Why Isn’t Your CPA Firm in the Hospitality Business?

Tracy Warren, a friend of mine, writes and speaks for the AICPA on a variety of issues related to practice growth. Similar to internal discussions you may have at your firm, she and I have spoken on numerous occasions about  how client retention is a necessary strategy within CPA firms. Yet, many have no strategy–other than to do good technical work. Tracy and I have, on separate occasions, visited the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. If you’ve never been, it is worth the trip! One of only 18 hotels with the dual distinction of 5 star ratings from Mobil and AAA, the resort is legendary for amenities and service. Tracy visited with the director of staff training during a conference and came away with some insights into servicing the customer that apply to any industry–hospitality, public accounting, law, other…

“Above and Beyond Our Guests Expectations” is the vision for service at the Broadmoor, accompanied by 16 standards, including biggies for CPAs like:

  • Never appear hurried–even if you are very busy &
  • Learn what is expected of your department, so you anticipate the needs of (clients) you service

Tracy took these standards to heart and made the following observation:

“Clients expect more than technically sound work from CPAs. They want advisors who care about them and their business, and go out of their way to make them feel important. Many firms brag about outstanding client service, but fall short by not helping their employees understand what client service excellence really means and how to put that to work during an engagement.”

Seth Godin wrote a book a few years ago entitled Tribes. In it, he described the powerful momentum that occurs when a leader truly connects with a group of followers with passion and insight. He spoke of “movements” that occur when a compelling vision/story is shared that connects  with the hearts and minds of followers and a vision for what actions need to be taken becomes commonly embraced. You can start a client retention (service) movement within your firm–if YOU believe in it.

Examine the depth of commitment of your staff to client service. Find some champions among the fold. Celebrate them! Pull them together and develop a plan for how to infect the rest of the firm–it will so pay off for you in the long run. Godin says that “almost everything that is standard now is viewed as mediocre.” It’s time for your firm to step up from mediocrity to a new standard of hospitality. We’re not making an appeal for inauthenticity here, but for heartfelt care for the client. Wow them like the Broadmoor!

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