Be More Like Bob

Be More Like Bob

Make sure your clients know what you do for them.

If you don’t promote your accountancy services someone else will tell them what they can do. Better.

In 2004 I was the Finance and Commercial Director for the South East region of a National Housebuilder, a FTSE 250 company.

In a previous role with another employer I’d been responsible for dealing with the sale of freehold reversionary interests, appointing and dealing with managing agents for the developments where there were leasehold flats to sell.

I’d found this part of my job dull and tedious.

However, in my new role this suddenly took on a new meaning. The developer I was working for was oblivious to the real value of the freehold of the blocks of flats they were building. They had been literally giving them away for a peppercorn fee – treating it as an inconvenience they needed to be rid of.

The managing agents who usually bought the freeholds must have been delighted!

When I was at a meeting of all the regional FD’s I demonstrated the real value of the freehold by setting a sensible ground rent and making sure the leases and management agreements were correctly worded.

My standing across the whole group soared.

By working closely with a number of the regions we were able to package a number of freeholds to be sold. After almost 6 months of work, the deal finally went through at 9pm on the last day of the Group’s financial year.

This generated an additional £1.1m of profit for the Group. A profit which in previous years had been thrown away.

What did I get for this?  

Nothing, apart from a personal call from the Group Deputy FD to say thank you.

Well actually it got worse.

A fellow director in the South East region was a big mouth. Always singing his own praises, telling anyone who would listen what a great job he was doing and constantly in and out of the MD’s office ‘keeping him up to speed’.

Let’s call him Bob.

I had my appraisal a few weeks after the financial year end, it didn’t go as well as I’d expected. In the meeting with my MD there was no mention of the additional work I’d been doing with the other regions and Head Office, I couldn’t hide my disappointment. He could see this and explained the reasons for his decision.

He still made no mention of the freehold sale and the £1.1m extra profit.

I told him and his face dropped, and he said something which went along the lines of;

 “I didn’t know about that”.

That stuck with me. I just assumed that the Group FD would have been discussing this with my MD and that it would have been brought up in my appraisal. I’d mentioned to my MD in passing – no more – that I was dealing with Freehold sales.

I should have been more like Bob.

That’s the problem with us accountants sometimes.

We just get on and do our work and take it for granted that our clients know what we do and the real value of the services we provided.

But the reality is, unless we actually tell them and promote our accountancy services – not just what we already do, but also the extra services we can provide – they’ll never know what we do and its true value.

Worse still they may actually try another accountant who tells them about everything they can do and how it benefits their clients and the value it provides.

Now imagine a client who leaves to go to a new accountant, and you find out its because the new accountant has really promoted their services – that could be a business plan, management accounts, a forecast or quarterly meetings.

Now when you tell your client that you could have provided that service there’s a good chance that they’ll say;

“I didn’t know that.”

So, make sure that you make it clear to your clients the real value of what you do. Promote your accountancy services. And your tax services. And if you provide additional services like business plans, budgets, cash flows, management accounts, board meetings and so on…

…make sure your clients and prospects know all about this!

If you don’t someone else will.

Be more like Bob.