I like the 3 As – Acronyms, Acrostics and Alliteration. Here’s a shorter than usual blog post to help you structure conversations with clients as we start to come out of lockdown:
As with all your conversations with clients in recent months you obviously want to help them to sustain, rebuild and recover their business. Here are 7 Cs you may want to factor into your next conversation with each of your clients:
- Change: This is the obvious topic. The pandemic and the lockdown have forced many changes on most of your clients. No doubt you have discussed the immediate impact of COVID-19 and provided what help you can. But have you asked what impact this is having on them personally as well as in a business context? Are they prepared for another lock-down when, as seems likely, there is a second peak or are their plans based on the ‘hope’ that this won’t happen? In the same way that they take out insurance in case the worst happens, they should be doing some insurance thinking about how they will survive (or thrive in) a renewed lockdown.
- Customers: What are your clients doing to stay close to their customers and to engage with new prospects now and as the lockdown eases.
- Costs: Many clients will have incurred additional costs to comply with social distancing rules and to promote their way out the lockdown. They will probably have reviewed all non-essential costs and looked for ways to reduce recurring costs, including your fees. How good are you at evidencing the value of your services and the cost consequences of switching accountants?
- Cash: We know that clients’ businesses are more likely to go bust due to a lack of cash than due to a lack of sales. Sales on credit are good but collecting the cash is key. There are cheap borrowings around but cashflow projections are becoming an ever more crucial element of good business finance and predictor of problems as well as of success. Can you help clients with their cash-flow projections?
- Cloud computing: The cloud isn’t just about online bookkeeping systems – though those accountants who have insisted all of their clients move into the cloud have found lockdown easier than those who still accept paper bags and shoeboxes of paperwork. Cloud payment systems make it easier for your clients to take payments if they or their customers want to avoid touching cash. There are so many cloud based systems that could make your clients’ lives easier (from online booking systems to diary management, ‘document’ storage, customer management data and email campaign systems. The list goes on on). Whilst you will want to encourage your clients to pick the best solutions for them and their businesses, you will also want them to factor into the decisions the need for such systems to link with their bookkeeping system. Better they know how helpful this will be before they make their choices.
- Connections: How well connected are your clients with their teams and their staff? How well connected are their team members? How confident are your clients that they will retain all necessary connections as their businesses emerge from lockdown?
- Change: What has changed as regards what your clients’ customers want and need? Is the old business sustainable if customers’ habits and preferences have evolved during lockdown?
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