What you can do when clients won’t play ball

Sep 14, 2021 | Client service

Many an otherwise savvy sole practitioner tells me about similar problems with their client base.

“They won’t pay higher fees, they don’t want additional services and they leave everything to the last minute”

If you have clients like this, you’re not alone. Often it’s a direct consequence of how desperate you were to take on new clients when you started your practice. Did you just take on anyone and everyone?  Did you take on a few clients who just wanted a new accountant who was cheaper than the last one?

Have you ever tried to train them or are you so afraid of losing them that you’ll put up with almost anything? It’s just not worth the risk as you don’t have much of a plan to secure new and profitable clients. Perhaps you’ve never had such a plan?

If I ask you how you get most of your new clients I’ll bet you’ll say “recommendations and referrals”. And maybe your website helps too. Well done.

Just one thing though. Are you winning the sort of new clients you really want – or are they much like your existing clients? After all, many clients tend to recommend people like themselves.

I do feel sorry for the sole practitioners who are not happy with their client base. They don’t feel they can make time to go out and win new clients and yet the existing client base is a strain and frustrating. I don’t think I could work like that.

The simple fact is that the only way things are going to change is if YOU take action to make things different.

One simple starting point is to identify your worst client and to plan how you will say goodbye to them. Draft your breakup email and focus on how good it feels knowing that you will never again have to suffer their voice on the phone, their emails, excuses, delays and nonsense. I’m sure that will be a good feeling.

Don’t put the client’s name in the ‘To’ box of the email though until and unless you’re ready to send the email. You don’t want to send it by mistake!

Reflect on your draft email overnight and edit it if need be. Some of the accountants I work with have told me that they then had to send the email without further delay. Putting their concerns into words had helped make up their mind. Why would they want to keep this awful person as a client?

Other accountants feel they cannot afford to lose even one of their ‘difficult’ clients. When we discuss the pros and cons though they sometimes change their minds. Still, if that’s how you feel, then just save the email into your drafts folder.  And move onto step two.

Step two is to PLAN how you will replace those fees  – and then to implement that plan. You now have a new incentive to do this. Once you have signed up a nice new client and secured new fees you can then finalise and send the email to that client you want to lose.

If you want some help with that plan or any other aspect of building a more successful practice, do get in touch >>>

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