Accountants are very well educated and intelligent people. Unfortunately, clients often see accountants using intelligence as a process of explaining and demonstrating value rather than articulating benefits and value. Thus questioning if accountants know how to create value for themselves and their clients?
So how do the successful businesses continually create value? They focus on –
- Recognising and uncovering good opportunities
- Developing the skills necessary to influence others to follow them
- Managing implementation to ensure it works and that the downside risks are minimised
- Looking at ways to get things done with limited resources
How does this apply to an accounting practice?
Accountants need to continually answer these questions if they are to excel and achieve even greater results. In order to accomplish this, a great accounting practice will develop, mentor and motivate a team of people who can answer these questions for themselves.
The first thing to do is to establish a “client promise.” That is, a rock-solid, non-negotiable promise that the practice will live up to in EVERY interaction with EVERY client EVERY day. It isn’t easy to do because the promise must be recognised as (highly) valuable by both existing clients and prospective clients alike. It must guide every activity of a practice and unite the team behind achieving it. Essentially it stretches the practice to be better every day and be the fundamental driving reason why clients do or will do business with you.
Secondly, you may benefit from asking yourself this simple question – “Will our clients be prepared to pay for it?” This refers to ANY decision at ANY level in a practice. If you don’t believe your clients will pay for it then it is unlikely that it will create value thus making a benefits and values statement difficult. It is a very tough question and much easier to avoid than to confront. Confronting it, however, will help you distinguish what is valuable and what is not.
The last question to ask is – “Will it make any difference if we don’t do it?” This question is self-explanatory and it is important because it forces the practice to focus only on things that matter. This removes confusion from decision making thereby allowing more time to be spent on the two things that do actually matter – delivering your client promise and only doing things that your clients are prepared to pay for. In the end these two factors are the crucial drivers in the economic reality of practice – the continual delivery of value and what’s valuable …