We placed a staff accountant with one of our top clients who fell off. We quickly replaced this person with a qualified staff accountant who quickly demonstrated some disturbing behavior (personal Internet use, inappropriate sites, etc.) I recommended that we replace this person but they chose to keep her. She has since left and as my client reviewed year-end records, they’ve discovered she was stealing money through creatively manipulating direct deposit records.
My client wanted to know if our bond insurance would cover their loss, which it won’t, since she wasn’t our employee. My client understood and did say they would continue to utilize our firm. However, I feel our reputation is shattered with this client. I’m in a small town, and this client is highly respected and well networked. I want to do something to save face. I’ve offered to conduct background checks on all future hires but feel I need to do more. Is there anything you can recommend in addition?
Frank S., San Francisco, CA
Offering to conduct background checks is a great first step. The fact that you are anticipating working with the client again means your reputation isn’t really shattered. If your reputation were shattered, you’d be experiencing the wrath of this client.
I would find out something about your client (favorite restaurant, hobby, etc.). You have to be careful because many executives cannot accept any type of gifts from a vendor. If this is not an issue with this client, I would purchase a gift certificate as a small token of my intention to make up for this situation. If your client cannot accept gifts, find out what charity he backs and make a donation in his name. Have a plaque engraved with your client’s name and company name.
This is in recognition of your Generous Contribution To:
(Name of Charity)
Presented by (Your Company Name)
You might be able to have someone from the charity to attend when you present the plaque. See if the local newspaper will take a picture. This would give the company FREE publicity, which hopefully would impress this client. If you don’t like any of these ideas, ask your client what you can do for them to make up for this situation. You might want to place the next person with their firm at no cost. Hope these suggestions help.
Barbara J. Bruno, CPC, CTS
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