Armando D'Accordo could have never imagined that two of his largest clients would close their doors last year and a third would scale back its workload significantly.
"It was a punch in the stomach," said D'Accordo, 51, who became a franchisee and area developer for Texas-based CMIT in 2007. "I knew I had to move fast."
Because he had the larger clients, he said, "I wasn't as into [client] acquisition mode."
This isn't uncommon, experts said.
"It's really attractive for a small company to attract the attention of a much larger prospect," said Andrea Feinberg, president of Port Jefferson Station-based Coaching Insight Llc, who serves as a business coach to small business owners. "The business owner can feel he or she has gotten on the gravy train."
A diversified client base
But as D'Accordo learned, the risk is that if those clients go out of business, then "there goes a large bulk of your business," Feinberg said.
His first instinct was to find a large client to replace the ones he lost, but instead he decided there was more protection in creating a diversified client base with a greater number of small-to-midsized clients.
"My long-term strategy is to not be a big game hunter," explains D'Accordo, who over the past nine months has replaced those lost clients with more than a dozen smaller ones -- generally firms with 75 employees or less.
"I'm getting back to my roots," said D'Accordo, noting his efforts have resulted in revenue being up 20 percent year over year.
D'Accordo says he's managed to grow his client roster largely via consistent marketing, speaking engagements, networking and referrals.
He does about 12 to 15 speaking engagements a year before a variety of groups, including the local chapters of the National Conference of CPA Practitioners and Financial Executives International.
"He's a great source of information," says Sandra Johnson, owner of Sandra G. Johnson CPA, Pc, in Bellmore and vice president of the local CPA group.
In 2007, D'Accordo paid $184,000 to purchase his franchise, which covers Wantagh, Bellmore, Merrick, East Meadow, Carle Place and Westbury, along with area development rights for Long Island and New York City.
The number of CMIT franchises in Long Island and New York has grown from two in 2007 to nine, with a 10th slated to open in Nassau shortly, he said, noting they're each operated by independent franchisees.
Prospect for growth
"He's really been a spark plug in the Northeast," says CMIT chief executive Jeff Connally. D'Accordo was honored by CMIT last year with its Area Developer of the Year Award.
D'Accordo says he thinks the number of franchises locally will double within three years.
As for his own franchise, he also anticipates growth. He's looking to secure a $50,000 line of credit for working capital, and while he wouldn't specify exact revenue, he said he hopes to hit the seven-figure mark in gross revenue next year.
"I'm very optimistic," he said.