News & Updates
October 3, 2019
“Build a Better Business With Systems” Chapter 2
Table of Contents
Chapter 2 – A General Outline to Creating Systems
There are basically five steps to integrating systems into your business.
- Recognize your systems. Chances are you’ve already discovered the best way to do a number of things that relate to your business. The first step to making them into systems is by realizing that you have them and that they can be worked on to make them better.
- Examine each system in turn.
- Tweak your existing systems. Now that you recognise your systems for what they are, you might be surprised to find some very obvious ways in which they can be improved.
- Document your systems. This makes it easier to recognize mistakes, to improve the systems when they’re faced with new challenges, and to share them with your employees.
- Maintain your systems. Keep adjusting and tweaking until your systems are just right.
We will go through the creation of three different forms of systems based on the five points above:
- The Big Picture System – Where and how you want to steer your business year by year. As the top dog in your company, this is one that you must write solely by yourself (unless you have partners of course). Then you can share it with employees for feedback. These are the overall goals your business will work toward.
- The Decision System – The principles by which you will make decisions, big and small, that affect your business. Think of this being akin to a country’s constitution. This system is based largely on your ideal version of your business – when customers sing your praises to their friends what do you want them to say?
- The Day-by-Day System – Your daily workflow. This is how you change your business from one that reacts to mistakes into one that is (virtually) mistake-proof. Think of the Day-to-Day system as your assembly line where the real work gets done – first we do A, then B, then C. If D arises, then we hop over to E. You’re going to eventually create one for every type of work process that you encounter in your business. So perhaps one for sales, one for customer complaints, one for filing, and so on. This is one you can share with all your employees – they’re the ones that are going to know the various jobs best after all. This approach also has the added bonus effect of making your people feel emotionally invested in your company – they had input in creating your business’ backbone.
There is one main action you have to take in order to create effective systems – take a step back. Look at your business as a whole and the individual workflows from a bird’s-eye view.
If you’re caught up in the midst of a workflow you’re going to have a much harder time recognising problems. So look at your systems from the view of a project engineer and not as the worker who tightens the screws or drives the transport trucks.
October 3, 2019
“Build a Better Business With Systems” Chapter 1
You’re working killer hours but you’re not making much money.
You keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
You’re just plain stressed out.
Creating your own business is a labour of love to be sure, but it’s also a seemingly endless source of overwhelming anxiety. No matter how many hours you put in you never seem to pull ahead far enough to where you’re able to take a breath, never mind actually enjoying the fruits of said labours.
This book is going to help you reduce stress, recognize and fix errors, and overall help you feel like you own your business instead of the other way around.
How? By showing you the power of setting up systems.
Once you codify how your business works best (including how you should, or should not, respond to mistakes) you’re going to find that:
- You feel like you’re finally in control.
- You’re getting ahead of your mistakes and that you’re no longer making the same errors over and over again.
- You’re more focused on what needs to be done to grow your company instead of merely treading water just to stay afloat.
- You’re working less but making more money.
The systems you’re going to set up will act as maps for you and your employees to follow. You’ll have ongoing procedures and emergencies down to a fine art, and you’ll be better prepared for the next unexpected event.
You might even have some fun.
Ready to take control of your business? Then let’s get started.
Chapter 1 – What are Systems and Why Do You Need Them?
First of all, let’s define what we mean by a “system”.
A system is where every step of a procedure is clearly defined and documented.
In other words, it’s the recipe of the business world. Let’s say you’re the one handling customer complaints for your business. But you get sick one day and can’t come in. The queries and complaints don’t get sick though, and they keep arriving at their usual pace.
If you haven’t laid out a recipe for success when dealing with those complaints then none of your employees are going to help resolve the situation with your customers. They’re not going to know how big of a refund they’re allowed to make. They’re not going to know if they’re allowed to substitute a newer model of widget for the older model that the customer has in their possession. At worst, they’re not going to know that there’s any sort of complaints email address or database at all.
Without you there dealing with the complaints they are going to back up. Customers will feel snubbed and they will leave you, and thanks to social media they’re going to let all of their friends and colleagues know that you dropped the ball.
But with a documented system in place your employees will know both who should take over handling the complaints in your absence and how much leeway they have in making a customer happy.
In addition, you’re going to have any easier time recognizing where your workflow needs help. If you’ve categorised how (for example) a client’s file moves through your system, you’ll be able to see the exact point that the file’s work gets bogged down. This is much harder to do if you approach your work in an undocumented and haphazard fashion.
A third benefit is that, now that you’re able to recognise and shore up your internal workflow, you’ll no longer have to roll up your sleeves and jump in very much, if at all, because there are few if any more emergencies. This will free up big chunks of time that allow you to get back to steering your company from the top down.
Last, your employees want to do good work for you. Too many businesses try to get ahead by doing exactly what they shouldn’t be doing – putting obstacles in the way of good employees that includes confusion and a lack of guidelines. Systems enable your employees to do what they want most to do – turn in a good day’s work. If employees don’t know how to make you happy… well, they won’t.
Every action you take in your business is one piece of a system. Every system comes together to make a whole – your business. The better your systems are the better your business will be.
August 8, 2019
Part B – Begin With the 1% to Get You to 20%
From: How to Price Your Accountancy Services for Maximum Profit (by Mark Wickersham)
Part 4b of 14
OK, now why would you bother settling for just 1%?
You may be already asking yourself the same question. Why would I settle for 1% if I could ask for 5%, 10% or even 20%?
Phil Bessant, a sole practitioner of a firm in Newport brings in annually £250K, which is commendable for an economically challenged area of South Wales. After going through the Effective Pricing for Accountants programme, Phil sent an email:
“I would like to express a huge THANK YOU. Having the whole 11 courses in your series I have started to put them into practice and as a result have signed two clients this week worth £37,500 of fees which prior to your course at the very best I would have quoted £6,000. One paid £25k up front and one paid £6k up front. So a very very very big thank you, I think it is safe to say that the costs have been recovered.”
Soon after I did an interview with Phil where he explained how he followed the processes in the programme and is now able to increase his prices by an average of 28%! Taking his profit from £250,000 to £400,000. If you’d like to listen to the interview, click here.
What’s holding you back?
I’m guessing….. It’s a lack of confidence. It tends to be the first thing that stops accountants from raising their prices. But, this mindset can be overcome and together with getting the skills, knowledge and systems, asking for higher fees won’t be such a concern. You could even look forward to it, you’ll see why.
Price has got nothing to do with costs and everything to do with people. Pricing involves behavioural economics. And when we fully understand this branch of economic theory and have the skills and the systems in place, then we suddenly find that confidence. It’s not our fault that we’re not good at pricing… accountants are simply not taught how to price.
Price is also a mindset matter. It’s about seeing that some people will see your charge out rates as too high for them and also recognising that you don’t want every single person as a client.
Sometimes, accountants say that their clients complain of prices being too high, however, on closer examination the same accountant says the clients that complain make up only 10 to 20% of their client base. We have to remember that when we hear these kinds of things from clients, they only represent some clients, not all. It’s easy to blow this out of proportion in our minds. This can be a determining factor in keeping our prices low.
However, we’ve got this all upside down. Take a look at it another way, if none of your clients ever say to you, “That’s expensive”, that most likely means your prices are too cheap!
So, the answer is to embrace the mindset that can tolerate complaints about pricing with a grain of salt and once you hear them from up to about 20% of clients you’ll know you’re on the right track with pricing your services right.
Objections can put you in the right direction.
August 7, 2019
Part A – Begin With the 1% to Get You to 20%
[Visit BOSS for information on the new Freedom Service’s online bookkeeping service]
Although at this point you may be feeling skeptical, keep reading as you’ll learn why your clients will stay with you rather than stray.
Now, we’re going to look at a series of interesting questions I call the 1% effect.
Consider for a second about fifty things that you continuously buy that you feel are really useful things to your life. Would you give up purchasing them if they were to increase the price by one percent?
For example, would you give up your favourite beer if they raised the price by 4 cents from $3.80 to $3.84? Or your favourite bottle of wine if it went up from $7.80 to $7.88? Or how about your favourite magazine if the price was to jump from $9 to $9.09?
If you answered “NO” to these, then as a customer you’d be saying that if the product is good, you’d be willing to pay for it even with a small increase in price.
Are your services good?
If you can say “yes”, then following logic, it means you could increase your prices by an average of 1% and keep the majority, if not all of your clients, right?
I’m not asking whether you could increase every price by exactly 1% for every customer. I’m asking whether you could increase some prices for some customers by a little more than 1%, and some prices by a little less than 1%, without losing a significant number of customers.
That’s not so hard, right?
So, how come you don’t do it….today?
If a UK firm making an average of £245,720 were to increase its fees with the 1% effect, that would buy them perhaps a vacation for a family, £2,457 more per year.
That price increase wouldn’t have much of an impact at all on your clients, but would give you more pocket money.
Your clients will stick with you through the increase in fees and you’ll be happy you did it.