In order to not only survive but profit from the shifts in the accountant-client relationship (from “just a bookkeeper” to “business consultant”) your firm is going to have to do more than just expand its menu – it’s going to have to standardise a whole new set of processes. But that’s going to mean more time spent per client, right? Here’s how the outsourced accountant will be able to stay ahead of the curve.
What new services do you want to offer?
Clients who are happy with your work are going to ask you to handle more of their financial needs for them (personal taxes, payroll, accounts receivable, what have you). And that’s great. It means you’re doing great work and have earned their trust.
But today let’s focus on what you can proactively offer your clients to display that your firm is constantly looking for ways to up its game when it comes to its treasured clients.
What about the time sink that comes with the new work? Well, first off the outsourced accountant will already have that covered. By shipping the compliance, bookkeeping, tax returns, and so on overseas the outsourced accountant has already freed up an immense amount of their own time. This is done at a fraction of the cost that it would take to pay for new in-house recruits.
Second, let’s see if we can find some value-adds that we can start off with that will seem like a tremendous boon to your clients while not requiring big chunks of time to perform at your end.
Graph their financial performance
How about a charted financial analysis of their business? You’re the outsourced accountant of choice for your clients so you’re already going to be collating their numbers anyway before sending them off into the cloud to your overseas team.
So you or your in-house team (depending on your firm’s size naturally) put together a clean and easy-to-understand set of numbers for your client to see how they’ve prospered over a span of 3 or so years.
Lay out some numbers like Sales, Gross Profit%, Net Profit%, maybe Liquidity, Cash Balance, whatever numbers come easily to hand. Display them both as a numbered chart and bar graph (most word processors today have built-in easy-to-use graphing options, or there’s always programs like Excel) and your client is going to have an easily understandable visual display of the fortunes of their business.
This takes almost no extra time on your end but gives your client some really useful (and visually exciting) information.
The Outsourced Accountant is Ready to Show Them Where Their Money Went
This is another area where you probably have most of the necessary information already at hand. Any business would be happy to have a solid handle on why they didn’t make as much as they would have liked to in a year, and it can be a real eye-opener for baby businesses when they see how much their inventory etc. actually costs them.
Again, graphs are your friend. As the outsourced accountant of choice you can work up a simple line graph showing their cash-at-hand for the beginning of the year, followed by profit and depreciation, and then watch as their eyes get wider as the curve heads down through dividends, inventory, and accounts receivable. Close it out with accounts payable, loans (if any), and year-end cash.
You’ve now just provided your client with a sharper understanding of their business with little extra work for your firm.
Give Your Clients Goals
You’ve probably encountered this already – it’s surprising how many business owners don’t set goals for their company. They have ephemeral goals – “I want to be rich,” “I want to be able to afford a Mercedes,” “I want to crush my competition into the dust.” But they don’t have specific, actionable goals for which they can create a plan.
So here are a couple of numbers the outsourced accountant can run for them. How many conversions per advertisement do they need to break even? Or to hit a financial milestone that will let them afford a new hire or a new piece of equipment?
How about inventory? Would it be a better move for them to bring in bigger bulks of inventory in the long run? Or the flip-side, do they have inventory languishing and taking up valuable storage space? Would they be better with a drop-shipment warehouse instead?
By giving your clients clear steps they can take you’re making their lives easier and their business less hectic – they’ll be working toward a specific goal instead of taking ephemeral actions and just hoping that they have a positive outcome.
How do you come up with these goals? Chances are that what is going to work for one client will work for others. Jot down your ideas in a work process of your own and give them a quick fit to all of your clients, choosing the two or three that work best in each situation. You’ve now created a conveyor belt of ideas that will make your clients very happy.
It’s highly unlikely that any other accounting firm has offered their business any kind of value-add like this, which means that the outsourced accountant is going to be a step ahead of their competition.