How To Introduce Client Opportunity Plans Into Your Business
The Business Of Our Business is an article series featured in Rea’s print publication, The Rea Report. The purpose of each article is to provide readers with greater insight into the inner workings of our firm. To read past articles of this series, please visit www.reacpa.com/business-of-our-business.
In 2015, Rea’s annual revenue was $30.5 million. We had 10,858 clients and 215 employees in 10 offices. We were the 98th largest firm in the country. Today, we are a $52.9 million firm. We have more than 15,000 clients served by nearly 400 employees in 14 offices. We are the 80th largest firm in the country.
We are tremendously proud of this growth, but it hasn’t come without its share of pain. If you, too, are in growth mode, you can surely relate to experiencing your share of growing pains.
Take client service, for example. Over the years, we’ve added specialists with unique skills and knowledge, allowing us to offer new solutions to our clients. On the other hand, educating our clients (and our own team members) about these new services and areas of expertise can be tricky.
So, how do we educate our growing team about the new ways we can help clients? How do we give our client service teams a clear, holistic, and actionable picture of our client’s needs? How do we ensure we’re offering comprehensive service to our clients that address their current and future needs? In short, how do we connect the dots and make sure our team is talking to clients about solutions that will help them thrive and prosper?
Three words: Client Opportunity Plans
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Connecting The Dots
Rea & Associates developed Client Opportunity Plans (COPs) to confront some of the problems we now face as a rapidly growing firm.
The COP process requires client service teams to meet regularly throughout the year to brainstorm strategies that can help drive ongoing growth for our clients. Your service team, along with relevant industry or advisory specialists, discuss the current and future state of your business. We have an honest conversation about how we could be providing you better service. And, lastly, we talk about any threats you may be facing and look for opportunities to help you find greater success.
Could Client Opportunity Plans Work For Your Business?
Systematically evaluating customer relationships ensures you’re offering comprehensive products or services, solidifying relationships, and helping customers meet their goals. Since implementing COPs, we’ve developed the following best practices:
Establish a template.
Outline everything you want to discuss about each key customer. This might include a SWOT analysis of the customer’s business, a summary of your relationship and areas of risk, how much revenue the relationship contributes to your company, etc. You’ll also want to list all the products and services you could offer a customer, so you can later identify what you’re currently providing, as well as other offerings that would allow you to provide greater service. Today, Rea’s COP template is built directly into our customer relationship management (CRM) system, but that wasn’t always the case. Before CRM, we tracked information in an Excel document.
List and prioritize your customers.
COPs take time to complete. So, identify the customers you’ll want to focus on first and prioritize from there. Maybe you’ll want to start with your biggest customers, or the ones that you believe have the biggest growth opportunity, or perhaps you should focus on your newest customers first. There’s no right answer. Just do what makes sense for your business, and develop a plan of attack from there – and don’t forget to bake in some time to regularly revisit completed COPs, too.
Host consistent COP meetings.
Maybe you can commit to one 30-minute meeting per week. Or maybe monthly 30-minute meetings are more realistic. Either way, set aside time on your calendar for COPs, otherwise, they won’t happen. Set a goal of discussing each customer for 10-15 minutes. You can even set a timer to keep yourself on track and keep the conversations moving. Also, don’t forget to include anyone who has a relationship with the customer.
Document action items. COP meetings will likely uncover additional conversations that will need to take place (either with other people in your company or with the customer) and action items. Keep track of these as you go to allow meetings to be productive and actionable.
Talk to your customers.
Get their feedback about everything discussed during the COP. Work to understand the struggles they’re facing, ask whether you’re meeting expectations, and check in regularly to discuss long-term goals.
Remember the goal.
The goal of these meetings is NOT to sell additional products or services (although that may happen as a result). COPs are not about being self-serving. If you take this approach, the customer’s needs won’t be your top priority and it will show. The ultimate goal of the COP process is to ensure that your entire team understands the customers they work with – their goals, challenges, and expectations – in order to provide them with the best service possible.
Since implementing the COP strategy at Rea, we’ve noticed new levels of collaboration among our client service and specialty teams and stronger client relationships. And while we’ve always prided ourselves on our ability to provide a range of valuable strategic solutions, our COPs have elevated these efforts even further. If you’re interested in learning
more about the process we follow for COPs, reach out to your Rea contact for more information.