Harry Daniels and I have a mutual love of airplanes and aviation. Although we’ve never met in person, we correspond frequently and I’ve quickly come to admire his professionals and commitment to excellence. Harry is a Certified Public Accountant in Ocala, Florida. His work focuses on personal and business income tax, estate, gift, and retirement planning, along with financial planning and business valuations. In addition, he is a published author writing articles for several aviation publications that deal with tax related issues. These articles and selected blog posts can be found on his website at harrydanielscpa.com.
I’ve asked Harry to share the following information with you as I believe it is a powerful tool that you can benefit from adapting.
In my 40 years of working with tax clients I have come across information that has served me well and given me a little competitive edge. Once the information is discovered, tried, and proven, it earns a place in my journal of “Just Good Business”. When I find something that works, I stick with it.
“Just Good Business” is a collection of the best client service and business management ideas that, over the years, have come to serve me very well. Currently, there are 43 entries that have made it into my journal. They are all very short in length. In fact some are single sentences, others are incomplete sentences, and none are more than a paragraph. I doubt it will ever be a finished product because it is constantly evolving.
Where do I come up with the things that go into “Just Good Business”? I see or hear something, I try it and if it works, it goes in. A lot of what I include in “Just Good Business” comes from just common sense, respect, and good manners. Nothing takes the place of good old-fashioned courtesy no matter how young or how old you are.
Books also rank very high on my list of sources. As I read, certain things jump out at me. I think through these items, massage them, and, if they are good enough, they turn into a “Just Good Business” habit. Surprisingly, I have found a lot of wisdom in music. For example, a line of a song catches my attention and I think it through, possibly it leads to another “Just Good Business” habit being born.
“Just Good Business” has only two threads. One is for client appreciation and service. The other is a guideline for how I run my business. As an example, one of my maxims is that it is not how little you have to do to earn your fee but instead how much can you do for the fee you are being paid. I believe we should never hesitate to go above and beyond what is expected of us.
This maxim proves itself in the real world if you consider your competition. Your competition is not whom you think it is, but instead your competition is you. What do I mean by that and how does it fit into my “Just Good Business” entries? If you underappreciate a client by ignoring phone calls, untimely work, a lack of response to emails or communication, you will make your competitors very happy. Your competitors will make promises whether or not they can make good on them just to get your client. From the client’s view, these promises offer hope that they will finally get some attention and as such, they are willing to make a change. If your successor doesn’t make good on their promises, then the client you just lost will move on again to another competitor. They won’t come back to you. How do you take care of and service your client to avoid this? This is where “Just Good Business” comes into practice.
Continuing with “Just Good Business,” have you ever called a client and wished them a happy birthday? Forget mailing a birthday card, but instead take 5 minutes and call them. As a personal example, I called a client to wish her a happy birthday. She is in her mid-eighties and her husband had recently passed away. When she learned the reason for my call, with a crackle in her voice, she said that she was wondering if anyone was going to remember her birthday. I don’t know who was more impacted by my call, her or me. It is amazing the impact this can have. Sometimes it can get pretty lonely for our more senior friends. Because of personal experiences such as this, making happy birthday calls has been a basic staple from the very beginning of “Just Good Business.”
Regarding the personal touch of “Just Good Business,” one of my favorite things to do is read a book, mark the key pages, and send a copy to 10 clients with a personal hand written note. Clients love getting the book and more times than not, they actually read the entire book after reading the key pages you marked for them. This has become a highly successful and appreciated technique and has earned its place in “Just Good Business”. At the same time, the knowledge you have shared with your client will continue to benefit them.
I encourage you to find what works for you and create your own journal. Use anything you have handy; a notepad, sticky notes, the back of your business card, and write down what speaks to you. Refer back to these frequently. Frequent referral will often stir the mind with ideas for new opportunities using old but proven material to benefit your clients.