Are you singing from an outdated song sheet? Elvis records still sell but today’s more youthful business owners are more likely to be listening to Beyoncé or Shakira. The ‘role’ or the ‘song sheet’ for today’s accountant or bookkeeper has changed dramatically due to influence from new technologies and the shift to cloud solutions. Reality check: today’s business owner could well be asking ‘Is there an app for that?’ And there usually is – up to a point.
Just as Elvis’s song sheet has been relegated to a nostalgic past so too has the definition of the role, in particular, of the bookkeeper.
‘Wotz your hourly rate?’
That question, often asked by a prospective client will – increasingly – be handled in a more contemporary manner than in days gone by. A professional today is more likely to turn the price question into a conversation about the value of services they provide to their clients. Bookkeeping now requires a combination of tech-savvy, business acumen, and people skills. In short, the song sheet says ‘trusted advisor’ not ‘bookkeeping role’. This does not come without its challenges.
Identity confusion for bookkeepers
Some progressive and perhaps upwardly mobile bookkeepers, now refer to themselves as a ‘Virtual CFO’ when in fact the client has no real idea of what this service would entail. Many bookkeepers who do marketing (a minority) are working from old song sheets, focusing almost exclusively on credentials (some with four or more ‘certificates’ from various accounting software suppliers), a laundry list of services (usually in old accounting speak), which is more like noise than meaningful information for the business owner who wants bookkeeping services. There needs to be a transition before recognising the value of an accounting professional.
Many, if not most SMB owners won’t see the value in ‘value services’ without first going through a serious engagement process. The business owner needing a bookkeeper is not Google’ing for a ‘virtual CFO’ or ‘cloud accounting solutions provider.’
The new roles for the bookkeeper
Business owners are experiencing new pain points and problems that they do not know how to trouble-shoot on their own. Here then lies a genuine value service opportunity. The bookkeeper can be the technology expert when it comes to cloud integration of accounting services which could be essential in terms of enabling the business owner stay up to date on the tools that will help the business grow while troubleshooting and maintaining these systems.
They are many, many roles emerging. With automation saving time, and technology providing the tools, the trusted advisor can be focusing on deeper relationships with fewer clients and talk with them about issues that position you as the trusted advisor for a whole range of business-related questions.
Making yours songs sheet believable
Words come cheap and one thing that catapulted Elvis to the top of the charts were sublime lyrics. You can achieve success by:
• Telling stories about your customers that illustrate your promises actually being delivered. Give measurable results within a specific time frame.
• Reducing customer anxieties. Can you deliver value services? Use testimonials from your existing and previous customers – and use lots of them. This shows a prospective value-based client that you have delivered on your promises to businesses ‘just like them’.