A couple of weeks ago AccountingWEB.com with Andy and Seth, had a webinar on charging clients during COVID-19. The range of the panelist was well done and the discussion thoughtful and informative. Frankly, after so many promo webinars that end up as sales pitches, this particular webinar was a welcome respite from people trying to sell me their consulting on how to go remote, manage remote work, manage remote employees, and clients. You had to know that it was just from a contact list sent out on a digital marketing platform. I think I got this remote stuff down pretty well. Not that there is more to learn, there is always more to learn for anything especially technology and human engineering. But right here right now got this.
Part of dealing with our client base is transparent communication with varying levels of contact. We adjust to the needs of the work and the client. Some want pure Slack communication only. Those are the frankly the lower level contacts and tend to be non-growing clients. Some want Slack, with Zoom conferences on a set schedule and more even occasionally ask for a Zoom on the fly. They also allow us to ask for one and, even though the hours are weird they accommodate our request. Weirdest is the client with CEO and CFO in Spain, CPA in Florida, Administration in Peru, me in San Diego, and of course the ladies in Chennai. Those are 3 AM for me.
The day after the AccountingWeb webinar, we had a scheduled bi-monthly meeting with a client firm in Texas. The first questions are always how are you doing? How is your family? Are you safe? Do you feel ok? And those questions go both ways. I am always impressed with the care and concern they have for our ladies in Chennai.
We also have been cognizant of the work fall off for accounting firms dealing with small businesses. Even though we may still receive the monthly base work the transaction levels are down. We have been working with all our clients on adjustable terms and supporting them as they support us. This particular firm was heavy on CAS and had opted to not do tax returns early on. But rather than seeing a drop in our tasked work we saw a pretty solid steady stream of work, so I asked him some of the questions the Andy and Seth culled from their panelists.
There was a trend appearing to us in the work we were receiving. We were drawing patterns based on the firm ecology. We could tell in advance which ones were going to do well and so I wanted to see if what we thought we saw happening was confirmed. This particular firm was our first dive into our theory and the subsequent meetings held the pattern.
The firm managing partner said they had planned and implemented a new digital marketing program just before shelter in became de rigueur. In doing so they were getting contacted by businesses in their targeted markets. And they were picking up clients that already had a tax accountant and or writeup accountant. The partner said I know I told you years ago we were not going to do tax returns, but it seems now we are. In one week, they had engagements with four companies that typically paid their CPA an average of $1500 annually for a tax return and tax advice. However, since the advent of COVID-19, they had not heard from these accountants. The partner gave them some free advice on the government loan programs, some methods for cash flow management, and signed them up for an average $400 per month engagement to provide full support with a tax return. Four new clients all opting to change from their current firm because that firm appears to them as only a tax compliance function and never called or contacted them.
The next question we got back was so, what do you recommend for an online tax application program and can we schedule converting two of these clients to an online accounting ledger?
The meetings with other clients over the next two weeks gave us similar feedback. Work was keeping steady because of the contact, transparency, and commitment to reaching out and advising clients in a supportive manner. We are being asked to research good cashflow projections tools. Sandy Levya with Accountant’sAccelerator.com , put on a wonderful series of how firms can holistically assist their clients with a particular focus on the cash flow projections they will certainly need.
The work is out there and the help and support are needed. We are, all of us over the globe, in the same boat. There has never been a time in human history where the ability to see around the world the effects of this virus and how the equality of impact levels the field. This is truly a global event and deserves us all recognizing that we will survive it with mutual cooperation.
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