Courtesy and Respect – A Vital Part of Any Client Engagement

I had an opportunity this month to present a session, Strategies for Developing a Winning Bookkeeping Engagement, at Accountex 2016. During this presentation, I talked about what I feel is one of the most important aspects of any engagement: courtesy and respect.

As professionals, we take this very seriously; our reputation depends on it. Why is it that we do not always hold clients to the same standard? In most cases, I think it is because we become personally invested in their success, even more so than they are.  We like to think that all people are good, despite their poor actions and we feel that their failure is our failure.

Here are a few telltale signs that your client does not share in your same belief and it is time to move on:

  • Client fails to respond to inquiries promptly; you must send multiple emails or messages requesting the same information
  • Client will not be involved in the decision-making process, putting you at risk
  • Client is late to meetings, cancels last minute or just does not show up at all
  • Client fails to take responsibility for their actions
  • Client pays you only when (or if) there is money left after paying everyone else
  • Client makes excuses for their actions or turns the blame on you
  • Client takes actions that affect the work you do without communicating to you
  • Client business is performing poorly, and failure is imminent

If any of these sound familiar I suggest you turn and run in the other direction real fast. Trust me; it does not get any better, the longer it goes on, the more difficult it will become. Clients like this suck the life out of you which can negatively affect the quality of work you deliver to your other clients.

To make ending the relationship easier make sure that your engagement letter includes a clause that allows you to cancel the agreement at any time without cause. It should also include a statement that addresses expectations related to amounts owed, final payment as well as the process for migrating all data, documentation and cloud subscriptions to the client.

There is an abundance of business owners that share your same principals and beliefs and would enjoy an opportunity to work with you.  Don’t invest your valuable time in clients that fail to show you the same courtesy and respect that you afford them.