I had made a post to my AccountingWEB blog a few months ago entitled, "Why Do We Need to Market When We Can Barely Staff the Work We Have?"
Admittedly, capacity isn't as big a problem now as it was just a year or two or three ago. But client quality and profitability are ongoing issues. Here's the whole post:
Why do you need to market? Perhaps you don’t.
Marketing to increase business volume so you can work harder doesn’t sound appealing if you’re already at capacity. However, even if you don’t want more work, you may still want to increase your firm’s health and improve morale. Beefing up the marketing function can help you do these things.
One way to tell if marketing will benefit your firm is to ask yourself these questions:
- Are we meeting our profitability goals?
- Are we in heaviest demand by our ideal client-types?
- Do we receive frequent referrals from our clients?
- Is the work that we do stimulating and enjoyable?
- Is our personnel retention above average?
- Are we attracting personnel whom we trust to succeed us?
- Are we attractively positioned for acquisition?
If you answered “no” to any of the above, marketing can help.
- Do we serve too many problem clients?
- Are we doing too much low realization work and not enough high realization work?
- Do we ever set (or reduce) the price after we’ve done the work?
- Are some partners eager to market while others are content, or even complacent?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, marketing can help.
I just love the comment that fellow blogger Bill Kennedy posted. He wrote (emphasis mine):
Great blog, particularly that comment about too many problem clients. A friend told me about a practice at their firm: they would get the staff together once a quarter and vote one client "off the island." It didn't mean necessarily severing relations with that client, but it told the partners that they needed to pay some attention to that relationship.
I would absolutely let my team help choose which clients "go."
Years ago, I attended the Results Accountants Systems 4-day Bootcamp then led by the brilliant Paul Dunn and Ric Payne. And they talked about firms who pass the client list around letting team members "red circle" clients they thought weren't so great to work with. Sometimes the partners had no idea that clients treated team members poorly or failed to be prepared, etc.
Similarly, in his book True Professionalism, David Maister has a chapter called "Are We Having Fun Yet?" A blog post of his refers to it describing that 20 years of surveying professionals across varying fields shows alarmingly consistent results: only 20-30% of the work we do is work we enjoy, and only 10-20% of clients we serve are clients we really enjoy working with. That's equivalent to about one day of our work week. Life's too short for that!
Also, do you think these other clients can't tell you don't enjoy them and their work? Of course they can! And in this climate of "sharing" on the social web, we simply cannot afford to be mediocre.
These are great conversations to have in your firm.
Help make room for more clients you enjoy and who appreciate you back.
Photo credit: Craig Anderson, Hamilton Island 2005 on Flickr