[IMGCAP(1)]So are Ralph, Dennis, Judith, Alan, Susan, Fern and Ken. Successful client relationships start when you treat each client as if they were your only client or your best client or most important client.

Clients know they are not your only client, but they need to be treated as if they were. When you do that, you will have a client for life.

Early on, I got a new client because she was very unhappy with her accountant. When I took over the work, it looked like the accountant did a great job. I really couldn’t find much to improve upon and asked the client why she switched accountants. She told me that she never felt that her work was important to the CPA, that she always seemed to be pushed to the back and never had her calls returned promptly.

Actually, the work was great, even though it required more hand-holding. This taught me the importance of making clients feel important. Returning calls promptly is one way. Responding to emails—even to just let the sender know it was received and possibly a reply date—is also essential, along with calling clients to let them know you are sending something to them and explaining if there is an unusual result, and an occasional call to see how things are going.

I got this client many years ago and she still is a client. And I treat her as if she were my only client!

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner in WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He has authored 20 books and has written hundreds of articles for business and professional journals and newsletters plus a Tax Loophole article for every issue of TaxHotline for 27 years. Ed also writes a blog twice a week that addresses issues his clients have at www.partners-network.com. He is the winner of the Lawler Award for the best article published during 2001 in the Journal of Accountancy. He has also taught in the MBA graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. Ed welcomes practice management questions and he can be reached at WithumSmith+Brown, One Spring Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, (732) 964-9329, emendlowitz@withum.comm.