The market has changed; it’s true. If you are struggling at the keyboard, overloaded, feeling under-valued, delivering a bookkeeping service with yesterday’s skills and tools, take a good look around: it’s not the marketplace it once was. Stuff has changed!
1. Customers are smarter: with instant access to whatever data they need
2. Technology has rendered face-to-face meetings less necessary. There’s the internet, the cloud and email
3. The market’s more competitive: customers/clients may still like the relationship but they are less prepared than ever to pay for it.
With the accounting profession – including the Big 4 – encroaching the traditional bookkeeper’s domain and well-capitalised accounting software providers aggressively attacking the ‘white space’ of the SMB sector, inertia is a poor option.
What keeps your customers awake at night?
It’s not bookkeeping and accounting fees; it’s cash flow. A recent survey of SMB respondents at www.bookkeepershub.com.au demonstrated this is unequivocal terms. A survey question was:
“Rate your business cash flow:
0: I’m happy with our cash flow
-1: We have too many unpaid invoices at 45 days and over
-2: Damn! I need an overdraft to meet supplier payments; I’m churning creditors.
-3: I owe the ATO tax; it’s very stressful
-4: The business is at risk.”
More than two-thirds of respondents were at minus one or below. In other words, few were happy with the cash flow status of the business.
A sure-fire strategy for a trusted advisor is to lean into this cash flow crisis. “Crisis” may be over-stating but chances are that two-thirds of your customers will says “Yes!” if asked “Can we (firm name) be of assistance? We may have solutions.”
What’s so hard about cash flow management?
Managing cash flow is not difficult but it does require discipline and timely information such as accurate forecasting. One basic area that many business owners do not manage well is making sure they get paid by their debtors for goods and services provided on credit. It’s a brutal reality of today’s fast-paced business environment that people will often delay payment for as long as possible and pay the person who shouts the loudest first. Make sure it’s your clients. Few business owners have set out terms in their invoices and service agreements which have enforceable collection clauses (not that using legal means is recommended but it does show a degree of professionalism).
There are other tools and techniques and the bookkeeper is – potentially – in an ideal position to be a trusted advisor and facilitator in this space.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
CPD is more than attending an annual conference; it’s about learning to be relevant to today’s marketplace not yesterday’s. Cash flow is just one place to leverage CPD in your everyday work environment. And there’s much more. See our CPD program here: www.bookkeepershub.com.au/courses/professional-development/