Welcome back. I hope you all enjoyed the summer of ’18. For those of us in the Northeast, the weather was spectacular. Surprisingly, the end of August was sunny and hot, not as cool as usual, as summer wound down. This week, the heat has continued, with temperatures in or approaching the 90’s in New York City. And so summer ends, and it’s back to school this week for the Weiner children, waking up at times not seen since mid-June. Just 10 more months until next summer. I’m already counting the days.
Although I took off as much time as I could, some really good things happened business-wise. I’ve always viewed our business as an annuity business. What I mean by that is once we get a client, we keep them year after year after year. Tax returns, financial statements, consulting – most companies and individuals don’t change accountants every year. In fact I view the accountant/client relationship as “20 years plus” – and in many cases much longer, sometimes spanning multiple generations. I’ve been in this profession for just about 40 (yes, 40!) years. Not only do we still have some of the clients who were with Marcum when I got here in 1981 but it’s not uncommon for clients to stay with us for more than two decades or even to the next generation.
Sometimes, of course, the accountant/client relationship comes to an end. There are many different reasons: selling a business, closing a business, a change in management, the occasional service snafu or the grass looks greener elsewhere. Fortunately we continue to add new business at a much greater pace than we lose it.
What happened this summer never happened to me before, however. Two long time Marcum clients whom I brought into the firm more than 20 years ago – one dating back to 1985 – had left us for various reasons in the last five years. Over two separate months, both of them contacted us to become Marcum clients again. Each one was going through a different business opportunity and felt that the firms they had switched to were just not the right fit to guide them at this time. So they picked up the phone and asked if we’d work with them again. We were happy to do so.
Not only was it gratifying that former clients recognized Marcum’s value, but it reinforced some of the principles we operate on regularly. First, don’t burn bridges. Clients come and go and sometimes come back again, as we learned. If it’s time to end a relationship do it professionally and always leave the door open. Next, stay in touch. You never know when circumstances change. If a client leaves, follow up six months or a year later and see if they’re getting what they bargained for with their new service provider. Let them know you’re still interested. If and when the phone rings, call them back. If they realized they made a mistake and value your service, they’re not going to leave again.
These lessons are not just for accountants and clients but apply to almost any business. The grass is not always greener elsewhere and sometimes all you have to do is ask to get former clients back, with a new appreciation for what it is you actually do.
So I’d like to give a personal thank you to Carol & Tom and Kathleen & Charlie. Thank you for reaching out and allowing us to work with both of your companies again.
On another note, Sunday night starts Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. For those of you that observe, L’Shana Tovah.