Some accountants shy away from providing bookkeeping services, and others that do provide bookkeeping do it when asked or on an almost accidental basis. Regardless of the how much bookkeeping you currently do in your practice, there are advantages to increasing this service.
Bookkeeping increasing your opportunities to interact with clients, opens the door to understanding their needs and ensures the accuracy of the books you receive. It can be a great tool to generate recurring work and can be a profit center!
There are seven steps you can take to make bookkeeping a profit-driving service vehicle.
- Get buy-in from your team
- Define your services
- Manage the scope of work
- Systemize processes to drive efficiencies
- Standardize technology to promote productivity
- Review pricing and update to match value
- Identify opportunities for growth
In this article, we will discuss the second step - defining your services.
Defining your services will allow clients to more clearly understand what your firm can provide to them. Remember, just because you know exactly what you do doesn’t mean that your clients do too. Be sure to steer clear of technical jargon, as it is usually counterproductive to what you’re trying to accomplish.
Clearly defined services will help your clients understand what your service does and does not include, limitations, eligibility, cost and how to get help when needed. Well-defined services also delineate the internal processes necessary to support the service.
Knowledge is Power
Defining your services puts your clients in the driver’s seat. Knowing what they’ve signed up and what they can sign up for empowers clients to make informed decisions. It helps you work together on an equal footing as a team.
You must give your clients everything they need to advocate for themselves to ask for services rather than you pushing them. What are some resources to assist a client in getting started with new services on their own? Links to software or a web login page? Links to FAQs, service features, policies, etc.?
Defining your service means answering the following questions:
- What features and functions do clients receive as part of the service?
- Which features are automatically included in the service and which are optional?
- Are there any that are not included and/or recommended?
- Which features are recommended?
Solving the Puzzle
Bookkeeping has many moving parts. Defining your services will help clients understand how all of the pieces fit together.
Defining your services will enable you to manage expectations from the start. Your clients will be aware of what you can offer them without being surprised by potential upsell opportunities. Both you and your clients should understand what is expected throughout your work together, strengthening your client relationships.
Defining your services should open up opportunities to upsell because your clients will know the program they have and the next tier up and may be more amenable to upgrade as they grow with your firm and continue to be satisfied with your service.
A preliminary step you can take is to assess the needs of your clients.
For new clients, you might ask:
- Who has done your bookkeeping in the past?
- Who is currently doing your bookkeeping?
- Who reports on your financial statements?
- Are your books current?
- When did you last file business taxes?
- Do you want to be more or less involved in your bookkeeping process?
- What is your business’s most significant financial concern?
- What are your business goals?
For existing clients, you might also ask:
- What do you like most about working with our firm?
- What is a bookkeeping task you’d rather not do?
- Would you benefit from any reoccurring or on-demand services that we don’t presently offer?
- What is a piece of advice we’ve offered that helped you make a critical business decision?
- What can we do to simplify your life further?
- What kind of advice do you want to hear from us?
Track client needs back to the services you offer and look for any overlap. You may want to map out your services based on your client feedback. You may consider offering certain services you haven’t previously if you have the appropriate personnel or budget for it.
Questions to Ask When Defining Your Services
When defining a service, you should be able to answer five questions:
1. What is this service, and how do you get it?
2. How do you use the service? How do you get help?
3. How much does it cost?
4. How is this service supported?
5. How is the service provided?
Answering these questions will help guide you in defining your services.
Clearly defining your services and executing them will create a structure for your firm and ensure clarity of what is expected, which stands to improve your client relationships. It will promote consistency and control. Defining your services will make expectations clear across the board so that you maintain consistency and quality across staff members.
Defining your services will add value for both you and your clients.