How to Protect Your Best Clients from Your Competitors

In every market, CPA firms have a wish list of clients they would like to have. Clients will change accountants for all kinds of reasons. Some changes are natural, like new decision makers, new owners, and new lenders. Others change because of service.


To keep your competitors from poaching your business, remember to always treat your best clients as your best clients! Here are 10 recommendations to keep in mind.


  1. Define what it takes to be one of the firm’s best clients, make sure those clients know that is exactly what they are, and let them know why (how you defined it).

  2. Develop a service plan for the best clients which is more attentive and more effective than your general plan. It should have more frequent contact and an annual impact commitment. Monitor the discipline with which the plan is implemented and the satisfaction.

  3. Always talk to best clients about the business of your firm. Reactions and thoughts are very relevant to the success of your firm. Input from your best clients may make for better timing on decisions regarding adding personnel, merger, or sale.

  4. Build a strong infrastructure with specialists for operations, marketing and IT. Partners and staff need to be readily available to serve clients. They will build rapport with the best clients and not get distracted by non-billable matters. (Want to supercharge your operations and marketing staff? Listen to these PICPA podcasts: Firm Manager/Operations; Marketing.)

  5. Always discuss fee increases with them before you raise the fee, even if you know they will not balk.

  6. Be sure the best talent is working with the best clients, and confirm the happiness of both the client and staff. Staff needs to know the client’s industry inside and out while also being technically sound and approachable. Clients need to be aware of the caliber of personnel and help them grow, as well.

  7. Survey your best clients any time there are major industry, tax, finance, regulatory, and/or economic changes, and share the results with the group and your firm.

  8. Expand your connection by offering to spend time for free with family regarding business and finances, providing guidance to key employees or hearing them out on their charitable and civic priorities.

  9. Show your appreciation and respect by thanking clients formally for their patronage and probing with them on how you can do better.

  10. Celebrate longevity of clients every five years and publicize the anniversary internally so all know.

The best clients are unique to each firm but applying your best efforts and attention is a necessity no matter how you define that best client.

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