By Patrick McLoughlin
Accountancy marketing is often a costly, time-consuming business. This week I want to look at a quick, inexpensive way to strengthen client relationships, increase referrals and even help win more business.
At A4G we talk to hundreds of business owners about their accountants every week. So we have a good idea of what keeps them loyal to their accountant and what irks them enough to take their business elsewhere. Business owners judge their accountants on 3 levels: the quality of work, the fees and the relationship. If you can’t differentiate the quality of your work or build strong relationships, the cheapest fee will always win.
Many Partners do struggle to explain what’s special about their firm: how they are different to their local competitors. As most accountancy firms offer identical services, practiced by people with the same qualifications and experience, that’s understandable.
If you are not demonstrating superior work, you are judged on the strength of our relationship and your fees. So it is vital to build committed relationships, with clients and prospects to protect yourself from ‘cheapest fee wins’.
The firms that generate strong client loyalty work hard at raising, measuring and maintaining service across all their staff.
As in any relationship, the little things that can make a deep impression. I have blogged in the past about the importance of making your clients and prospects feel special. We looked at greeting clients by name at your door, the goodwill generated through answering your telephone well.
Sending hand written thank you cards is a powerful way to show gratitude and make an impression. They have far more impact than a email and because they are so rare people talk about them and even display them on their desk.
When to send a thank you card:
- After a client has sent you a referral.
- After a client has sent you paperwork.
- When someone has downloaded a report from your website.
- After a prospect has turned down your proposal.
A year ago I started sending hand written thank you cards to prospects that had turned down an offer to work with me. Talking to these people, 6-months or a year later, I was amazed at how many commented: “Oh I remember you sent me the thank you card”
I didn’t find it an easy habit to get into; I hadn’t written thank you cards since I was a child. But once you try it out and notice how well they are received you’ll find yourself sending more and more.
You can pick them up from any card shop. They usually have a broad choice so you can find some that reflect your style.