I have found over the past few years I have been in business that there are some key things to gaining new clients and how to keep them.
Gaining New Clients
Firstly to gain new clients, you must get out and meet local business owners. As a professional bookkeeper, being in a position of significant trust you need to build a rapport with the business owners you are meeting. This can sometimes take significant time to develop so don’t be discouraged if after three meetings you are not gaining a client. You are making yourself the first person they think of when they need a bookkeeper. With every discussion you have with them you are building trust with them, so they feel confident hiring you or recommending you to their friends, family and associates.
Secondly you must develop your brand. When you meet potential customers you can direct them to your website for more information, you can give them your business card with your contact details and make your presence known in the industry for which your targeted market is. Write blogs, have a Facebook business page, actively engage in every business group you are in. If you keep your brand popping up on a regular basis you will keep your brand at the forefront of their mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for their business.
Thirdly advertise where you can, but watch your budget and use your advertising budget wisely. There are many places you can advertise such as local papers, local community publications, flyers, local radio, car advertising and much more. Be aware of where your target market would be and focus on getting the word out to them first. Focus on the areas they go to and what type of things they would read.
Keeping a Client
Keeping a client requires a few key things. The most important is communication! Keeping in regular contact with your client shows that you are organised, makes them feel they can discuss any issue with you and builds trust. Pay attention to everything they say and make sure you cover all of their key issues at the time, don’t put them off. Respond promptly to emails or phone calls. Building trust is just as important as communication. Trust is the foundation of your ongoing long term relationship with the client. For them to be able to trust you then that builds confidence in your work and they will recommend you to their family and friends. Sticking to deadlines you have discussed with the client keeps their faith in your ability to be organised and on the ball. Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know but I will find out for you. You don’t need to have all the answers and your clients know that you are human after all. Own up to your mistakes and don’t try and cover it up. Get to know your client, get to know what they like and don’t like. Catch up for a coffee sometimes and get to know them as a person as well as a business owner.
Understanding when something may be wrong
While we all get busy and forget to respond to emails and call people back it is important to know whether the client’s responses are just because they are busy or because there is an issue. If their responses become non-existent or short in their answer you may want to give them a call and ask to catch up for a coffee, if they apologise for not getting back to you because they are so busy then perhaps offer a solution to streamline their business to give them that time back or just understand they are busy. Knowing your client and understanding how they normally communicate will allow you to see what the difference is if they are not calling you back or avoiding you. Only you can follow up and ensure they are happy with you and your service. If you don’t know there is an issue, then how can you resolve it.