How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.
–George Washington Carver
Sometimes you just have to brag on someone.
In the spirit of asking forgiveness instead of permission, I wanted to share something great. In the process of managing the Twitter account for one of our Social Media Elevation clients this week, my staff asked my input–they were processing an interesting conversation.
One of the local Twitter followers we found for our client is getting married, and found a unique way to fund it–she’s having a sponsored wedding. Well, Ralf H., our CPA client, found it through the Twitter stream we manage for him, and instead of giving them money, Ralf contacted her and decided to help them by doing a free tax return the year they get married. He also gave them a few tax tips to help them save some money, which they can then put toward their wedding.
At first, we were wondering what was going on, but it all became clear–Ralf is just one good dude.
Is this a little treacly? Yes. But I love stories like this. I believe that all of us, at our core, seek to find ways to offer our skills and resources to the young, the poor, and to the downtrodden. Too often, though, we let our fear get in the way of doing what we truly can do.
Frankly, in this new, digital age of connected-ness, your clients are looking for somebody who can do much more than just spew out monthly “tax tips”, or–even worse–not even communicate with them at all. That’s why, whether you use our many services designed to do this for you or not, it’s just so critical that you begin forming a deeper relationship with your clients than seeing them once a year and sending them a bill.
It doesn’t have to be hard–it just requires that you give them a “face”, and become a true “Trusted Advisor” to them.
And it doesn’t hurt to incent them, again and again.
Pouring Gasoline On The Referral Fire
We’ve all heard of the “80/20 Rule.” It applies to many situations. In this case, I’m applying it to referrals and where most of them come from.
Yes, 80% of your referrals will come from 20% of your clients. Since this is true, you should concentrate 80% of your time finding who is most likely to be in that 20% group and then pour gasoline on that word of mouth “wild fire”.
If you knew ahead of time which 20% of your client base would refer 80% of the new clients to you, I’d say spend ALL of your time “working” that group of clients. Since you have to find out, that means initially, you have to be in touch with everyone–whether through email, print, social media, or the ol’ face-to-face.
Obviously, some people will be more receptive than others. Some people will send you two or three clients right off the bat. And these clients have a good chance of getting in that 20% group. Set these folks’ names aside and mail out multiple more mailings with referral reward information to them, giving them added incentive bonuses for even more people they send your way.
Now in that 20% group, you will have a few “special” clients. These people absolutely love you! They think you can walk on water almost any time you want. Every tax or accounting firm has clients like this in their database. If they don’t come out and tell you how great they think you are, watch for “signs” that they are telling everyone else!
A few years back, during tax season, I had a client come up to me in the lobby of our office and stop me and say, “Do you see all of these people in here, I told them to come down and see you guys.” (I looked around and about 12 people in the room nodded their heads, motioning this was true.) I thanked him for saying nice things about us and I went on my way.
About two days later I saw the same guy in our lobby. I asked him how he was doing and if he was still having his taxes prepared. He said no, but he was just at the office again showing some of his neighbors how to find the place. He then proceeded to call them out by name, pointing to each one. That day there were seven more people waiting in the lobby he had brought to our office and he said three more were coming down later after work.
(This guy was singlehandedly filling up our waiting room what seemed like every day. Over the next two weeks this one client brought us 34 new clients.)
Looking back on it now, the really smart thing to do would have been to take him back to the office, hand him either a $50 or a $100 bill and looked him in the eyes thanking him with sincere appreciation.
But hey, my oversight can be your gain.
I know you have clients in your database like this. You just have to give more incentive to find them. (The good ones aren’t looking for incentive in the first place. But when you offer it, well it makes it that much better.)
One tax business owner client I worked with a while ago told me he had one guy send him seventy-some new clients in one tax season. (That’s one client referring over 70 new people!)
That’s incredible. But it also doesn’t usually happen “by accident”. So, when you find your star referrers, cross their palms with gold and silver just like you would a king.
That’s called pouring gasoline on the fire–and it starts by talking with them.