As the owner of an accounting business, you know that finding clients is an important task, but retaining those clients-especially once you’ve started to tap your ideal market-is just as important.
You can have the best marketing system in the world bringing in new clients but if you don’t have a client retention system in place, you will not have much growth.
Client retention can be challenging: if you knew a problem was developing, you would fix it. So by definition, when you lose a client, you probably didn’t know a problem was coming.
What we can do, though, is predict what problems are likely to drive clients to seek a new firm and prevent those problems from happening in the first place. The single biggest complaint that small business owners have about their accountants is “My CPA doesn’t stay in touch with me.” That is by far the biggest reason why a client will change their CPA…..because the CPA does not stay in touch with his or her client.
So, if you want to retain your clients, a keystone of your client retention system will be a regular program that makes sure you keep in regular touch with each client. Don’t wait for them to get in touch: be proactive and be in touch often.
You may be asking yourself, how many times do I recommend that you should stay in touch with your customers in the course of say a year?
The answer is: at least 24 times per year. For my CPA Practice it is more like 60-70 times per year.
How in the world do we keep in touch with our clients so often? We have a system with several components. Some of the components go to everyone on our list on a regular basis: a monthly newsletter, a card at Thanksgiving, and a weekly Ezine. (Are you counting? We’re already up to 65 contacts a year.) Other items are personalized and rely on keeping an accurate calendar: a card on the anniversary of our business relationship, semi-annual “Thank you for your business” cards, a birthday card or gift (I advise my clients to spend up to 5% of their revenues on gifts to their clients), a couple of personal phone calls (you could substitute a personal visit).
Put each of these systems into place and look at how quickly the touches add up:
Birthday card or gift1
Anniversary of biz relationship 1
Thank you postcard2
Personal phone calls 2
That’s 60 – 70 touches per year. Your clients get not only the feeling of a personal relationship but also a sense of value added. Notice how there are components to yield both perceptions (newsletters and Ezines give them solid information; cards and calls make the relationship personal). With a client retention system like this, you can avoid the top complaint clients have about accountants and increase your client retention dramatically.