How to Keep Clients When Purchasing an Accounting Firm
By: Tanya Farmer
Acquiring and retaining new clients is one of the biggest concerns for any accountant, second only to recruiting and retaining good employees. While client retention is a challenge for all accountants, it is of particular concern when purchasing an accounting firm. To ensure that you retain all, or at least most, of the current clients, follow the four tips below.
Consider the Clients’ Motivation
It is true that when clients work with the same accountant for a number of years, they develop a certain relationship. You are likely concerned that fear of the loss of that relationship will cause clients to pack up and move their business elsewhere. Fortunately, that rarely happens. It can take a lot of work to find a new accountant, and most clients will trust that their accountant found a successor (you) who is capable of handling their accounting needs. While you may lose a few clients when purchasing an accounting firm, the majority of them will remain with the business.
Perform Due Diligence
Surprisingly, client retention actually begins before you purchase an accounting firm. When looking for an accounting firm for sale, you must ensure that the current clients are a match with your own talents and skills. You also have to make sure that you have the time to provide the clients with the services they need, and remain realistic about your current obligations.
Client Retention relates to Customer Service
You may not lose many clients soon after buying an accounting firm, but that does not mean that you will never lose them. Client retention is ongoing and is tied directly to the level of service you provide and the customer service clients have grown to expect, and, as such, you must continue to communicate frequently with them to build and strengthen your relationship. You must also continue to grow the practice and implement a referral strategy. This will ensure that you are not only successful today, but tomorrow, as well.
When done correctly, the attrition of clients you should expect should be similar to the historic attrition the accounting practice experienced prior to you taking over. One sure-fire way to ensure client retention is to have the former owner wind-down over a period of time. This is normal in most industries, including the accounting industry. While there is little you can do about clients who want to pursue other CPA options, there are ways you can prepare for it. Before buying an accounting practice, ask the seller if they have any history with this, or if they expect a certain amount of clients to leave. You can also work with a knowledgeable business broker who will handle the transition properly and give clients the confidence that they are working with a knowledgeable accountant.
Our Accounting Business Brokers in Washington can Help With Your Acquisition
If you are interested in purchasing an accounting firm, do not do it on your own. At Private Practice Transitions, our Washington business brokers can help you through the extremely complex process of purchasing an existing CPA firm and ensure that you secure a fair deal. When you want to buy a business, call us at (253) 509-9224 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help.