Growing your practice — without adding new clients

Accounting

It’s no secret that competition today is fierce. Add that to the year of the pandemic where many businesses were struggling to survive, and the thought of growth may seem like a stretch goal. However, it was and is possible. And the best part is that you can likely grow your practice without adding new clients. A few simple steps and modifications or additions to your current business model can make all the difference.

1. Benchmark your firm with others your size and in your market. One of the first things you can do is to benchmark your firm with other firms in your space. The easiest way to accomplish this is to determine your financial and managerial metrics and compare them to similar firms in similar-sized markets. Although you may have to purchase comparisons for a small fee, there are numerous comparison metrics available for a multitude of categories. Examples of just a few reference metrics include income per partner, overall billing rate, administration as a percent of total headcount, staff-to-partner ratios, average annual billable hours per partner and per staff, professional staff turnover, and many more.

Benchmarking will allow you to make comparisons and determine where you lag behind industry norms. You can then develop an action plan to address and improve your performance in those areas.

2. Form strategic alliances to strengthen your firm’s service offerings. Another area to consider when growing your firm with your current clientele is to form strategic alliances with trusted firms and companies offering complementary services. For example, law firms that specialize in trusts or financial services firms are “low-hanging fruit” — obvious choices for partnering. Further, depending upon your clientele and their industries, you may want to partner with specialty tax, financial or engineering firms geared toward your client’s industry.

Two key takeaways when considering strategic alliances are to keep an open mind, and to thoroughly evaluate both your clients’ needs and the quality of the alliances with whom you partner. Forming optimal strategic alliances can allow you to better serve your clients, position your firm as the center of expertise, and increase firm profits per client.

3. Become a thought leader for your niche. While your offerings may be diverse, concentrating your efforts on a particular niche or specialized offering will lead your clients to start recognizing you as an expert or thought leader. Sharing your knowledge and expertise freely through multiple outlets including web forums, blog posts, FAQs on your website, social media posts, and publications will keep your name associated with specialized areas and information. Reaching your existing clientele with thought leadership content will keep them engaged and loyal by viewing you as a trusted advisor.

4. Manage your customer relationships and build loyalty. At the end of the day, it’s the people-to-people relationships that build firms, not marketing plans or campaigns. A vital piece of increasing revenue from your existing clients is to manage their experience and build loyalty. To effectively and efficiently accomplish this, there are multiple customer relationship management software packages available that can help. When choosing a CRM that’s right for your firm, a critical eye should evaluate it for its applicability, ease of use, and versatility. While there are many CRMs on the market, there are some built specifically for accounting firms.

A CRM software should help you efficiently and strategically manage marketing, sales, and client relationships. Your CRM system should not only assist you with managing these relationships, but it should also help identify the relationships that matter the most and offer a personalized experience.

5. Upsell your existing clients. The strategies above will provide a framework for upselling your existing clients with additional or more comprehensive services. With a CRM system supporting timely communication and thought leadership content that positions you as an expert in your field, your clients will organically inquire about related services and offerings that could benefit them and their business. You want to be the “go-to” firm for your clients’ financial lives, and you can lean on the strategic partnerships described above to fulfill any gaps in your existing services.

When looking to grow your business this year, the strategies above provide a powerful opportunity for you to do so without having to add additional clientele. By enriching the relationship, you are creating loyalty and growing your practice with your existing client base — it’s a win-win for your firm and your clients.

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