Bookkeepers and accountants work hard, arguably too hard, for their clients. Bookkeepers and accountants often tell me that they have too much stress and struggle to get paid what they are worth. Are bookkeepers and accountants doomed to roam the Earth as overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated business advisors? Or, is there a better way? Is there hope?
Yes, there is hope! Bookkeepers and accountants can break the stress cycle and actually move to a model where they are earning more, working less and appreciated more by their clients. As an added bonus, you can even offer more services to impress your clients. The model involves a paradigm shift, so it will not be easy. But, it can be accomplished by embracing 4 secrets. The 4 secrets to earning more and working less are:
- Leverage technology for operational efficiency and collaboration
- Implement fixed fee pricing to get paid for the value that you deliver
- Engage ideal clients through marketing
- Develop client relationships through a deliberate sales process
Each of these secrets will be featured in future blog posts, but for now, we will start with an introduction as to what each is and why it is important to your bookkeeping business or accounting firm. Read on to find out how each of these secrets can help you.
- Leverage technology – The accounting world has steadfastly resisted technology. As a group, we are not generally seen as innovative. That is the bad news (and stating the obvious). The good news is that a little innovation will now yield unprecedented results. Cloud-based applications, such as QuickBooks® Online, reduce the time we spend entering data, allowing us the opportunity to focus on data management and higher level tasks. We can spend our time adding value to our clients, rather than chasing paper. Online collaboration is now possible and essential for providing excellent customer service.
- Implement fixed fee pricing – Accountants and bookkeepers have traditionally relied on hourly billing to ensure that they are paid for services performed. Hourly billing creates inherent conflict between the advisor and the client. The main challenge is that it can produce unexpectedly high fees for clients. Clients, on the other hand, would prefer a fixed price quoted up front. Accounting professionals worry about write-offs and unpaid time, so they stick with hourly billing. Cloud technology provides many great solutions to control our time and costs. Thus, we can confidently quote fixed prices without fear of unexpected losses. Clients, in my experience, will pay a premium for certainty on fees if agreed to in advance of performing the work.
- Engage ideal clients – Marketing is often ignored or neglected by bookkeepers and accountants. Most are either too busy to do it or don’t know where to start. Marketing should be seen as a way to communicate our value to prospects and clients. Marketing efforts should be consistent so that we always have a steady supply of new clients. This allows us to predictably replace lost clients and gives us the courage to fire bad clients. The true goal for marketing should be to reach and engage our ideal client. Ask yourself, “Who do I truly want to work with?”
- Develop client relationships – The term “sales” often conjures up negative images and experiences for most of us. However, I prefer to think of sales as relationship building so that we can identify the client’s needs and offer them the best possible service. A consistent sales process can involve a standard set of questions, or other systems, to ensure that we are asking the right questions and meeting our client’s needs.
We will cover each of these secrets in more detail in subsequent blog posts.
If you can’t wait to dive into this in detail, check out our live event on this topic, coming to Calgary on March 31, 2016, and sponsored by Intuit®.