As digital transformation takes over the world, accounting, bookkeeping service providers everywhere need to change to survive, developing new capabilities that can drive competitiveness and growth. But what does this really involve and how do you succeed? Sole practitioners in particular, face an uphill battle to sustain their present and past revenue streams as automation slashes the value of compliance work – indeed any work that can be done by machines (that is, software). It is collaboration with others who have skill sets or platforms that will save their skins.
To be clear, an accounting and bookkeeping service firm today needs to be across, not just the digital tools available, but have the capability to integrate disparate tech tools and applications, package higher value services, market their services, on-board and train new accounting ‘technicians’. As the graphic above illustrates, team collaboration will be the cornerstone of growth for the future-looking firm.
Adding value to customers
Too many professionals view marketing as a money pit and stay well away. The real issue however, is growing revenue and the easiest way to increase revenue is to increase project value. There is no wriggle room on compliance work but there is plenty of scope to increase prices for services that add value to the customer’s business.
When surveyed late last year, a majority of bookkeeping business owners said that they had not raised prices for fear of scaring off customers. There’s a simple way to mitigate against this risk: raise the prices for new customers. The first will be the hardest, then self-confidence will take over.
Expand your services
Forget hourly billing, transition your service offerings to bundled offers. One bookkeeper re-bundled her compliance work with a “debt management” service offering (essentially automating the collection system), pricing the service at three times her older fee. Naturally, she had to convince the customers that this represented three times as much value to them.
A second way to grow revenue is to have customers come back for more, more often. One of the advantages of team collaboration is that brainstorming can become a regular feature of the firm (and their external partners).
Generating ideas to have customers come back more often may not need a brain dump; changing the terms of the client or project agreement can build in a longer term arrangement that presents opportunity for increasing the revenue per client.