This is a rallying cry to professionals – accountants and lawyers – who are in danger of being caught in the headlights.
As business professionals, we think we have a pretty good idea of what it takes to run a successful professional practice. Attention to detail and a close eye on billing recovery rates are the benchmarks in an industry that is sadly still clutching onto the past.
Well, the bad news is that the future is here and it’s here now.
What do we really provide to our clients? An important service, certainly, but for the most part, clients only employ us because they have to. This is not a recipe for growth or optimal earnings.
We mustn’t kid ourselves that our firm has qualities that surpass anything our competitors can offer.
If you don’t believe this… Imagine for a moment a prospective client asking what makes your firm stand out from the rest. Certainly, we’d respond by saying that our fees are reasonable, that we are very approachable and knowledgeable etc. But the truth is, that if the prospect were to go to our competitor next door and ask the same question, they would get pretty much the same answer.
What does it mean?
What this means is that we don’t have an advantage at all. We are probably no better than most other firms that the prospective client meets.
To stand out from the crowd, a practice has to offer greater value than its competitors. Clients look to us to solve their problems; we are in the problem solving business, so we need to offer help and advice as well as a precise compliance service.
The nature of that advice should be wide-ranging:
- Are our clients working as efficiently as they could be?
- Do they have appropriate systems and processes in place?
- Do they require additional services to make their working lives easier?
How do we do that?
By regularly reaching out to our clients with newsletters, factsheets, informative events or even the occasional lunch, we can provide the added value that will retain and grow existing clients and make us attractive to new ones.
The brilliance of the internet (and all-too often, the downfall of many firm), is that comparison between your competitors and your firm is easy and client mobility is rapid.
A strong web portfolio of resources such as blog-posts, fact-sheets, calculators and industry news helps to set one practice apart from another.
Clients don’t care about hourly rates or the processes we go through behind the scenes.
Ultimately, clients want to engage someone who is familiar with their business sector, who understands the pressures and opportunities that they face and who can be a trusted, caring adviser and friend.
At the end of the day, clients rarely complain about poor service, they vote with their feet. You want them to walk towards you rather than away.
Developing and maintaining new resources is no easy task, which is why Bizezia has developed a suite of tools that firm can access and brand for a low monthly payment.
You can start moving from the ordinary to the extraordinary by visiting onesmartplace.com/resources.
Remember these words from the wise Australian, Barry Urquhart: “It’s much better to be different than it is to be better”.
He has written over 700 business publications (see Glossaries at http://onesmartplace.com/resources/glossaries/) and is editor of Better Business Focus (see http://onesmartplace.com/resources/better-business-focus-magazine). His Blog, on a wide range of subjects can be found at: http://onesmartplace.com/blog/