9 Things Distracting You From Retaining Clients…And Why Your Priorities Need to ShiftOct 30, 2023
In my last post, we discussed the importance of retaining clients. This week, I want to expand on it a little bit; it truly is the secret sauce to building a bookkeeping business that's actually simple, scalable, and sustainable.
Retaining clients long-term is the thing that makes bookkeeping so great, because unlike most other businesses, you can focus on the sales aspect once, sign the client, onboard them, ideally train out a bulk of the work, and then keep them there.
Once you build up to the twenty or thirty clients it takes to hit most people’s income goals, you’ll be able to focus on keeping what you've got so you can ease back on marketing and instead foster the relationships that keep your clients with you…and also keep them referring you, because if you're doing what you need to do to retain your existing clients, you will also grow whether you even intend to or not.
Unfortunately, there are many things that pull our focus away from client retention, and it can quickly become a detriment to our relationships with our current clients…and trust me, those are the most important relationships you need to be maintaining.
Let’s go over what’s probably distracting you from client retention…and why these things need to get in the backseat where they belong.
The Distractions From Retaining Clients
I’m specifically going to go over the list of business tasks that are distracting you from retaining clients, not everything that could possibly be distracting you. If I tried to write that list, we’d have to bind this up and call it a book!
Life is distracting enough without taking the business side into consideration…but life is always going to be distracting. We’re already building our business with that knowledge in mind.
But even when you're focusing on your business, the number one thing that needs your focus is retaining clients you already have…and the best way to do that is to make sure you do what you said you were going to do for those clients.
Here are some of the things that can get in the way of retaining clients…
Marketing efforts can absolutely distract you from your commitment to retaining clients.
“Marketing efforts” could be many things. They could be your social media posts. They could be you caving in to the pressure, whether internal or external, to keep showing up on social media.
Too many people think that social media is so important in your business. It's really, really not. I don't know how many times I can say that.
It is not the most important thing in your business. And if you have to choose between spitting out a post that day or doing what you said you were going to do for your clients…guess which one needs to take priority?
Do what you need to do for your clients, then do the post. That’s the correct order every single time.
Another distraction from retaining clients that goes hand in hand with marketing could be networking.
Maybe you filled up your work time with virtual or in-person networking meetings or events, and that's great…but it can't come before doing what you said you were going to do for your clients.
You need to be able to network without fumbling your duties to your current clients. Retaining clients becomes really hard when you’re constantly failing to live up to your commitments.
Ultimately, the thing to remember is that marketing and networking both involve getting new clients, which isn’t as important as retaining clients you already have.
Even though you’re probably in a stage where you need to grow your client roster, if you’re retaining clients that you already have, you have less pressure to sign more clients. If you have five clients and you're struggling with your relationship with even one of them, then you need to fill up two clients—one to replace that one when they end up leaving, and one new one.
So even though it's important to focus on growth, stabilization is key before you grow. If you're struggling to do both, you need to focus on retaining clients and stabilizing your base first.
The next thing that might be distracting you from retaining clients is onboarding new clients too rapidly.
In all honesty, this one can be tricky. It’s difficult to figure out how to pace things when you’re first starting out, which is why we tackle the issue in my program Life By The Books.
Let’s say you've got two clients. One is a brand-new setup, and the other one has been with you for a while.
This is difficult to prioritize, because both are your existing clients—you want to keep up a good rapport with both, and if you leave the new client in the lurch during their onboarding, they’re going to feel abandoned. They’ll wonder if this is what the rest of your time together will look like.
But on the other hand, if you sacrifice quality of work for your longer-standing client in order to focus on onboarding the new client quickly, they’ll feel ignored in favor of the new, shiny client. They might feel like you take them for granted. You don’t want that either.
The solution here is to onboard a little more carefully—don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make it a rapid-fire process. That’s how you end up overwhelmed, especially if you end up with multiple new clients that need to get onboarded at once.
The next thing that can distract us from retaining clients is creating new offers outside of our core services.
If you're a bookkeeper, this is likely going to look like creating a digital template. And while I think digital templates are great, if you have to choose between creating a digital template and serving your existing client…well, I think you can guess which one you need to put first by now!
You know the saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” right? In this scenario, your template is two in the bush; you have a client in your hand. So while digital products are great, you can't let your clients suffer in the meantime.
Hiring and Training
You might also be distracted from retaining clients because your time is spread thin with hiring and training new staff.
Even the idea of hiring takes time. You've got to sit down and figure out what you're looking for. You've got to create the listing. You've got to put it somewhere. You've got to schedule calls. You've got to get on calls. You've got to vet the person. You've got to do the onboarding. You've got to do the training.
There are a lot of pieces involved, and on top of that, you've got to give them enough resources and training to get them up and running.
This is why I'm always saying that you need to hire before you feel like you need to, because once you feel like you need help, you’ve already got client work to worry about in addition to the extra time you have to spend hiring.
When you hire, it will eventually take some of that work off of your plate, but you won’t be reaping that benefit right away. And if you wait until you're already at capacity, it's going to get really hard to add on even more, and balls might begin to drop. And once balls start dropping, your ability to keep retaining clients drops, too.
Another distraction from retaining clients may be having to focus on legal and financial needs. And again, this stuff is important, but you need to be setting it up before you've got clients, not after.
You don't want to wait to set up your LLC. You don't want to wait to open a business account. You’ve got to have the business side of things settled, and then you can start adding clients. If you add clients first and then try to figure this stuff out, you’re going to get yourself in a little bit of a pickle. It's going to take more time than it has to.
Another distraction from retaining clients that I know for a fact many of you have fallen prey to: you might be stuck in the weeds of website set-up.
You could be tweaking it to death. Maybe you put it on a clunky system, and it’s taking hours to set up. Maybe you’re just over-complicating it. Whatever the reason, you’re obsessed with your website, and it’s taking up a huge chunk of your time.
Listen to me: do you need a website? No. Is it going to help you automate your process and bring people in and sign clients and then set up the back end in order to ultimately save you time? Yes, but it doesn’t have to be this complicated.
I can’t recommend Kajabi enough for website building. I even offer Kajabi templates specifically for bookkeepers now that make it incredibly easy and fast. Make sure you check them out—they can help you get back to focusing on retaining clients in a snap!
This leads me to the next distraction from retaining clients, which is the urge to learn new software.
There can be a range of new softwares that you're tinkering with. You might be looking at different types of CRMs. But listen…I don't use any of that stuff, and I never spent time on any of that stuff. Instead, I put in a different, simpler, cheaper solution so that it never took me hours to set things up.
I do have systems in place, but they’re basic ones. You don’t need anything fancy.
Think of how much time you spend—not just learning new softwares, but researching them, testing them, implementing them, training the team on them, troubleshooting for yourself and others…it’s going to take up a ton of time.
Automation's really cool. I'm a huge, huge fan of it. But you don’t need every shiny new software with all the intense extra features.
If you're spending so much time upfront just trying to automate a very simple task, you have to ask yourself if that’s worth it. Especially if it becomes something that doesn't work, because if you're automating something that creates garbage, you're spending way more time than you would be if it wasn’t automated.
Personal and Business Development
Lastly, you might be spending too much time focusing on personal and business development rather than focusing on retaining clients.
Please understand that I am not knocking personal and business development; we just need to serve our clients first.
Otherwise, it can become a thing where you’re so obsessed with trying to make yourself and your business perfect that you're not actually doing any of the work. You're just keeping yourself busy with accumulating things that make you feel better versus actually implementing the action.
You need to do both. You need to listen to the things that help you be a better person, that help you lead a business better, that help you structure a business better…and then you need to implement them.
Retain and Refocus
So that is what I have for you today. Remember that retaining clients is key. Remember that with a bookkeeping business, acquisition is not a stage that you need to live in forever.
You can allow yourself to build only until you have the clients you need, keep those clients, and then take the clients that are referred to you as you want to take them.
Let it be simpler. Let it take less time. Let it be lighter. Let it be something that actually allows you to buy back more time in your life because you ease up on the things that aren't required for bookkeeping, which is part of what makes it so beautiful.
Ready to build the bookkeeping website of your dreams? Head here to purchase my Kajabi template pack here: https://orderlyaccounting.mykajabi.com/offers/zpL3TZR3/checkout
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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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