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Discussion Starter #1
As some of you may or may not know, I have opened up my own accounting practice in January. I have done a lot of marketing and networking but still having trouble recruiting clients. Too many are scared to leave their accountants even though they're getting frustrated with them. I've done the usual PR and the follow-up.

A number of people did suggest to me to go to golf tournament to do more networking. One problem, I don't golf (only did it once for fun and couldn't hit the ball to save my life. Hey, I am a baseball player) and I don't like golf (except for mini-putt...yes, I know). However, I'm willing to suck it up, practice on driving range and attend the golf tournaments (usually charity) if it means recruiting clients. My question is, have any of you found it worthwhile to attend some of these golf tournaments? They are pricey but if deals are made on the course, that's all that matters, I guess?

Let's hear your thoughts, please. Thanks.
 

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I don't know what your personality is like and a lot of this depends on that. Personally I feel what you are trying to do will be very obvious. I have been with my same accountant for a very long time. I have NO complaints about her whatsoever. I email her and get proper answers to questions and she does my taxes quickly and correctly every year and at a great price. I have no reason to switch from her.

She has a home based business that she has built up and slowly expanded over time. I think it started as a part time thing while she was still working, it didn't happen overnight.

People are getting hammered with more advertising and sales pitches than ever before and a lot of us are tuning out anything that resembles a sales pitch. I don't think you'll get far as a relative stranger attending golf tournaments only to advertise, esp when you have no interest in the subject matter.

But, maybe you have a rockin' personality and are a great salesman and would excel at this. I can only judge from what you've written here.

Maybe talk to a marketing company and see if they can help? It might cost you some money but remember they are specialists and I think this is a marketing question more than anything else.

Good luck.
 

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The problem with a golf tournament is that you're stuck with the same group of 3 for the entire day, so it might be a waste if you don't hit it off.

I'd suggest you join a service club like Rotary or find an active Breakfast Club in your area. These clubs are great because they're all professionals, or decision makers for large organizations, and they'll tend to do business with one another.

The costs are minimal (breakfast or lunch once a week) along with modest annual dues.
 

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If my husband came home from the Golf club and said he found us a new accountant , I probably would take the clubs and beat him ,IMO not a place I would try to find an accountant or appreciate a sales pitch .There are local business groups you can join for this purpose.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
@Marina, that's exactly what I said to someone who suggested the golf tourney. That's what I'm worried about if I attend the golf tournament that it will be obvious at why I am there especially if I suck at golf! haha

I do belong to the Chamber of Commerce, been attending the dinner clubs and after-hours events and sit on a board of a not-for-profit organization.
Word is definitely getting out there about my practice (getting phone calls and meetings) but the hardest part is getting the clients. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. You've confirmed what I was thinking.
 

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your existing clients will be your best source of referrals. Let them know you're looking for more business.

A golf tourney would be a lousy idea. You'd be surrounded by other accountants who like golf and are good at it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
@Four Pillars - There's always a new list of businesses on the chamber of commerce website so I have been in touch with a couple of them.
@Charlie - That's the thing, I don't have many clients as I've been open for only 6 months.
 

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Also....you'd likely piss people off.....they're there to play golf and you, (regardless of how subtle you are, or think you are), are trying to drum up business........get into something where they like/trust you before they even know what you do for a living.
 

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Word of mouth is definitely a plus. That's how I got my accountant.

Maybe it just takes a while?

Have you tried talking to any other accountants who have similar businesses? I know they aren't going to hand over their client list or all their secret marketing strategies, but maybe they can share their experience with building their business, ie how long it took. If you find one that is really busy, maybe they can refer the overflow.

What about putting together a presentation on small business accounting that you could do at a library or in conjunction with another event maybe with the chamber of commerce? If you could get an audience, I would think the odds are not bad that at least one or two attendees will realize that they aren't interested in doing the accounting and you might be a good choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
It does take a while but certainly frustrating. People do know me from previous jobs and through my community involvement (genuine, of course!) and like the idea of a one-man (or woman) operation. I'm hearing a lot of their frustrations with their accountants but fear is holding them back from switching. I'm actually focusing on the small business and smaller not-for-profit organizations (more of them need an audit just to get a grant now). I'm actually going to meet with another accountant next week who wouldn't mind working with me. He's also looking for someone to pass on the overflow to so it may happen soon.

I've never even thought of a presentation with the Chamber. I think I know who I can hook with up to do a joint presentation. Thanks for the suggestion!
 

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The library is also a really great suggestion! Organizations like libraries are always looking for ways to bring more people in and add value.

I'll tell you where there might be an interesting opening for work - daycares. Really any place run by a volunteer board, but a bunch of daycares in Toronto were all ripped off by an unscrupulous bookkeeper (not accountant) who colluded with daycare staff to extract funds for personal gain. This was possible in part because the daycare board members were insufficiently aware of the checks and balances that should have been in place, and how to recognize when those checks and balances were being subverted. You could offer seminars/workshops on "what you need to know about finances as a member of a volunteer board" and people wouldn't have to pay you personally; they could pay you from the organization...and everyone on the board is a potential client.
 

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I was going to suggest looking to other accountants for work , my own accountant has hired two others over last couple years who ran their own business from their home.You keep your own clients but at least you get some stability and who knows what opportunities will come your way in terms of partnerships etc.Off to the cottage now so enjoy your weekend , no plans to turn the computer on until Monday!

Marina
 

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I agree with Nemo and others. You need to befriend people before they know you are an accountant. Ideally you can develop a specialty so that people might switch because you have expertise in a given area.

I think of indexxx and his accountant who does not know how to evaluate a business for purchase. There are lots of niches that are available to a creative accountant. You need to discover where is your passion?
 

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I think of indexxx and his accountant who does not know how to evaluate a business for purchase.
Lol - I had thought of mentioning indexxx as well, but I doubt they live in the same area.

Mind you, although my accountant lives in the Toronto area, I've never met him person, so I don't think it's a requirement that they live near each other.
 

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I would say it is worth it to go to a golf tournament!Golf tournaments are built on advertisers and actually rely on it.ask if you can sponser the long drive or the putting contest ect.it is a great way to put your name out there(don't think in terms of your 4 some....think of the whole tournament as your target,which is)If you network with a few tournaments it could very well work out in your favor IMO.
Also there is the cross networking that happens(you meet new people who may introduce you to others ect....it sometimes only takes 1 contact in business to spawn or get your foot in the door with a network of business people)the golfing demo tends to be a great target market because it is the "universal" game of business and many executives are golfers.I could think of worse ideas than golf.these are routine "activities" promotions all new business people should do(not golf per se but getting the word out)
 

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When starting out as an accountant, lawyer, realtor etc. I think it's important to get your name out there. People and corporations seldom switch accountants, but its important to get your name out there as a nice and competent accountant so that when someone is looking to switch, they'll think of you. Whether you get your name out there through golf tournaments, chambers of commerce, executive associations etc. does not matter, as long as you are getting your name out there.
 

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I would also throw in apparels & useful items(i did it when i first started)I don't know if it is more a construction industry thing(or im just conscious of it)but imo it helps in branding(locally)
T-shirts/golf shirts/hats/hoodies
coffee mugs/key chains/golf balls(with your logo)/calenders....tons of stuff you can do.
When your starting give your new clients these things.
There is also your vehicle branding(get a design shop to make custom decals).....i don't know if most accountants do the decals?(maybe this is largely a service business practice/probably) but people always comment that they see my trucks on the road.
These up front costs are worth it imo
 

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What about reaching out to small law firms in your area? If you're looking at possible tax clients, estate work, etc. that may be a good starting point to get to know lawyers who may be looking for an accountant to refer their tax and/or accounting work.
 
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