There are some goods reasons you may lose a client: they could relocate out of state, they could close their business or they may, sorry to say it, die. Not much you can do about that. There are instances, however, where the client is giving you lots of warning signs, but you just are not paying attention. In his article Early Warning Signs You’re Losing a Client, Bryce Sanders talks about some of the signs and offers a few solutions. While his focus is on financial advisors, I think accountants, attorneys – just about every business that depends on strong, long-term client relationships – should know when a breakup is coming. In my experience, there are clear signs when the relationship is on the rocks. So here are my Top 5 warning signs:
1. Clients don’t promptly answer calls or return emails and, if you do get a response, it comes from an assistant.
2. Clients don’t seek your advice let alone follow it.
3. You have to dig for details about their future plans.
4. They stop referring new business to you.
5. There is new leadership at their company and you have not met with them.
If you see any of these signs, let alone several of them, take immediate action. Get on the phone and find out what’s going on and offer to make things right (sometimes it is the little things that just add up).
Even better, develop a plan to improve client relationships and set a retention goal for each staff member and the firm. Review the current status of all clients including how frequently they receive communication from you. Even if they are once-a-year-at-tax-time clients, you need to reach out to them with important news, ideas or just check in to be sure things are going well for them. For those staff members who are not comfortable reaching out to clients, help them learn the skills that will help drive your business.
Think back to the breakups your business has experienced and look for the pattern. They are there…the warning signs are always there.