We are now deep into the series detailing the different Yetis (“practice challenges”) small business advisors face, and the way the tracks at the upcoming "Scaling New Heights®" conference (June 4-7, 2017, in Orlando, Fla.) serve as “paths” to safely scale the mountain and face these practice challenges.
In "The Path to Refining Your Practice Begins with Streamlining Your Services," we discussed the importance of specializing in the right products and services and how focusing your efforts in a specific industry or niche gives you to the ability to standardize and automate.
We've also discussed that one of the side benefits of specialization is it allows you to focus your marketing efforts, making them more effective in terms of results and costs.
In "The Next Step Along the Path to Refining Your Practice: Establishing the Right Processes," we discussed how well-defined internal processes can help you achieve service excellence, higher profitability, and scalability. (By the way, if you haven’t heard Episode 23 of the Scaling New Heights® Podcast, you'll definitely want to listen to it.
In this podcast, Joe discusses with Dawn Brolin how she created standard processes and procedures to maximize her firm's growth.)
Here, we'll turn our attention to "The Right Clients Fork of The Refining Your Practice Path."
The Yeti category we call Finding and Retaining the Right Clients can strike fear into the heart of any red-blooded entrepreneur. Somehow, we feel like the more clients we have, the better.
Much like the way we believe that the number of friends we have on Facebook validates our personal popularity, we tend to judge our business success by the number of clients we have rather than the quality of the clients we have.
So, we market our services to any and all potential clients and accept any client who wants to do business with us.
And heaven forbid a client should decide to leave us. We assume, in all cases, it is a failure on our part and slump into a temporary depression… until we get another client to fill the psychological void.
Let’s take a step back and approach this challenge with some dispassionate logic. You’re familiar with the Pareto principle – the old 80/20 rule? Named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, the principle states that 20 percent of the input or effort is responsible for 80% of the results. “Interesting,” you say, “but how does this apply to my practice and my clients?” This seems to me to be a logical thought progression on how this principle might apply to you and your practice:
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Which leads us to a somewhat terrifying series of questions: “How do you know when it is time to fire a client? What will happen to your business if you do that? How do you fire a client gracefully?” Firing clients requires what Joe Woodard calls “economic courage.” He says, “We keep clients who are not a good fit for our practice – and that won’t allow us to coach them to success – because we either cannot survive without them or fear that we cannot survive without them.
To gain the economic courage to fire the wrong clients, we must have a positive pressure of prospective clients who fit our ideal. The line of people waiting to get in the front door will give us motivation (and economic ability) to push the wrong type of client out the back door.
And, we create this front door queue through marketing. Simply put, we market not primarily to grow our client base. We market to have the client base we want.”
Are you intentional about the clients you accept and retain? Begin to think about who your ideal client would be. It’s very personal. They should fit your culture as well as your product and service offerings (for more information on specializing in a niche and the products and services you offer, refer to the article "The Path to Refining Your Practice Begins with Streamlining Your Services."
Once you have identified the qualities of your ideal client, begin to evaluate your current client base, as well as any new potential clients, to determine whether they possess the qualities that are most important to you.
Ultimately, the choice of whether to work with someone is in your hands.
After you have identified the qualities of the clients who are a great fit for your practice, you must somehow find them and/or make it easy for them to find you. With these thoughts in mind, we designed the practice growth training at the "2017 Scaling New Heights® Conference" in a track we call "The Right Clients Fork." Sessions at this “fork” include:
"Creating a Comprehensive Marketing Plan" explores the individual components of marketing in today’s world and how to bring those parts together into a comprehensive marketing plan for your firm. Michelle Long will be presenting this pivotal session on Sunday, June 4, 2017 at noon.
"How to Find the Niche that will Make you Rich" is the foundation for much of the Refining Your Practice Path. In this session, you will learn about the process for identifying your niche and how to measure its potential. Mike Michalowicz will deliver this session on Sunday, June 4, 2017, at 2 p.m.
"Fundamentals on How to Grow Your Practice Using Facebook" will provide you with tips and tricks on effective ways to use Facebook to grow your business. Carrie Kahn will present this session on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 8 a.m.
"Online Marketing: Strategies and Components" helps you take stock of where you are in your online social media journey and how to determine where you want to go. Christine Galli will present this session on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.
"Online Marketing: Implementing and Managing your Plan" will deliver the next steps you should take after you have determined your objectives in the online social media world and how to measure the results of your efforts. Christine Galli will present this follow-up session to Online Marketing: Strategies and Components on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 4:10 p.m.
"Content Marketing: Beyond Social Media" will provide you with the basics of all the most common digital marketing strategies and tactics and prepare you to get more leads and, most importantly, the right leads. Hector Garcia will present this session on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, at 8 a.m.
"Personal and Professional Branding: Brand Yourself for Success" will explain exactly what a professional brand is and how to cultivate a strong brand starting with the building blocks. Davis Snedeker will present this session on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, at 8 a.m.
"Making & Editing Videos with Camtasia and Publishing on YouTube" will communicate an overview on how to create and edit videos using Camtasia and how to publish your videos on YouTube. Hector Garcia will present this session on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.
"Leveraging the Next Generation of Social Media" will give you a future-ready outlook on social media’s fastest growing platforms: Instagram and SnapChat. You'll walk away with an actionable model for implementing these platforms in your own practice. Davis Snedeker will present this session on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, at 5:20 p.m.
"Building a Powerful Presentation" will help you avoid creating a “Death-by-PowerPoint” experience for your viewers by giving you the details on how to design an effective and engaging slide presentation, whether it is for a client or for your colleagues in an internal company presentation. Barry MacQuarrie will enlighten you in this session on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 8 a.m.
"LinkedIn and Twitter: The How-To's" will clarify for you the step-by-step approach to setting up and using the LinkedIn and Twitter platforms. Christine Galli will present this session on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 at 8 a.m.
"Revolving Door: Who is Coming to Your Front Door & How to Show Them the Backdoor" begins the conversation with the importance of identifying your ideal client, and how to handle new potential clients. Gale Kirsopp will present this session on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at 8 a.m.
"The Power of Win/Win" emphasizes the importance of creating win/win opportunities and how to make it work in all your professional relationships. George Williams will present this session on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at 8 a.m.
"Accountant Friendly Selling: Prescribing Solutions" will help you change your mindset about what it means to sell. This session will focus on how to approach the sales process, how you can simplify the process and improve your relationships with clients. George Williams will present this session on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at 1:30 p.m.
"Guarantee Profitability: For Your Clients, For Your Practice" covers the basic components of a business that affect profitability - from product/service line, to pricing, to client profitability. In this session, Dawn Fotopulos will tell you how to evaluate each component for its impact on Gross Margin and how to create an action plan to increase profitability in each of these areas on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, at 4:10 p.m.
You can find more details about each of the sessions in a downloadable document located here: Download Course Descriptions.
Reminder: As your ever-faithful Sherpas, we stand ready to guide and encourage you along your chosen path. If you'd like to consult with us about your path, email me at email@example.com or Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to tell us your goals and what you hope to learn so we can recommend appropriate paths for your upcoming learning experience at the "2017 Scaling New Heights®" conference.
Don’t miss the newest Scaling New Heights® Podcast, Episode 26. In this timely podcast, Joe discusses "Acquiring and Retaining the Right Clients" with Patricia Hendrix and Hector Garcia.
Carol Oliver is a CPA with an accounting degree from Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla. She is a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor (QB Online, QB Desktop and QB Enterprise Solutions). Carol has worked in the accounting software consulting and training field for more than 18 years and is a certified trainer for multiple accounting software products including Microsoft, Crystal Reports and F9 (a financial report writer).
For 10 of those 18 years, Carol spent about 75 percent of her time training on accounting and accounting technology, and she developed numerous software user guides, as well as curricula for many different courses. In 2011 she joined Woodard Consulting, providing services that included software integration, financial statement analysis, and customization and development of applications in Method.
In early 2014, Carol accepted a position with Woodard Events as Manager of Accountant Education and Training, allowing her to return to her first love - training accounting professionals.