“The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.” – Ayn Rand
When pursuing a new prospect, when do you talk about your fee? How straight-forward are you? Do you talk as little about fees as possible and maybe even wait until a client complains (or inquires about an invoice) before you are transparent about how you bill?
I have observed that many CPAs are very reluctant to talk about fees with prospective clients and even sometimes with long-time clients. Many, even in the engagement letter, provide a fee quote in the form of a fairly broad range.
That’s the best thing about a Fixed Price Agreement. The client knows exactly what the fee will be for the specific service that is to be provided. Even an FPA can be a problem if the client requests additional services and the CPA does not then issue a change order informing the client that there will be additional fees due.
I have also observed that many CPAs don’t believe they are “worth it.” They become friends with clients and simply want to be helpful. I urge my clients to be proud of their knowledge and not discount the value that performing a routine task or answering a simple question brings to the client.
You have spent years accumulating specialized knowledge. You are special in that you can answer complex questions with little effort.
Don’t discount your own expertise – you are worth it!
“Quality performance (and quality service) starts with a positive attitude.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
It seems that EVERYONE uses texts to communicate now. However, that doesn’t apply so much to CPAs working in public accounting. Lots of business is conducted using email.
I like Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales advice…. “Email is sales-mail!”
I believe it is also part of building your personal brand. Do you ever misspell words? Do you confuse words such as “your” and “you’re”?
We all make grammar mistakes now and then but if you are trying to impress a prospective client be EXTRA careful.
Here’s some great advice from Gitomer – 1) Every email is an impression of you. 2) The best way to get an unsolicited email opened is to ask a question in the subject line that’s specific to the recipient.
If leaders are to be followed, it starts with clarity of message.
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” —Ernest Hemingway
It doesn’t matter to me what you write for your clients (and prospects). Just do it. Write things that will benefit their business and their personal finances. I know you have a lot of things inside that valuable brain of yours!
Use a blog, a newsletter, a newspaper column, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Just get information out there!
I write this blog for my clients (and others) every business day and have been for nearly eleven years.
I check my spelling and grammar with something call Grammarly. Every week it gives me a report of how I have done.
Here’s the one I received this week:
5,844 words written – You wrote more words than 93% of Grammarly users did.
64 corrections made – You were more accurate than 66% of Grammarly users.
1,222 unique words used – You have a larger vocabulary than 96% of Grammarly users.
“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra
Did you ever collect baseball cards? Topps baseball cards have been around since the late 1880s.
Who would think it, a CPA’s picture on a real baseball card?
I have blogged about my friend Robert Raiola many times. Why? Because he is unique among CPAs and exemplifies what being a CPA, famous for something, is all about.
Raiola is director of the sports and entertainment group at New York-based PKF O’Connor Davies. He appears on the 2016 Topps’ Allen & Ginter baseball card set, issued on August 13, which includes Major League Baseball players and other sports figures, such as radio host Mike Francesa and actor Kevin (“Field of Dreams”) Costner.
What makes your firm stand out? Why do clients come to you over the competition?
As a heavily commoditized service, a one size fits all accounting practice can easily get left behind in today’s market. To get ahead of the pack, accounting firms need to find a niche offering that will kick their growth engine into a higher gear.
If you want to be unique and have clients seek you out, become an expert! I know many very successful CPAs who are auto dealership experts, business valuation experts, estate taxation experts, agricultural experts and so on.
Per Vetter’s article, a recent survey of accounting and professional services buyers, 35% of buyers ranked specialized expertise as their top deciding factor in choosing a firm, well ahead of referrals, reputation or customer service. Expertise even came out jut ahead of existing relationships as a deciding factor.
Think about attorneys. When you need labor law assistance, you seek out a labor law attorney.
The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.
We became acquainted by doing a panel webinar about unique career paths you can take in the accounting profession for what is now AccountingFly. We continue to stay in touch and we both are passionate about tweeting.
His name is Robert Raiola and he is Director of the Sports & Entertainment Group at PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP.
At the time, Robert (@SportsTaxMan) was tweeting on a regular basis about his specialty – sports – and he had a few thousand followers. As of today, Robert has done over 29,800 tweets and has over 51,500 followers – that’s a home run for a CPA.
Just to show you the power of Twitter, it has helped him expand his reputation for being an expert – something every CPA should do – and he has been featured on a national level via Sports Illustrated, ESPN, etc.
David Maister, the guru advisor to professional service firms, always said you have to decide what “you want to be famous for” and then pursue it with passion. How is that working for you?
Below is a recent example of the great exposure being an expert has gotten for Robert. Over the years I have blogged six times about @SportsTaxMan (just type his name in the Search box on the right).
Robert knows what he wants to be famous for and he is achieving it. How about you – think about it this weekend!
I would have changed my last name if being famous were my goal.
There are a lot of new trends in public accounting. You have read about them here on this blog, in my newsletter and in various publications and blogs for CPAs.
Of course, there are also new trends in other disciplines that affect public accounting. Branding for example.
Per HR Bartender, employment branding is disappearing. Employment branding and consumer branding are being merged together to form ONE company brand. That strong brand will be used to attract and retain clients and employees.
Many firms have done a great job of building a firm brand but most do still have sub-categories under that one brand to attract clients and future employees.
Building ONE brand can serve three purposes: Attract new clients, attract employees and make current employees proud to be part of the firm.
Maybe your brand is unclear, split, confusing or even non-existent. Check out this article on HR Bartender and view the video example from Go Daddy. It is a brand that stresses lots of things, including hard work!
Here’s an excerpt:
If I’m a customer, I know exactly how GoDaddy is going to support me and my business. If I’m a candidate, I understand the GoDaddy culture – the everyday hard work that’s expected to keep customers’ business dreams alive. And if I’m an employee, I’m proud to be a part of that success. One brand. One video. For multiple audiences.
You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.
“If you want to be the best salesperson, first you must be the best person.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
We have heard it said over and over again at CPA management conferences – for years! “Don’t forget to ask your clients WHAT ELSE they need from you and your firm.”
The trouble is, they don’t usually know what they need. I find it is much like focusing on improving your own firm. Another well-known saying applies. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Often, your client doesn’t know what they don’t know.
It is your business to know your client and their business so well that you are able to enlighten them as to what they should do, what they shouldn’t do and how they can make their business more profitable. As a CPA, you are known as the most trusted advisor. Are you living up to that role?
That is where specialization comes into play. Not every CPA in your firm can know everything about every service line. If you are on the auto dealer team at your firm you better know everything about operating a dealership. You are routinely reading dealership management magazines and newsletters and you attend the same conferences that dealership owners attend. Hopefully, someone from your firm is speaking at those industry conferences. The same activities apply to your firm’s non-profit, construction, hospitality, distribution and all other teams.
You should, of course, continue to ask your clients how you can help but you should also be very upfront in telling them about current trends in their industry and what they should be doing to stay competitive and profitable.
The key to mastering any kind of sales is switching statements about you - how great you are, and what you do - to statements about them.
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire
Sometimes just after busy season you might think you have seen enough of clients for a while. You are wrong about that!
So many times I have heard clients say they wish their CPA was more proactive. What kind of Action Plan do you have in place to continually communicate with clients?
I think it falls under the “this is how we do it here” category.
We take new hires along to client meetings.
We expect every person in the firm to have a role in marketing.
We provide continual performance feedback to our employees.
We close the office on Fridays in the summer.
We acknowledge every team members birthday.
We have a client service plan for “A” clients and a different one for “B” clients.
We send our clients a birthday card.
We thank our clients in different ways for simply trusting us as their financial and business advisor.
Should any of these “this is how we do it here” bullets apply to your firm? What else can you add?
Yesterday, I received some free drink coupons from Southwest. They remembered to thank me. It made me smile. Do you think Southwest has more customers than you do? You could certainly do some little expected things to show your clients that you appreciate them.
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.