I’m back from a holiday break! We’ve got the RV parked in our old Philadelphia-area stomping grounds, and it’s been fun catching up with colleagues, friends, and family.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about my process for finding the content, tool, and time so I can post something useful to LinkedIn every day. I hope you saw how easy my process is and that more of you will share your expertise with your LI audience of leads, prospects, clients, and referral sources.
On to this week. Last Thursday, I got my monthly sneak peek at the current issue of Accounting Today. The very first article is “The 8 big mistakes accountants make.” The mistakes relate to marketing and positioning blunders with respect to growing an accounting practice. With editorial apologies to the magazine, I adopted the article for us appraisers.
And if you’re new here, welcome aboard. This is what we do!
The question I ask when I start every newsletter is the same: will this help you grow your practice in some way. That, and does it pass the “So what” test.
So, what’s the thing you’re struggling with most when it comes to practice development or management? Email me and I’ll try to help … my inbox is always open!
With no intent to plagiarize, I simply wanted to make the Accounting Today article relevant to our BVFLS profession by carefully [editing] and culling the list to 6 mistakes I see. So here goes.
Mistake #1 – Not differentiating (branding) ourselves
Most consumers of [BVFLS] services cannot differentiate one [BVFLS] firm from another. These consumers think all or most [appraisers] are the same. Why? Because most [appraisers] can’t or won’t articulate how they are different from their competition.
[BVFLS] websites look remarkably similar. If [appraisers] can’t brand themselves, how can they expect the average consumer of [BVFLS] services to? Those “unbranded” [appraisers] are often selected by prospects based on the universal differentiator – price. This leads to practice commoditization, which is not a strategy for long-term success.
Mistake #2 – Not being proactive
It is the nature of the profession to collect and summarize historical data. This natural tendency creates reactive behavior – waiting for the client to initiate a conversation about a particular issue. The problem with reactive behavior is that the client may not raise the issue or may be unaware of other concerns he should be aware of.
The real value of an [appraiser] is not in “compliance deliverables” but in determining what a client wants, learning where the client wants to go, and getting the client to the goal line [as it relates to the valuation project at hand … or even a bigger picture].
Mistake #3 – Not billing what we’re worth
This comes from a basic misunderstanding of why clients [choose BVFLS] firms – over fees. Yes, clients [balk over] fees, but when they do, it’s [most often] because they don’t see the value of the service provided.
Billing is an attitude. A firm’s fees express its conviction of what its services are worth to the client. If all the firm is doing is preparing a [valuation] with no recommendations, [it should not be surprised if the client looks elsewhere next time]. On the other hand, if the firm is adding the value the client expects and does this with every communication, the subject of fees comes off the table.
Firms need to demonstrate to the client that their objective is to be a partner in the client’s success. That approach earns them the right to premium-price their services. It makes no business sense to price services to compete with others who don’t offer the same value. [See mistake #1.]
Mistake #4 – Not profiling our “ideal client”
Many [appraisers] are content to take any business that “walks in the door” with the ability to pay. No business can be all things to all people. Firms should let their professional staff and referral partners understand the type of clients they can and want to service effectively and profitably.
Mistake #5 – Not building a referral network
Many [appraisers] feel uncomfortable attending networking events. While they often claim they are too busy servicing (too many) clients, the real reason is that it takes them out of their comfort zone, they don’t see the value, and it has not been successful for them in the past.
This is a “What’s in it for me?” decision consistent with a firm-centric approach to doing business. Yes, while networking can result in revenue enhancement, the better mindset is how it will help [your] clients. [Appraisers] need to network with other professionals to develop beneficial relationships to introduce to their client base. This provides value outside of their core valuation competency. Clients will appreciate the extra level of caring, which will increase the likelihood of additional referrals.
Mistake #6 – Not understanding what a trusted advisor looks like
A trusted advisor is the pinnacle of the client/advisor relationship. According to the authors of The Trusted Advisor, a trusted advisor must show the client a degree of caring far beyond a vendor or subject matter expert relationship and must always put the client’s interest ahead of their own.
How do you earn this trust? Trust accumulates over time based on the [appraiser’s] mission to partner in the success of the client. A good way to measure the success of a [BVFLS] firm is to measure and monitor the success of its clients. Has the firm helped them grow the business or become more profitable/valuable? That is a great way to attract new clients.
There is nothing more that I want than for you than to have the kind of practice you love coming to and find success in (however you define that for yourself). And I know you may not particularly care for the kind of marketing strategies and tactics that can help get you there.
But the cool thing is that turning around the above mistakes is not really marketing … well, maybe #5. It’s just executing the work you are already doing better by being more mindful of what your clients, prospects, and referral sources are looking for and providing that value.
You know, the same kind of value you would want if you were a layperson having your business valued.
– If you like what I write about, tell a colleague.
– If something resonates and you want to reach out directly, email me.
– If you think we share common interests, connect with me on LinkedIn.
– If you want a sense of how well your practice is working for you, take this Practice Self Assessment.