Today’s ethnically diverse and educated generation is the biggest contributor to economic growth through entrepreneurship, as well as being part of the workforce. New business owners are younger and followers of advanced technology trends. They are not only influencing the change into the core functions of the business, but also support functions such as accounting, advisory, and tax planning.
The tax and accounting profession has also been going through a cultural shift that is leaning more toward technological adoption, mainly to keep up with marketing needs, generation change, and client demands. With strong competition and smart clients, firms must continuously evaluate and improve sales, marketing, and operational strategies to grow their practices. Below are eight ways to grow your practice.
Strategy 1: Evaluate your efficiency
The first step to grow your firm is to evaluate the performance and efficiency of your team at regular intervals. This will give you a better understanding of your current resources, and determine the need to improve their performance to reach maximum efficiency. Along with your resource structure, you should also monitor and evaluate your current pricing strategies and realization rates. Depending on the functionality of the team to do resource planning, you should use subjective and objective evaluation methods.
For example, John, a sporting facility owner and one of my clients, once provided me feedback: “I love our team and their work, except in summer, when I always find issues with revenue recognition. Also, I just referred you to one of my friends who is opening a new facility. Good luck!” This feedback immediately raised two concerns: if the team needed some technical training and if our resource planning did not take seasonal businesses into consideration. We immediately implemented a new training program, and added a buffer team to accommodate seasonal businesses; only stronger team and resource planning will help you support the growth.
Strategy 2: Improve client satisfaction
Keeping clients satisfied is the primary goal of every firm. A dissatisfied client can cost you not only in terms of lost revenue, but also in goodwill, and will also affect your referrals. As a result, you should evaluate and improve your service through client surveys.
A periodic client satisfaction survey gives you a chance to evaluate your inefficiencies and work on solutions to mitigate the issues creating the inefficiencies. Client surveys can also solve another important purpose. Positive client feedback can be used as client testimonial, as well as circulated internally to boost the team’s spirit. John’s feedback not only helped me to identify inefficiencies, but it also gave an indication of his satisfaction level as he referred us to a potential client.
Strategy 3: Prepare and customize your sales pitch
While prospecting, my first attention is to design a sales pitch, which starts with listening to your prospective clients and understanding their requirements. When you have a proper understanding of the prospect’s requirement, you should be able to customize your sales pitch to their requirement. Always do your homework and have different variations of your pitch ready related to the main services you provide. During the first meeting with the prospect client, keep these points in mind:
- Keep introductions short. Make it all about them and not about yourself. Chances are that your prospect has already researched you and the services you offer.
- Ask questions. Make your prospect open about their business and their immediate requirements. This will help you customize your sales pitch.
- Define your value propositions. Once you have identified the client’s immediate requirements, you can design your sales pitch, including defining your value propositions. Be specific about what you can offer and what problem will it solve. Your goals should be aligned with your client’s goals to shorten the selling cycle.
When I met with the referral client who John introduced, I immediately realized that he was not looking for bookkeeping; he was more interested in controller-level services as well as periodic tax planning, which my firm offers. The above tips helped me to stay focused and only discuss services relevant to his requirements.
Strategy 4: Grow with your client
Pay close attention to your client’s growth plan because their requirements will increase and change as their business grows. Your current engagement with your client on year-end tax preparation services can soon expand into an advisory role, including providing tax planning services, redesigning business plans, and projecting needs. A client becomes your long-term partner when you start solving their long-term problems. However, it is important to stay within your expertise and your normal service offerings. If something falls outside your knowledge, do not hesitate to say “no.” In such cases, you can refer your clients to others, which brings us to the next strategy.
Strategy 5: Build partnerships with other professionals
If your client can view you as a one-stop solution for their needs, your firm will grow as your client grows their business. However, they can easily outgrow what you offer, so this is the time to create partnerships with other trusting professionals who can provide those services. In return, you can set similar expectations with your partners for referrals. This not only contributes to your bottom line; it helps keep your clients in your firm.
Strategy 6: Stay updated
In one of his books, Bernard Stiegler defines our time as the Age of Disruption. Many industries and business models are at risk of being disrupted due to rapid technological developments, enabling new business models. This applies not just to tax and accounting, but your clients as well. When your client starts viewing you as an expert in solving their problems, they also expect you to know everything. They expect you to be informed and trained on the newest applications and automation possibilities. This leaves you no option but to keep a close watch on the latest technology and market trends. Even though you may not be able to solve all the challenges, you will be able to prepare yourself with alternative options.
Strategy 7: Improve your online presence
For a professional firm, their website is an asset. It can provide more visibility and reach than traditional advertising methods. Build a professional website that details your various service offerings, including testimonials of your trusted clients that will bring more value and trust.
Traditional offline marketing will always play an important role for professionals to expand their network, but one cannot deny the growth of social media. Create a robust profile, not just for your firm, but also for your key team members. An active social media presence, along with a professional website, will integrate with your marketing strategies, generate more engagements, and result in more leads.
Publish your blog or article on your company’s website, and write a blog or article on other leading websites and pages. Both strategies serve the same purpose of sharing your thoughts and ideas, and demonstrate your expertise on the subject to a wider audience.
Strategy 8: Contribute to community
Always raise a helping hand and contribute to your community in any way you can. It is our moral responsibility to give back to the community that has contributed to our business. Whether it is a client in need or a fellow professional, donating your time or money not only provides a sense of satisfaction, but also helps to build long-lasting professional relationships.
Choose your own path
As the world deals with COVID-19, and other issues, the economy continues to survive and thrive. Along with all other professions, accounting and tax must evolve and adapt strategies that fit into a firm’s business plan for growth. These eight strategies are yours to take and customize to fit your own needs. Fall is a great time to think about what you want to accomplish, especially as we head into busy season.