Sometimes, client relationships grow to become lifelong friendships. In a Meet the Difference Makers Contest winning story submitted by Intuit® tax professional Sheri Works, the bond between her and a particular client ran so deep that he entrusted her to organize all financial matters, as he faced a terminal form of cancer.
“For 27 years, I helped a client by taking care of everything with regard to finances,” writes Sheri in her contest entry. “He owned Dairy Queen restaurants, which, over the years, we evolved from a sole-proprietorship to an S corporation. Weekly, I would process his business invoices, run payroll and give him his weekly allowance.”
Sheri started out as an accounting and tax professional in 1984. The restaurateur was among the first and most significant clients in the history of her independent practice.
“Over the years, I became his tax preparer, his accountant, his psychiatrist, his financial advisor, his insurance consultant and just someone who would listen,” she adds.
“He would bring me all his bills and say, ‘Take what’s needed and let me know what I can spend.’ He went from having one Dairy Queen to three, and then back to one. He would call me on a Sunday morning just to say sales were good on Saturday. It was a friendship too.”
Things changed somewhat in December of 2014, when the client found out that he had terminal cancer.
“Now, I had new responsibilities,” Sheri recalls.
In advance of the client’s passing, everything had to be in order so that no one else would worry. Vehicle titles had to be changed, the business sold and the trust updated.
“It was a big task, but I knew he relied on me to get it done,” says Sheri. “For the next six months, we got everything ready for a smooth transition. We had already put his remaining Dairy Queen on the market. After we found out about the cancer, we had to sell more aggressively. It sold a week before he passed away in July of 2015.”
By that time, “Everything was as ready as we could get it,” Sheri says. “I now look after his trust and his widow’s financial issues. It’s been a lot to take on, but it’s something you do in a small rural community.”
Aside from the near 30-year history together, Sheri was motivated to go above and beyond for this client simply because he consistently valued her assistance.
“He was a client who truly appreciated what I did,” she explains. “His kids recalled that he asked about me in the hospital. He relied on me.”
Also, he was Sheri’s only client who would pay her more than she charged him. “He would say, ‘You’re not charging me enough.’ He wanted to make sure that I was taken care of as well. He really appreciated everything. He will be missed.”
Sheri began doing return preparation in TurboTax, then moved to ProConnect™ ProSeries® and seems to be on course for another longstanding relationship.
“If I have questions, customer support comes through,” she says. “They help me understand who is exempt and who isn’t. ProSeries meets my needs and is built in a way that is intuitive for me. I don’t see a reason to change.”
Sheri recently moved her practice into an office in town and has added several clients as a result. She now has one full-time and two part-time employees, but no matter how big the business becomes, she’ll never lose touch with her client-first philosophy.
“People come in here and ask, ‘How much do you charge per hour?’ I tell them, but I also let them know that we end up doing what’s necessary. You want to see them be successful.”