“It was so quiet when we started and hard to get the ball rolling.”
Disheartened by the lack of work, Jarrod’s business partner abandoned, leaving Jarrod to build the business alone. Fortunately, he had a part-time contract role in the initial stages – which at least brought in some income until the practice gained momentum.
Break-Through #1 – Blogging
Business started picking up soon after Jarrod began blogging on very specific, tax-related topics. This attracted clients searching online for those specific phrases and positioned Beyond Accountancy as experts in the field.
Trial and Error
With some good clients trickling in, Jarrod tried advertising in some online directories (mainly Yellow Pages) and print media. They also partnered with local financial planners for referrals.
Break-Through #2 – Online Reviews
Jarrod says he first heard about WOMO when someone mentioned it at a business networking event. The idea of building a reputation and promoting the business via recommendations appealed, so Jarrod joined and hasn’t looked back.
“We started the Happy Customers Program in December and even though we closed over Christmas, by late February, the work coming through from WOMO had already paid for the whole year! And that’s just the confirmed work where people happened to mention seeing the reviews. We’re not that great at asking every client how they heard of us, so there’s probably more as well.”
“We encourage clients to review us mainly by asking them in emails once we’ve finished their work. Clients often write to us directly, telling us how happy they are with our service. Our response is to thank them and let them know we really appreciate that feedback and then suggest that it would be even better if they could share that feedback on WOMO.”
A Bigger Impact than Expected
Jarrod knew his business provided good service but was surprised to find that many clients responded with such a depth of emotion;
“I would never have thought that tax could be the cause of such stress and anxiety for so many people. People can’t sleep at night because they’re so stressed about their tax! I didn’t realise we were causing such a positive change in clients’ lives. We get them out of a real mess – and they’re very appreciative.”
“Running a small business can sometimes be tough but good feedback is a great reminder that people appreciate your work. The reviews are a great way of measuring the business – other than financially.”
The Response from Clients
“People often mention WOMO specifically – or tell us later they saw our reviews. Often they can relate to a specific review because they’re in a similar situation. Our customers’ stories are what convinces new customers to try us.”
In fact, reviews are great because they are so specific – and then they tend to attract customers with the same specific problem.
“There are thousands of accountants in Australia so you need to differentiate yourself – the reviews help people separate one business from another.”
“Reviews seem to be the way lots of people find and choose businesses. I’ve had clients tell me they search for everything on WOMO and only choose businesses with good reviews.”
The Bottom Line
Last year, Beyond Accountancy doubled their revenue and they’re looking like growing strongly again this year. They’re also hiring their 3rd employee soon.
Jarrod believes that customer service truly is the best way to grow your business.
“These days your reputation follows you. So not only is it the right thing to do to treat customers well, you really can’t afford to do business any other way!”
Approach to Customer Service
Beyond Accountancy aims to offer a very convenient and straight-forward service. They usually operate under a fixed price agreement – not charging by the hour or minute which can annoy customers.
Jarrod’s Advice to other Businesses
- “The best advice I’ve received is to differentiate between being self-employed and have a real business. The litmus test is whether you could go away for 3 months and still be profitable. Which basically comes down to growing with either assets or employees… which usually requires good procedures. Accountants are usually very busy and sometimes their service suffers because of it. We’re a conservative bunch and are often slow to hire more people. (We're not there yet but we're working towards it!)”
- “I’d also highly recommend other businesses tap into customer reviews. If you try hard to do a good job for customers, you may as well get that out there! Your customers' stories can be the best marketing for your business.”
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