The ongoing pandemic has provided both challenges and opportunities for business and your accounting firm is no different. I hold the view that if we are doing good things for our clients and delivering value to them, then our own businesses will prosper. Here are four ideas to help you support your clients during the current period of great uncertainty.
- Run webinars
I have heard reports of some firms having great success in running webinars for clients and non-clients to give a plain English explanation of the government stimulus, as well as on other topics. This is a powerful one to many strategy that gives you leverage. The government stimulus packages seem to be constantly changing so webinars can be run quite regularly to keep people up to date. In addition, you can talk about other issues such as managing cash and costs which will be of interest to most people. Tools such as the now ubiquitous Zoom, GOTO, Teams and others can easily be deployed to host a webinar. Tip – have one member of your team drive the application while another delivers the content. Also, have all your team sit in on the webinar so they can talk to clients about the content at a later date.
- Send newsletters / write blogs
Many firms have some form of a monthly (or other regularity) newsletter. One firm I know has a weekly digest they send to clients and others. There are third party providers who can help with content and that can be really helpful if you don’t have the capacity to write the content inhouse. At present much of the content in the newsletters will be about COVID stimulus and related matters and is a great supplement to the webinars I refer to above. Different modes of learning work for different people so some will love the webinars while others will prefer being able to read at their own pace to absorb the content. Giving your clients the choice is helpful for them. I talk about newsletters here but in reality for most there will be a blog post that corresponds to each article in your newsletter. Some firms have quite sophisticated tools but for many Mailchimp will be the low cost tool of choice.
- Make phone calls
I remember when the COVID crisis first hit and stimulus was announced by the Federal government, I got a call from my own accountant to check that I was OK and to give me a very quick overview of what was available to help business. At the time he said he was on the phone pretty much constantly from early to late, working his way through the client list. Making calls supplements webinars and newsletters for two reasons. First it picks up the people who have not been on a webinar or read your newsletter and second it is both more personal and proactive. So grab your client list, divide it up amongst the team and get calling!
- Book one on one review and advice sessions
Coming out of the phone calls, newsletters and webinars should be a number of one on one review and advice sessions with your clients. Each webinar, newsletter/blog post and phone call will have what the marketers describe as a “call to action” – in this case an invitation to book a one on one review and advice session. This will be a chargeable, personalised session with each client to work on survive/thrive planning and actions. This is where you will be looking at things like forecast profitability and cashflow and perhaps mapping out different scenarios for the business owner to consider. The feedback I’ve been receiving from accountants who are doing this is that clients really appreciate this support and are willing to pay for it.
There’s nothing revolutionary in what I am suggesting here, but I think the combination of these four things is a great package for communicating effectively with your clients and prospects and ultimately helping them in ways which I believe they will be grateful for.