Small Investment - Nice Return

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Jan 24, 2007 6:41 pm

Here's an idea that I've used with some decent success. It's a small investment of time, but can have a nice return. 


When meeting with clients, I assume you are asking them who they use for a CPA (if you're not, you should be). If they aren't using someone (or aren't happy with them), refer them to a CPA you trust and make the introduction. That will get you brownie points (and possibly a referral) from your CPA.


Here's the idea:  If they are working with someone simply ask "would you mind if I called and introduced myself to your CPA so that I would be familiar with them if I needed to contact them in the future?"  Almost everyone says yes.  Call the CPA, and tell them that you have a mutual client and you were calling to introduce yourself in case he ever needed anything from you.  This alone will usually impress them, at least a little bit.  Discuss the client for a second, and then go for a lunch appointment.


I can think of one CPA I met this way who never really referred me any decent clients, but he did invite me to a networking group, which I joined, where I have generated quite a bit of business over the years.


Feel free to share any other ideas that are easy to implement.

Jan 24, 2007 8:11 pm

Good post.

Jan 24, 2007 8:29 pm

I met with my first random CPA this week and things look good for a future relationship.

Jan 25, 2007 12:29 am
now_indy:

Feel free to share any other ideas that are easy to implement.





Milk and a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies.

Jan 25, 2007 11:10 am

You should have started your career at EDJ, or if you did, payed attention in KYC because we've been telling our folks to do that for years.  Still, it's a great idea.  It can also be applied to with attorneys in town who do estate planning.  You are going to refer a lot more biz to them before they give any to you, but the cases they refer to you are typically really good ones.  I know of a broker in our area that worked with an attorney like that and then one day the attorney asks him to liquidate an estate.  Broker grossed $100K that month. 

Jan 25, 2007 12:47 pm

Most of our biggest referrals come from CPA's and Attorneys.  Those referrals are even better than client referrals .

Jan 25, 2007 5:54 pm

Professional referrals are great when they happen. I have professional friends. I think the problem is, professional work is one-off, case by case, and referrals can be dicey. You get a nasty case, extensive and more expensive work, misplaced expectations, a reaction from a member of the general public, and then maybe your work or your professional friend's work does not square with what someone expected. That happens.


The best referrals come from your clients, when their friends get a chance to meet you in an informal situation. (Client appreciation, bring a friend.) In effect, the prospect makes their own judgement when they meet you informally. No one is really on the hook. Not that you don't do good work for everyone, it's just that expectations and who initiates are what make the very best quality and longest term client relationships for me.


In terms of where you spend your time and energy, it's a matter of choice. For me, I never work on indirect potential. Spend time with a person who might be interested in using your services, not someone who knows someone. I know the whole CPA center of influence idea can work really well, (maybe for larger practices), but for the solo practitioner, I think the idea is way overrated. Trumped up by journal articles and green wholesalers. Basically, in a lot of ways, CPAs are more competitors, in the sense that they charge for advice, and the good ones should be able to help their client streamline and not complicate financial and investment planning. But then, that's just what works for me.

Jan 25, 2007 9:33 pm

Planr-

That's odd advice. I have never heard that from anyone. Among the

people I deal with, professionals LOVE to make referrals to us. We refer

to them, it's a great network. Most we deal with are busy professionals,

so they outsource everything that is not their specialty. We have a

network of CPA's, attorneys, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, you

name it. I guess it works because most of the people that deal with our

professional network have money (these are not tax preparers and

personal injury attorneys). But I guess it depends on individual

circumstances.

Jan 25, 2007 11:42 pm

  That's odd advice. I have never heard that from anyone. Among the people I deal with, professionals LOVE to make referrals to us.


Yep, my way is not the highway. I can see where the more "community" you build, the more referrals you get from it.


My perspective is only at the solo practitioner level, trying to be ultra efficient and ruthlessly pro-client, and operating 100% from client referrals.


I ask clients to go out a get competing mortage quotes from their favorite vendors (everyone has a lender). A lot of my clients do their own taxes or see that as a commodity service. They get to use their family and friends for real estate, with no pressure from me. I encourage them to seek professional legal advice, and have a referral list, but discourage them from wasting money on lawyers, where possible.


They have money, but most are not millionaires. It is a real mixed bag of clients, not just busy professionals. A lot are middle aged women. They stay with me a long time, are fiercely loyal, and refer their friends.


I see a lot of practices that are more aggressive, that make a lot more money, have a lot more expenses, but probably make a bigger bottom line. The beauty is, everyone can do it their own way, and it is all good. I grew up in a large pack, so I guess I am a lone wolf. So are a lot of my clients, a lot of them hate paying too much but they don't mind hiring me.