Vicki Boddice demonstrates a seriously impressive example of what starting your own practice can look like when you find the right promotion method for you.
We saw Vicki’s success story on LinkedIn when she announced that she doubled her client base in just one month! A couple of weeks later when we spoke to her, she had already increased this even further, meaning she had now tripled her client base in only 6 weeks.
So, how did she do it? And how can you do it?
Watch or read our interview with Vicki below to find out.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Vicki Boddice and I set up Boddice accounting in July 2021.
I’m based in central Scotland, I’m halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, but I have clients from Dorset to North of Aberdeen, so I cover the whole of the UK.
What made you decide to start up your own practice?
2020, like many of us, was a horrendous year for me. My mental health was suffering and I was under stress that I couldn’t control when working for somebody else. I took the decision to leave work in December 2020 and think about what I wanted to do. I came to the decision that I wanted to be an accountant - I was going to be an accountant but I was going to do it my way on my terms. It has been the best decision I’ve made, my mental health has improved hugely since doing it.
Do you have a Niche?
I started thinking that I would niche in the health and beauty industry. I’m a qualified nail technician, I do have a nail bar with a friend, although I’ve been so busy doing accounts that I’ve not touched nails in months. I thought that as I know that industry really well, that would be my target market. I do have quite a few clients in that area, but more and more I was getting referred or mentioned to other female business owners who were not entirely happy with their current accountancy services or didn’t have any.
I’m not exclusively a female firm, I do have men that are clients as well, but more and more my niche has been female business owners who want somebody who can talk to them on their terms.
What was the first thing you did to promote your business?
The first things I did to promote when I started up were very very minimal. I took out an advert in a nail trade magazine, which I thought was a fantastic idea. It cost me an absolute fortune and I got about one contact from it, who didn’t actually end up turning into a client. I then realised, ok, maybe there are better ways to do this and started being active again on Facebook forums, just joining in conversations. Somebody would put up a post saying “I’ve no idea what records I need to keep for tax.”. I would go in and say “I’m an accountant, this is what I would want you to have kept and is the minimum you would need to do it yourself.”. The conversation would carry on, I’d end up normally getting a message saying “Can I talk to you a bit more about it?”. Sometimes they would stick and do it themselves, sometimes they would pass my name on to somebody else.
It really did start to show it was paying dividends when I wasn’t even on the threads and I was getting tagged with a “Vicki, can you help?”, that’s when I realised I’d actually managed to kind of get myself known.
What was your most successful method of promotion?
It has 100% been word of mouth. I think the way that I interact with my clients, it’s very much a two-way relationship. Word of mouth has just been huge for me for promotion. Almost all of my clients have referred two, three or four new clients in to me. They’re mentioning me on social media, but again, being present, turning up and building relationships with people that you don’t necessarily think will become clients, but they’re probably going to know somebody who at some point mentions in passing that they’re looking for an accountant.
I just found that going out and talking about why I love what I do, rather than selling my services has been a big winner for me.
‘People buy from people’ is said so often, but it is absolutely true.
What kind of results did you get?
In December ‘21 I had roughly about 10 clients. I was actively looking to grow and was really pushing myself. By the end of January, I had 25 monthly recurring clients and another 5 annual clients, so I really had kind of rocketed in my client numbers very very quickly. I worked to get a couple of reviews on google and on Facebook. Again, that seems to have given people the confidence that if they’ve heard of me and they go and look for me, they see actual reviews and I've got them on my website as well.
I’ve built up some great relationships with some pension providers that I’m more than happy to send my clients to, and equally, he has been referring people over to me. A lot of people think “well, why would I network with another accountant, they’re my competition?”, but no, there’s so many of us. There are so many things that we niche in, specialise in. Actually, building good accountancy relationships and bookkeeping relationships can just make a massive difference.
It’s one of the nicest things, just chatting to them [clients], taking the time. When we do have a call it does start off with “how are you?”, “how’s your family?”, “you were going to do this, did you manage?”. It’s a genuine relationship. It puts people at ease and I’m nosey. I love finding out about people.
Because I like to take the time to chat to people, I have had to make sure that I’m really really efficient. Making sure that I’ve got systems in place so that I can get the work done and not have to worry about it or miss deadlines or anything like that.
What are your next steps?
I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I’m pushing myself into that small-medium bracket. So I’m confident enough now that I can start looking at those higher turnover clients that are looking maybe to find someone with a bit more of a personal touch.
I’m moving into an office! Away from working from home, I’m moving into an office next month - so March 2022 I’ll be in my proper office and I’m hoping that towards the end of the year I’ll be able to get an apprentice in and start training up the younger generation. I really do want to grow the practice and I want to do that in training and bringing in somebody who maybe wouldn’t have thought that they’d have a professional career, but through apprenticeships and things they can really go for the top.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start up their own practice?
If someone’s thinking about starting up, I would completely recommend making use of the free invites that a lot of the networking groups do. You can go along, see what they’re like. I’ve been to some, they weren’t for me, I’ve gone to others and I absolutely love them and I’m going to be in with the bricks. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, don’t think that you have to just talk about the business. Talk about yourself, let people know who you are, what you like doing, if you’ve got a weird hobby or something that’ll stick in people’s brains. I play wheelchair basketball - it stays in people’s brains that I’m the one that does that.
I think that if you’ve got the right mindset, setting up by yourself is a fantastic thing to do.