Why the old way of pricing is unethical
Actually I don’t just believe that the old way of pricing – time-based billing – is unethical. At times I think it actually borders on negligence.
A few years ago AVN founder and head of research Steve Pipe and I were involved in a research study that looked at more than 150 accounting firms to find out what the most successful were doing differently.
As part of the study we looked at what proportion of errors those in the survey found that a previous accountant had made when they took on new clients.
The results were staggering. 45% of firms found mistakes made by the new client’s previous accountant. 42% found things the previous accountant had missed.
Such figures are worrying.
And, whilst you may not think you make mistakes, perhaps one day ask the same question of accountants that have won work from you. You might be surprised.
So why does it happen?
It’s not like we don’t have the knowledge....
Change of probate rules offers UK accountants a huge opportunity
In this post I’m going to share how to price probate work, and why it’s one of the biggest opportunities for accountants in the UK and elsewhere.
Although originally probate could only be dealt with by lawyers and banks, in September 2014 the rules changed. First, to allow members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants to undertake it. And then, in 2015, all other qualified accountants.
Probate offers accountants such a huge opportunity because:
· It's actually very easy to do! And, because it’s a compliance service and we’re so systematic, accountants are probably even better placed to deliver it than lawyers.
· Banks and lawyers have been overcharging for years… So you could easily make a lot of money by offering a better service at a more competitive price!
Three tips to get you started
Annual accounts are one of those areas of business where we as an industry often see downward fee pressure.
Because all too often clients simply don’t understand what we do. All they see is the records they drop off with us and the finished accounts a few weeks later.
Do they understand the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing them?
Do they care? Maybe not.
That said what’s the harm in telling them? It not only helps them understand your role (and therefore your worth) but also gives them greater faith in your capability. And that means you can charge more.
Tip 1 – Show off what you do with a professional looking brochure
A glossy brochure shows you are proud of what you do. It brings an air of professionalism. Package something nicely and people will see it as being better quality.
That alone could win you the business from your rival down the road.
And allow you to charge higher prices.
Explain what you are doing, how you are looking to save...
When your customer buys from you there are two things they want. Every time. You must understand these.
So what are these two things?
Your customer needs CERTAINTY
When you buy you want to know exactly what you're getting and how much it’s going to cost. The problem is, the old way that as a profession we’ve priced - time-based billing - is a redundant way of pricing, and by definition pricing based on time gives no certainty for the customer. Whilst you might tell them your hourly rate, they will never know until the job is done how many hours it will take. So we must get away from time-based billing because customers hate it.
Your customer needs CHOICE
The other important thing for a customer is CHOICE! We want to have the freedom to decide things on our own, to make choices because we are all different. We want a solution that meets our own specific needs.
As an example, think about the most profitable company on the planet – Apple. ...
I recently caught up with Jane Aylwin who is, quite simply, an extraordinary bookkeeper. During our interview she told me how – in the last 5 months – she had added £53,000 in fees, almost entirely from pricing (which means most of it goes straight to bottom line profit) in a different way.
She started off, just like many bookkeepers, working from her kitchen table. And getting OK results.
But those OK results got worse and worse as her business grew and she took on people to work for her. Her old pricing models were no longer working.
The big epiphany
A few months ago, on the way to a client she had a big realisation… she needed to do something different. Otherwise she’d keep getting the same results.
That meeting with a client was the first of 4 meetings that week; a week she now describes as her ‘week of wow’. In that week she had a pricing conversation with each of those 4 clients…
… and in...