Growing a business requires meticulous planning and understanding of the current market to gauge opportunities and ward off the threats. As the world is overcoming a pandemic, it has become even tougher to keep businesses running.
It has been a year since our usual way of working got upended. Accounting firms were no exception either; they also moved their daily functions online, took care of client furloughs and their own, and prepared for Brexit. In many respects, they continue to do it all!
If you are nodding your head while reading this, we see you and acknowledge all the hard work the number-crunching community has put in in the past year. Now that the UK market is gradually opening up after a prolonged lockdown, businesses hope to bounce back.
That means there is enormous scope for accountants to scale their operations by their services. Since the new financial year commences next week, now might be a good time for you to focus on driving more sales and growing your client base.
Without further ado, here are seven tips from our founder Parth Shah on doing just that:
1. EVALUATE YOUR CURRENT PRICING
Without a doubt — increasing prices will improve your bottom line. Keeping in mind the current scenario, if you boost your fees up by 5% and end up losing a small percentage of clients, you would still make a higher margin.
If you want to gain an understanding of how much your pricing can increase, ask around. Speak to fellow accountancy business owners for a ballpark number.
The idea of raising the price might sound concerning to some accountants — assuming clients can be price-sensitive and might want to make a change. However, you need to understand you are doing yourself a disservice by charging too low.
2. Nurture existing clients
Utilise this time to work on your relationship with clients. Initiate detailed conversations with them to understand their business vision, what they would like to do differently in the long run, and what they expect from your service in the new financial year.
Once you have clarity about that, create opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and accurately reflect your services. For instance, if one legacy client of yours has been utilising your bookkeeping service for the same number of hours, accurately review the amount of time you are actually spending and increase the charge appropriately with an explanation of why.
Similarly, if one client finds the price of your bookkeeping service too high, you can bundle it up with another service like self-assessments.
The key is to focus on what they want and not what you can do for them. Customising your services as per client requirements can help in retaining them for the long-run.
3. Add more services to the mix
To stay ahead in the competitive market, accountants need to offer more than just essential services. Therefore, expand your service portfolio. Accountants with more to offer can avoid situations where their clients reach out to other service providers.
Therefore, start by offering additional services to existing clients. If they have previously demanded services such as cash flow forecasting, strategic business planning, or budgeting — try to include them in your portfolio.
To prepare yourself for the same, train your team on the chosen specialist areas through virtual training programs and certifications, or infuse new blood into the team. You can even outsource such speciality services to experts who can manage them efficiently.
Offering assistance beyond standard services will ensure customer loyalty and drive higher revenues for your business.
4. Dip your toes into the outsourcing pond
Does it make sense for you to get accounting support from an external company while you can focus on high-end advisory jobs? As an accountant, you are required to focus on providing exemplary services to your clients.
If by outsourcing, you can reduce your practice staff’s burden to manage menial tasks such as bookkeeping, tax return preparation and company formation, and save their time and efforts, then outsource without any hesitation.
Thankfully, multiple experts in the market offer outsourcing services and accountants should take proper care to select the right one.
The first step is to identify their expertise and take a trial run to check if they can meet the expectations. Here are six checks to make when choosing an outsourcing company. Depending on your requirements and workload, you can take their help for both long and short terms.
5. Invest in cloud technology
Timely delivery of services is of paramount importance in retaining clients. By utilising the latest technology, accountants can provide better value for money to them.
Traditionally, you may have relied on paper slips and, eventually, excel sheets. But not anymore. Accounting cloud technology has grown faster in the past 5-7 years than it has ever before.
The advent of automated accounting systems has made it possible for accountants to automate various tasks such as real-time filing of payroll information, access client databases from a smartphone, or identify anomalies in tax return data that require further investigation.
Such software solutions help in better performance, optimum resource utilisation, and accurate service delivery. QuickBooks, TaxCalc, Xero, IRIS, and FreeAgent are some of the automation tools used for invoicing, payroll, taxes, and expense management.
6. Seek referrals from clients
Networking matters. Taking care of existing clients is as crucial as nurturing prospects. In fact, if your clients are happy with your service, then they would not hesitate to refer you to other accountancy practices that could use your outsourcing help.
Driving sales through word-of-mouth is still the most effective marketing strategy. However, it takes time. Therefore, you must make continuous efforts. Identify key clients in your portfolio who would be happy to recommend your services to others.
Find new and innovative ways to stay in the good books of your clients. Listen to their feedback and make changes accordingly. If you have started offering new services, why not give them a discount? Assign additional focused support to them in an area you know they have difficulties with (which could also help you in the long term too).
Client-facing materials such as instruction letters, email signature and invoice footnotes are the best place to reinforce your referral programme and remind clients to recommend your accounting services to those in need.
7. Refresh your website and digital marketing strategy
If you have ignored your site content for long, now might be a good time to refresh it. Take help from an external marketing agency to do for you if you do not have in-house experts. Fix your SEO — use relevant keywords throughout the site to boost your search visibility.
With the rise of social media, it has become much easier to reach out to target audiences faster. You can showcase your practice’s achievements and client testimonials via company pages on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Publish blogs regularly on accountancy tips, business growth hacks and industry updates. Showcase yourself as an industry authority. Promote those blogs on your social media channels, through your email signature, in your newsletters (if you have one), and so on.
Even if you are not aggressive about how you do marketing, be consistent. And when the budget permits, run Google Adwords or LinkedIn promotions to be visible in front of a more extensive potential clientele.
Over to you
The task of driving more sales for your accountancy practice and getting more clients on-board may seem daunting to you. Often, people make out the idea of “growth” to be something big, complicated and horrifying. It is relatively simple — provided you follow the right tips.
Sure, hard work and consistency play an enormous role. But proper guidance is equally necessary. Therefore, besides following the above-mentioned hacks, do value customer service and adequately address your clients’ concerns and grievances.
If you are looking to outsource, please contact us on 20 3475 3537, or arrange for a callback here. Speak to you soon!