6 Ways for CPAs to Expand Their Practice

Filed under: The Advisor's Blog

When it comes to expanding your practice as a CPA, referrals are likely to be your number one source of growth. A 2013 study* by Hinge Marketing demonstrated that 87 percent of clients who are choosing an accountant use referrals as their primary deciding factor. The study also showed that 76 percent of clients are “very likely” to recommend their accounting firm to others.

growthOf course, we have to assume that clients will only recommend your services to friends or family if they are motivated to do so. Use these methods to turn satisfied clients into active referrers of your services, and even gain referrals from non-clients:

Actively promote your best clients. Put these clients in a position where they will be asked about you. Put together a case study on client satisfaction, and highlight these clients and their feedback on your website. Create a portfolio of client recommendations to present to prospective clients. Ask top clients to participate in a webinar, panel, or conference. Putting them in the spotlight increases the odds that prospective clients will ask them about you. And most simply, just ask your top clients to refer you to others!

Make sure clients know what you do. Get to know your clients, and communicate your specializations to them. Naturally, they are unlikely to refer you to a friend who needs a certain service unless they are aware you can provide that particular specialty. Keep in touch with clients through regular communication such as emails, newsletters, and free seminars.

Partner with financial advisors. Much of the competition has already expanded into providing financial services to clients, so taking this step helps you to remain competitive. Financial advisors and CPAs offer very different, yet complementary, services to clients. By partnering together, you can meet client needs more completely, and create a network of referrals between the two of you that can increase business for both of your practices.

Remember non-clients can be a source of referrals, too. You may be associated with a number of bankers, attorneys, and other professionals who are familiar with your industry even if they are not active clients. These people can also be a source of new clients, so remember them when applying any of these tactics to increase your referrals.

Use content marketing to increase your visibility and reputation. Aside from active clients and other professionals with whom you associate, you can actually receive referrals from people who simply know of your reputation. These may be prospective clients, or other firms which practice a different specialty. Distribute free, valuable content to a targeted audience online, through email marketing, social media, blog posts, or videos. Doing this builds trust in your reputation and services, and makes referrals from a variety of sources more likely.

Go public with your client list. You may worry that other firms will steal clients if you publish your client list. But sharing your top clients on your website actually demonstrates your expertise and specialization. Don’t underestimate the power of prestige, either. When a prospective client sees that you work with a number of well-known firms or individuals, it inspires trust in your services.

Important! Always remember your ethical obligations when using any of the above methods to increase your referrals. According to the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, you can release client names without permission unless that disclosure would allow a third party to ascertain confidential facts about that client. In that case you would need to obtain the client’s permission to release his or her name. Also check with your state board to be certain that its rules are not more restrictive than the AICPA’s, and comply with those standards if necessary.




*How Buyers Buy: Accounting & Financial Services , Hinge Marketing 2013

Investment Advisory Services offered through John P. Dubots Capital Management, LLC, CA License # 0822926