It’s a wet and windy one out there. There’s a flood of water coming down outside. I am expecting to see a family of ducks on the grass and Timmy is hoping I am right. The guy driving the JCB digger up to the shop must be feeling smug. No floods are going to stop him from getting his early morning coffee fix and roll. There are even a few out walking, getting shunted around by the breeze. Heads down and moving along with determination. And arranging their coats to get more protection from the elements. A sun holiday this year looks very tempting!
Last week we looked at two clients of ours who we called Don & Juan. They had outstanding tax returns. The message was not to panic that it can be sorted. To see how they got on see here
This week we will look at our values. The team here is on a marketing course with wearepf. The aim of this is to get them more involved in marketing our business. The topic yesterday was BRAND and what makes up your brand. One part of your brand is your values or what you stand for. It got me thinking and I did a short exercise to write down our values. I was able to come up with three out of the six. That is not very good. Our values are important to us, yet I could only remember 50% of them. How can our team know our values and live them in the way we do our work if one of the business owners doesn’t even know them? So, I needed to refresh and think about what they mean for us and our clients. Our values are
- Protect You
- Enjoy what we do
- Problem solve
For me, this is a very simple one. It means that your accounts, audit, tax returns and bookkeeping is right. There is no messing. The numbers must be right, and we and our clients know that. The returns go to Revenue on time, every time and, if not, have we done everything we can to meet a deadline. If we didn’t, was there something we could have done better, or was the client not cooperating with us? When it is a client issue, was that a one-off or is this a constant problem? If a continuous issue, then we need to have a conversation with that client. Clients use their numbers to grow their business. Knowing their numbers are right gives them the confidence to plan and grow. Some benefits of this are
- Setting up a company pension
- Ability to secure finance and expand the business
- Take more salary
- Take more time off
- No fear if Revenue come calling
- Helping clients to understand their numbers
Protect is an internal thing too. We need to protect our staff from clients that are not the right fit for us. If a client calls and you’d rather pierce your eyes with hot needles than answer it, then there is an issue. The sort of call you answer, and you are still on a half an hour later, with no progress. You won’t get that time back. Clients must protect us too and they do that by being honest with us.
In 2019 we decided to no longer work for our largest client. A new team member started with us in 2018 and she was looking after this client. She was a bit stressed out as the client wasn’t engaging at all. The trust wasn’t there, and she was spending most of her time doing something she wasn’t enjoying. We no longer wanted to work with this client and helped them to move to another accountancy business. Our team member was happy as she could spend more time helping her other clients and we were happy too. We would replace that client with others who were a better fit for us.
Of all our values this is the most important one to me. We must be honest with our clients, with the team here, and with ourselves too. If you are not honest then it follows you must be dishonest. We have honest conversations with clients all the time. This often takes the form of well you can do this, but you can’t do that. Or you can claim this, but you can’t claim that.
Take an example of a client who has a rental property. They give us the numbers and on their list is €1000 for repairs. We ask for a breakdown of the repairs and invoices to back up the cost. There are no invoices as the €1000 is a figment of the imagination. We won’t claim a deduction for that. Small money but not worth it for the client or us to claim. If Revenue comes knocking and they look for a breakdown of the expenses, we don’t have anything to give them. It wastes our time and will cost the client more in the long run. The client will owe the tax they didn’t pay, plus more, with interest and penalties. If we did claim that we wouldn’t have been honest with ourselves, Revenue, or the client. We wouldn’t have protected ourselves or the client either.
Honesty with clients is vital. If we say we are going to do something, then we must stick to our word and do it. You are only as good as your word. If a team member is struggling which could be a drop in quality or not completing jobs on time, then we have an honest conversation about that. What’s going on, have we given you too much to do or could we be doing this more efficiently? All questions, based on honesty and trust are important to a small business like ours. That works for me and Ger too as we are all in this together.
You are a client of ours and you have a problem you want help with and don’t pick up the phone to us, there is a problem. Either you think you won’t get us, or you won’t get the right answer and it isn’t worth the effort. Not the type of relationship we have, or we want with our clients. We find that in some new clients that we win they are coming to us as they want a closer relationship. Clients that are with much larger firms that talk to us say that
- The person they were dealing with is gone
- My business is too small for that firm
- We are not important to them anymore
- We can’t get the work done when we want to
- It’s impossible to get through to the person I need
There is never an issue with the quality of the work and there are many talented people in those larger firms. The issue is more the client not having the type of relationship they want. They pick up the phone and chat through the issues. If you don’t get the person, you will get a callback and that person will help you get the answer you need. And if they don’t have the answer be honest enough to say that but have the cop on to know that you need an answer. If this is extra work for us, then they will have a chat to let you know the cost of the work. This gives the client the power to decide if they wish to go ahead or not.
Our way of doing business is that each client has a dedicated manager. That is a manager in here that looks after that client. It doesn’t mean that the manager does all the work for the client. Other team members can be working for that client too, doing bookkeeping, tax, or other work. The manager is the main point of contact. That manager is an experienced accountant and will be able to help the client with most queries. And if they don’t have the answers, they will ask other team members for help. It’s a partnership approach where we are helping clients with their businesses. It works for us too as if they trust us and their businesses are growing, they will use us for more services.
The above is an example of some of our values. We all came up with these over a few days in September 2019 during a visit from Karen Reyburn. It was part of a rebranding exercise. They are important to us, so we decided to get them up on our walls. Clients who come to our office will see them. Clients that don’t will know from experience that they are important to us and them too.
Are these types of values important to you too? Are you looking for a partnership approach to your finance function? If so, call Deirdre on 051396703 or start here