The first referral system

winning new clients May 29, 2017

Referrals don’t just happen – you need a system

As regular readers of my blog will know, I’m a great believer that referrals are one of the best ways you can find to grow your accounting or bookkeeping firm. However, you can’t just sit back and expect them to happen. It’s vital that you have systems in place to make sure you get referrals systematically.

That’s why I’d like to share a really powerful system for doing just that. It’s based on something I learned many years ago about the best time to ask for referrals. When I put it in place in my own firm – way back in 1999 – I saw the results immediately.

The best time to ask for referrals

The best time to ask for referrals is right at the start of a relationship. Why? Because when the owner of a business first employs you, they’re incredibly grateful. They get to breathe a huge sigh of relief. We tend to forget that finding a great accountant, bookkeeper or tax expert, isn’t that easy. I’m sure you know as well as I do that there are lots of average ones out there. In fact, there’s every chance your new client was looking for someone precisely because they’d just had a bad experience.

Also, signing a client up is not a one-off transaction. It’s about creating a relationship. You might be doing their accounts every month for many, many years. That’s why finding a great accountant or bookkeeper is such a big thing. Obviously your new client wouldn't have appointed you if they didn’t think you were great. They’re grateful that you've agreed to work with them. And, because they’re grateful, it’s when they're most willing to give something back. (Although sometimes we get this the wrong way round. We think we should be grateful for their business. If you find yourself thinking this, then stop! Remind yourself it’s the opposite.)

Part of your sign-up system

A second benefit is that at the outset nothing’s had a chance to go wrong. The relationship’s not had a chance to sour in any way. That’s why it's the best time, the safest time, to ask for a referral. And that’s also why you need a system in place to make sure it happens at your first meeting, as part of your client sign-up system.

I go into a little more detail about today’s topic in the video; you can watch the video I recorded here.

Thanks for reading and do let me know what you think – or share your own experiences on the best way to get referrals – in the comments section below.


Every month I provide free online training helping accounting professionals get results from value pricing. If you want to get access to that free training click here to register your place on the list of people I invite.

Wishing you every success on your pricing journey.

Mark Wickersham
Chartered Accountant, public speaker and #1 best-selling author of
Effective Pricing for Accountants

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