During a recent trip abroad, I took all types of transportation to get from one place to the other. This got me thinking about the various accounting firms and the quality clients they attract.
The types of transportation ranged from the extremely basic economy up to premium.
And this applies to your firm.
Think about traveling somewhere and you decide not to rent a car. You still want to be on the move.
A variety of options exist that will get you from where you are to where you want to go.
Each option has upsides and downsides. However, I’m going to focus on four primary transportation options:
- Public transportation
- Private car service
As I discuss them, consider how this relates to the various clients who engage your firm’s services.
The public transportation we took included buses, trains, and water buses—yes, that actually exists.
Public transportation is sometimes unreliable. You have to plan for extra time because it involves multiple stops. Plus during rush hour, you can expect to stand the entire time.
This economy option appeals to people who are willing to do it themselves. Basically, they want to save money with the cheapest option. They aren’t ready to engage the services of your firm right now.
Do you take taxis?
I found taxis to be extremely transactional. There’s often a glass partition between the passenger and driver side, which means total silence. Not a word is spoken during the entire ride. I’m considered a fare who’s going from one destination to the other.
What hit home was my low trust for cab rides; that's because the taxi dispatcher said I could expect my cab in five minutes, but 20 minutes later I found myself still waiting for my ride to show.
I had no idea where the taxi was.
Now the fare is another complexity:
- Since it’s based on time and mileage, there was no transparency about the final fare.
- The driver could take a longer route to pad the fare–and I might not realize it if it’s an unfamiliar place.
- The meter continues clicking when we’re stuck in traffic.
Overall, the experience is transactional and creates low confidence.
Now consider the clients you work with who question your invoices about your time and the cost. It’s possible these clients don’t fully grasp the basics of accounting and their financials. Challenging you about the invoice is a low-trust symptom.
The Uber experience
I’m a big fan of Uber for several reasons. As gig workers, the drivers are entrepreneurial.
Unfortunately, there’s little consistency from one driver to the next. Some provide bottles of water. Others need to clean up their vehicles.
All of them, however, are rated by their passengers. So the drivers tend to be friendly and conversational.
Uber caught on because the company identified all the problems with taxis and corrected them. Transparency, from start to finish, gives them an edge:
- You have the ability to track the driver who’s picking me up. The app shows the vehicles progress while en route, so you're not outside waiting and wondering.
- A flat fee is disclosed prior to confirming the ride.
- There are various ride options, from shared to classy.
- It’s a cashless transaction.
These qualities contribute to trust and confidence in the service.
Now consider your clients who value transparency. From start to finish, these clients want to feel that you care about them. They seek out client-centered firms.
The top tier
The final option is car service that charges premium fees.
After a long transatlantic flight, I didn’t want to wonder how I was going to get to my hotel or Airbnb, in some cases. Easy and convenient are more important than low rates, especially when I arrived exhausted and it's late in the evening.
Even before I walked out of the terminal, the driver called to let me know he was waiting in the lobby. Although getting my bags and going through customs took awhile, I wasn’t charged for the additional wait time.
Once I entered the waiting area, picking my driver out in the crowd was easy. I quickly spotted the sign he held with my name on it. He took my bag, escorted me to the vehicle, and drove me safely to my destination.
Overall, it was a very seamless transaction. Paying for the convenience was well worth it. When I’m tired and jet lagged, I prefer to avoid any unnecessary frustrations and hassles.
Consider your clients who are extremely busy. They value speed and access to you. Because time is important to them, they seek out a client-centered firm and willingly pay premium fees.
Create options for your clients
Transportation offers a variety of options, from public transportation to car services. Each option will get me from where I am to my final destination. The spectrum of transaction to relationship is what differentiates each option–and influences the price.
Your clients have various needs and expectations, too. Consider who you serve. Then create options which appeal to your various clients.
Here are some questions to consider.
- Who does your firm appeal to?
- Consider the client-focus scale. If 1 is extremely transactional and 5 is concierge services, how would your clients rate your firm?
- What would improve your rating on the client-focus scale?
By the way, this is a great time to consider offering packages, rather than à la carte services. Packages are transparent. Clients know the exact scope and fee. Because everything is disclosed beforehand, it fosters trust and a solid client relationship.
For more free educational resources for accounting professionals from this author, visit BusinessSuccessSolution.com.