A while ago, I wanted to know if a client had forwarded information to prepare their tax return and if there was an amount due with their return. The response I received from a particular staff member was that the client was a big boy and we shouldn’t have to hold their hand. Needless to say, that person is no longer with us.
Some of our most loyal and successful clients are the clients with whom we have held hands. I take pride in the fact that we helped them get to where they are today. We are not a supersized, multi-national firm. I left one of those firms early in my career. I felt the firm, and therefore, I, was not positioned to add real value to relationships with clients.
We are a reasonably sized regional firm with expertise in the international arena. Our firm has grown with our clients. Some of them have been on board for over thirty years. I remember one of our clients, who has now grown to a half billion dollar business, lost their controller and had to provide their bank monthly financial statements. I worked at our firm during the day and worked at that client’s office at night to help them get their financial statements out on time. Our client still talks about it.
I remember another client who purchased a business where he worked, from a family whose two owners were brothers and died within ten months of each other. The company’s bank panicked. I ran around with the new owner to a number of banks trying to negotiate lines of credit and term loans for the company, and taught the owner the finance and accounting side of the business. This is also now one of our firm’s larger clients.
There was the company whose accounting manager had been hoarding invoices in a drawer and putting off the vendors when they called for payment. When the owner finally found out, there were several hundred thousand dollars of unpaid bills in the drawer. I was retained by the company and spent many long hours with the owner determining where his company really stood financially. Negotiating with vendors and his bank, and attending dinner meetings with vultures who wanted to purchase the assets of his business, leaving him the liabilities and the promise of a job, became a daily routine.
I worked with a tool and die company who saw a number of their customers disappear to Chinese competitors in a six month period. I worked at home at night creating a 13-week cash flow spreadsheet which required daily updates, and met with the owners several times a week to discuss it. These are some of my clients. At CDH, we hold hands and I wouldn’t have it any other way.