In an ever-changing business landscape due to technological advancements and evolving client needs, accounting and bookkeeping firms can no longer afford to stand still. Businesses seeking financial services today often look for a “one-stop-shop” that can provide a comprehensive suite of offerings. In the eyes of many super-busy clients, gone are the days when your firm could specialize solely in tax preparation or auditing and still be expected to thrive. This necessitates a strategic move to diversify the range of services you offer. Doing so not only fortifies your practice against market downturns but also opens new avenues for revenue.
Understand Your Client Base
Before branching out, it’s crucial to understand your existing client base. This knowledge gives insights into the specific additional services that would provide the most value to current clients and attract new ones. Analyzing your current clients’ industries, business size, and unique needs provides direction for service expansion.
For instance, if your clients are primarily small businesses, adding services, such as payroll management or part-time CFO services, could be beneficial. On the other hand, if you deal with larger corporations, risk management or compliance services might be a logical add-on.
Types of Services to Offer
To meet clients’ evolving needs, there are numerous services to consider adding:
With the advent of automated accounting tools, the transactional aspects of accounting are rapidly becoming commoditized. Forward-looking firms focus more on advisory services that leverage their financial planning, business valuation, and strategy expertise.
Compliance and Risk Management
With an ever-evolving complex web of laws and regulations, businesses need more than just tax services. Offering compliance audits, internal audits, or enterprise risk management can be a profitable expansion avenue.
Estate and Succession Planning
As the population continues to age, clients may need help developing comprehensive plans for transferring assets and businesses to heirs while minimizing taxes.
Financial Literacy Workshops
Host educational workshops and webinars to improve clients’ financial literacy. Conducting workshops at your chamber or other local organizations is a smart way to attract new clients.
Forensic Accounting and Fraud Detection
Assist clients in identifying and preventing financial fraud, conducting internal investigations, and resolving financial disputes.
Specialized Industry Focus
If you have expertise in a specific sector like healthcare, real estate, or manufacturing, consider offering specialized accounting services catering to that sector’s unique challenges and regulatory compliance issues.
As businesses increasingly adopt various financial software solutions, there’s a growing need for technology consulting services. Whether you’re helping clients transition to cloud-based accounting systems or offering training and ongoing support for platforms like QuickBooks, Sage, or Xero, technology consulting can be a significant value add.
Virtual CFO Services
Offer part-time or interim CFO services to small and medium-sized businesses, helping them with financial strategy, budgeting, and forecasting.
Expanding services often requires new skill sets. Whether you hire new staff or train existing employees depends on several factors, including time, cost, and the complexity of the new services. Comprehensive training programs can help transition your current team to offer the new services efficiently.
Make sure your existing technology stack can support the new services. For example, adding advisory services may require sophisticated financial modeling software, while payroll services will need specialized payroll software that integrates well with your existing systems.
Pricing your new services is a delicate balance. They should be competitively priced. So, first, research what your competitors are charging. But your latest service offerings also need to be profitable. Consider creating packages that bundle new and existing services or offer “legacy” promotional pricing to existing clients to try your latest offers or introductory rates to attract new clients.
Marketing and Sales
Launching and spreading the word about your new services effectively is critical for success. Leverage email marketing, social media, and traditional channels like print or radio ads. Write a short blog about the value of some of the services you’ve added and post it on your LinkedIn account.
Keep your sales or biz dev team in the loop and train them to cross-sell these new services to existing clients.
In the accounting field, client referrals are one of the most effective ways to attract new business. Referrals tend to bring in high-quality leads because they come from satisfied clients who are familiar with your firm’s services and quality of work. To get the most out of referrals, though, you need to create a system:
- Identify Ideal Referral Sources: Determine which clients are most likely to provide valuable referrals. Look for long-term clients who have had positive experiences and are well-connected in their industries.
- Educate Your Clients: Make sure your clients understand your referral program and how it works. You can do this through email newsletters, brochures, or in-person meetings.
- Offer Incentives: To encourage clients to refer others, consider offering incentives such as discounts on future services, gift cards, or even a charitable donation in their name for each successful referral. Be transparent about the incentives you provide.
- Thank Your Referrers: When a referral leads to a new client, thank the person who made the referral. A thank-you note, a small gift, or a personalized acknowledgment can go a long way in showing appreciation.
- Promote Online Reviews: Encourage satisfied clients to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, or industry-specific review sites. Positive online reviews can boost your firm’s credibility and attract new clients.
- Networking and Community Involvement: Attend industry events, join local business associations, and get involved in your community. Building a solid professional network can lead to referrals from other professionals.
- Create a Referral Tracking System: Implement a system to track referrals so you can measure the effectiveness of your program. Use customer relationship management (CRM) software or a simple spreadsheet to record who referred whom and the outcomes.
Gather Feedback and Adjust Your Services
Once implemented, collect client feedback and make necessary adjustments. Some of the new services may not be what your clients need, while others may prove wildly popular. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your new service offerings and adjust your service offerings accordingly.
Offering new and different services is not only a survival strategy but also an opportunity for growth and increased profitability. By understanding your client base, selecting the right additional services, implementing them effectively, and continually adjusting based on feedback and performance, you can ensure that your accounting practice remains competitive and prosperous for years to come.
Remember, diversification doesn’t mean dilution. Adding complementary services that align with your core competencies and meet your clients’ needs reinforces your practice’s value proposition. And in a marketplace that rewards comprehensive, high-quality service, that’s a formula for success.