Have you ever said “Clients don’t appreciate my value”?
Accountants can let clients dump on them. (Remember clients calling in and taking away 30 or more minutes, for free?). It is good if you want to hone your skills i.e. to “practice”, but terrible if you want respect (and earn your worth). You need to groom each client to become the client you want.
Are you creating a value that gets appreciated AND charging it’s worth? If not, STOP what you are doing and take a hard look at your business model. Your skills, education, knowledge, wisdom and resourcefulness are not a giveaway.
Instead, create a process that makes the clients see and appreciate your value. It will turn into higher fees, more referrals and enhanced trust in you. Here are 3 keys to develop and put in place such a process at your accounting and tax business…..
1. It is Rare When A Business and Accountant Find Common Ground.
Let’s face it. When was the last time a business client and you, the accountant, agreed on the value of your service? (Without too much of effort on your part to explain it, that is).
It is rare because your perspective as an accountant is different than your client’s. Entrepreneurs and accountants don’t think alike.
Because as an accountant, you don’t share their “business risks”.
People get motivated (to act) more by pain than by gain possibilities. Help business owners to solve their (real) problems. Help them take effective decisions. And charge (higher fees) for it.
Also, recommend changes to avoid problems in the future. And charge it’s worth. You do not process just a “transaction” for them. You transfer customized knowledge and wisdom to create a measurable benefit for them.
KEY 1: Identify real, measurable risks for client’s business and help remedy them. E.g. Here are top 3 causes that reduced your profit….
2. It is Difficult for Clients to Appreciate What They Don’t Understand.
Warren Buffet, the world’s richest investor, does not invest in businesses he doesn’t understand. He must have done something right all his life to be the wealthiest investor in the world.
Can you, as an Accountant, afford to sign on a client whose business you don’t understand? How can you create and deliver value in a business that you don’t understand yourself?
In the same way, your clients don’t understand Accounting as well as you do. And they don’t even want to. That’s why they come to you.
But that creates a huge challenge for you. How will your clients appreciate what they don’t understand?
KEY 2: Interpret the numbers and communicate value in words that clients will relate to. E.g. you reduced your cash-flow financing cost by $ 3,000 this month. It is because your clients are paying you 33 days faster now.
3. Stop Trying to Create Value That’s Not Appreciated
Clients come to you because they recognize that you know Accounting better than them. That’s the “What” part of the equation.
Rarely will they ask if you use software “A” or software “B” to prepare their books or the tax return. They don’t care much about the “How” part.
When they haggle about price, they perceive a “value” different than what you think. It is not the quantum they are negotiating. It is the “Why” that they don’t understand
Clients hire your services for their “desired outcomes”. They may not know the resources (knowledge, technology, experience etc.) required to produce such outcomes. But they can measure their own outcomes. Hence, they measure the value of their desired outcomes.
Let’s say you deliver a financial statement or a tax return. Clients can only compare it with the price at which they can get it in the marketplace. But a financial statement or a tax return is not the outcome they desire. What the clients actually wants is the peace of mind (that they paid only the fair share of taxes and compliance with the law). The desired outcome is what happens after you deliver (service, product, etc.).
KEY 3: Focus on outcomes. The client’s “desired” outcomes. When you know the value of the client’s desired outcome, you know what to do; and what NOT to do. Look for the “wants”, rather than the “needs”. E.g. Compliance is a need. Business growth is a “want”.