There are no big clients or small clients — just clients The Public Forum of Accounting
Accounting Today welcomes opinion articles and letters to the editor from our readers. Send yours to acto[email protected]media.com.
In the movie “No Time for Sergeants” — a real oldie — Andy Griffith sees an officer who is also a woman. He has been taught to see and respect the uniform and not the wearer of that uniform. When his friends comment about the woman’s figure, he says he doesn’t see a woman — all he sees is an officer. They think he has gone blind or batty. Well, you might say that the same applies to me. Just substitute “client” for “uniform.”
I was once asked why I had so many women clients. I had never thought about that and had to think for a moment or two. Then I replied, “Because I treat them the same as my men clients.” Now, I am not a psychologist and haven’t really looked too deeply into this, but it turns out that my dealings with women clients were the same as with my men clients. I never made a distinction. To me they were clients and paid my “salary.”
At that time, though, I did think about it. I also then realized that I treated all my clients the same — with the utmost interest, care, attention, focus and respect. They all contributed to paying my salary. This also means I treated smaller clients the same as my larger clients. The larger clients did get more time and services, so in that regard they were treated differently, but that refers to a time or work element and not to the incorporeal aspects of the relationship. All clients are important and should be treated in the manner they believe they should be treated. If we start distinguishing between good and bad, or A, B and C, or important and less important clients, then I truly believe we will treat every client the way we treat the worst client on that rating scale. Note that this is “provable” — when you lose a large client and are told you “weren’t ‘connected’ or relating to us anymore,” think about that!
If you “rate” your clients, stop. If you place clients in categories unrelated to the services you provide, stop. If you interrupt a meeting with a client to take a call from a larger client, stop. If you push aside something that is important to one of your clients to do something for a larger client, stop. Prioritize your relationships — all clients are equally important, and the size of the fees is not the determinant.
I am not suggesting you ignore your largest clients. I am suggesting that if you give priority service to a larger client at the expense of a smaller client, you will eventually, if not already, reduce your level of service to all your clients.
The ‘Ed Mendlowitz factor’
When a client engages me for any type of service, there are specific descriptions of what we will do and the goal or end result of the services. What is not figured in is “the Ed Mendlowitz factor.”
Once someone signs on with me, my radar gets turned on 24/7. What this is, is my thinking about them, their business or situation, and focusing on how I can help them additionally with any issues or problems they have, and also to add unexpected value. Included is the full application of my knowledge and vast and extensive experience, including my intense desire to apply what I can to help clients with their situation. This is all “thrown in” gratis with my pleasure.
The reality is that we are just another vendor to our clients regardless of how they act and respond when we are together. I am sure they greatly appreciate what we do for them, but when we are gone, so are their thoughts of us. This is not so for me and I am sure many of my colleagues. We take the relationships personally, dwell on every issue, and carefully look for ways to provide tremendous value to them. Our mind works “overtime” thinking about them. We care, and I believe it is evident in the results. That is the primary reason for the long relationships most accountants have with their clients.
When clients engage accountants, they bargain for specific services, and they get that, and much more. In my case it is the “Ed Mendlowitz factor.” Gratis!
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner at Top 100 Firm Withumsmith+brown and the author of 24 books and a twicea-week blog. Reach him at at (732) 964-9329 or emend[email protected] withum.com.