Part 3 of 6 part series on Change for Accountants
In my experience, when I sat in a chair like yours, the failure to implement could be explained by a fear of change or failure to change.
This series investigates 5 Key Barriers to Change that are specific to Australian Accountants.
Specific Barriers to Change for Accountants
There are common reasons why we find it hard as Accountants to change what we are doing.
- It’s easier not to change (TA69)
- Established industry patterns don’t support change (TA70)
- Concern about negative reactions from clients (TA71)
- Partners complicate the decision making process (TA72)
- Procrastination (TA73)
Over the course of the series I’ll look at each barrier separately – discussing the nature of the issue and why it occurs, before suggesting action/s to move beyond the barrier.
3. Concern about negative client reactions
You may have tried to effect changes in the past and some clients let you know they didn’t like it. In our case, we found that some clients were reluctant to call the team. They kept calling partners and got annoyed when the partners were not available. However, when we looked more closely, it was our good business operators who embraced what we were doing and encouraged us to keep moving.
FURTHER READING>> Read TA60 – ‘The Service Concept That is Costing You Money’ for my answer to ‘What to do with those clients who are used to asking for the Partners’.
This may not be based on actual past events, it could even just be the concern about possible reactions.
The good clients appreciate and knew they would benefit from our development and we knew that by continuing with the changes we would attract more of the good clients.
How to overcome this fear:
Plant the seed with some of your ideal clients to see if they like where you’re heading. Getting feedback from people you know are good business operators is objective and useful.
The best advice I ever received from a client
When I approached a big client and discussed our ideas and the changes, I received some great advice.
The client responded;
“Andrew, if you kept doing the same stuff over and over, then we will do the same stuff over and over! By you constantly questioning what you do and making changes for the better then you will question us and thats for the better”
In hindsight i now realise, the client had already accepted the cost of our changes,they would not get the same access to me and my team members would be delivering more aspects of the solution. The payoff, they would get additional value as i would be focusing on strategies or solutions to problems, to them that meant better outcomes for them.
“You’ll come up with ideas that we haven’t thought of, and that’s value to us”
Of course the client also added; “don’t completely outgrow me!
In the beginning I had been taking every call from this client. I prepared their BAS and delivering all of the solutions required across the entire account. With my proposed changes, we went to my Manager taking 90% of these responsibilities and me checking in on them four times a year.
It’s great to remember that even our big clients want us to grow, as they know the value it adds back to them in the long term.
How to manage negative reactions
This isn’t an article on communication, so I’m not going to cover how to “deal with” negative reactions. Instead, I’ll show you how to ‘manage’ them by creating a structure that avoids them in the first place.
- tell clients about your vision – inc. why you are doing this from their perspective.
- introduce the team (highlighting the ‘team champion’ for each area of contact)
- show confidence in what you are doing –
- ensure your Premium Positioning (see TA39 ‘How to Position Your Practice as a Premium Brand’)
- don’t return to old ways
- Start from today forward communicating with clients holistically. Specifically, direct your questions towards betterment of their business profit and increasing wealth. (Even if you’re not doing value add or financial planning the conversation will give the client a new perspective of you.)
What are your experiences?
How do your clients perceive you? Do they ring the team or you?
Have you experienced a negative reaction?
Have you experienced clients wanting more from you?
I’d love to hear from you about this topic. Please comment below, or email me directly.