How do people choose their Accountant? We find out!

22nd December 2014

How do people choose their Accountant?

We find out!

 

The last few months have been a real eye-opener into what women, and men, really think about Accountants and we have to admit, it wasn’t all great! 

Paul Feist first met Helen Bailey who is the owner of Aviatrix at a MDHUB meeting and the discussions, or should I say, debates began! 

Aviatrix is an independent strategic market research consultancy created to help you increase sales by gaining a greater understanding of your business through the eyes of your customers. 

Women are a powerful force in the marketplace and the role they play in business, decision making and buying power has been a regular topic in the news over the past few months. At Plus Accounting, we decided to take a look at our client base and we discovered that businesses run or owned by women were under represented compared to the market. 

We therefore asked Helen to help us identify what business women are looking for from their accountants and if we could understand and meet their specific requirements, we would apply the same approach to all of our clients and prospects. 

Helen met with us to go through the research project objectives and we initially discussed how our approach was being perceived by the women business owners of Brighton. It became apparent that the research findings would be transferrable to both genders, thereby improving our service to a wider audience. Understanding the dynamics of the B2B market was a new perspective for Helen, who has mainly worked with B2C companies and the project was a great chance to appreciate the behaviours and emotions involved in choosing an accountant. 

Over the summer Helen conducted an online Client Satisfaction Survey with our existing clients and analysed the feedback by gender. The results provided us with some invaluable insight. 

There were clear differences of opinion between the genders and this highlighted not only opportunities to expand our services to a greater number of female business owners but to provide a service that clients of both genders would appreciate and value. 

The survey showed that “Knowledge” was the number one requirement that both genders looked for in an accountant.  “Responsiveness” was the second and the use of “Jargon” definitely got the thumbs down.  It appears that a common feature of accountants is to use words and phrases that mean little or nothing to clients, particularly those starting out in business. 

Overall the findings from the Survey provided us with a positive depiction of our current service. They demonstrated that we were not only offering a professional accounting service that clients regarded highly, but that it also meet their expectations. 

However, we knew that these results were insufficient on their own, as they dealt only with the views of our existing clients and Helen suggested that the next step on our journey of enlightenment (!) was to run a Focus Group of non-client business women to further investigate the impressions and opportunities identified in the Survey. 

Helen led the 7 respondents through a number of questions and their responses were recorded. The session lasted just over an hour and it was Helen’s job to decipher and highlight the key issues through the laughter. 

The Group was an interesting mixture of start-ups and mature businesses all within Brighton and the local area and the findings that came out of the Group were intuitive and honest – it was like having our very own guidance counsellor!  

One of the key comments to come out of the discussions (and one to which all accountants should pay attention!) is that it is often unclear to clients what value an accountant can add.  It is therefore vital to explain to clients that they should regard the cost of accountancy fees as an investment in their business, not a cost.   This will then allow the accountant to provide real added value by providing  easily assessable financial advice whereby the clients can take advantage of the vast pool of knowledge and experience that is available to help a business throughout its life cycle.  

As many of you are aware the firm rebranded in 2012 and we were keen to see how these changes were being perceived and the results did resonate with some of initial concerns. Changing an established brand is always going to be difficult and it is not a decision that we took without a great deal of consideration. It is important for us to ensure that the business community is aware of our rebrand and the reasons behind it. As a business we are always learning and with Helen’s involvement in this project we feel we have learnt a lot more about the expectations of the business community.
 
Helen continuously ensured that each step of the project was completed to the highest standards and the completion of the Survey and Focus Group has provided us with some intuitive results! It was a painless process and one that we would recommend to any professional business. The research findings from both the qualitative and quantitative exercises will help shape The Plus Approach.
 
Watch this space!
 

 

Written by Vicky King, Marketing Manager

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