People outside the industry often wonder what accounting companies do when the annual tax rush ends – and it’s true, things do tend to peak for accounting firms during the first several months of the year, in the lead-up to April 15. After most people’s taxes are in the mail, though, there’s still plenty of work to be done, and one of the most important things that tax firms can do during this time is to work on building their client base. In other words, the post-April 15 period is all about growth.
If your firm wants to attract new accounting clients this year, you need a strategy that will attract both new businesses that need their first accountant as well as one that targets those who might be dissatisfied with their current accounting firm. These 7 simple steps will help you to onboard new accounts and scale up in a manner that suits your firm.
Before your firm dives into the expansion process, it’s important to pause and ensure that your firm is ready to expand – and readiness encompasses a number of different factors. For example, some firms assume that if they’re struggling to maintain a steady income with their current client base, that must mean that they need to attract more clients, but this is only half true. Your firm shouldn’t undertake any major new initiatives if your firm isn’t financially stable. Rather, struggling to make payroll or cover your bills more likely means your firm has too many employees or excessive overhead.
On the other hand, your firm is clearly ready to expand when it demonstrates several key traits. In addition to a stable income and loyal client base, it’s a good sign if your existing clients have been inquiring about potential growth. That can be an indicator that they have more work for your company or that they have colleagues they’d like to refer to your firm. Preexisting interest in your firm’s expansion is a good indicator that your existing clients are ready to help jumpstart your growth.
Finally, before you launch any initiatives focused on expansion, consult with your staff and see how they feel about your growth plans. Staff know your business’s capacity better than anyone else and can also give you a sense of how much more work they can handle before you need to start hiring more staff or using a supplementary service like Taxfyle’s outsourcing program to manage accounts.
Once you’ve established that your firm is ready to expand, it’s time to identify who the clients are that you want to attract, and the best way to do this is by creating an ideal client profile. This is an important step for any business aiming to grow and all ideal client profiles typically rely on similar principles. These include the demographics of your ideal client, whether they’re an individual professional or a large business, what their industry is, and what kinds of services they need.
While creating an ideal client profile, it can help to look at some of your best existing clients; what do you like about working with them? Breaking down your existing client base will help you establish greater clarity about what you mean by an ideal client, whether you’re focusing on a shared professional outlook, a particular type of service or volume of work, or even just a way of communicating.
Now that you’re clear on what types of clients your firm will ideally attract during this period of expansion, it’s time to build out the infrastructure that will attract them: your website. Your website should give potential clients a sense of what services your firm offers and how using your services will benefit them, as well as relevant business news and blog posts. Your blog is an ideal place to demonstrate your firm’s expertise on relevant topics. Be sure to update the blog regularly since a dead blog page is a sign of a company that isn’t working hard to connect with a broader audience; updates are about staying relevant.
Of course, having a website isn’t enough to establish relevance these days – you’ll also need to develop a social media strategy for your firm. Create a Twitter account or Facebook group for your firm and use your social presence to demonstrate your expertise. You can share articles you write for local publications, links to your blog, and most importantly, use these accounts to provide what’s known as social proof – authentic evidence of client satisfaction. Encourage existing clients to tag your page or leave a review on your social media accounts for increased visibility.
Remember that earlier note about the importance of noting whether your clients are asking you to expand? Here’s where that becomes important. If you’re trying to expand your business, you need to develop a referral network, which includes incentivizing existing customers to make referrals. You already know that you’re happy with these customers, they’re rewarded for sharing your business’s expertise with their professional peers, and you benefit by having more great clients funneled your way.
In addition to working with your existing clients to attract referrals, you might also consider working with other local businesses that offer complementary services to yours and that you’re already connected with professionally. In other words, use your network. Since your businesses offer different services, they don’t lose out by referring customers to you and you can ensure them that the pitch goes both ways – you’ll encourage your customers to inquire about their services, as well.
Of all the things you could do to expand your accounting firm’s client base, cold calling may be the most surprising, but the strategy seems to be making a comeback – at least among accounting firms. Whether or not it’s popular though, the most important thing about cold calling potential clients is that it puts your firm in the driver’s seat. You’re starting the conversation with your ideal clients, rather than just trying to lure them to you. Most won’t sign on in that initial phone call, but your call will push them to look further, and if you’ve built up a solid web presence and have a great reputation, then you’ve given your contact all the information they need to decide whether your services are right for them.
When it comes to growing your client base, sometimes the best resources are right under your nose, and in this case that resource is local job postings. Take a look at your area’s job boards to see who is looking for an in-house bookkeeper or accountant and then reach out. Your proposition: they could hire a part-time staff member to handle these tasks, or they could hire an accounting firm and cut out a lot of extra steps.
When reaching out to companies that are looking to hire a bookkeeper or accountant, you need to be prepared with a clear case as to why it’s better for them to outsource this service, besides the labor involved in hiring. Many companies taking this step do so because they think they’ll be expanding in the near future and so will be able to make greater use of their in-house staffer, but as with other specialized business services, the majority of companies are better off outsourcing their accounting services. You’re not just making a case for why they should outsource, though – but explaining why they should specifically outsource to your company.
You’re almost there – you know who your ideal client is, you’ve built your web presence, and you’ve even directly contacted some potential clients. All that’s left is to model success, focusing on the principle of social proof.
Social proof is an idea derived from behavioral economics, and it says that people are influenced by other people. No surprise there! Still, you have to be careful how you leverage this concept. The goal is to show how others are benefitting from your firm’s expertise, and it’s why having strong reviews and endorsements is so important. It can also help to offer statistics on the ways you’ve helped your clients. Potential clients want to run with the crowd, so show them the successful community you’ve cultivated.
What happens if your firm’s expansion is so successful that you end up with more work than you can handle, especially during tax season? Don’t worry about it because Taxfyle has you covered. Our platform matches your client accounts with a skilled professional, and provides an immediate price quote for completing the job. What’s more, the majority of our jobs are claimed within two minutes of posting, so there’s no delay. Contact Taxfyle today to learn more about how we can help your firm grow – it’s the smart, scalable solution for the modern accounting firm.
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