The very short answer to that question is likely “no”. The problem is that many accountants don’t really feel like they’re in a service industry. Instead, their position is accounting is an essential business and, being essential, it will automatically have clients.
This leads to grist-mill firms that revolve around compliance work. Compliance work represents a very low income base for a firm that has so much more potential. Worse, since so many other firms wilfully stick their feet in the same compliance trap, the only real way to compete is to lower your prices, which of course in turn reduces the money you can be making to increasingly lower levels.
Excellent client service
The proactive firms (the ones where the owners and/or partners are driving sexy cars and taking fantastic vacations) are the ones that are focused on redefining themselves from being the compliance gristmills into being houses of financial advisors specialising in giving their clients the tools they need to expand their personal or business finances.
Fine. It’s pretty obvious that as a firm owner you’re going to want to shift from being focused on compliance stuff to providing the high-end profit analysis, price setting, financial goal breakdowns, and so on. But how can you do that if you’re running a start-up that counts on the compliance work just to keep the ship afloat in these first lean years?
Get proactive. Do not wait until clients come to you with work. Instead, make it part of your system that you contact them at least once a month either via phone call or email. At the very least you can check in to see how they’re doing.
Even better though is if you’ve scanned their numbers and can offer an improvement – “I’ve looked at your numbers and it appears that you could easily raise your prices for Product X by Y dollars. Even if that turned some of your customers off you’d have to lose Z of your regulars before this would begin to hurt you.”
With that one bit of analysis you’ve accomplished three important steps.
First, you’ve evolved your firm from being that place where your client gets their taxes done into that place that just improved their business by such-and such dollars per month. Because of you they can afford to buy that new piece of equipment a year earlier than expected or hire someone to help take the load off their current employees.
Second, by showing that you’re an accounting firm that has expertise in financial advice, you’ve made your clients curious about what they might be missing out by not hiring on some of your top tier services.
Third, you’ve shown that you care about them; they’re not just a faceless client to you.
It’s been reported that up to 40% of people switched brands or services not because of price, but because they heard that the competitor offered better customer experiences. Up to a whopping 86% say they will pay more for that boosted experience.
This new relationship with your clients doesn’t just boost your value in their eyes. The reverse is also true. The person or business that was once purely a source of low-end compliance work is now buying up more of your top-end services. You’re getting paid more for doing the same amount of work, especially if you outsource the compliance stuff so you can really dig into the financial advisor end of things. So your client is now more valuable to you.
Here’s an added bonus – you can now begin to cultivate an ideal list of A-clients. You’ll no longer need to scramble to pick up the business of every Tom, Dick, or Harry that needs their income taxes done.
Instead, you can whittle down your client list to those that you enjoy working with and are paying for your higher-priced services. You’ll actually be reducing your client list while at the same time increasing your firm’s income.
And as always, clients that love you will talk about you. A-list clients are more likely to be connected to other people that you would like to have in your roster. Like attracts like.
Another added bonus is that once you start having regular conversations with your clients they become an invaluable source for ideas about where your firm needs improvements, where you’re excelling, and the financial woes that people in their line of work and/or place in life face on a regular basis.
In essence, your existing clients are doing all the work for you of constructing the ideal firm for your version of A-listers. You’ll be able to create a priced menu full of services specifically geared towards attracting your version of top tier clients based on their recommendations.
The key to all of this is to get proactive. Do not sit and wait for your ideal client to come through your door. Don’t continue to compete with other firms for compliance work. Get busy building up your preferred clients and they will automatically start doing the same for you.