Landing a new client is often the result of weeks or even months of hard work. While the idea of a new prospect is exciting, screening your clients thoroughly before beginning your partnership is critical. It is one of many simple ways to mitigate risk at your firm.
Screening your clients successfully is all about asking the right questions. Screening will reveal any potential conflicts of interest, ensure your accounting firm can provide the right expertise for the job at hand and determine if you want to work with the prospective clients. It can also be beneficial to the client – demonstrating the value of your company, the knowledge you possess and the unique ways your business can help them compared to others.
Questions to Ask Potential Clients
Beyond the basic contact information, ask these important questions:
- What is the scope of work? First and foremost, determine if what the client is looking for is something your business can do.
- What are the client’s expectations? Have they worked with other accounting firms in the past? What was that experience like for them? What do they want done differently?
- Is the matter within our primary areas of practice? Are we skilled in this area of practice? How large is the project? Do we have enough resources?
- Has the client shown dishonesty or lack of integrity? Working with dishonest clients can be risky. Always conduct a background check. Request references, credit history and rating, financial stability and more.
- Does a conflict of interest exist? If a conflict exists, can it be resolved?
After you have thoroughly screened potential clients and you both decide to work together, always complete an engagement letter. An engagement letter is a legal document that outlines the exact duties of all involved parties, including the firm, the lawyer and the client.
It never hurts to protect your business beyond an extensive screening process and engagement letter. Learn how Professional Liability Insurance can help protect you and your firm today.