Running a small business is fraught with danger, so it’s normal for a business owner to worry about making wrong moves. Consequently, many business owners want the kind of expert advice and insight only an accounting professional can provide. And they’re willing to pay for it.
That’s good news if you want to shift the focus of your accounting practice from providing only compliance services to providing consulting services as well.
Learn how to develop and sell bundled accounting advisory services so you can guide business owners to achieve their goals.
Understand what your clients want
Usually, small business owners want to build the best business in their industry, maximize profits, free their time, or prepare the business for sale. Your advisory service can help them achieve all four objectives or just one objective. The better your ability to help the client reach these goals, the more they will be willing to pay you.
Ask your clients what they want to achieve.
Clients want the kind of insight that an accountant’s business-minded analytics can provide.
Your advisory service can provide insight into the client’s business performance and benchmark it against their industry. Repeated insights (monthly, quarterly, or annually) will provide clients with helpful measurement data they can use to chart progress and make operational improvements.
- Identify government sources of industry data that you can use to benchmark a client’s business performance.
- As part of your advisory service, you’ll need access to monthly or quarterly financial data so you can analyze the numbers.
- Strengthen your professional network of experts including lawyers, realtors, financial advisors, and business valuators so you can bring additional insights to your clients.
Use insights to identify problems (such as insufficient cash flow or excessive days in inventory) that may be preventing your client’s business from thriving.
- Learn more about this topic by attending a free Sage marketing webinar for accounting professionals—click here for details.
Sample advisory service pricing
Offer your advisory services as a package, expressed monthly, quarterly, or annually.
For example, $199 monthly advisory service may include:
- Monthly analysis of business financial performance with key observations and recommendations.
- Monthly telephone consultation with the client.
- Industry benchmarking report.
- Progress review against stated goals.
- Response to client email questions within 24 hours.
Name your new service
Apply some branding to your new service to make it more saleable. For example, call it something like ‘Monthly Business Monitor’ or ‘Performance Advisor Consulting Package’. Describe what the service does and list all of the features.
Give your clients a sample
Introduce your new advisory service by giving clients a taste of it.
- Come prepared to a presentation meeting with some financial observations about the client’s business and some industry-specific metrics (e.g.) “Did you know businesses similar to yours operate with 20 percent less cost?”.
- Having something tangible to show your client will help them to notice the value you can deliver.
During the pitch, listen more than you talk. Ask the right questions; those that that draw out your client’s ideal scenario for their business (e.g.) “How will you spend more free time with your family?” Ask about their long-term plans such as selling or transferring the business to family.
- Tell stories that highlight previous successes with other clients.
Take upfront billing
Start to bill the client for this new service upfront at the beginning of the month, quarter, or year.
Unlike hourly billing, you don’t have to consult your timesheet to see how many hours were worked on a client file—just bill every installment and provide the services as promised. Accept all forms of payment including check, credit card, and pre-authorized debit payment. As a bonus, you’ll soon find your cash flow improves with upfront billing.
Selling advisory services doesn’t mean you will no longer perform traditional accounting services. Instead, it’s an opportunity to generate additional revenue from each client while at the same time delivering more value to them.