37 – Why you should never turn down a client (at least until you have met them)

This advice differs from what you will often hear when it comes to financial services. Indeed, we recently attended a conference where advisers bluntly stated that they were simply not interested in large sections of the community. And we are not talking about the dirt poor or the incarcerated, either. The main discriminator was age: Generation Y (people born in the 1980s and early 1990s). These advisers simply refuse to meet with them.

This is a great way to limit the number of your clients.

If someone asks for your help, provided you have the competence and what they want you to do is legal and ethical, your philosophy should be to say yes whenever possible. Help people. Charge accordingly – we are not saying you should work for nothing just because clients ask you to – but don’t say “no” if you could reasonably say yes.

The simple reason for this is that you never know who else a potential client knows. The best professional practices are referral-based and spend little, if anything, on advertising. Clients come to the practice on the strength of a positive reference from someone they know. Help that small client and let yourself be surprised by who they will tell.

Remember, generation Y’s parents are all near to or in retirement. Help a darling daughter buy her first investment property and see what mum and dad think of you after that. And then see how many of their friends they go on to tell… (you can be assured that they will be telling all of their friend that their daughter has bought a property).

Remember, the best form of marketing is a service well-provided. This leads inevitably to a happy client.  Science actually confirms that happy people talk more.

So, the client you say ‘no’ to can end up costing you a fortune.

Clients asking for help is also the simplest and best form of market research. Businesses can spend a fortune trying to work out what ‘their market’ wants or needs. They can run focus groups, engage researchers, meet with their network of referral partners, etc. Or, they can simply say yes when someone asks for a meeting and then listen to what people actually want them to do. 

This is not to say that you should not aim to specialise in your practice. You can and you should. Direct any advertising you do perform where you think it will be best received, and target the clients you think you can best help and that you can do best by helping.

But do not ignore what ‘the market’ is telling you, either. When someone asks for your assistance, that is the market speaking. Hear it.

The Dover Group