Referrals are the primary way most accountants, bookkeepers and lawyers get new clients. The problem usually is that we have little control over when referrals come in. Most bookkeeping business owners start out the same way as most entrepreneurs: DIY’ing.; wasting daytime hours to struggle through building a website or doing far too much work that can’t be billed. It seems the efficient thing to do. But there is a difference between cheap and efficient. It is cheap to do everything yourself, but it is efficient to pay someone else to turn out better, quicker results on things you are not good at so you could redirect efforts toward your expertise.

Putting a dollar value to your time is essential to unlocking this knowledge. Bookkeepers have the power to make a significant impact on the well-being of their clients’ financial situation, which affects all aspects of their lives. So what to do to become more valuable to your clients and to be more attractive to prospective clients?

You can scale your bookkeeping services as a high volume, low-cost commodity service (these type of bookkeeping firms are already appearing online). This will embrace the changes already taking place with automation, but it does involve playing a commodity game. This risks participating in a “race to the bottom” on fees that devalues the bookkeeping function in the eyes of clients.

Add premium, high-value advisory services that are focused on working more closely with clients to improve their financial fitness and become more profitable. With the length of time it takes to complete many tasks reduced, it may no longer be profitable to bill based on time charges. The value you provide your client is not based on the time you spend, especially on nonvalue-added tasks.

Your value is based on the information you provide clients – the quicker the better. Becoming more efficient does not reduce the expertise you bring to your client. By moving to value pricing, you’re giving the client a more preferential method of billing as they have an amount they can budget for each month.

Re-build your service offering to differentiate form the bulk of firms. This will make you stand out as different from other bookkeepers, since most just have a laundry list of accounting functions – you know, the kind that make clients get that zoned-out glaze in their eyes. Offer solutions that will catch the attention of those shopping for a bookkeeper who understands their situation and can really help. For example “Confused about which accounting software to use in your business? Click here for a complimentary assessment.” Clients will welcome the refreshing approach.