As an accounting firm coach, consultant and mentor I often look at my experiences through the eyes of an accounting firm owner or manager and look for ideas that can be applied. My trip to Sicily was no exception. 

Example 1 Lipari Hotel

The first place we went in Sicily was a small island to the north of the main island. This island is called Lipari and the hotel there provided a couple of good reminders. It’s absolutely worth a visit but we were baffled by their approach to meeting guests needs when using the pool. At most hotels Kate and I stay at, if there is a pool, there is often a bar next to the pool and the opportunity to order meals and drinks for consumption in the pool area. Usually there are one or more hotel team members actively offering service to guests. 

In the hotel we stayed in this was not the case. It was a nice pool area and attracted quite a few people but their approach was to basically ignore everyone! There was a quasi bar area nearby but no one was moving around offering service to guests and the food on offer made no sense at all. As a result, there was no one eating or drinking around the pool. This was a huge wasted opportunity for the hotel to earn revenue and actually meet the needs of its guests. 

So what’s this got to do with an accounting firm I hear you say! Take a step back for a moment and look at how you interact with your clients. Are there any obvious needs you are not meeting? Are you ignoring them when they need help? Does what you offer actually meet their needs?

Example 2 Taormina Hotel

Taormina is a stunning small town on the east of Sicily and one of the highlights of our trip. However, the hotel we stayed at did some weird things that really annoyed us and in some ways defied belief. This was an expensive hotel on the point at Taormina, just a bit removed from the old town and in my view the client service was terrible. Certainly not a match for what we were paying.

Our room did not have any facilities to boil water and for Kate, who does rather like a good cup of tea at all times of the day, this was a problem. I went to reception and asked if we could get a kettle and a rather indifferent hotel team member responded that it would cost 25 Euros a day to hire a kettle for our 2 night stay. My response “you can’t be serious”, but they were. 

Another interaction with the reception team was equally unfulfilling. As the hotel was somewhat removed from the old town there was a need to get a bus. To it’s credit the hotel had a bus, but with limited capacity and limited hours and you could not book it ahead. Again “you can’t be serious”! There was also a public bus but they were incapable of telling us with any clarity where to catch it and what the timetable was. 

The other weird thing about this hotel was that although it, had the most glorious terrace bar with stunning views of Mount Etna, it was like it was a state secret. Nothing in our room or signage to suggest its existence. We just stumbled upon it. The service was not brilliant but the view and ambience was magnificent. Just can’t figure out why it was a secret!

What secrets are you keeping from your clients? Are you making it harder than it needs to be to do business with you?

Example 3 Syracuse apartment 

In contrast to Taormina Hotel this small apartment complex in Syracuse, run by a passionate local, could not have been better from a service point of view. Our welcome was genuinely warm and our host very quickly explained bus arrangements, had a simple printed timetable and tips on where to eat. Snorkel gear and reef shoes were available at no cost which was perfect given the apartment block basically hung over the ocean and you could walk into the water from the bottom of it! The breakfast was amazing and for the entirety of our stay nothing was too much trouble. Now that’s how it should be done!

In your dealings with your clients are you a Lipari Hotel, a Taormina Hotel or a Syracuse apartment? I know which one I want you to be and I reckon your clients do too!