Simon (not his real name) is an ambitious 28-year old café proprietor – not your usual café, rather, a mini-sized café in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD; standing room only, made for takeaways. Simon has plans to open more. The design is compact, functional and so too is his technology: P.O.S. software matched to the latest in card readers, lets him run the enterprise from an iPad while keeping on top of sales and inventory. What are his bookkeeping needs going forward?

It’s a loaded question because it focuses on the need for an accounting and bookkeeping professional to be equal to the task; to be savvy about the technology, to be responsive to a growing enterprise and to be present for the inevitable challenges faced by a fast-track
entrepreneur. It’s also about knowing that the financial returns from a client need to be looked at from a lifetime value perspective.

Lifetime value

Because accounting and bookkeeping clients are recurring customers, investing in acquiring them and having the appropriate systems in place to on-board them, can pay off dramatically in terms of their lifetime value. This, of course, assumes that your customers will stick around.
It’s not just technical expertise that makes customers ‘sticky’; it’s managing people, developing your reputation, deepening client relationships that are the drivers of lifetime value.

Onboarding a new client

The client onboarding process can become a headache, quickly, especially when you do not already have systems in place or staff to help transition a new client to your firm. You have worked hard to get that new client – imagine the type of experience that Simon would expect in terms of process fulfillment.
It’s really crucial to automate your client onboarding process early and to get your services up and running before you start to win clients.
The first step is to focus on the services you provide to your clients.
• Set your levels and expectations of services. Understand what you do really well as a business and know what you can outsource to your trusted sources.
• Then find out how you can use technology such as accounting programs, client file sharing programs and add-ons to make the process seamless.

Adopting a business mindset

To automate your client onboarding process is important because it communicates what your firm is about and what products and services you will provide to the client.

Expanding a firm can be incredibly time-consuming for a bookkeeping professional but they still have to make decisions to professionalize the business, put systems in place and have a plan that allows them to do longer-term planning. Those decisions can make the difference between being a professional exchanging time for money and a business owner building lifetime value in their client base. Simon is on the move: his business advisors will need to keep up with him.