Renew firms are focused on creating value for the right clients. The first step in creating value is dictating the terms of the client relationship.
Why is this important?
You want to position yourself as a Trusted Advisor, NOT a service provider. Dictating the terms of a client relationship in an accounting firm involves establishing clear expectations, responsibilities, and guidelines to ensure a mutually beneficial and productive trusted advisor relationship. To help establish a trusted advisor relationship, Renew firms and their clients sign a mutual commitment statement.
Here is an example:
Our Commitment to You:
We will act with honesty and integrity in everything we do for you and with you.
We will respect absolutely the confidentiality of our working relationship.
We will return your communications by the close of the next business day, even when we are out of the office. When your primary contact is on vacation, we will advise you in advance and arrange for another member of our team to look after your inquiries.
We will meet the deadlines we set with you, or we will advise you in advance of our inability to do so for reasons absolutely outside of our control.
We will give you an upfront price for every piece of work we agree to take on and will discuss any variation that may occur as a result of changes to scope before doing any additional work.
Your Commitment to Us:
You will be open and frank with us at all times, and you will advise us of any concerns you have with any aspect of the work we do for you.
You will respond to all of our communications by close of the next business day.
You will provide us with all the information we require and give us access to your team within the time frames we agree.
You will make time available to attend to any aspect of the assignment that you agree to work on, and you will meet the associated deadlines subject to problems outside of your control. You understand that the success of this engagement depends on your commitment to making it work, and that we will work together to achieve the outcomes and goals that we plan for.
At the end of each stage of the engagement, we will meet with you and discuss the work we have done together during that stage. If you have any concerns about the work done during the stage that we are discussing, we will agree together how we can remedy the situation. Only when you are totally happy with the work done and the value you have received, and you have paid us for that work, will we proceed to the next stage.
You will listen to any advice we offer, but we absolutely acknowledge your right to reject it.
You will attend to our account on the terms we agree upon, which will generally be by monthly ACH payment.
You will consider referring us to at least two other businesspeople who would benefit from the work that we do.
When the document is signed, it becomes the basis of the relationship. Don’t waste your firm’s precious time and resources chasing clients for information. This erodes your position. Remember, you cannot care more about the client’s situation than they do.
Here are a few considerations when setting the terms of a client relationship for your firm:
Initial Consultation or assessment: Begin with an initial consultation or meeting to discuss the client's needs, objectives, and the services your firm can provide. Understand their financial situation, goals, and any specific challenges they are facing. Do NOT just review the prior returns. Conduct a detailed assessment. Many firms give away clean up work and low hanging fruit. Also, position the process as a mutual evaluation e.g., you are not begging for their work.
Scope of Services: Clearly define the scope of tax, accounting, and advisory services your firm will provide. This could include tax preparation, accounting, advisory services, and more. Specify what is included. A Renew best practice is to also list what items are NOT included. E.g., where scope creep may happen.
Service Agreement or Engagement Letter: Prepare a formal service agreement or engagement letter that outlines the terms and conditions of the client relationship. Do NOT begin any work without a signed engagement letter. Here a few things the document may cover:
- Scope of services
- Duration of the engagement and key milestones
- Pricing. We suggest collecting monies upfront. A client with skin in the game is a better, more responsive client.
- Responsibilities of both the client and the accounting firm
- Deadlines and turnaround times
- Communication Channels: Establish preferred communication channels and response times for inquiries. This could involve emails, phone calls, virtual meetings, or in-person consultations.
- Timelines and Deadlines: Set clear timelines and deadlines for the completion of various accounting tasks and projects. This ensures both parties are aware of expectations and can plan accordingly.
- Responsibilities: Define the responsibilities of both the client and the accounting firm. For example, the client might need to provide accurate and timely financial records, access to bank accounts etc.
- Review and Updates: Periodically review and update the terms of the client relationship as needed. Changes in services, pricing and responsibilities may necessitate updates to the engagement letter.
By taking the lead with your clients to clearly define your relationship, you establish a strong foundation for a successful trusted advisor relationship.
After all, you don’t tell your doctor how to engage with you...why should you let the inmates run the asylum?
Renew Group’s Firm Transformation Framework offers life-changing results to accounting firm partners and stakeholders.
Renew firms experience real results, not fluff, such as a 137% increase in average revenue per client with fewer hours worked.
Our best-in-class solution equips you with the training, tools, and support to reduce your workload and command premium pricing with the right clients.
Renew Group's Firm Transformation Framework is your blueprint to a better model and a better life.
Two ways to start your firm's transformation:
- Schedule a no obligations call.
- Not ready for a call? Learn more about how we help transform accounting firms and the results we achieve by watching our Masterclass.
About Renew Group
Shannon Vincent and Colin Dunn created Renew Group to create a better model and better lives for accounting firms. Our Firm Transformation Framework is the blueprint to a better model and a better life. Through education and training, templates, tools, and resources, coaching and community, our framework delivers life-changing results.