Life's too short to work with bad clients...
As you're busy growing your firm, it can be easy to fall into the trap of letting any clients through the door. It's not easy to turn away what might be a good fee.
But clients that don't align with your values can often lead to trouble down the line.
As part of our #learnfromyourpeers campaign, we recently caught up with Ger Foley from Comerford Foley to learn more about the processes they've put in place to qualify prospective clients and prioritise their team's happiness and enjoyment at work over everything else.
You can read or watch the short interview below...
My name is Ger Foley. I'm a partner in a general practice called Comerford Foley, a small practice based in Tramore in County Waterford in Ireland. We've got two partners and six staff. We started in 2011. As I say, we're a general practice, looking after everything from bookkeeping, right through up to tax and succession projects.
From, I suppose, an internal perspective, and the team, trying to keep everyone as happy as possible, it's trying to ensure that we're enjoying our daily work as much as possible, which can be a challenge when you've got so many demands going on, and especially when you're in the growth phase. So as you're trying to grow and get more clients, you're tending to take on loads of extra work and maybe you don't have the processes in place to actually put up a red flag at certain times as to, this isn't the type of work we want to do. The team aren't happy with this. We don't gel with that particular client. And I suppose we lose control of the whole process.
So something that we have tried to do in the last couple of years is to very much focus on ensuring that both our clients and the team and ourselves are all aligned with our values, to ensure that we enjoy the work as much as possible, because we set the business up as a way of creating our own destiny and we need to ensure that we're providing the same opportunity for our team and that we're not suddenly have changed our personalities or the way that we go about it. So I think it's trying to focus on working with nice people and putting in place some processes and checks around that, that a red flag can be raised if we think we're going off-kilter with it.
We will ensure we have a prospect meeting, nowadays, obviously Zoom or a call, but that we don't fall outside our own process, and we try control the process. Something that we did a few years ago, and we're still not 100% at it, but it was ensuring that we charge for that first initial meeting, regardless of what it is. And that straight away is putting a bit of skin in the game for the prospect. And that might filter 20%, 30%, 40% of people out straight away. And then, when they come into that prospect meeting, that you have certain indicator questions that you know whether or not this particular prospect is aligned with the business. And even there could be a case where they feel they're aligned, but we know they're not. And it's a matter of being brave enough, I suppose, at that stage to actually say, "Look, we don't think this is a match, or we don't believe we can help you." And that can be difficult sometimes when you're turning away what might look like a good fee or a good business, but I think it's important to do so.
I suppose the knock-on impact is that you have more energy. The whole team has more energy. The whole team has a better mindset. The whole team approaches the day in a more positive way than dealing with negativity or the issues that go with it. And that doesn't mean there isn't problems, obviously with all clients, but at the same time, you want to approach those problems in a trusting and honest way with that particular client. And you can't do that if they're not aligning with your values in the first place. So the knock-on impact is just general positivity within the business, which is more productivity, better energy. It's not really probably work-life balance, it's just work and life are balanced and aligned. But there'll still obviously be times when you have to work a lot of hours, but it's different to stress and pressure and negativity.
Do you want to hear how Pixie helped Comerford Foley to get better visibility over their clients, communication, and work?
Working remotely, we had issues with knowing what communications had been sent to clients by different members of the team or what clients might have sent in return. Having all of the emails filed in a single client record has made it easy to find answers.
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