5 Reasons Retaining Clients is KING in Your Bookkeeping BizOct 23, 2023
There’s one aspect of running a bookkeeping business that I rarely hear anyone talk about: retaining clients.
This is enormous in a bookkeeping business, but it’s not a focus for many bookkeepers, and it really, really should be.
Today, I'm going to go over five points on why retaining clients is absolutely key.
Why Growth Just Isn’t That Important
It can be very easy to fall into the trap of believing growth is the most important thing to focus on in your business. It’s common to feel like you need to keep growing and growing and growing in order to be successful.
But one of the best things about a bookkeeping business—if you do the work that it takes to keep retaining clients—is the fact that you don't always have to grow.
Retaining clients is the secret sauce to my bookkeeping business. It's the reason why I've been able to maintain six figures and above in sales and profits on the bookkeeping side while also doing everything else that I do—including raising three kids, running my coaching business, volunteering heavily at my kids’ school, and exercising and caring for myself.
I can only do all this because I'm not always pursuing new clients. The bulk of my clients have been with me since we signed up together, and there’s a large chunk of those that have been with me since I started in 2019. So we're talking about four or five years of working together with me as their bookkeeper.
Retention for me is not just a nice idea. It’s one of the pillars of my business. It's the thing that I focus on the most.
When I'm working in order of priority, the things that I need to do for my monthly bookkeeping clients are always going to take priority. I'm going to do what I said I'm going to do there, and if other things have to fall off, that’s all right.
Even if they're low-dollar bookkeeping clients in relation to other things, they're still the most important asset in my business. That's the way that I treat them and see them.
Let’s go over the reasons why this is so important.
The first piece of this is revenue.
Perpetual, monthly recurring revenue is huge, and the only way to get that is through retaining clients.
There is no end to these contracts. So as long as your client is in business, and as long as they still like you and you still like them, you should be able to keep them long-term with no end in sight.
They are going to be paying you once a month on auto-pay for as long as you keep them, and that’s a big part of how you can replace your corporate salary.
Now, it’s not a salary. It's broken apart across your different clients, but that actually makes it much more stable. Because when you have your income stretched across twenty or thirty clients, if one does happen to fall off, it’s just a small piece of your revenue.
However, if you keep your clients, you can keep stacking and growing that perpetual monthly recurring revenue.
Picture your monthly recurring revenue as a stack of twenty to thirty blocks. If you set one block down, the biggest piece is making sure that the block you’ve already set stays in place as you continue to build the tower.
Reaping the Rewards
This one might be my favorite piece of retaining clients.
There is a cost and time benefit to retaining clients. And the cost of not retaining clients is having to work to sign new clients. It not only takes time, but it also takes a completely different headspace.
Now, I enjoy taking a client from a state of chaos, organizing their system, going through everything, cleaning it up, and implementing a new, easier-to-follow system. It’s incredibly satisfying for me. However, my brain can only handle so much of that.
My limit is really one a month. I've gone through seasons before where I've signed three or four clients in a month, but that was a lot. I like to do one at a time now, and that way I can really focus on implementing the system.
Now, you might be thinking, “Okay, but that’s not really a cost. Do we lose money somehow by not retaining clients?”
The answer is…not necessarily, if you fill that slot back up. But here’s the thing: I don't think of time as being different than money.
In fact, most of us have heard the saying “Time is money,” and it’s truer than you think. So I'm willing to invest time in order to reap the long-term rewards of clients like this.
If you can prioritize retaining clients instead of having to onboard multiple clients in a month, you’ll end up saving yourself so much time. Once you do that initial onboarding, every month after is simply rinse and repeat.
Once you get to that point…you don’t really need to keep taking clients. You can stop and say, “I built my business to where I want it to be. Now I don't need to market. I don't need to show up online at all if I don’t want to.”
Personally, thanks to retaining clients, I don't promote my bookkeeping business at all anymore. The only thing that you see me doing online is talking to bookkeepers.
That doesn't mean that my bookkeeping business doesn't grow or sustain itself. I just don't need to market it anymore.
Retaining clients puts time back in my life and dollars back in my pocket, because I don’t have to actively do anything. I don't need a social media manager for my bookkeeping business. I don't need to keep showing up. I don't need a podcast team for my bookkeeping business. I don't need anything. I just need to maintain the roster that I have; when I laser-focus on retaining clients, everything else starts to fall into place.
When you work for a client for a long period of time, you understand their business, you do what you say you're going to do, they hold up their end, they get their reports, and they're able to see and understand how their business is doing, they're going to stay with you.
When clients stay with you long-term, things are going to be so easy; not just in terms of doing the work, but also in the way that it feels, because you're going to have a better, easier relationship with your clients.
The expectations will be pretty clear for both of you on who needs to do what. You’ll have trust and mutual respect. They’ll know exactly what they’ll receive from you and when they can expect to receive it.
Things are easy. They feel good. They know you. They like you. And even if there is a little hiccup, they’ll know it's not the norm for you and you are going to correct whatever happened.
So that trust and rapport maintains. You have to do your piece to build that trust and rapport at the beginning, but once you have it, it's very energetically and emotionally light. It’s much easier than those new stages of clients where you're still feeling it out.
The fourth thing to keep in mind is referrals.
The clients that you have are going to be the way that you grow your business from here on out.
Once you build your starting base, they become great referrals in a few different ways. You can use their testimonies to promote yourself; you can overtly ask them to write a testimonial for you, but sometimes they’ll do it on their own. They can promote your bookkeeping services or even your digital products just through word of mouth, especially if you offer an incentive if they do so.
If one client does fall off, all you have to do is to mention that you're available for new clients to the clients who are still there, and you'll be able to watch those slots fill up fast.
The fifth and final aspect that makes retaining clients so important is rapid work, AKA efficiency.
This refers to how long it actually takes for you to complete a task.
So, as you’re doing the same task over and over, you actually get faster. You’re able to complete your tasks more quickly the more often you repeat them. And again, this goes back to the idea that time is money.
Think about it: how many minutes are you working? You're making the same amount per client no matter what, but if you're doing it even five percent faster, then you're making more money over the time that you're working. This can give you more space to live your life, or it can grow your capacity to take on more clients, if that’s what you want.
Prioritize Retaining Clients!
So that’s your reminder of why retaining clients is so important, how it can benefit you, and how making it your number-one focus in your bookkeeping business will make it so that you have to do less and you can enjoy more.
Don’t stress so much about growth—focus on maintaining what you already have!
If you're looking for more tips for bookkeeping, insight on how to become a bookkeeper, and how to say hello to a more confident business model, enroll in Become A Bookkeeper (BABs).
To learn about the programs and get a peek behind the curtain, head to www.katieferro.com/6-secrets.
Learn how to take your bookkeeping skills and turn them into a business that allows you to replace (or surpass) your corporate salary, be present for your life, and profoundly impact your clients without selling your life in the process by joining Life by the Books (LIBBY).
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