No business owner publicly celebrates the virtues of balancing the books, meeting the obligations of GST, tax and a myriad of other compliance issues. It’s always an uphill struggle for the accounting or bookkeeping professional to elevate their status in the eyes of the client. Indeed, without making meaningful efforts to upsell themselves the professional could be facing uncertain future given the rise and rise of technology solutions being presented to business owners.
Interactions with clients will need to move beyond rear-view compliance. There may be urgent matters, but a good place to start is to focus on the fundamentals.
Small business fundamentals
Business fundamentals will be driven by the context of the engagement (outside of compliance) but will almost always consist of:
• Helping a business grow
• Helping a business operate more smartly
• Analysing the numbers for weakness, strength and future opportunity
These are the elements that generate improved bottom line performance for the business.
Positioning as a trusted advisor
Speak to any high-performing accounting or bookkeeping firm and they will tell that compliance work has declined rapidly as a percentage of total revenue. Progressive bookkeeping firms focus on higher value (non-compliance) work that can be packaged and delivered in discrete, modular form and which can be billed through a tiered subscription model approach to pricing.
As an illustration, one firm with a head count of just three, doubled its revenue in 12 months by packaging their technology training services. Their target market: construction and trades. As the demand for the higher value services increased, the firm hired contact bookkeepers to handle the basic companies and bookkeeping, thus freeing up the owners to market their services, source leads, on-board new clients and deliver services.
Binning the hourly rate
Firms with employees or contractors do need to track the time allocated to tasks but higher value billing needs to be based on value added to the business client. It takes a mind shift and some skills acquisition in marketing and communications but it will avoid walking off the cliff.