I describe our practice as being people-led and client-focused. We call ourselves life-centred accountants. But, are we? Doesn’t every business say that? Do we talk the talk or walk the walk?
Here are a couple of the things we have done.
We’ve got a wonderful client, M, who works in a creative industry. She doesn’t enjoy the financial side of running a business and, within a short time of joining us, she entrusted to us that she is neuro-divergent. She is tech savvy but doubts her own ability which causes her a huge amount of anxiety. What helps is having us on the other end of the phone while she completed certain tasks.
Now, we structure our services (and charge our clients) on the basis of the number of transactions rather than time. This approach uses averages and norms which we calculate based on years of experience and our in-depth understanding of how businesses operate. It doesn’t however allow for additional specialised support. This works for 99.9% of our clients but not M. So we created a bespoke phone support service and the fee for this is based on the time she needs each month. Everyone is a winner – M gets the help she needs and we can afford to provide it. No rushing her off the phone or, worse still, avoiding her calls. Importantly, all fees are fixed and have been agreed upfront so we’re removing any anxiety relating to costs and cash flow.
Horses for courses
We all absorb information differently. You will like to receive it one way which won’t be the same as how I want it. We have clients that want their queries listed out neatly in an email. For some people that is their idea of hell and it needs to be a face-to-face meeting – real or remote. Others find that a phone call is more productive. For example, A is a compliance consultant. She recoiled in horror when I asked her if she’d prefer a monthly meeting to an email. She uses our email as a checklist and ticks items off as she finds the paperwork. Another of our clients, S, on the other hand, finds lists of missing supplier invoices totally demoralising. So now we have 2 remote meetings each month which we follow up with a spreadsheet extracted from the accounting software (we are a Xero only practice) so that he can add comments to it and send it back.
A happy medium?
An accountancy practice needs a certain amount of process and routine to run efficiently and remain profitable without pricing out the people who need its services. But this should never be at the expense of the finding the best way to serve its customers. If you want a cheap solution that can only survive by homogenising its customer base and removing real people from its operation, we are NOT FOR YOU.
Our clients want to be valued and respected as individuals by a team who work with them, recognising their struggles as well as their many strengths. If you see yourself in M, A and S, we’d love to hear from you. Tell us about you and what you are looking for RIGHT HERE and we’ll be in touch.