perceived as depersonalized. Unfortunately, the reputation for depersonalization has started to seep into the small business world, as well.
Firms want to get more business, so they look to add more and more clients without taking the time to intentionally curate their ideal client list. Many firms are sold on doing more marketing (yes, it’s a scary word for accountants) to bring in new clients, because more is better, right?
But this doesn’t work— at least, not sustainably. The focus shifts to more, more and more, but the issue isn’t about getting more, it’s about getting better. And as John observes, “Better is what brings us more value.”
Why “better” is better
We know that when accountants hear the word marketing, there’s almost an audible shudder. But when you break down what firms actually need to do on an annual basis, Darren says: “They need to find 10 new customers, right? [That’s] one a month. One a month is what we’re talking about.”
When the goal becomes a new client each month instead of casting out the widest net possible to see what you can bring in, you calm the chaos of “more” and make the shift to “better.” As an example, let’s say you need to grow by $150,000 this year, and your ideal client (because you’ve determined your WHO) is $15,000 a year. You’re all accountants, so I’ll let you do the math. (But spoiler for those who aren’t: That’s 10 clients.)
So, what’s the easiest and best way for a firm owner to get 10 clients, onboard them into the system and holistically serve them in the best possible way? Your focus should be on those 10 clients and not on lobbing non-ideal clients into the fray. But you have to be intentional. Otherwise, if you’re focused only on the $150,000 growth you need and not on getting the right clients, you’ll end up taking on every last tax return possible.
When you holistically serve your ideal clients, as Darren says, “It makes your clients better and creates a better place for your team to work…it’s all about just making people’s lives better.”
Shift your focus
The world has changed, and your firm’s business model needs to change with it. As John puts it so eloquently, “You have to create a moment where you can stop and say, ‘What value am I bringing? Where can I plug into the thing that’s already happening here?’” It starts with Smart Client Management—the intentional and active daily management of your firm—but it really depends on your WHO.
To learn more about Smart Client Management and a tool that helps power it—Rootworks Insights—click here.