The Power of Planning (Part Two)

The Power of Planning (Part One)
July 24, 2017
The Power of Language (Part One)
August 1, 2017
Business advisory

Business advisory

In the previous blog The Power of Planning (Part One), I showed you how to create a One Page Plan to manage your Accounting business and . Now I’m going to show you how to facilitate a similar process for your clients.

I see the One Page Plan as the serious accountability model. Some clients will love it. For some very small businesses, it may be overkill. Let me give you the process we used with our clients and which many of our successful PANALITIX members are using with their clients.

“Bob, Martha, I was talking with some of my other clients recently and one of them made the comment that they spend more time planning their vacation than they do planning their business. I was wondering, does that ring any bells for you?”

And then ZIP IT – let the client think and talk. It is a provocative question and it is designed to have the client think deeply about their approach to managing their business. Resist the temptation to jump in and fill the silence if the client does not respond immediately. As you become more involved in business improvement work, you will notice that the real value accrues when the client finds the answers for themselves.

Once your client’s eyes have been opened to the fact that they (almost certainly) do not spend enough time working ON their business, they are ripe for a discussion on where they would like the business to go. Be ready to encourage the client to discuss their objectives. I have found that when the client articulates a range of disparate objectives AND you have pre-framed the importance of planning, the following line works extremely well to move the client forward:

“David and Jane, you have spoken here about six clear objectives in a range of different areas. (Summarize the objectives in the client’s words.) In situations like this, what our best clients decide to do is set aside some dedicated time for a planning session, which I facilitate. Is that something you would be interested in doing so that we can firm up on these objectives and put some priorities and accountability around them in the form of an action plan?”

Your clients need to be led. Few of them understand the importance and the value of planning their business, and particularly in placing accountability around specific items on an action plan. When you convey your recommended next step with confidence, you will find a good proportion agree to work with you in a planning session.

When you do engage a client in a planning session, never prejudge what the outcome might be. I once facilitated a session where the outcome was that the owners decided to sell the business immediately; in another case, it transpired that one partner was planning to retire in three years but hadn’t thought to inform his partners beforehand; several resulted in us becoming involved in detailed profit improvement programs with clients; others had us establishing KPI monitoring (I vividly remember a client faxing me these KPIs every single morning!); and occasionally you’ll develop an action plan and the client will thank you, take it and implement it. Plus numerous other outcomes of various stripes. It doesn’t matter what transpires; the key is that helping your clients to plan is a service that creates significant value.

Learn how to develop and implement a One Page Plan for your firm and for your clients.


About the Author

Colin Dunn

Director & Co-founder at PANALITIX

Colin is a Chartered Accountant who, having spent almost 10 years with one of the fastest growing and most innovative firms in the UK, has since invested over 20 years helping business owners to improve their businesses with a focus on attracting new clients, better managing existing clients, developing new products, building an engaged team and strengthening internal business processes.

Colin's primary focus at PANALITIX is on product development and business improvement content. He is the author of the bestselling book “Accountants: The Natural Trusted Advisors".

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