Bookkeeping as a Profit Center for Accounting Firms

Keith Bateman
Posted by Keith Bateman on Jun 18, 2021 11:15:39 AM

With the increasingly common call to shift to advisory, many accountants and bookkeepers are shying away from adding on additional book-based client models, but there's value in all work. Regardless of the how much bookkeeping you do in your practice, there's no reason to waste your expertise. Businesses across the world still need bookkeeping services.

Bookkeeping gives you more opportunities to interact with clients and opens the door to understanding their needs and providing more services. It is an incredible tool to generate recurring work that presents great upsell opportunities year-round.

As regulations continue to change and new methods enter the scene; businesses will need your support and guidance  to ensure that they are in line and set up for success. 

Here are seven steps you can take to make bookkeeping a profit-driving service vehicle.  

  • In this article, we will discuss getting 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

Over the next few weeks, we will outline these steps and discuss how to transform your bookkeeping practice.

Buy-in is arguably the most essential step in any new endeavor. If you don’t have buy-in from your major stakeholders, it doesn’t matter how brilliant or innovative your plan is—it’s unfortunately never going to see the light of day. 

Many people are uncomfortable with and resist change, even change for the better. That’s why before you officially present your project to your team, it’s critical to get support from the people who will be most directly involved in it. This article delineates the steps to take to get buy-in from your team when launching a new initiative.

Is Your Idea Research-Backed?

Getting data to back up your plan will show that you’ve done your homework. Showing your work will help the skeptics get on board with the plan because they will better see and understand your thought process behind it. Best case scenario: you’re able to get data from other companies that have undertaken similar projects.

Be Prepared

Regardless of the size of the practice or firm, you need to be prepared. Defining and understanding the financial and business impact of the idea is critical to the success of the new initiative. Then, you need to refine your plans for the new initiative. 

For a smaller practice, you may want to explain your ideas to a key team member or a trusted peer and answer their questions and concerns about the new plan. This step will allow you pressure test the idea. 

For a medium-sized or larger firm, floating your ideas with a few key team members and answering their questions and concerns will prepare you to talk with the full team. By obtaining buy-in from them first, you will have support as you move forward with the rest of the team.  

If you are proposing an idea to management in a larger firm, you may need to get approval from the finance team as well. Being prepared with a solid business case will make it easier to gain not only management support, but also to get finance team approval. Being prepared will go a long way to expediting this process. 

Explain the Why

Know and be able to explain the “why” behind the initiative. Ensure your team and management understand how it relates to the company’s mission, how it will potentially impact their day-to-day operations, and what material benefits it may have on the business (and its clients). 

Explain Why it Matters Now

Not only should you explain the benefits of the new initiative, you also should explain why the initiative should be implemented now and not later. Providing data-driven reasons will allow you to demonstrate the value of the plan. Combining the potential new value in monetary gain or time saved is an essential part of getting buy-in. 

Who Are the Key Players?

It’s beneficial to know who will be directly involved in your project and what they will do. Will some individuals simply need to sign off on specific steps? Who will do the actual work? There will be people who should attend most group meetings and some who may only need to be invited to certain meetings or be given a rundown of what occurred at a meeting. 

Assigning responsibilities is helpful in case there are questions or concerns about who’s doing what. Making a list will also ensure that you don’t miss anyone and no one gets upset about being left out of the loop.

Write Everything Down

This may seem like a no-brainer, but documenting everything will give you a better idea of where the gaps are and how you might fill them. You can figure out who to ask for help with specific points. Writing it out will give you a foundation so that, once you’ve gotten buy-in from your teammates, you’ve got a full program that’s ready to go. It will also help others clearly see your thought process.

You will want to share what you’ve written with those most deeply involved in the project, as they will be the most interested and potentially the most invested. Their buy-in will be the most critical, and they can also help you fill in any holes in the planning.

Continue to Get Buy In

After that initial conversation, you will want to continue to get assurance that your supporters are still with you. Make sure to update your stakeholders when necessary. You don’t have to hold big meetings all the time to accomplish keeping people informed. There’s email, group chat and various sized meetings. 

Communicate regularly with your managers and direct reports if you have them. Sometimes, the best way to communicate ideas is to get people’s candid, unbiased opinions with this method.

Document, Document, Document

Did we mention writing everything down? We can’t emphasize it enough. You should document all plans, meetings, conversations and anything else pertinent to your project. This way, you won’t be missing any information, and your stakeholders will trust that you’ve got your ducks in a row. It will keep your plan at the forefront of peoples’ minds and remind them of the why behind the project. If you document everything, you won’t have to worry about your colleagues being out of the office or on vacation because they can catch up by reading your notes.

Ask for Feedback

Asking for feedback will not only help you fill in possible missing pieces or improve your plan’s effectiveness, but it will also give others a say in how it’s going to roll out. In addition, it will give your colleagues a sense of ownership of the plan. Don’t just wait for people to offer feedback; take the time to specifically ask, especially introverts who won’t necessarily just volunteer their opinions.

How Do You Know When You Have Achieved Buy-In? 

You’ll know you have enough buy-in when people start wanting to move on to the next steps in the plan. Then, you can ask them directly if they’re ready to proceed or if they have any reservations about moving forward. 

Ensure that your coworkers feel a sense of ownership of the project. They will be more invested and work harder within their portions of the project if they feel ownership during implementation.

What's Next?

Buy-in is crucial to the success of any plan’s initiation. To even get permission to launch, you will always want/need support from your colleagues and key stakeholders. 

If you pitch an idea without taking the time and legwork to get buy-in, you can expect a roomful of people telling you why your idea won’t work. Human nature is skeptical about something new, especially without all of the information presented in a logical, organized fashion. Getting buy-in takes time. Don't squander your opportunity by skipping this step.

Topics: Modern Bookkeeping


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