The dream for most accountants and bookkeepers is to be running a business where you’re highly valued by your clients and paid profitably and consistently for the hard work you do.
Clients complete their tasks on time, every time, putting you in control of the client relationship and therefore your business.
And you and your team are freed up to impact your clients’ businesses to the highest levels, which in turn leads to them wanting more, paying more and you growing an even more profitable business yourself.
But this isn’t the reality that most accounting businesses face…
The reality for most accounting businesses is that they end up over-servicing their clients and get paid too little for the hard work they put in.
They don’t get paid enough to deliver the level of service that their clients are happy to pay for, so in a bid to get their clients to value them more, they do more for them.
Because most firms don’t have a consistent pricing system across all services and all clients, they end up doing this extra work for free or massively discounted. And in that one move, they unintentionally start to train their clients that their services have no value and so in time, their clients stop valuing what they do.
They look to remedy this by bringing on ‘better’ clients or by adding more ‘valuable’ services, all of which compound the problem and wastes a lot of time, money and effort, because the bucket they’re trying to fill is still leaking.
So how do you move closer towards the dream and further away from the challenges of under charging?
The GoProposal onboarding and repricing system does this by giving you a consistent and profitable pricing methodology, that everyone on your team will feel comfortable to embrace and confident to use.
This system is so successful because of the philosophies which underpin it.
#1 You’re a business first and foremost
You’re not an accountant or a bookkeeper or a firm or a practice. You’re a business. And the primary function of a business is to make money. This distinction is important because it aligns you with your clients. Their goals become your goals. Their challenges become your challenges. If you can’t make money and be highly profitable yourself, what chance do you have of doing the same for them? You’ve got to put on your oxygen mask before helping others and the oxygen of your business is money.
#2 If you can’t control your profitability, it’s hard to control anything else
To be successful, we need to be in control as much as we can, but the problem we face in the accounting industry is that accounting services are complicated and clients are complex. (A bit like how a car is complicated but traffic is complex, with people going in different directions, at different speeds with different level of experience.)
Our job is to make sure the car is running properly and sit in the passenger seat, reporting on what’s in the mirror and helping them to best navigate what’s ahead.
But we can only do this if we’re in control, and the place this starts is with controlling the scope and the fees, because they ultimately control the profit.
If we can’t control the profitability, we can’t control anything else either and then we have chaos.
#3 Pricing must be logical, transparent and fair
Accountants are logical and their clients are knowledgable. So for pricing to work effectively, it must also be logical so that the accountants using it, believe in it. It must be transparent so that the clients receiving it, understand it. And it must be fair so that both parties can trust in it, because that’s how we build long term, mutually beneficial, lasting, impactful relationships. Get this right and everyone in your firm will willingly use it and clients will happily accept it.
#4 Great clients don’t exist, they’re created
You’re never going to find better clients than the ones you already have. Instead, focus on making them great. Provide them with what they really need, not what they think they want. Charge the fee that allows you to deliver the level of value they’d be happy to pay for. Be the authority in the relationship. Growth comes from what you say yes to, but success comes from what you say no to. You’re in charge. Make them great.
#5 Your value is proportional to the size of the problems you solve
If you want to be more valuable to your clients, solve bigger problems for them. Ask the questions that get to the heart of their personal goals first and business goals second. Then build the solution that you would want, if you were them, knowing what you know. Even if that solution is ten times more than they expected to receive. They don’t have to take it all but you DO have to offer it. Fall in love more with your clients goals rather than your services.
The ‘G’ in The GLOSS Method™ helps you to ask the right questions.
#6 You’re not being compared to other accountants
Your clients aren’t comparing you to other accountants. Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, they’re comparing you to world class businesses like Amazon and Apple and Uber. You need to create incredible experiences that demonstrate you’re an expert in cloud technology, you know how to make a profit and how you’re going to save them time. You can’t do any of that if it takes you a day to produce a proposal that you’re clearly not making much money from.
You need to be able to do this in 3 minutes or less to create an amazing, world-class experience for your clients, because experiences change how they feel and they’ll remember how you made them feel, long after they’ve forgotten what you’ve done for them.
#7 To sell is to serve (and your ethical obligation)
Most people don’t like selling because they’ve experienced bad salespeople or have been taught dodgy sales techniques. It’s your ethical obligation to be doing all you can for your clients, but the only way that value can be exchanged between you, is if a sale is made. Done properly, at it’s highest level, selling is to serve. We need develop logical, consultative sales skills that sit comfortably with us and every member of our team, so we can serve our clients to the best of our abilities.
#8 Fees & scope should be reviewed every quarter
There is no way at the start of the year, that we can know what our clients need by the end of the year. Their numbers of staff change, transaction numbers go up and down and if the client gets busier, they need more. So we need to review fees and scope often, so that we’re never out of pocket or have to hit our clients with a surprise bill at the end of the year. We advocate the 1-3-12 Rule which says that we should review payroll every 1 month, bookkeeping every 3 months and everything else, every 12 months.
#9 Pricing is never solved; only ever tuned
You’ll never get your pricing 100% right; it’s constantly evolving. New scenarios present themselves, technology changes things and the complexity of our clients increases. So it’s not as important to get our pricing right, as it is to have a system that can adapt and evolve as we learn. The goal is just to make it better this month than it was last month and to have as many people as possible contributing to that evolution. You don’t want to be the bottle neck. The only ‘scary’ part is where to start. Just remember, version one is better than version none.
How it all Started
Paul Barnes, founder of My Accountancy Place (now MAP) had developed innovative ways to price their accountancy services, helping them to command solid fees and to be highly valued by their clients.
But due to the complexity of the pricing, only an Excel spreadsheet could handle the calculations, which wasn’t very client friendly. It then took time to transfer those prices into the software that produced the Letter of Engagement, which was a clunky process, leaving the client underwhelmed.
In another part of the world (Yorkshire) James Ashford developed a pricing and proposal application, as an in-house system for his marketing business, designed to remove the ‘finger in the air’ approach to pricing and the ‘fingers crossed’ approach to sending out proposals.
After a serendipitous meeting, the application was developed for the accounting industry, merged with MAP’s pricing methodologies and GoProposal was born.
Able to handle the complexity of pricing, fully client facing, easy for every member of the team to use and capable of producing proposals and letters of engagements instantly, GoProposal creates an incredible client experience.
GoProposal by Sage is now used by thousands of accountants and bookkeepers around the world to price consistently, sell more confidently and to grow more profitably.
James became a Director of MAP., Paul became a Director of GoProposal and the rest is history.