Everyone has at least one of these clients. Utterly uninterested in new technology or pretty much anything from the 21st century. They love their shoebox of receipts, their paper ledgers, and manual calculators and want to stick to using them. Their love of the “old school” is unwavering!
“It’s the system that works for me.”
“It has never failed me in the past.”
“I don’t trust computers and technology.”
The time spent (wasted) for both you and your client with these outdated practices can be overwhelmingly frustrating. How do you encourage them to trust you and change their old school habits? How do you help them move into the 21st century? Here are a few ideas we have discovered to help you out.
Teach Digital 101
Your client’s refusal to change may be due to a lack of knowledge of the new options. They may not realize the amount of time lost with their habits and also don’t understand how easy it can be to learn new habits and practices. Often we fear the unknown, and our human nature is to stick with what we already know, what we are comfortable doing. A little help and a little knowledge can be just what they need to embrace change.
What are some ways to alleviate this unknown?
Have a sit down with them at their office and teach them. – They may know more than they realize and need a nudge in the right direction. New knowledge can be empowering. Or maybe their stubbornness comes from a lack of knowledge and embarrassment at asking for help. No one likes to feel stupid and uneducated, so be that person who takes the time, without judgment, and teaches.
Download the necessary apps and software and get them started.- Help taking those first few steps is critical; no one learns to walk without some assistance. A point in the right direction may be exactly what they need. How can we expect them to like the “new school” way of doing things if they have never experienced how much more simple things can be once they are up and going.
Do they need a newer computer? Or a laptop? – Computers these days need upgrading regularly. Maybe their frustrations with tech are because they are using outdated and underpowered computers. Or in the case of one of my parents, they had downloaded EVERYTHING on to their hard drive, therefore making the computer work as slow as molasses in January. Help them troubleshoot and discover the issue.
Maybe their internet speed needs upgrading.- NO ONE likes to work with slow internet! Seriously, it’s the worst. No one should be faced with that kind of punishment.
All these hurdles can be overwhelming and lead to a refusal for change. Often people don’t want to admit they don’t understand something; breaking the ice this way will not only help them but endear you to them.
I wrote a blog post back in September, covering the necessary information about using cloud accounting. It talks about the benefits, why some people are unsure of embracing it, and how it is the future of accounting. It’s a good read (if I do say so myself) and will answer some client’s questions about security, availability, and cost. Use the link; go read it. This post will be here when you get back.
If you don’t want to click over, here is a quick description you can share with your clients to help them understand precisely what “cloud accounting” means.
Cloud computing is a service that gives the ability to store, access, and edit your companies data from a virtual location as opposed to, in the past, when we saved data at a physical location. It is moving computer services outside the company firewall and using the web to access their applications, storage, and other services. Using the cloud this way gives businesses the unique ability to work in or out of the office. It also allows office personnel the ability to share, edit, and publish documents quickly with each other, regardless if working in the office or remotely. As you can imagine, this dramatically improves communication among co-workers and overall enhances the daily workload and office moral.
Politely advise no longer an option.
If your offers to help teach and help your clients have not been accepted, and nothing has changed, it may be time to part ways with old school clients. A well-worded email (or actual letter in the mail) explaining your inability to offer your services is a courteous way to end a relationship with your client.
A letter ending a business relationship needs three things.
Be professional- Use company letterhead; address your point of contact and, get directly to the point of the letter. “It has been my pleasure to be your CPA for the past four years. Effective Jan 31, 2020, I will no longer be able to serve in this capacity.” Now is not the time to point fingers of blame or name-calling.
Give a time frame – Unless the break up is due to unprofessionalism or unethical practices that require an immediate termination, it is common practice to give an end date with plenty of lead time. Allow your client to find a replacement without leaving them in a bind. Now is also an excellent time to offer a referral if you have one to offer. A reference can help steer your client in the direction of someone who can help them better than you can.
Offer an explanation – While not completely necessary, a short statement of why you are terminating the relationship can be helpful. “I am no longer able to be your CPA due to differing philosophies we have in regards to using technology.” Make it short, sweet, and to the point.
Old school clients take more of your time each month and therefore take time away from other, more profitable clients. Not to mention the frustration that comes from having to collect their information from them regularly. If you find you are spending too much of your time with someone unwilling to upgrade their technology, try a few of these ideas and see how it goes. While firing a client is never something anyone wants to do, it may be an option.
Let me know of any experiences you have encountered with “old school” clients.