Not Getting What You Need?Oct 25, 2023
This week is manic for many and I'm seeing a lot of people in overwhelm.
We all have those times of the year where everything seems to happen at once - school holidays, public holidays, GST / BAS / VAT / Tax deadlines...
While you're struggling to meet deadlines and maintain standards, your clients are potentially also facing the same challenges, and they're overwhelmed as well. This can mean that they're not getting what you need from them when you need it.
In their mind, the deadline is not NOW. In their mind, they've still got time. In their mind, they've got more important things to do. In their mind, they're your only client...
In your mind, you know that you've got a lot of work to get done by that deadline, and you dread the last day or two when "those" clients realise that the deadline IS now, and they finally give you what you need, and then you scramble and rush and stress and work late to get it done.
I wish I had a magic wand to help you with this situation as it really is the bane of our life as a bookkeeper it seems. There is no one-size-fits-all solution but here's one suggestion that may help for some of your clients:
Have an honest conversation with them.
They may be blissfully unaware of the impact of their actions.
- They don't think about the fact that you have other clients who are also doing the same last minute thing.
- They forget about the fact that they are not your only client and that you have work to do other than their own.
- They don't know that you and your team find it incredibly stressful trying to manage their bookkeeping, and to do a good job for them, when there's a deadline looming and you don't have what you need.
- They don't understand how incredibly frustrating and energy-sapping it is to have to repeatedly remind them over and over again.
- They don't get how it can make you feel disrespected and undervalued when they ignore your emails and phone calls.
While we need to remain professional, it's also OK to be real. After all, one of the best things about our job and our bookkeeping business is that we often develop strong relationships with our clients.
Those relationships will only be strengthened if you talk real-talk. If you are honest with them instead of wearing the mask of detached professionalism. If you seek to work as partners, collaboratively, rather than as an employer/employee-style relationship.
How they respond to you after this conversation will tell you a lot about the relationship that you will have with them going forward.
If they respond positively, understandingly, and are happy to work with you to find a solution that works better for both of you, then that's the basis of a valuable long-term working relationship.
If they don't respond in a positive way, and continue to ignore your requests and continue to be late with what you need, then you will need to decide if this is a client that you are happy to continue working with.
And another thing you might want to tell them...
My partner, Brett, is a mortgage adviser and part of his role is to support and mentor the other advisers in the business, particularly the new ones.
He was telling me the other day that he can tell which ones are going to be successful because they are the ones who are diligent about using their CRM and following the process. They prioritise being organised and using the systems and resources that they've got.
Then in a 1:1 coaching session with a client yesterday we talked about this very thing of struggling to get what she needs in time from some clients. She mentioned that she has 2 clients, tradespeople, who are chalk and cheese when it comes to this.
When I asked her which one was more successful, without hesitation she said the one that prioritises their accounts and gives her what she needs when she asks for it.
So that's something else that you can talk about with your clients - "my most successful clients are doing..." and "my least successful clients are doing..."
Maybe that will be the fire that they need. Maybe.
If you've got any tried and true way of getting your clients to give you the information and source documents that you need to do a good job for them, in a timely manner when you need it, send me an email. Would love to hear it.
Have a great day!
PS: These are the conversations we have all the time in From Bookkeeper to Business Owner, my business coaching programme that's helping bookkeepers like you to build thriving bookkeeping businesses. Book a call with me to find out if this is the right next step for you.
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