Right about now, your accounting business is probably up to its eyeballs in tax returns. You may be so busy you’re forgetting that your New Year’s resolution for 2018 was to grow your accounting business by making better use of your existing client base.

No matter how busy you are, set aside some time each week to work on marketing to your existing client base. Here’s how to do it:

Get to Know Your Clients Better

You may think you already have a great relationship with your accounting clients, but how well do you really know them? Do you talk to them during the year, or only at tax time? Do you ask them for feedback on whether your services are meeting their expectations? Do you go beyond accounting to offer advice on other aspects of their businesses, such as ways to finance growth or why they should start a retirement plan? The more involved you become in the minutia of your clients’ finances, the better you will be equipped to suggest additional services. Schedule a few mid-year meetings to go over any questions or consulting the client may need. Conduct some surveys (or ask in-person) to get feedback on how well your services suited their needs and any other services they wish you provided.

Let Clients Know More About Your Business

The reason your clients hire a licensed accountant is so they don’t have to keep up-to-date on the latest financial regulations, tax requirements and more. But taking the time to educate your clients about everything you do is a smart marketing tactic. The more they know about your expertise, the better understanding they’ll have of what you do for them. When they find out that you offer certain expertise, they may ask you to provide that service, too. Remind clients about your knowledge of their industries and how you can save them money. For instance, if you attend an accounting or industry conference or seminar, let them know what you’ve learned when you get back, so they know you’re keeping up with the latest news in the financial industry. A good way to keep clients up to date: Create and send out a quarterly email newsletter sharing helpful advice and tips for your clients, as well as news about your business. You can also ask clients to follow you on social media. Make sure you’re active on the platforms you asked them to follow you on, regularly sharing your knowledge.

Reward Your Loyal Clients

Why would customers be loyal to your accounting business if they don’t feel appreciated? Most customers who aren’t satisfied with your services will just leave you and never explain why. Retain customers by showing them how much their business means to you. Offer tips and advice without having to be asked. For example, if you know your client will need to plan for a college fund or care for an aging parent in the next 10 years, be proactive and offer suggestions. If you think your business client might want to expand their operations, offer to help make that happen. And don’t underestimate the power of the personal touch. Send your clients birthday and anniversary cards (or even small gifts, such as gift cards to local restaurants).

Ask Your Clients for Referrals

The statistics speak for themselves: 78 percent of respondents with referral programs say customers who were referred to them are more loyal than those acquired through other methods. Here are some ideas for ways to boost your accounting business with referral marketing.

  • Ask for it! Having a satisfied client refer new clients to you can be a pleasant surprise, but why wait and hope clients give you referrals on their own? As soon as your services are completed, let happy clients know you’d appreciate it if they would recommend your business to their friends, family member, and business peers. Ask the client to post a good word for you on your social media business pages and a review on Yelp. (You can also use the reviews and comments as testimonials on your website and in your marketing materials, but be sure to get your clients’ permission first.) Most customers are happy to refer your business to others, but they may forget to do so as soon as they leave your office. Send a follow-up email to thank them for their business and remind them to recommend your business and to share their positive experience on their social media accounts. Include a link in your email to your Yelp page (and all of your other social media pages) to make it easy for your clients to sing your praises.
  • Attend industry events. If you specialize in helping clients in a specific industry, make sure you ask clients to spread the word to colleagues at their next industry event. Give the clients lots of your business cards to pass on.
  • Hand out business cards. Include several of your business cards when you send satisfied customers an invoice at the end of a project. Giving your customers copies of your business card that they can give to others seeking the services you offer is a great way to streamline the referral process.
  • Be a referrer yourself. Everyone appreciates a good referral, and that includes your clients. Think about which clients you could refer to your contacts, and let the client know you’d love to help market each other’s businesses. Leave positive Yelp reviews, tweet about your new client, and endorse them on LinkedIn. You’ll cultivate an even better relationship with your clients and boost both your business and theirs.
  • Reward. Offer a discount for referrals that lead to new business or send a thank-you with a gift card letting the client know you appreciate their spreading the word.

Tap into Technology

Setting up a process for getting referrals is the best way to ensure it really happens. Here are some popular referral software programs you can use to streamline and organize your referral system.

  • MentionMe: MentionMe works with your website and social platforms to capture real-world conversations online and help encourage referrals.
  • ShareSomeFriends: Customers can use the ShareSomeFriends app to refer their friends and family members to your business. It only takes minutes to establish an account and craft a promotional message that customers can send to their friends.
  • iRefer: iRefer automates the referral tracking and rewards process for your business; it comes with a free 14-day trial offer.:

Add New Services to Your Practice

This is a win-win scenario. You win because you’ll make more money by offering additional services to your clients, making you more valuable to them. Your clients win because you’re helping them do something they don’t have the time or expertise to do.

For instance, let’s say you have several clients who are aspiring or current business owners. They’re likely to ask you to help them with their questions about business formation or compliance issues. But do you have the bandwidth or knowledge to do this?

CorpNet is now offering a partner program that allows you to help your clients, make money, and now add to your workload.

There are two options you can explore, either as a reseller of services, or a referral partner. In either case, you, your accounting business, and your clients are all better off.

Your satisfied customers are your best source of additional business. While you’re serving them, don’t forget to market to them, too. When you show them how hard you’re willing to work for them, it will make them more loyal to you.