As an accounting firm coach, consultant and mentor, I’ve often said I look at things through the eyes of an accounting firm owner or manager and find ideas for running a better accounting firm. Recently my experience in purchasing from Appliances Online has highlighted two such ideas.

Turnaround time

Many firms I talk to don’t measure turnaround time on jobs well or at all. The time that matters to your clients is the time from when they ask you to do something and give you what you need to do it, to when it is completed. Some small to medium firms talk in terms of a 4 to 6 weeks or longer turnaround time for SME business accounts and tax returns. What I am sensing is that clients are wanting things to move faster than this. Part of the reason for this is experiences they are having elsewhere… like at Appliances Online.

As forecasts of another La Nina started appearing in the media I decided that the purchase of a small electric dehumidifier was needed. Last year we suffered clothes going mouldy as a result of the almost near permanent wet weather that sat over Queensland. At the time I’d researched and found a device like this could make a big difference but there was an 8 month waiting time pretty much everywhere to get one. I decided to make a purchase this year while stocks were available and because of prior dealings went straight to Appliances Online. (In short they are a business that I trust.)

I ordered the dehumidifier at 9pm Sunday evening, paid by credit card and gave the necessary information needed for delivery. At 11am Monday morning the unit was delivered to our house. Amazing! When I placed the order they said it would be delivered the next day and they delivered on that promise.

It seems to me that the reason Appliances Online can do this is because they have some very slick systems in place to support this process. And by the way, they kept me informed of progress and up front explained exactly what would happen.

What I’d love to see is accounting firms asking themselves how they can deliver an amazing experience like this.

Some people will say this is ridiculous Rob – we can’t turn our work around that quickly, and that is probably true in many cases. But what would be the accounting firm equivalent of this? Perhaps for a small business set of accounts and tax return it would be in by Monday out by Friday. What would you need to do to be able to offer this? There’s a bunch of reasons why shortening turnaround time is a win for your clients and a win for you. If you can’t think of some, email me and I’ll share a few with you.

Addressing a pain point for a client

A second purchase from Appliances Online gave me a great example of how valuable it can be to address a pain point for a client. This time it was when we purchased a washing machine and dishwasher for a (furnished) rental property. Sadly both appliances had expired at close to the same time and we needed to replace for the tenant. Now I don’t know about you, but when I’ve purchased such things in the past one of the pain points is what to do with the old machines. Many an Australian house has ended up with old whitegoods rusting away in the backyard I reckon! They are typically bulky, heavy and a pain to deal with.

Having recognised this pain point what Appliances Online do is they take away the old appliances for you. At no extra cost! You tick the box when you place the order and it’s done. In my experience a couple of well trained blokes turn up, unpack the new appliance connect it up, do a quick check that is functioning, then grab the old unit and put it back on their truck. What’s not to like?

Interestingly I think that slow delivery is another pain point that this business identified and addresses. It’s often a pain point because in many cases the purchase of a new appliance only happens when the current one has stopped working. If it’s a fridge, for example, you clearly want to replace it quickly.

What are the pain points your clients are dealing with that you can address for them?

It may vary from client to client, but I reckon there will be some common ones.

Understand each client, identify one or two pain points and find a way to address them.

My view is if you can do this then those clients are going to love you for it.