A valuable lesson from a packet of Hula Hoops

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You can keep your clients, keep your fees and keep winning new ones by listening to Hula Hoops…

It’s blatantly obvious when you know how…

It’s a cold day in December and I’m sitting on a train opposite a 50-something year old lady who’s reading The Daily Mail.

She’s also eating a large packet of Hula Hoops and on the back of the packet – top left hand corner – this is what it says, bold as brass: 

 “Our promise to you is…”

A simple yet profound example of making a blatant promise.

Something accountants, and other professional service firms, seem to want to avoid.

They prefer to make their promises subtle, implied or at best gentle.

Why?

Because:

– “isn’t it obvious what accountants promise?”

– “being subtle is more suited to who we are and what we do as accountants”

– “why would we make a rod for our own back?”

I have heard these reasons (and many more!) and can appreciate these reasons but these reasons are all POPPYCOCK.

Your opinion does not matter…

Your clients’ opinion matters most…

When a business owner is weighing up whether to stay with her existing accountant or join your firm they don’t want subtle.

They don’t want implied or gentle insuations of what you can do for them.

On the contrary…

They want to make the best decision for themselves and their business.

And to do that they NEED overt, in-yer-face and bloody obvious promises that they can trust.

No ambiguity….

…Just concrete promises, rock-solid benefits and sound reasons to choose you rather than stay where they are or choose the other firm that is courting them.

There’s no room for subtlety.

You need to be blatant.

Action required…

Make crystal clear commitments.

Make blatant promises and you make it easier for prospects to buy from you and you make it easier for your existing clients to stay with you.

1. Here’s a subtle promise that initially looks concrete:

“We’re chartered accountants with a commitment to high quality work and a proactive approach to your personal and business needs.”

Oh dear!

It sounds good but…

It sounds like so many other firms’ so-called promises.

Therefore it’s rendered bland.

Plus it’s meaningless to a business owner because they typically have a limited idea of what constitutes ‘high-quality work’ And when it comes to the crunch what does proactive mean? Neither the business owner nor the accountant has this one worked out – but they should (that’s another subject for another time)

2. Here’s a blatant promise that works:

“You will receive your draft accounts no later than 21 days after you submit all your relevant books and records. Just one day late and we’ll complete the work but you’ll not be charged for it.”

Here’s another:

“If any other accountant can clearly demonstrate that you can save more tax than we save you, then we’ll pay you the difference.”

However difficult they might be, can’t you see how these two blatant promises make it so much easier for a business owner to choose you or stay with you?

And before you rail against such outlandish commitments be aware that promise one is real – two firms I know use it.

And I’m helping two other firms launch the second one on their local market place… watch this space!

Yes but… yes but… yes but…

I know you have to re-organise your firm to fulfill such blatant promises, and this is not easy. I accept it is hard and it is time consuming and requires a great effort. But I like the idea that these are difficult to carry off.

I like it for four reasons:

  1. It is so far removed from where most firms are at it gives you an immediate and powerful competitive advantage
  2. It means that you must become a remarkable firm to carry this off – and you’ll become worthy of notice as a consequence
  3. It can provide you with a sustainable competitive advantage – it’s very hard to copy because it requires substantial commitment, effort and energy to make it real
  4. You will give your existing clients and your other industry contacts great reasons to talk about you and generate a fabulous flow of referrals that will grow your firm to undreamt-of heights

Hula hoops make a blatant promise.

So shouldn’t you do the same?

Please let me know what you think.

Paul Shrimpling signature

PS Alternatively do what me and my kids do with Hula Hoops round our kitchen table. See how high you can stack ’em! Joe (aged 14) is winning with 12. Michael (aged 11) and I have got up to 11! My other two kids get frustrated quickly and just eat ’em!

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