In this podcast our expert speakers Chris Rivera & Ursula Garrett have discussed about the new methodologies of acquiring new clients and retaining them and how to keep them happy and accustomed too. Watch the Podcast to know more.
Chris: Alright happy tuesday everybody again this is Chris Rivera coming to you live from New York City very excited to speak with all again, it's been a couple weeks well I spoke on friday with my colleagues Sia and Shawn but today I have a very special guest with me award-winning author and international speaker miss Ursula Garrett and she will be talking with me today on the best methodologies for acquiring clients and retaining them she's a lot to say today so I'm very excited to hear that and this is in continuation of our series one episode 17 of #BKOT How to Build a KickAss Offshore team but first let's get started, I want to hear all about Ursula so please take the floor and tell us about you.
Ursula: Thank you Chris I'm happy to be here so what I do is I have a CPA practice that's in southern california and I specialize mainly in tax services and business advisory services and we do some accounting for our clients and so one of the things we do to get new clients is similar to what we do to retain those clients.
Chris: Yeah what is your secret sauce without giving the actual secret sauce?
Ursula: My secret sauce is you have to have happy clients and so when you have happy clients they're happy to stay with you and they're happy to refer their friends and family to you. So one of the largest sources of new clients for me are my happy clients or referrals. I have an attorney next door who takes care of her tax return and her family's tax returns and their business and all of the business taxes and anything that they have that has to do with business for them and we work well and take care of their clients and so she spoon feeds me clients all the time so that's the largest source of single source of new clients is the attorney next door so it pays to have attorneys for friends right.
Chris: In general yes, but in your instance wow so how did you guys just were working and offices next to each other and you started talking and next thing you know you started working with her right.
Ursula: Well we had a lot of mutual clients so if I have questions about a mutual client I just walk next door and ask so we've developed a relationship over the years and her son that works in the office with her is also a real estate agent so tell me what attorney doesn't want a real estate agent as a referral source, so we have this trifecta to go in here so when you hear people talk about the location of your business is a key ingredient to growth I promise you location, location, location and we had an insurance agent on the other side of us so we're right in the middle of an attorney a real estate agent and an insurance agent
the ultimate trifecta right.
Chris: Yeah that's amazing it's so simple what you're saying the first thing acquiring new clients is just speak to your neighbors and network a lot of people don't realize that you more than likely you're in a suite whether you're in a an office building or on the street or smaller office building, a large complex but our audience you guys gotta like think about have you talked to your neighbors. I know now with the pandemic a little bit crazy but things will slowly get back, firms are becoming partially virtual but getting back to the office but but talk to your neighbors you never know what will happen.
Ursula: Exactly, and if that wasn't good enough we sit directly behind one bank in between the bank and the post office so I have these people beside me, I have a bank in front of me in the post office behind me and another bank behind the post office so my neighbors are all the ultimate referral sources now.
Chris: Did you pick this location on purpose was this part of your thought process or you just realized this once you settled there.
Ursula: You know what 13 years ago when I bought this practice this just happened to be what was here, so when I decided to buy this practice it was in the center of everything.
Chris: So you were fortunate you realized the situation again then your network boom so are you doing any other so all the clients that you have now they're happy so they're giving you referrals. Are you doing any other marketing avenues or busy with referrals?
Ursula: Absolutely so here are some of the things that I do so we send out a weekly. Actually it's two different ones every week. I send an email about individual taxes and individual finances to all my clients; it typically goes out on tuesdays. So at nine o'clock this morning my clients got an email in their mailbox and on these emails. I typically give something of value, something they can use in their everyday lives and they really appreciate that I encourage them to email me questions to tell me if it's something that they need and I try to make the emails relevant to what's going on in the world today and relevant to their personal finances and taxes and then on wednesdays for my business clients they get an email that's specifically related to some business topic so as you can imagine for the last few months there's been a lot of emails that talked about the PPP loan and other resources that small businesses could look for that they could use to try and keep their business afloat during the pandemic.
On those emails there's typically some kind of referral discount always ask with a referral at the end of all of them that's my call to action at the end of each email, if you like what you're hearing if you like what we've done for you give us a referral or it tends to ask I tend to ask for a referral and or recommendation so go and give me a good review on google go to my website and tell us what you like about what we did go on facebook on our business page and tell us something that we did for you that you appreciated.
So we do ask for a call to action on these emails. I've given you some valuable information. Would you mind telling others about how good the service is or about the information you're getting or share this email with you without and then once a month another email, a tax debt resolution kind of email if you're having tax problems here's some here's a resource to kind of help you solve the tax problem so the monthly there's usually a monthly email about tax and again we typically have some kind of discount or offer if you have tax problems or you think you pay too much taxes we'll take a look at three of your tax for three years of your tax returns for free, if there's something that needs to be done obviously then you have to pay for the work but no we have no problems with taking a look at it and we offer discounts to our clients and so that's not only a way to get new clients but
it's a way to keep the clients we have happy and a way when they're happy they send us new clients so that's been a tool to work really well.
Chris: Yeah so so far networking and sending emails right this is simple I think a lot of times CPAs over complicate things in a way and I love it's refreshing to hear you know how simple it is and and I work with a lot of clients to where they've so we do staffing for the accounting community but I've been asked a lot about marketing right and so it's just how to how to drive business, how to reach out and what we don't do that but in talking with them I find out that they I keep hearing the word email. but relevant email don't just you know send something out and so you were doing this prior to the pandemic so I mean your open ratio is probably solid but I mean everyone was probably opening your emails now because it's necessary so pandemic or not they need to know what's going on and you're a trusted resource so that's awesome so we have that as there so you're networking you have referrals you got your email. Are there some other avenues that you also utilize to acquire new clients?
Ursula: Exactly so we were talking about client retention you know as their accountant you know you prepare their taxes you have all kinds of personal information about your clients so why not use that personal information for good. So my clients when they have a birthday if they have we have an email address for them they get an email wishing them happy birthday, if we have a mobile phone number they get a text message wishing them happy birthday, if we have well if they're in this country because I have some clients that are abroad the country the clients that have a mailing address in this country they get a birthday card in the mail, so we send them a birthday card and that makes people feel special, tell me don't you feel like oh they took the time to send me I got this in the mail at my home somebody sent me a birthday card, it's really easy to send an email it costs you nothing to send an email saying happy birthday and people appreciate that, it costs little to nothing to send a text message and bit more you could send a birthday card or you can send your clients happy anniversary if you have that information we have so much and if their kids are going to college because we see you know their taxes congratulation on have a kid going to college or your child, graduating high school there are so many personal touches that you could have with your clients if you use the data that we have available to us to do that, you know our clients tell us everything our kids getting married you know one thing that we do so that we reach the next generation or somebody else in the family.
I have a large percentage of my clients that are seniors and so we have a lot of deaths every year so if we send a bereavement card if we see it in the paper and we know where the funeral is if we send some kind of floral arrangement then their heirs their family members then start to build a relationship with us oh that's the accountant that cared about us that sent a card or whatever and so instead of going to their accountant they usually have me finalize the final returns to finalize the trusts or estate work that we need to do to get it final so in addition to and a lot of my clients, their children start to come to me when they die because of the experience that they've had dealing with me during their bereavement during a time that's very difficult for them they think oh I like this lady, I like her team and they come to us that way and you're top of mind.
Chris: This is again very refreshing to hear and these things are very simple it takes a little bit of time but this this goes such a long way and back to the birthday I got to say so one week ago today I officially turned 38 so my birthday was last tuesday and I got some cards in the mail and I got to say I was like it put a smile on my face right, granny does for my family but they're thinking of me I didn't have to remind them I didn't get a call or anything I just got a card so they like they literally took the time it in the mail so I went downstairs got it on my birthday and I was just like all ecstatic and it just means so much to me so absolutely agree with that, my team in india all jumped on a call we're wishing happy birthday and I created a team of creating all these funny pictures those little things they go so far right it's all about the little things you do for a client that makes them happy, absolutely agree with that all the little things they do I've been in client relations and managing for 15 years now and whether I'm working with my team or working with a client it's the littlest thing that if you could give a discount or whatever but it's just something personal or for example I used to do a lot of face-to-face meetings rather than call the client that was unhappy or not having a good experience. I showed up and they were just blown away to have a manager, director you know in the area showing up and it just meant the world and corrected the problem obviously but then they're so happy then they start referring, hey call chris we'll take great care of you they call her so it'll take great care of you. So really good things to hear so now all right so now we've got all this business right you're busy how do we retain them what are we doing now you're doing these personalizations which is perfect but What are some other key things to make sure that the client's happy?
Ursula: Well first of all you have to find out what it is that they need they like getting reminders of stuff that they need to do so like if you have to make your quarterly estimated payment, don't you feel good that somebody allow reminds you hey don't forget to do this when they have questions we try to respond within 24 hours of emailed questions email us a question, give us a call we make time for our clients if they walk in the door and they have a question, if somebody is available we try to take care of them right away. If i'm available and I get a phone call I take the phone call. I don't say well you don't have an appointment, the other thing that I find that clients don't like is feeling like they're being nickeled and dimed to death.
So we have a flat fee here's when you pay for us to be your accountant for us to prepare your taxes whatever the cost that's included in the tax preparation includes at least one tax planning session for the year. You're allowed to call lesson asked questions and we'll answered or email us and we'll answer questions without, I don't know if you remember the old time in billing with the accountants and they documented everything and you got sent to bill for a tenth of an hour that somebody spent on the phone with you answering questions. I hated doing that as an accountant when I worked for a larger firm and you doing that to my clients okay. No we're fix fees so it's kind of like with the airlines I said just charge me what the real cost is don't nickel and dime me, give me the true cost of you taking care of me and treating me like a person and not like dollar signs every time the phone rings and so when you need to call me know that I'm going to answer your question and not say okay how are you going to pay for this before I answer your question you've already paid for it when you hired me it's everything's included in the cost.
Questions are allowed and that's how we provide a full service and that's I think that's one of the things that keeps our clients coming back. Some of my clients they come in and ask questions they're having a bad day, I don't just hand them a tissue some some of my sweet old ladies I give them a hug, I couldn't do that this yea but they like elbow they like getting a hug you call people by their name when you're speaking to them. It's like Chris I'm really glad you have choices you have options thank you for coming back to be a client of ours this year and so I try to keep my clients engaged and talk to them engage them throughout the year not just once a year you come in and get your taxes done and you're gone or my business yeah it's once a month or once a quarter it's like no we need you to know that we are a resource and so that's one of the reasons we sent out the email so they know here are some of the things that we can help you with and even if it's not something that we typically do that's not our area of expertise if we know how to do it if we can help you in some way then we do that or we guide you to the right sources and that's a part of the networking. I have a team of people it's a legal question ask the attorney if it's a question about insurance a question about real estate you need to get a loan you need to open a new bank account we have a whole team we have connections that are you don't even have to get back in your car you just walk next door or walk across the parking lot.
Chris: Right it goes along the lines of continually networking and growing your own base so then you essentially are the go-to resource and people are just like it could be something way off like where do I go to start a start a new restaurant now call ursula she'll give you all the right direction and where to go what to do I mean you're just the go-to person for that and that's an amazing way to think about it because I think we're so hyper focused on you know tax preparation, accounting, bookkeeping that's it. It's like wait you know these little things go so far and that's what you continually are bringing up and love hearing it so now let's we talked about keeping them happy and everything but when you're when you're onboarding a client so they just got referred to a little bit easier to work with always a referral but no matter what. When you're onboarding setting an expectation I think that's very important too. What are your thoughts?
Ursula: Yes so you have to have some kind of system for onboarding so yeah the first thing you want to do is send a welcome email well because of during the pandemic most of my new clients came you know via the internet so we had to do everything electronically digitally get the information to and from and and that's how we connect it so you send an email saying welcome and here's what you can expect here's what's going to happen so you just have to be clear when you clarify expectations, then everybody's happy if what you say is going to happen outline it, then our clients aren't wondering what should I do well maybe I'm unsure so when people are unsure in terms of uncertainty that's when they doubt everything so you want to make sure that you're very clear and you manage expectations of your client and once you get the information they're not calling you or contacting you, two three days later where are my taxes because I've already told you right now it's gonna take two to three weeks to get your taxes done or it's gonna be seven to ten days so they already know how long it's going to be and so they it gives them a sense of security.
- If we perform in that time period number one knowing what to expect and so managing those expectations are another way to keep clients happy.
Chris: Absolutely the a lot of clients that I speak with prior to the pandemic right were pretty flexible on getting documents and then you know filing extensions but now with this year-long tax season we're in with three months of deadlines right. I find a lot of clients are retraining their current clients or changing their entire onboarding process and it's important to set those expectations and set deadlines. Have you noticed yourself making any drastic changes or because of what you were doing and implemented already it was just a seamless transition.
Ursula: Yeah and and it's funny you should say this year-long tax season I kind of feel like we're in the second year of a two-year long tax season. I don't know if you remember how brutal last year last tax season was because of the new tax laws and new challenges already and there wasn't a lot of clarity on how the new tax laws were going to fit into the net new tax forms and it took everybody longer and I thought it was just me but I spoke to a lot of my colleagues and they were all saying the same thing it's like we're just not really sure and they keep changing the rules on us, how that so if we sign a tax return is it going to come back to us in a few months so last year we had a 12 month tax season and then we come into this year with the pandemic and it feels like another tax season but yes I did have to move up deadlines typically I usually allow two to three weeks if you don't have your information by this date usually two to three weeks before the deadline. I can't guarantee that your tax return is going to be done timely so this year we moved it up and we made it like four weeks and we started in August strongly encouraging everybody that was still on extension get us your information now get it down and then on September 1st if we don't have it by September 15 we can't guarantee that you're going to be complete by October 15th because you just have way too many people waiting to okay I want to wait till the last minute and if everybody came in on October 10 you know good chance you're not going to be done by October 15th somebody not going to be done and you don't want that to be you and so what you have to do you're right is train your clients that they can't allow procrastination to be the the way that they get their taxes done have some urgency before the last minute for them may be October 10 but right now that's not going to be our last minute right.
Chris: Yeah I mean you cannot sleep from October 10th to October 15th it's just not feasible and and I feel like some of my clients will be doing that unfortunately but you know then that leads into the double staffing part of it. I just briefly touched on this so you haven't used offshore staffing but you've heard some colleagues' experiences and it's been pretty. What are your thoughts on that?
Ursula: I haven't used offshore staffing yet but I anticipate that this year probably October November and December that's going to have to be something that we implement here in this office. Our accounting work is really growing and we're running different campaigns to bring in more accounting work and so many new people have started their own business since the pandemic and so what I'm doing more is working on onboarding new business startups and all of those new business startups need accounting and I don't have the staff for it and I don't want a staff just for that and that's where the offshore staffing comes into play. But definitely January through April we're gonna need offshore staffing and I've heard nothing but good things about offshore staffing and how it works and it's just, it's technology it's kind of of how the world works you know before we used to do offshore for textiles and now we're doing offshore for information, it's you have to use the workforce that's available to you.
Chris: Yeah I agree the the accounting industry was kind of a little bit slow to adopt the whole remote idea nonetheless offshore right but then on come the pandemic how many times have we said pandemic doing this, come this virus and it hit the gas pedal on that right and you had no other option but to do it but it's like we can do this you know and then it's not on a remote scale in your town or your city or your state realizing there's a whole global workforce out there, so absolutely alright so winding down now I gotta grab some lunch it's been a crazy day for the both of us but please any final thoughts that you can provide our audience today.
Ursula: Absolutely so if you want to get new clients and you want to keep new clients figure out where your clients are and what it is that they want and try to be a resource for those things.Go to where your clients are and let them know that you're here to help.Happy clients we'll bring you new clients.
Chris: Well everybody who's watching today thank you for joining please go about your day and tonight is a presidential debate which it should be exciting to see how this will pan out make sure you're registered to vote use your power to vote and I want to thank Ursula so much for joining me today it was a pleasure learning a lot you really just simplified it because I've done some webinars where you know it gets a little complex but it's necessary and you know coming in today I just wanted to see where we're going. It's refreshing to see that's really simple but you know take a step back and think about that, so again thank you so much for joining hope you had a good time and we're gonna be closing out today episode 17 #BKOT thank you so much everybody for joining today and we'll be back soon with a new podcast in the near future for now take care and be safe.
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