Bookkeeping is commoditized. Entering debits and credits is basically the same, regardless of who is doing the entry - especially now that technology is doing so much of the work for us. So, here is the question bookkeepers should be asking now. How do you elevate your services to create differentiation?
Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with Will Lopez, head of Gusto's accountant community. We spoke at length about why it is so important to adopt advisory services and how to do so, primarily from the perspective of payroll services. The central concept of the conversation was around the fact that traditional low-margin, compliance-based payroll services have needed to be re-imagined as the foundation for a rich advisory service that better serves clients.
Payroll services, like so many other bookkeeping services, are commoditized. According to Will, "There is an identity crisis happening in the profession flared by modern technology. Technology has supplanted our value... Fintech companies are perpetuating an unfortunate misalignment of accountants' and bookkeepers' value and where that value lies when it is compared to technology."
Because of this belief, Will and the team at Gusto looked for ways to create the opportunity for accountants to go up the chain of value and separate themselves from the technology. Through this exploration, Gusto created both the concept and the noun of "People Advisor", in which both technology and the accountant or bookkeeper have roles as partners.
What is People Advisory?
People Advisory includes expertise not only in payroll but also in health insurance, 401(k) and other benefits and human resources. As a People Advisor, the expertise you develop around benefits and HR allows you to offer higher-valued services for greater revenue potential and deeper client relationships AND leverage technology in a way that gives you more time to have these advisory conversations and work on your business, not just in it.
Gusto's People Advisory program includes a certification course (eligible for 5 CPE credits) to help you build your expertise and learn the framework of advisory services and the skills in holding advisory conversations. This certification will teach you how to combine your expertise with Gusto's People Platform to be able to offer advisory services.
Once you learn how to provide People Advisory services, the next question becomes how to offer the service. Gusto launched the People Advisory Accelerator Program to guide you through this next step.
What is the People Advisory Accelerator?
"Advisory is a journey, not a destination," Will said. Understanding the comprehensive knowledge of payroll, benefits and HR is one thing, but taking that knowledge and re-vamping an existing service line such as payroll is completely different. The Accelerator program walks you hands-on through launching a People Advisory Program at your practice and provides you with everything you need to package, staff, sell and deliver People Advisory.
What are some of the things you need to learn?
- How to create a three-tier subscription model
- How to identify your own team members and invest in their careers and education
- How to price, including a pricing calculator so you can decide hourly, fixed-fee, or value
- How to deliver, including each deliverable with steps needed to complete the deliverable
- How to scale, with marketing copy, website copy and sales scripts
- How to use smart billing to include variable payroll plus a fixed engagement through deep integration with Practice Ignition (note: Gusto and Practice Ignition even wrote a free guide to scale your People Advisory services)
What is the value of certification?
Certifications like QuickBooks programs, Gusto's People Advisory Certificates and Woodard's Certified Transformative Advisor courses increase your knowledge and allow you to speak more confidently. In addition, certification badges are a visual signal for that expertise, showing your clients that you have invested deeply to be able to provide superior services.
As you plan for 2022, include plans to increase your knowledge base, differentiate your services and better serve your clients by adding at least one new certification. If you want to access all of Gusto's education programs on a complimentary basis, it's free to join Gusto's partner program.