“Do you want French fries with that?” is, famously, the question asked by MacDonald’s sales staff. Not many bookkeepers would even contemplate asking a similar question. Accounting software vendors on the other hand, have perfected the art of offering a virtual shopping cart of add-ons and options. Two great business models yet the fact is nearly all freelance, contract bookkeepers charge for their services by the hour. It’s the easiest way for bookkeepers as well as many other professional and trades to set their fees, but it’s also a big reason why so many struggle.
When you only charge by the hour for your services, clients have no idea how long it will take for you to get their books done – that makes them want to push your hourly rate even lower. That’s just one reason why charging by the hour is often a lose-lose situation.
Even lawyers, notorious for their stratospheric billable hours are moving towards using packaged services and implementing value pricing. Not surprisingly the topic has become extremely popular topics of conversation among bookkeepers, accountants.
The hourly model is flawed for the work that contemporary, technology-enabled bookkeepers do, but designing and presenting the best pricing strategy for your bookkeeping business is no mean feat. The question is; if you could set your prices and build a genuine package that both rewards you and offers your clients something they find compelling, would you shift?
There is a fairly obvious conclusion to draw and that is most bookkeepers charge by the hour because it just feels safer.
The shopping cart solution
What combination of service options would make your service package irresistible? No one-size-fits-all answer to that question, unless you have developed a niche service – for example to the hospitality sector or the trades sector; then you have an insider’s knowledge and you can look forward to your SMB client saying “When can we start?”
A guide produced and published by the Bookkeepers Hub and available to members at www.bookkeepershub.com.au – Breaking the Time-for-Money Barrier addresses the key blockages to moving away from the hourly rate treadmill to the packaged services business model. It addresses:
• The key value-based services you could you offer to potential clients that will immediately differentiate you from 95 per cent of other bookkeepers and which boosts your practice income
• How to move from an hourly rate mindset to a value mindset to facilitate switching to packaged pricing
• How to set up a bookkeeping business based on profitable service packages that attract the ideal client for your skills and experience.