Would you compromise your values to get new business? How about keeping a current client happy?
Had a call from a friend facing just such a dilemma.
Bill (not his real name), is an accountant. He specialises in Property Tax Accounting and gets lots of referrals from property spruikers. Problem is some of these spruikers aren’t experts in tax law and can give their clients unrealistic expectations regarding deductions.
He told me he’d just lost both a prospect as well as a valuable client due to his not agreeing with the direction they wanted to take with respect to claiming tax deductions.
In both cases these individuals had gone elsewhere to accountants who’d said, “Sure, we’ll put the claims in, no problem.”
I asked Bill why he didn’t feel the claims in question were valid. Was this fact or only his opinion?
“It’s my considered opinion. I strongly believe that claiming these expenses are inappropriate and could lead to questions being asked by the ATO. And if these claims lead to an audit, the ATO could decide to closely scrutinise both me and my other clients. So I’m not willing to put my reputation and livelihood and that of my clients at risk.”
Having said that though, Bill was pretty despondent about it. After all, no one likes losing high value clients.
However, from apparent misfortune come the seeds of opportunity.
Bill is very considerate in his advice, based on strong “Christian” values. Under no circumstances does he wish to stick his head up and have the ATO take an adverse interest in him or his clients. He wants to sleep well at night knowing he’s done his best for his clients and that they too can rest easy.
And frankly, he’s exactly what the vast majority of people would look for in an accountant.
The sums involved when dealing with property can be significant. I remember another friend who spent years litigating with the ATO due to a dispute over GST. A mistake made by the project manager which wasn’t picked up by their accountant. It ended up costing my friend in the vicinity of $40,000. Ouch!
So what’s the opportunity?
Bill is dealing with both a demographic and psychographic.
The demographic is property investors. Everything from new investors buying their first property to seasoned pro’s with large portfolios.
The psychographic is how they think. Are they conservative, middle or high risk takers? And does this attitude translate into how they manage their tax affairs?
For every client who wants to sail close to the wind, there are many times more who want plain sailing. They want to be able to sleep well at night knowing everything was done by the board. Yes, maybe they’re conservative, but they’ll also know they won’t get any surprises.
All Bill needs to do is reach out to them, or better yet, have them find him.
First of all I’d recommend being very upfront in his marketing with respect to his values. What he will and will not do. This immediately qualifies people in and more importantly, out by weeding out high risk takers before they contact him.
Appeal to the “moving away from trouble” mentality of most of the population. He could guarantee the ATO would never knock back a claim due to his diligence and thorough research.
He could go even further, guaranteeing to pay any fines imposed due to his mistakes. Ballsy, I know. But if the guarantee doesn’t make you sweat, it’s not serious.
As to attracting new clients of the right sort, advertise in his church and other Christian magazines. Talk to Financial Planners, Solicitors etc. who share similar ethical values.
By narrowing down his focus, we’ve helped Bill achieve a number of outcomes:
He targets a very specific audience. One that emotionally resonates completely with his personal value system. As such they will be good clients who Bill feels energised working with.
A narrow focus is easier to market to.
You simply cannot be all things to all people. A narrow focus allows you to talk to specific problems your target audience have, while automatically rejecting people who aren’t interested. Therefore you don’t waste time dealing with people who aren’t a good fit for your service.
And it massively saves on advertising costs by allowing you to focus with laser like precision on who you want to communicate with.
More of the right clients, who happily pay for Bill’s services long term, giving him a more profitable business which supports his family. And everyone gets to sleep well at night! Not to be underestimated.
Bill is just one example of clients we help do exactly this. Our consulting in marketing and sales has helped organisations in over 37 industries expand in profitability.
Our advice has worked for them and it will work for you. If you take it!
A great starting point are our marketing and sales focus days where we get a handle on where you want to take your business, where you are now and create a mechanism to get you there.
Call us on (02) 9499-7958 for more information.
Rashid & Barbara.