Advisory is more than just a buzz topic. It’s the holy grail of Accounting.
Yet, becoming a trusted advisor doesn’t happen overnight. Accountants are trained to be driven by facts and solutions, and compliance work makes excellent use of these skills. In order to be seen as an advisor however, accountants must go beyond this and develop a genuine understanding of their client’s business situation. After all, it’s not an advisor’s job to only be right. It’s their job to also be helpful.
Take tax preparation, for example. This service is driven by successfully and accurately preparing a tax return for your clients. At a minimum, you’re expected to be highly capable of completing this task. If you complete this task to your client’s satisfaction every year, they will likely keep coming back but they are also likely to see you only as a technical specialist.
To avoid pigeon-holing yourself into that role, don’t limit your Tax Season interactions with your clients to talking only about tax prep. A client who comes to you for their tax return is seeking peace of mind in knowing that they are compliant. What other services can you offer that client to deliver peace of mind?
Use your client interactions during Tax Season as an opportunity to identify ways in which you can advise clients on their business as a whole. Not only will you help solidify your status as a trusted business advisor, but Customer Lifetime Value will increase, and as a result, so will your sales. Shifting into an advisory roll isn’t easy but it is possible. Here’s how to do it.
1. CREATE THE OPPORTUNITY
Your clients come to you for a service. So, of course you want to deliver. If that service is tax preparation, it requires gathering expense information from your clients.
When you don’t have an efficient system in place for that, the task of collecting receipts and invoices can easily become cumbersome, taking up the majority of your time.
Receipt Bank makes that process effortless by eliminating the paper chase and automating the data entry process, often cutting tax prep time by up to 50% This in turn frees up time that can be spent on adding advisory services.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR CLIENTS
Once you’ve carved out a bit more time for yourself, you need to develop a genuine understanding of your client’s business situation, needs, and values. Do your homework on your client’s industry and business performance. Make sure you understand the key issues they are likely to face within their industry and their business.
If you just complete a client’s tax return and then send them on their way, you aren’t doing anything extra to demonstrate your value.
You know your client wants their tax return filed correctly and on time, but what else do they need? Get to know your clients, and their business, by putting yourself in their shoes to uncover the reason they might want an advisor. Common reasons that our partners report are peace of mind, staying up to date on their business’s financial health, audit protection, anytime and anywhere access to insights, and financial projections.
3. SHIFT TO YEAR ROUND SERVICE
Now that you know what your clients want and need, it’s time to work that in to your service offering. Currently, if you work with a bunch of Schedule C clients and are charging a one time fee for tax prep, your engagement probably looks something like this…
But with year round service, you can move your clients onto a monthly fee structure, add in some value-added services and as a result, watch your sales increase. In this example, any new client that comes in starts at $99. For $99 a month, they get the individual tax return, the Schedule C, federal and state filing. The firm pays for Receipt Bank, so the client gets the software included in their price. Alongside digital document capture, they also get audit and disaster protection. So, in the event that their return gets pulled for audit, your team can deliver the required documentation to the auditor within 24 hours of the request. This also offers them disaster protection. So, in the event of a disaster, flood, theft, fire, your clients are protected.
All of these add-on services are made possible with Receipt Bank’s secure cloud storage of all receipts and invoices for 7 years. As this table shows, you can make a small change with big bottom line impact. Not only are you bringing in more revenue, more importantly you have established yourself as invaluable to your clients with peace of mind protection and anytime/anywhere access to expense data. All this without any added work for you or your team. Which brings us to the final step…
4. ADD VALUE WITH ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS
Technology alone is powerful, but using technology alongside human capital is where the true opportunity lies.
There are still unique things that only humans can do, such as taking an empathetic approach to accounting. Implementing digital processes within your firm with technology like Receipt Bank will allow you to do those things better, creating an even better experience for your clients.
Take the time freed up by Receipt Bank and deliver monthly KPI reporting to your clients on their business’s financial health. Or, pitch an outsourced CFO/Controller service. With these additional services, not only will your clients’ lifetime values increase, but you will have established your services as irreplaceable and increase client loyalty. You’re no longer just the persistent voice on the phone chasing down receipts, now you are a trusted advisor who can actually help them grow their business.
Use this Tax Season as a chance to make 2019 the year that “trusted business advisor” becomes more than just a buzz-worthy topic. Make time to chat with clients and uncover their needs beyond tax prep work. Do this and you will see the immediate impact to your bottom line. Do it really well and your clients will not only stay with you for years to come, but also refer you to their friends and colleagues.