Networking by personal contact with prospective clients is undoubtedly the best way for bookkeepers to start up and promote home bookkeeping services.
There are a number of ways in which networking can be achieved by bookkeepers. In addition the range of bookkeeping services offered, qualifications and experience have an impact upon the success of each strategy. Networking to increase the exposure of the bookkeeper and build the home bookkeeping services is the essential element to building a clientele of quality bookkeeping clients.
Networking The Bookkeeping Services
Establishing personal relationships with individuals and groups is undoubtedly the major area to build the client base. Businesses requiring accounting and bookkeeping services have a strong tendency to remain with their existing service providers which makes new start up businesses a prime target area.
The doors can open by contacting business link, discussing the services offered with a business link advisor and obtaining details of all enterprise groups and organisations within the desired business area. Personal contact is important, each organisation should be visited in person, regular contact maintained and where possible the opportunity to join local business groups taken up. Many members of start up groups have little or no experience of bookkeeping offering an ideal opportunity.
Obtain details and attend locally held business link seminars and conferences. Contact HMRC to attend a full range of seminars on all relevant subjects such as self employment, tax and payroll to both improve knowledge and establish contact with start up businesses.
Contact with professional accounting firms and fellow bookkeepers works best when the relationship is personal. Sending unsolicited application forms may be largely ignored while telephone contact and arranging a meeting works better. At those meetings the target being to both present the application form stating qualifications and experience and also discuss providing the accounting firm with additional business by offering them new clients for advanced accounting, tax and technical issues from the bookkeepers existing clients.
Receiving additional business from referrals from existing clients is useful and a long term objective. This area for potential new business can be further exploited by conducting the bookkeeping services at the client premises particularly when that work involves contact with the client suppliers and customers that can increase the networking opportunities.
Cold Calling By The Bookkeeper
Sending out impersonal mail shots, leaflet dropping and issuing business cards might produce some response but at a very low level unless supported by personal contact. Potential target areas would include the retail trade in local shopping areas, industrial estates and taxi drivers.
Initial contact does not produce immediate results. The prime target should be to first make personal contact, attempt to establish potential bookkeeping requirements, mention real benefits that can be provided and leave the contact with a means to get in touch and also the possibility of a return visit.
Follow up all cold calls with a second visit when the conversation can be more specific to each client focused upon the benefits being offered and the advantageous of using the bookkeeping services. The most impressive arguments invariably being the possibility of saving time and or money by adopting the services offered.
A third meeting is likely at which the hard sell can be invoked to obtain the business.
The most successful strategy in cold calling and obtaining new clients would be to offer the potential client something for nothing. For example, if records for vat or payroll are behind the offer to bring them up to date free of charge with no obligation would be attractive, or perhaps offer a free review of past records on the basis that the tax liability might be reduced.
Home Bookkeeping Services Offered
The range of services offered is fundamental to building a successful home bookkeeping business. A wide range of services including bookkeeping, stocktaking, final year end accounts, tax returns and payroll is more beneficial than a narrow range.
Specialist services can also establish prominence in niche markets and used to attract additional clients. By offering specialist services to introduce and obtain a new client the range can be expanded to build the business. One example may be to offer a bar a stocktaking service. Having established the introduction services can often be expanded in future to include bookkeeping and payroll services.
The most successful specialist service to offer is one that saves the client money with taxation being the prime area where professional accountants and bookkeepers can use technical expertise and knowledge for the benefit of the client.
Diverse clients will use a variety of different accounting software solutions and experience of the leading products improves the potential client base. Specialising in one database accounting package might be acceptable but is unlikely to be the right solution for every client. Accounting software based upon simple accounting spreadsheets has advantages for smaller companies and self employed clients.
Becoming familiar with a variety of accounting and bookkeeping software solutions enables the bookkeeper to taper the service provided to the needs of the client.