Plant the Garden with Proactive Consulting

You don’t have to be a master gardener to know how much work goes into a pretty plot. You start by planting the garden. Once planted, the garden requires regular attention like watering, fertilizing and weeding. With that consistency, you’ll soon be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

As an advisor, your job is similar to a gardener with your clients. Business owners need regular tending for success and fruitful relationships (I promise, I’ll stop with the metaphors now). 

The number one reason business owners look for a new accounting firm is because the current firm is not proactive, according to a study by the Sleeter Group.  Small and mid-sized businesses in particular want proactive and strategic services in addition to the core reporting and compliance services that CPAs provide. Get in a position to plan and consistently look ahead for your clients – that’s proactive. Keep your clients happy and returning to your firm with these six tips for proactive consulting.

Debrief at project completion.

Did you perform at optimum levels or could something have gone better? Ask your client for ideas on how to improve your service, then show genuine interest in the feedback. Debriefing is a great way to build rapport and make the client feel respected.

For more tips on proactive client service, check out our Guide to Proactive Consulting.

Anticipate next steps.

The end of an engagement is not necessarily the end. Every good advisor should ask: now what? Ask yourself this question a few weeks before the end of an engagement. Do some research. Offer some next steps to the client. Brainstorm additional resources or services the client may need. Your goal is to build a relationship, not just finish a job. Your client will notice the difference. 

Troubleshoot challenges.

In the midst of an engagement, your client may have questions about other issues going on in the business. Don’t miss this opportunity to add value! When clients start coming to you with questions, it’s a great sign that they trust your knowledge and experience. These clients are much more likely to refer your firm.

Keep them focused.

Entrepreneurs like new ideas, but they are also very busy. They can get sidetracked by things they read or see that might not fit their goals. Take this opportunity to examine the idea on its merits and make recommendations. Sometimes it’s a great fit and sometimes not, but your clients will gain confidence that you are willing to research an idea, collaborate and look out for their best interests.  

Translate complexity into simple steps forward.

Make it easier for your client to succeed. Save them time. By interpreting intricate and difficult information, you can help them set goals and work towards future growth. They rely on you to explain “what it means” so they can focus on taking action. 

Celebrate milestones reached.

When clients reach their goals, take time to celebrate! Send them a little gift or a handwritten note. Acknowledge any social media announcements they make by liking or sharing them. Suggest taking photos of any team celebrations. Celebrations motivate and unite people to pursue the next goal.

For more tips on proactive client service, check out our Guide to Proactive Consulting.