Today I received an email enquiry directly from my website from someone who wanted a quote for payroll and auto enrolment.  They asked me not to telephone so I assumed, as is often the case, that it was a sensitive situation.  So I emailed and asked them to call me when it was convenient to them as I needed to gather more information before quoting.

Their response was that they didn't want to speak to me as they didn't want to talk to 15 different people.  That seemed a very strange response which made me realise they were just gathering quotes from different sources.  So, rather than waste my time quoting, I suggested that one of the other 15 people would probably suit them better than we would.

What would you have done in this situation?

Whilst an email from a new enquiry can provide lots of helpful information before an initial telephone conversation our business is built on building relationships and providing a service which exceeds expectations.  If we can't have a discussion with a potential client we can't find out what they are hoping for and what they would like which is different to what they get now.   

This happens with bookkeeping too.  We receive emails asking us to quote for doing bookkeeping without any information about their business, what they would like us to do and how often, whether they are VAT registered or anything which gives us any indication of what we will need to do.  

It is impossible to produce a realistic quote without a telephone conversation to qualify and quantify what is needed and to help both parties decide if we can provide the service they need.

Going back to the payroll enquiry I could easily do a quote based on the number of employees paid monthly (the only information I was given) but what happens when I receive the payroll information and find there are all sorts of errors to be corrected.  Payroll is far more than just producing a payslip which is why businesses ask someone who understands the legislation and the process to do it for them.   

Last year we took on a payroll only to find that there were errors in the previous processing relating to pensions, sick pay, maternity pay and even basic calculation of pay which needed to be sorted out.  We have taken on other payrolls where the tax codes have very obviously been incorrect and when we have suggested the employee contact HMRC to get a revised code they have done so and received a very welcome tax refund.  Other payrolls have had incorrect or no pension contributions which we obviously put right.

Part of providing a good service to clients who choose to outsource bookkeeping and payroll is to understand why and what good service looks like to them.  We want to have good relationships with our clients and not work with people who don't want to provide us with the information we need to do a good job. 

If you want to outsource your payroll, auto enrolment or bookkeeping, please be prepared to have a telephone conversation with us.  You will get a feel for our knowledge and ability to do the job you want as well as experiencing our customer service.  You will be able to let us know  what is not working for you now and what you would ideally like.   Then if we can't give you the support you need we will tell you.  The telephone conversation doesn't have to take very long but it will be much more valuable to you and to us and our quote will be much more realistic.