More Commentary About Year-Round Proactive Services to Clients

If you want to be respected, be a respectable person.

(A quote from my mother)

People treat us the way we teach them to treat us.

(Wayne Dyer)

On Friday I offered my own anecdotal experiences regarding giving clients the proactive advice they all say they want.

The problems I have encountered with this are 1) getting paid and 2) having people actually take my advice.

Certainly this doesn’t describe all clients. It actually describes only a minority of clients.

But it happens enough to be noticeable. And I’ve heard other accountants and tax professionals lament about the same problems.

The root cause of these problems lies with accountants and tax preparers. Many of us fail miserably at the first two quotes of wisdom above.

We as a community have allowed ourselves to become a commodity.

Most of us don’t tout our skills or our knowledge or our training. We don’t talk about the positives we bring to the table. We allow ourselves to be used and abused by clients — oftentimes unpaid or underpaid — and then complain that clients just don’t listen or just don’t value what we do. (I plead guilty to that last one a thousand times over.)

Instead, we advertise ourselves by using the generic “we can get you more deductions” or we simply say we “provide bookkeeping, accounting and tax preparation services.”

And when we talk to clients about what we’ve done for them, we always talk about rote tasks completed or hours spent.

Rarely do we talk about the value of the things we do.

Those of us who are good professionals rarely demand the respect we have earned. And then we wonder why clients seemingly don’t respect us, don’t value us, don’t listen to our advice, or jump ship the moment you breathe about a rate increase.

You reap what you sow.

And what irritates me the most about this is: I’m guilty of doing all these things. I can identify the problem and sometimes the solutions, but I have a hard time actually fixing the problem for myself.

This should be filed under Solo Practitioner Blues. (Hey … that sounds like a good title for an ongoing blog series. Hmm.)

And maybe I’m just projecting my own insecurities onto the entire industry.

So I ask — and this is open to clients and accountants alike — is my analysis sound, or am I way off-base here?