No matter what you are working on with your clients, the goal is always to help them to succeed. Finding effective ways of working with your clients will set you apart from other advisors.
When it comes to using reporting software, like Calxa, accountants have generally developed 3 working styles of interacting with their clients:
- Being a teacher,
- Supporting them as a guide
- Becoming their trusted advisor.
Some accountants focus on just one method of working, while others use a combination of all 3 styles. The way of working that suits you best will depend on your approach and your relationship with each client.
1. Working With Your Clients As A Teacher
The Teacher typically does the initial setup of Calxa for the client, teaches them how to use it and then passes over ownership of the subscription.
This works well when you have a deep understanding of Calxa and its capabilities like:
- How to get the best from the reports
- Setting up their cash flow forecast
- Creating the right KPIs for each client.
Working with your clients as a Teacher makes sense when your client doesn’t have the time, skills or energy to invest in learning the details immediately.
Your teachings will support their learning over time. With the one difference of you managing the initial setup for them. This means, you can focus your training on their immediate needs. The more advanced skills can come later.
Once you’ve done the initial setup and created the first bundles of reports for the client, they can be immediately productive. At this level, they don’t need to have a deep understanding of how everything is put together. They just need the necessary basic skills to get by from day-to-day:
- If they can run a bundle of reports when they need them, they can start to get the information required to run their business better.
- Being able to edit a budget, will teach them where the numbers come from.
- And, over time you will help them to advance their knowledge and skills which they don’t need from Day 1.
If you’re not sure of your own knowledge when working with your clients as a teacher, don’t worry. We can help! Our team will be glad to help you keep one step ahead of your client. You understand the concepts and systems generally and we’ll work with you to prepare you for each client session. Whether it takes just a couple of phone calls or a series of Zoom meetings, we’ll give you the knowledge you need to impress your clients. Just ask!
2. Working With Your Clients As A Guide
The Guide works with clients as the provider of reports and as a mentor in the interpretation of reports.
Delivering Valuable Management Reports
Here, your client doesn’t use Calxa at all. Calxa lives and is managed in the accountant’s office. As the Guide, you have the skills to put together the right reports for them, after an initial planning session and discussion of their needs.
It is the accountant who manages the budget. All the business owner or manager sees is the result – a set of valuable management reports each month.
Packaging the Management Reports
The best Guide does not just send a bundle of reports to their clients each month. Instead, the reports form the basis of a discussion about what’s happening in the business.
In many ways, it is the discussion that is the important part.
The reports are the catalyst that identifies where the business is doing well, and highlights which areas need attention.
Developing the Client Relationship
An accountant working with Calxa as a Guide to their clients will tend to have a deep, solid relationship with each client. They will develop a greater understanding of the business.
As with any guidance or mentoring role, the key is in asking the right questions. Helping the client understand the underlying causes of what’s shown in the reports is the aim. Then, coming up with creative solutions to the problems is a team effort.
The accountant’s goal is not to provide answers to the client. It is to make the business owner think and come up with their own options and develop a plan for the future.
We created a three-part series all about how to have discussions with your clients, read Starting a Conversation Part 1 to find out more.
3. Working With Your Clients As An Advisor
The third way of working with your clients is as their Advisor. Generally, this happens when the client has initiated the setup of Calxa (sometimes on advice from the accountant).
The client can then add their accountant to Calxa using the Free Advisor option, so they can review the setup, look at reports and give advice on the operation of the business. In this scenario, the client is the main user of Calxa and can adjust budgets when they want. They can run their own reports at any time and are in full control.
The role of the accountant is to review and advise, rather than to do. However, there may be times when a hands-on approach is relevant. The accountant as Free Advisor does have permissions to make changes to the Calxa setup to get the best result for the client.
Like the Guide, an important part of the Advisor’s role is to discuss the performance of the business with the client on a regular basis. The Advisor is the sounding board for ideas, the one to ask critical questions to ensure the client stays on track towards their goals.
This article Accounting Advisory Services: 3 Key Ingredients to Success gives you some pointers on getting started as an Advisor.
There Are Many Ways Of Working With Your Clients
We have outlined here 3 ways of working with your clients: as a Teacher, as a Guide or as an Advisor. Some clients want you to manage everything and there the Guide is the best role. Others want you to kick things off and then leave them to it and that is suited to acting as a Teacher. Then there are others again, that will come to you for advice and that’s where the Advisor role works best.
You may not fit neatly into just one role.
Often the accountants working with Calxa will adopt different roles with different clients. This is purely because they all have varying needs.
Here at Calxa, our goal is to support you in working with your clients in whatever way is best to help them succeed in their business. We realise the importance of your relationship with your clients and see Calxa as an important tool to help build and strengthen that relationship for everyone’s benefit.
If you are reviewing how you work with your clients, this article How to Successfully Implement Value Pricing will give you some ideas.