In developing your accounting service you are going to rely heavily on obtaining clients who have been referred to you by a third party.
This third party may be an existing client, friend, relative, neighbor or a business contact.
The question must be asked: "How do you build and maintain your referral database?"
The simplest step in getting referrals is to provide real service to your existing clients. As you show your clients that you are the best at what you do, they will then be delighted to refer you to any of their contacts who ask about accounting or bookkeeping. 'Under-promising and over-delivering' is a great strategy to pursue. Keep your clients enthusiastic about the service you provide and they will pass the word on to those they know.
Join the local civic and business associations where you will have regular contact with people who, once they get to know you, can refer business to you. When you perform the role of treasurer in any of these organizations, your accounting expertise will become more obvious and will lead to further referrals.
One of the marketing techniques taught in the Professional Bookkeeper™ program is to start with those you know. Let members of your inner circle - family members, friends and neighbors know how important referrals are to you and how much you appreciate them. Every business would like to have a unique selling advantage over their competition. The relationships that you have already built with family, friends, and neighbors is your edge. People tend to do business with those that they know, so also don't rule out those close to you as potential clients. If any of them own a business or have decision-making power where they work, just letting them know that you are a specialist in small-business accounting may be all that you need to do to get a few clients right off the bat.
Keep in regular contact with those who refer clients to you even if it's just to say "hi". If you distribute a newsletter, make sure that your referrers are included on the distribution list. Don't hesitate to send them newspaper or magazine articles they may not have seen, covering issues of interest to them.
Ensure that you always telephone or send a card to a referrer to thank him or her for the referral and advise what action you have taken. This is just common courtesy, or so one would think. Common courtesy becomes increasingly uncommon, so make yourself stand out by respecting those that give you referrals. You will find that they are happy to give you more.
Include all referrers on the distribution list for any public relations coverage you have been able to generate.
The simplest method of communicating with your referrers is to include their details in your database along with those of your clients. In the database you can record information about the referrer such as their sports and hobbies and spouse's name in addition to the basic details regarding address and telephone numbers. A simple card from you to recognize special days in their lives will set you apart in their eyes.
Again, people do business with those they consider their friends. As you go out of your way to get to know your referrers, your relationship resembles friendship as much as it does a business contact.
Keep your focus on building and maintaining your referral base as it will continue to be the life-blood of your business. Marketing is one business activity that you don't get paid directly for. Clients pay you for the work that you do, so the more effortless that marketing your services becomes, the more that you can focus on those tasks that do pay. Referrals are one of the easist ways to spend less time finding potential clients and turning them into paying customers.
Module four of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you the secrets of marketing your business. From your first few clients that you will learn to find easily among those you already know to creating a stream of referrals through your existing contacts and clients, you will learn how easy it really is to find paying clients. Whether you are working at your business in your spare time or as a full-time income source, you will learn the step-by-step process to follow to easily find the most profitable clients. An average client pays you $300 per month for the 6-8 hours it takes to service their account each month. At $30 to $50 per hour, that adds up fast.