Whether a solo practitioner or member of a firm, providing new accounting or bookkeeping services can seem daunting at first. To help you grab the possibilities and opportunities, here are five tips from individuals who have already successfully expanded their service offerings.
Evolving your accounting & bookkeeping services
Lucy Cohen, Founder of Mazuma, shares how her firm evolves their services:
“I’m a big believer in doing what you’re good at, so we don’t usually add on extra services. If we do, it’s very considered, because we make our money on volume and on margins. Any extra service deviates from the process and affects our margins. We’ve got tiered pricing, so you’ve got an option of different levels of service: whether you want a one-day turnaround, and how much data storage you want. That’s how we remain efficient.”
Planning for capacity as your services grow
Ben Walker, Founder of Inspire Life Changing Accountants, shares why you need to plan for capacity as your services grow:
“One of the lessons that I’ve learned through the growth of the business is you’ve really got to plan for capacity. We’ve had a number of times where we’d bring on a few clients, we’d quickly see ourselves reach capacity, things would take longer and our response time really suffered.
Capacity is a dance that only in the last four months we’ve been getting right. We’ve learned those lessons and know now that you have to plan for capacity growth – whether that’s bring on new systems or recognising that you need to hire people in advance.
For an accountant, it’s a hard decision to make because adding more admin hours could mean potentially not getting 100% ROI or recoverability. You have to look beyond that, though. We’ve spent so much time thinking about how we improve capacity and hiring people when we need them. Failing to do that would mean charging clients for the extra work but we wouldn’t be delivering at our expected quality.”
Differentiating your services in the accounting space
Marius Fourie, Director and Business Advisor at North Advisory Chartered Accountants, shares how they differentiate their services:
“Technology has helped us to massively shift the way we offer our services. Now, we only charge for advice. We don’t charge for compliance lodgement of tax returns or business activity statements – they don’t even get listed as a price point. What clients pay us for is our expertise and business guidance throughout the year.
We also ensure that we engage with our clients personally. If they’ve got a question, I’m going to have a meeting with them and I’m not going to charge them for it. If we need to talk for a couple of hours about it, whatever the client needs, that’s fine – it’s all built into the relationship we want to have with them.
Some firms will offer that fixed-fee model but as soon as it comes to extra services, they’ll bolt them on with a price point. From the start, we offer all of our services at a single cost so the client knows exactly what to expect and we can create a more honest relationship with them.”
Focus on what your clients value most
Alastair Barlow, Accountant, Consultant and Founder of three businesses, shares why you need to focus on what your clients value most:
“I guess I could be so bold and say: “Don’t be afraid” – but what does that mean? I think there’s an element of ‘don’t be afraid’ that means just really push the boundaries, and really go for what you believe your clients value, and do everything in your power to deliver that
The other thing that’s important is collaborating with other accountants. I think that’s something that until a few years ago didn’t really happen. I speak to a lot of accounting firm leaders, and I think there’s a huge amount of collaboration among some accounting leaders. It’s really a good area to challenge each other and learn from each other.
How accounting services will change in the next 1–3 years
Pamela Phillips, owner of de Jong Phillips, shares how she believes accounting services will change in the next 1–3 years:
“I think accounting firms will move into one of two camps. Technology is out there speeding up or simplifying much of the leg work that we traditionally had to do. So there’ll be firms out there that will specialise in streamlining their processes to the extent that they can make doing purely compliance work profitable. Those firms are going to need a lot of clients to succeed so I expect they’ll be consolidators, marketing aggressively and acquiring other practices to grow their client base.
And then there’ll be the ones in that niche, which is what we’ve done, choosing to work with a specific type of client, solving a specific problem. I think those firms will look to expand their service offering to include things like HR, Marketing or Project Management support to their existing client niche.”