Are you interested in generating additional revenue and adding new clients? It may be time to diversify.
Offering new services gives your firm the opportunity to grow its bottom line, build stronger relationships with existing clients and attract new clients. It also allows you to move beyond the traditional bread and butter of firms (tax work) to attain the holy grail of any accounting firm – profitability all year long.
But often practitioners are at a loss on where to start. Below are my recommendations for how to identify and implement growth through new services.
Start by identifying services that are in demand.
Take time to assess your clients’ requirements for new services. Talk to them, talk to other accounting firms and spend time evaluating technologies at conferences to develop a strategy. Some services – such as bill payment or payroll – are evergreen opportunities that deliver revenue month by month and is needed by every client. Others may not be as clearly profitable and should prompt you to ask the hard questions: Is there a real need for this service? Are competitors offering similar services to target new markets? Ultimately, combine your assessment of the market needs by getting your clients and prospects involved. Ask them what their business challenges are and how your firm can help address them.
Next, develop an internal structure to support new services.
How can you roll out new services if you do not know what changes you will need to support them? Think through the processes the new services will require. Determine if you can manage them with your current resources or if you will need to acquire additional resources. Also, make sure that everyone working on the new services has been properly trained so they can explain the offering and ensure consistent results. Remember, word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. It is at the root of all of our successes. If some clients like the services, they will share the word. Unfortunately, they will do the same if they do not. Plan accordingly.
Finally, evaluate your technology.
With the introduction of new services, you have to revisit your toolkit. Are you trying to win a NASCAR race with a go-kart? Accounting firms often underestimate the importance of technology when expanding into new markets. Your technology should be able to scale with your business, adequately support new offerings and enhance your client service. In fact, adopting the right technology can provide significant savings in both time and cost. For example, by adopting the automated workflow and online payments provided by a cloud-based solution for bill payment, accounting firms can bypass the need to hire new employees or avoid wasting a large portion of time on manual processes such as data entry.
Now that you have the services and their needed resources and technology, it is time to roll them out.
As you start sharing the word about your new services, never underestimate the power of strong, consistent communications.
Create clear documentation. Ensure the services are marketed through multiple channels including your website, proposals, collateral, social media, presentations and more. Be sure to prominently address the benefits of the new services. For example, with bill payments, the communication could highlight that handling bill payments for clients via a cloud-based solution will save time, prevent double billing or overpayments and allow them to approve payments no matter where they are from a mobile device.
While it often seems to be a daunting task, adding new services to your practice is an established, proven method to help your accounting firm enjoy additional revenue streams. With the proper research and implementation, you can create an important competitive and growth-oriented advantage for your firm and its future.
About the Author
René Lacerte founded Bill.com in August 2006, bringing with him more than 20 years of experience in the finance, software and payments industries. As a fourth-generation entrepreneur, Lacerte developed the concept for Bill.com based on personal experience growing up in multiple businesses as a kid and then co-founding his first company, PayCycle, in 1999. Lacerte also spent five years at Intuit, creating and managing the company’s bill presentment team and growing its bill payment and credit card businesses into a multimillion-dollar business. He also launched Intuit’s first connected payroll product, growing the team from two employees to 300 in 18 months. He has a Master of Science degree in industrial engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in quantitative economics from Stanford University.