My last blog post, “The Customer Is Always Right,” alluded to some problems in not having the right client, so I wanted to write a post about some ways you could identify the right client before you even let them in the door.
Good business is based on good relationships, and I can’t think of many other industries beyond accounting which has a stronger need for trust on which to build that relationship. Money is a highly personal issue, and believe me, financial issues are close to people’s hearts, and you can’t keep a lot of secrets from your accountants. We’re digging around in your underwear drawer for sure.
Because of this deep need for trust and transparency, it’s important that the accountant and client are a good match. It’s critical for success. And I don’t care how good of an accountant (or lawyer, marketing consultant, dentist, IT professional, etc.) you are, if you are mismatched with a client, nobody is coming out on top… particularly you.
Some of the best advice I ever got was when one of my colleagues (@Joey_B) told me that he determines whether or not to take on a customer based on whether or not he would enjoy going out and having a beer with him. I love that and take it to heart when we’re deciding with whom we want to work. (Coincidentally, I just read a great blog post from one of our Kiwi colleagues (RightWay) who recommends being able to go have a beer with your accountant as one of the top traits of what makes a good accountant.)
Here are some red flags I’ve picked up along the way that help determine that a customer may not be a good fit for your business.
Quick to Blame
We always take the time to interview our customers as much as they’re interviewing us before we agree to work together. We are looking for long, deep relationships, and in our opinion, if we find we’re not a good match, even if it’s just personality-wise, it’s best to discover that before the work begins instead of at the end. If your stomach hurts when you see your client calling, they’re not the right client.
But even with all that said, you will have errors in judgement from time to time. So if you do find that you’ve taken on the wrong client, don’t make your mistake worse by keeping them. It’s *your* business, and you get to choose who you let in the door. You likely started your own business so you could be in charge of your destiny, so why would you want to allow the wrong people or situations to invade your time? Cut bait and make space in your business to be filled up by the right clients, and you’ll have a happier and healthier business.