Some clients can be pains in the neck, so how do you know if it’s time to offload some clients? In this episode, financial planner and business owner Denise Mandeau joins Michelle Weinstein as they share criteria for offloading clients in their accounting firms. Tune in to find out which kinds of clients you can let go by vetting their character, communication style, and compliance with what you require of them.
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When To Offload Clients And When To Keep Them With Denise Mandeau
We have a very special guest, my partner in crime, Denise Mandeau. Before we welcome her to the show and talk about which clients you should offload and which ones you should keep, yes you can still make those decisions. It’s not too late. I wanted to share that myself and Denise have been helping accounting and tax owners have more freedom with their time and money, get paid first and upfront, and confidently charge the fees they know they deserve. I know that our system works and that I can help you create the firm you’ve always wanted, but it’s up to you to take the next step. If that’s of interest to you, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com to book your free session with myself and my team.
We’re going to cover on the call where your firm’s at right now and the things that are keeping you stuck in the areas you want to change, where you want to be with your firm and your life to ensure you’re paid first, avoiding all the pitfalls so you can save a bunch of time and money. I’ll cover the exact next steps you need to take to double your firm revenue right now. Every one of our success stories has started with this call and it’s turned out into more confidence charging, premium fees, doubling and tripling top-line revenues, eliminating burnout and feeling excited about your work and being in control of your future. Now, let’s welcome Denise to the show.
I’m excited about this topic because on the show, sometimes we get sticky notes at events of what people are having a challenge with firm owners, specifically you guys. one of the sticky notes Denise I got was, “How do you know which clients to offload and which ones to keep?” I think it’s pertinent because we’re in the midst of tax season and you might be feeling a little run down already. You might be going, “I can’t go another year like this.” You might be saying to yourself, “It was the New Year, and I already feel like this. What did I do wrong again?”
In this episode, we’re going to talk about four different qualities or characteristics that you can look for right now and start to know which clients you want to offload and keep. Maybe we’ll even give you some tidbits on letting someone go without being too negative or rude. That’s what we’re talking about. Thank you, Denise, for being here. In case someone doesn’t know who you are, why don’t you share who you are? Denise is my partner in crime on the East Coast while I am on the West Coast.
I am Michelle’s partner in crime at The Abundant Accountant. I love working with all kinds of accounting professionals, helping them understand their value and communicate that through magnificent and wonderful enrollment conversations.
What do you think is the first quality a firm owner should be laser-focused on to know which clients they should let go of and offload and which ones they should keep around? It’s the start of tax season. You might already be feeling not great. You might already be working 4, 5 or 6 days a week and want to reduce your volume and let go of the people dragging you down.
What’s the first quality characteristic that a firm owner should look into and think hard? For these four you want to write down, you want to have a pen and paper, put it on a sticky note like the sticky note one of you guys gave me. What are those qualities that we’re going to share with you that you want to start identifying in the current client list that you have that you might need to put on the see-you-later program?
I think that there’s going to be a lot of head-nodding when people read this because the first one, and some of you are probably already experiencing this, is people who drag their feet, turning in documents, getting back to you with answers and you feel like you’re wasting much time asking for the same thing over and over again. They don’t respect you.
Chasing people down for documents is not only exhausting, but it’s inefficient in your firm. If we’re trying to work smarter and not harder, maybe there’s something that you can implement in your firm, maybe not right now because it’s probably a little too late or you could put some timeframes and requirements on the documents that are required.
For example, if you have a client who is always Last Minute Lucy, they get you things at the last minute, and you’re about to pick up their file and do their return, you realize that 1099s and whatever else is missing. Maybe you’re doing their business returns, and they forgot to give you their QuickBooks logins or their bookkeeping because they have a different person doing their bookkeeping. You name the thing that you’re missing. That’s the exact thing that you can set yourself up to win with your clients right now.
We have to ask for it in advance. That’s where the challenge lies. If you’re in the midst of whatever right now in your firm, one idea you can implement is sending out an email or a message through whatever CRM you use, “Last Call,” as your subject line. For the 2022 tax season, or if you’re reading this in 2023 or whatever tax season year it is, we are now requiring that all documents be uploaded to our server, mailed to us, dropped off to us, whichever route you are taking this year, no later than X date. You could put March 15th, 31st or whatever that drop dead date is for your firm. It could be right now or could it have passed? It depends on when you’re reading this.
People don’t want to follow those rules. That’s one mark towards the see-you-later program.If clients don’t want to follow your rules, that’s one mark towards the “See You Later” program. Click To Tweet
They would be on the see-you-later program. This would be in the category of clients who want to offload if they can’t follow your rules because that’s the part that builds resentment, burns you out every year and says, “You can’t keep going this way.” All the ways that make you feel like you want to crawl into bed and never come out, take a vacation for two months and never check your voicemail and email, this is the exact reason why. I recommend implementing something along the lines that I shared right now as long. As you notify clients up front, that’s all that matters. Otherwise, why are you going to keep chasing people around, hoping for a different result? We’re not going to get a different result in our firms until we make a change.
This is one change that you can implement right now, which by the way, will increase your revenue because you’ll have less volume and more time to help the clients who might pay you more. You might be able to see some tax planning opportunities, you might be able to take someone on for monthly services, advisory services, bookkeeping, accounting and you name it.
There might be something else you can see finally because you’ve offloaded some clients who aren’t going to meet your boundaries of what your standards are for your firm. I do recommend you make one notification in advance, a minimum of one if you can. Denise, what’s the second quality, characteristic or action we should note from our current clients to assess if we need to offload them or do we want to keep them?
One of the things that we’ve found in particular is that all of our accountants have huge hearts. They think that they need to keep everyone and anyone, but you have to look at what clients are DEF clients, meaning they’re not profitable, wanting everything for nothing or whatever it is. You’ve got to like look at your client base because 80% of your revenue is probably your top 20% of your clients. You have to look at is it worth your time or your staff’s time. Maybe once you do an audit on your clients, you’re going to find out you’re not making money on a good portion of your clients. It’s either time to raise your fees or let them go.Do an audit on your clients. You may find out you’re not making money on a portion of them. So either raise your fees or let them go. Click To Tweet
When you’re reading this, it might be a little too late to raise your fees, but as Denise mentioned, in order to achieve more with less, we need to realize The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less. If you haven’t read that book, it’s a good book. I’m sure many of you have read it. It is good. The author is Richard Koch. What if you took one hour, did an analysis of your client list and said, “If I labeled them A, B, C, D, E, and F, which ones would be the D, E and F section?”
Those would be the ones you need to offload. If they’re asking you many questions that there’s $500 or $600 that they paid you to do their tax return wasn’t even worth it because you spent 2 to 3 hours responding to emails, you called them back. Whatever the feeling is that you have that you know you did way too much for too little in return would be what I call your D, E, and F clients that are not making you money.
It might seem like you have a lot of revenue. Have you seen those you put on your desk and it’s like an old school scale like what they have at the grocery store where you put oranges and you weigh it out? Imagine the scale is on the ground at the grocery store with like 10 pounds of sweet potatoes and there’s nothing you can put on the right side to even balance it out. The scale is heavily tilted to one side that those D, E, and F clients are outweighing the 80% of the best clients that you have.
I used to own a retail store. You fill up the shelves with stuff so it looks full. The truth is you know what your best sellers are. For the other ones, you have to keep dusting them all the time. It’s exhausting, dusting all the stuff on the shelves that don’t sell. It’s the same thing with your clients.
We need to dust off our client shelves. Now is the best time to sit down whenever you’re reading this episode. Spend one hour, open up your CRM, Taxstone, QuickBooks or whatever tool you use and assess, “What are my D, E and F clients? What are the names that pop in my head that you cringe at when you see an email from them, or you see your phone ring from them, or you have a voicemail from them?
You say to yourself, “It’s a small client. It’s not that big a deal.”
“If I answer their question, it won’t take me much time,” then you completely resent it in the future. Those clients, I want you to assess D, E or F or might as well, for the sake of timing, make them all F. If they’re all F, I would recommend sending them a letter if they have not sent you their documents like we talked about in the first quality and characteristic that you want to get or all the documents upfront. I would send them a very nice note. Your note could go something like this, Denise. Feel free to add to it if you’d like.
“It’s been an honor to serve you over the last few years. I have made some changes in my firm and due to the timing of where we’re at and the lack of time there is to complete returns for this tax season. Unfortunately, my firm is full as of right now, and we will not be able to serve you. I wish you nothing but the best and thank you for being such a loyal client in the past in supporting my firm. I will help you with whatever transition you may need. If you need any previous tax returns, please email my office at,” put your email, “and have a fantastic prosperous year period. Sincerely,” your name.
It sounds good to me and very elegant. Nothing like, “You’re taking too much of my time.” I got to go. We always want to be coming from a place of service so that you’re never closing the door because maybe in the future, that person could refer someone to you.
I want each of you to feel a breath of fresh air and less pressure instead of feeling like your back is up against the wall that on whatever that last dead day is that you’re not pulling an all-nighter, caffeinated and eating everything in sight and emotionally drained. That’s what I hope this interruption provides for each of you. You can offload some clients and then assess the ones that you want to help, serve, continue and keep around forever.
Onto our third quality characteristic that you should keep an eye out for to know who you should offload right now. Don’t wait another year. Let’s take action now. You haven’t done anything, raised your prices, or done nothing yet? Now is your opportune time to take action and do something. Denise, which is the third that we should be on the lookout for?
It’s the nasties. The people who are nasty to you and your staff who are maybe they always seem to be in a bad mood, they’re short with you or too demanding like, “I need this right now.” You don’t need that. You’re under enough stress.
The rude ones, ones that your staff complains about, the people that think that they’re the only thing that exists on this planet and that you’re at their backend call for them. I don’t think we need to say anything else on this. The only thing that I would have to say is to take action. If someone is flat-out rude, nasty, and a bunch of other words that I’m not going to say, wish them nothing but the best, but unfortunately, your firm cannot service them. You don’t have to tell them why or justify it. These people know exactly who they are. Your staff will value and appreciate you more as a firm owner if you have the confidence to let them go. The revenue isn’t worth the staff’s headache.
It will also improve employee and team morale by showing that you can let go of these people. If anyone is rude and nasty via verbal or email communication, here is my recommendation for the see-you-later program, “It was an honor to serve you in the past. I wanted to thank you for your email or your voicemail. I wanted to share that, unfortunately, our firm will no longer be able to serve you as a client.
We wish you nothing but the best in finding a firm that suits you. If you need any previous tax returns, please let our firm know and we’d be more than happy to email them to you for a charge of $75,” or $100 per year per return. You pick but don’t do anything for free. Make sure you charge for the transition.
If they are a business client and you’re transitioning books from bookkeeping or anything like that to another firm, make sure you charge an exit fee. Include that in your communication. Remember, for nasty and rude people, no justification is required. Trust me. It works every time. They know exactly why they’re getting the email. Hopefully, you get an apology, but don’t keep them around. Those are clients you need to offload. Denise, what is our final characteristic? Something to look out for is the quality of the client for Number four, “Whom do you need to keep and whom do you need to get rid of right now in your firm? Now’s the best time.”
It could be a combination, but I think it’s those clients who there’s always an emergency or like 911, “I have an emergency. I need you now.” You get on the call with them and it’s like, “It was no big deal.” It’s always like everything is an emergency. That falls into the same category as, “I want to pick your brain. I need information like that, but you’re not getting paid for those calls.” It’s not billable.
My whole thing on emergencies is each of you owns a firm. This is not the suicide hotline or a medical er, yet our clients sometimes tend to think it is. I want to remind each of you that unless they are completely bleeding and they are going to personally die, it’s not an emergency. The problem is clients like Denise and me, you are the general population and a business owner, sometimes we don’t know when something is an emergency and when it isn’t.
I’m not saying that for me personally because I would never call you or my CPA and tell them, “This is a 911.” We have a client, Mark. He had a client. We’ll call the client Ethos Water. He had 10 or 14 entities. Mark did all the books for him and all the taxes. Every day Ethos would email Mark and Mark would wake up at 4:00 to 5:00 AM to emails from Ethoses like, “I need this right now. I need my P&L for this right now by 10:00 AM. It’s an emergency.” It was constant all of the time.
One of the things Mark learned in doing a very more robust process than what I’m sharing with you, but I encourage each of you to take it on, is he analyzed how many, 911 emails, voicemails, text messages that he got from Ethos and replied to and never charged the client for any of that communication. What Mark realized was this client was not profitable. They were losing money even though it appeared that the revenue was high from this client with the 10 entities and he had 3 employees working with them all the time.
It was the loss. It was then negative every month because Mark never put a time or a value of his time on this client. That’s the exact thing I want you to assess right now because people think that everything is an emergency right now. I’m sure you’re getting it, “911, I need this information. When are you going to have my taxes done? I don’t want to file an extension.” This is the prime time to figure out, “That’s a client I need to offload. That is not one I want to keep.” I do encourage each of you to read that episode I did with Mark. It was a long time ago when I started this show. It’s probably in the first year or two of it.
Learn from him. Learn from his mistakes. Those clients that are sucking up your time, energy, and sanity because of the quick text messages that they have on your cell phone, I hope they don’t, or an email and the back-and-forth volley of emails or voicemails, that adds up. That’s a lot of time. If we are not charging for that time and you think that’s included in your tax return fee, there’s a big problem.
That’s one of the main reasons why you probably feel you want to work a lot smarter instead of harder this year. We hear this over and over again. What leads to burnout is dealing with all of these things when the simple solution would be to identify these four qualities. They don’t have to be all of them. They could be one or all and, “See you later.”
They’re on the see-you-later program. They need to be if they’re not. This is a great time to let people go. You have money coming in the door and cashflow. It will be a little painful at first, but the freedom you will feel will be like Care Bears. I loved Care Bears when I was younger. It’s like you’re floating and bouncing on top of the clouds. You feel buoyant, full of energy and life. Two of our clients, Jodi and Marion said they love their firm again. They love the work they do. There are many firm owners that we talk to that resent and hate the work they do. That’s what we don’t want for you.
We know it’s going to feel scary to think it will, “I work hard to get clients and you want me to let some go.” What happens, in reality, is not only will your time be freed up, but your energy, you’ll feel lighter. The right clients will be attracted to you. The space will open up you can attract the people that you want to work with.When you let go of some clients, you’ll free up both your time and energy. You will feel lighter. Then, you will attract the clients you really want to work with. Click To Tweet
That’s what we want for you. We want you to be able to attract the clients you want to work with. The first thing that has to happen is you offload the ones sucking you dry or like my sweet potatoes at the bottom of the scale and they’re hitting the floor at the grocery store because they waste much and they’re heavy.
Denise and I have helped the counting and tax from owners have more freedom, time and money. You get paid first. They confidently charge the fees they know did they deserve. We know that our system works and we can help you create the firm you’ve always wanted. It’s up to you to take these next steps. Implement what we shared. For those of you who want more accountability or to dive deeper into what we talked about, go to TheAbundantCall.com. You can book your free session to talk to myself, Denise, or one of our other team members.
We’re going to talk about three main things on our call. Number 1) We’re going to talk about where your firm’s at right now and what’s keeping you stuck and the changes you can still make right now this tax season. Where do you want your firm and your life to be to ensure you are paid first and avoid all the pitfalls along the way so you can save a bunch of time and money?
The last thing we’re going to talk about on the call is the exact next steps you can take to double your firm revenue. Every one of our success stories has started with this call and it’s turned into more confidence charging, premium fees, doubling and tripling revenue top line that is eliminating burnout and feeling excited about their work and being in full control over their future. Book a call with us. We’d love to explore more and dive deep into your firm.
Thank you for being here and reading. If you don’t book a call, my request is that you leave a written review about what you learned from this episode. What is the one thing you’re going to take action on? You can leave that review on Apple Podcasts. Denise, thank you for joining us and being here. This was a great discussion. I hope each of you figures out whom you want to offload and whom you want to keep in 2023.
- Denise Mandeau
- The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More With Less
- Apple Podcasts – Abundant Accountant
About Denise Mandeau
Denise Mandeau, Business Growth Strategist and has proven success as a Business Owner, Financial Planner and award-winning Sales professional for over 35 years. She has learned what it takes to produce results and has been working with professionals and sales teams over the last few years helping them to generate millions of dollars in new business. She has personally closed over $1.8 million in new business in the last 12 months. Denise is passionate about teaching others to learn how to sell without being salesy!