How to Streamline the Complicated Parts of Client Relationships

At Polymath LLC we are working to develop systems that are repeatable, consistent, and effective across our diverse client relationships. One of our favorites is our Discovery Phase Checklist. This procedure has helped us to streamline one of the most complicated parts of a budding client relationship, and it has saved us buckets of time while tremendously increasing the value we offer early on.

To learn about some great tools for interactions that come before the Discovery Phase, be sure to check out our articles on our New Client Questionnaire and our Client Initial Consultation

The Discovery Phase is the first working stage of each of our new client relationships. It is essential for creating a clear starting place for the client's project and ensuring that the project work is priced from an educated perspective, rather than taking a guess.

This was the hardest part to learn: no changes are made to the client's books during the Discovery Phase; it is research and review. Period. We know that it's hard not to jump in and start fixing things, but it is really important that the client gets the chance to see a very clear "before" and "after" picture of their company. This is a big part of letting them see the valuable impact you have as their business's Trusted Advisor.

The Discovery Phase is a valuable service, and it needs to be priced as such. Polymath uses a 15-point checklist and gives the client a Discovery Report at the end of this phase, complete with our recommendations for next steps. The price for a Polymath client usually ranges between $250 to $1250. Keep in mind that most of our clients are very small companies with under $500K in annual revenues. You will want to ensure that you are pricing to match the size and complexity of your unique client relationships.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to really do the Discovery Phase justice. We almost always schedule Discovery for the calendar month following the month in which we are meeting the client for the Initial Consultation. If the client is in a hurry to get work done on their books, then you can discuss with them how their expedited timeline may alter the flow of your work and the price of the engagement.

Polymath's Discovery engagements generally include two appointments:

  • One early in the month to collect necessary information, such as access to the client's QuickBooks company file, bank statements, and other important data needed to make a full assessment.
  • One near the end of the month, after the data has been reviewed and documented in our report, to go over any remaining questions with the client, present our findings and recommendations, and plan the next steps of the project.

Be sure to visit  our site to take a look at our Relationship Roadmap. This gives a clearer picture of what the full process of the project may look like, prior to rolling out a monthly maintenance agreement with the client.

It takes a little practice to get comfortable with the Discovery Phase routine, but once you are comfortable with it, it takes many of the frightening "unknowns" out of the client onboarding process. This makes the beginning of the relationship much more smooth and easy for both sides.

About the Author

Ingrid Edstrom

Ingrid Edstrom

Ingrid is a bookkeeping nerd and CEO of Polymath. She loves taking a topic that most small business owners put on a scale from boring to terrifying and turning it into a fun and rewarding part of entrepreneurship. Ingrid is the creator of the Ask A Bookkeeper puppet show, founder of the Southern Oregon Bookkeepers Association, and leader of the Southern Oregon Woodard Group.

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