As an accounting firm grows, so does the amount of work and number of employees. To grow sustainably, at some point accounting firm owners need to start delegating the tasks to keep the firm running while they concentrate on the tasks that develop the business. When it comes to client communication and fostering relationships, this also needs to be passed down to free up valuable time for business development. Here’s how to get your clients to go to your team members directly, instead of approaching you first.
Are you the business bottleneck in your accounting firm?
Naturally, as you get sales in the door, make connections and foster business relationships, your clients only want to speak to you. When they have a request or when things go wrong, they call you to sort them out.
While this may work for a while, eventually when everything has to go through you, you become the bottleneck that prevents your firm from growing. Not only does this cause stagnation but it also makes business processes incredibly inefficient costing you both time and money.
To free up more of your time to focus on business development, you need to start directing your clients to your team members.
2 ways to get your clients to go straight to the right team member
Stop being the bottleneck
How to stop being the bottleneck can be difficult for accounting firm owners as they often tend to have a very strong desire to please clients themselves by being highly responsive to them. The challenge that they have then is to change their mindset to “my firm can still provide a great client service without me being the one to do it.”
To stop being the bottleneck in your firm, you need to stop trying to manage everything and start delegating authority as well as responsibility to your team members. If you train them effectively and implement clear steps for communication and decision making, you can trust them to provide quality client service while you concentrate on marketing and other areas that will grow the firm.
Create a streamlined business process for handing over clients
As part of your sales process, once you have won a new client, you need to introduce them to someone in your team who will be the client manager. As part of the handover process, you should communicate the client’s needs and any issues to the client manager as well as explaining to the client that in order for them to get the best service from your business, they will have a dedicated person within the firm who will handle all of their matters.
Once you have mapped out the workflow of this process, tested it, reviewed and refined it, document the process to act as guidelines for your employees.
It’s all about setting clear expectations
When you know how to stop being the bottleneck in your accounting firm, you can design and implement key processes that allow you to handover clients with complete confidence saving you a lot of time, energy and money in the future.
Just remember to set client expectations from the start. If you have a smooth process that is easy for everyone to follow and your client knows this from the get-go, you’ll find that they’ll go straight to your team members with any questions, requests or issues instead of going to you first without any problems at all.
I met Heather when I won Best New Practice at the British Accountancy Awards in 2016 and didn’t think that she could help me, I now know that was wrong!
My practice growth last year was excellent but my systems were poor and I had exceeded capacity, and I could see where I needed to take the business. I Just needed the clarity to work out the next steps to take my practice to the next step. We are no longer a start up practice and couldn't afford to live like we were a start up practice. This meant needing to put in stricter workflows and processes as well as building a strong team.
I wish I had listened to Heather in 2016. After just one call, I started to get the clarity - and reassurance that I was doing a lot right. A very unexpected benefit was that within a month of being in the club I had saved over £10,500 by changing software suppliers and the impact of quoting and billing new clients at the right level.
Being a member of the club is far more than just a coaching relationship. I am dipping into the club's huge library of resources from time to time, as well as coming on the fortnightly group accountability calls.
When you are busy helping other business to grow you tend to overlook your own business, so with the accountability from the group accountability calls I am held to task and can really see me doing what is necessary to grow my practice. I'm also learning from other members and how they are overcoming their problems. The coaching calls and group accountability calls are giving me much needed time for reflection, and will lead to far more time on the golf course to attend to my deteriorating handicap which is about to move from 20 to 21.