Tax Client Retention During the Recession
Four strategies revealed.
February 12, 2009
Two traits that are most important to me as a professional tax practitioner are confidence and respect. Not just confidence in my own abilities, but enjoying the confidence of my clients and peers. Respect, not just for others, but respect earned by consistently doing the right thing even when the temptation to take a short cut creeps in. I still recall my high school football coach telling us how the person looking back from the mirror would always be our toughest opponent, as well as our toughest critic. I bought that opinion at an early age and I am proud to say now, some 35 years later, that I still firmly believe in it.
As the world around comes crashing down, your clients are losing confidence and respect. Values are being shaken to the very core. The real estate industry has taken a huge hit with property values in many states down by as much as a third compared to just over a year ago. Financial markets are on the ropes, up by hundreds of points one day, only to plummet in similar amounts the next. Banks have behaved imprudently with the result being one of the largest banking meltdowns ever recorded. Government wants to fix the problems, but can’t get past their own inefficiencies and tainted leadership.
Setting a High Bar
The vast majority of U.S. citizens still hold their accountants in high regard. To maintain that level of confidence, it is necessary for people to respect the work we do. Just as other industries are experiencing downturns, accountants may see more people move away from the paid tax-return preparers to doing it themselves. Therefore, it is imperative that CPAs do even more to maintain and grow that confidence and respect.
What Can You Do?
Remember above all else, your clients have a choice of with whom they conduct business. Your credibility, your sincere desire to provide valuable advice, your honesty in a time when honesty is a lost trait, all mean everything in terms of credibility and respect.
Here are four key strategies that you can follow to retain your clients:
All clients want an honest, reliable accountant in whom they can trust. Remember the old saying "actions speak louder than words," as you work to get your message across to your existing — as well as potential — clients. Demonstrate by your deeds that you are worthy of their confidence and respect and they will reward you in kind. And be able to be proud of that person who looks back at you from the mirror!
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Mark Washburn, CPA/MST, is a Senior Lecturer in Accounting at The University of Texas at Tyler. He teaches both Individual and Corporation tax courses at the undergraduate level. He is a certified public accountant licensed in Texas and holds a Master of Science in Taxation from the University of Texas at Arlington.