The accounting and bookkeeping professions have much to learn from the trades. Doing business with a tradesperson today is a very different experience from three or four years ago. Getting a plumber or electrician is no longer a case of ringing around; today we have services (platforms) such as www.hipages.com.au and www.serviceseeking.com.au that source quotes from tradespeople within minutes of listing your enquiry. And when the tradesperson is selected and does the job, billing is done over the mobile and settled. No more invoices, no more ringing around, all done from the cloud.
The trades are early and energetic adopters of technology. Not only does this translate into their marketing (websites, cloud-based integration with platforms) but also in the productivity dividends flowing form mobility and cloud accounting. This may be challenging for bookkeeping professionals who still believe the cloud is somewhere else other than here, now.
Raising the image
Image counts. Look at another service: taxi drivers. The arrival of Uber and other ride-sharing services over the past few years and the regulation of the industry (in some states) have created a new reality for taxi owners: they need to be at the cutting edge of technology and they need to ‘present’ well. We’re suitably impressed when a well-groomed and clean taxi arrives, on time to collect us and when we’ve been advised of an estimate of cost.
Image is important. So too is certainty: participants in both trades and ride-sharing sectors create certainty through prompt and price certainty (even if they are ‘estimates’). A bookkeeper quoting an hourly rate does a disservice for both herself and the customer as it leaves open the quantum of hours. It also indicates the value that the bookkeeper places on herself. Does your plumber, electrician, taxi driver put such a value on themselves?
Going for a higher value
You (the bookkeeping professional) are the ‘keeper of the keys’ to your clients; your clients read your emails, they respond to your requests, they return your calls and they want to listen to you. In short: you’re a trusted advisor. But are you keeping up with the massive changes happening all around you? And what impact are you genuinely making to your client’s business?
If you are to keep up with the value chain where technology-smart firms are delivering massive productivity gains to their own practice as well as to their clients, you need to live up to the image and the trust that your clients place in you. Switching costs to other providers are extremely low and the DIY route is seamless for a technology savvy business owner. Let the technology do the heavy lifting – put simply, automate as much of your practice as possible.