While we are addressing a CPA here, please feel free to substitute Attorney, Financial Advisor, Etc.
We had a former client terminate us recently. They had been a client for over 25 years. Second generation business, a small, local business. Nice people. They recently ended our relationship.
By sending a letter.
25 years of (apparently) (at least) decent service and you send a letter?
‘Just the Facts Ma’am’
The good news is that there was nothing disparaging in the letter. Like Joe Friday would request, they just stuck to the facts. “John Jones, CPA is taking over our account. Please give him copies, etc.”
Oh, and the other good news is that it wasn’t an e-mail…it was a letter.
Over the Phone and In Person
However, I learned a LONG time ago that some things need to be said over the phone. The REALLY important things need to be done in person. This clearly did not need to be done in person. Yes, we would have needed a letter at some point authorizing us to release records to a third party.
The question is….where was the phone call?
It would have taken them about 60 seconds over the phone to terminate us. And yes, as challenging as it is, we can deal with less than good news. In the past, when a client has called and terminated the relationship I’ve sent them a handwritten letter thanking them for the opportunity to serve them. I appreciate that they took the time and picked up the phone to tell me.
The Other End
Listen, we’ve been on the other end and have had to terminate clients for various reasons. We’ll address this in our next post. We’ve picked up the phone, as difficult as it is, and told clients we were resigning. Then we send a follow up letter.
Would I have preferred not to lose this client? No question. Should I have worked harder to retain this relationship? Absolutely. What I (re)learned however is to treat clients the way I would want to be treated when the relationship is ending…with a phone call.
Have you fired your CPA? If so, how did you do it?
Please leave your comments below.
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