When you hurt your back, you go to a chiropractor. A problem with your foot? You see a podiatrist. Issue with the eye, you’re calling up an optician.
You could go to a doctor, but wouldn’t you rather go see a specialist?
It’s the same with accounting. Sure, your clients could go to any accountant to get their usual deliverables, but they know that for a high level of service, they need to find someone with a specific set of skills.
Finding a specialization and working within it has a lot of benefits for accounting firms and their CAS deliverables. Here’s what you need to know to do it well.
Why You Need to Niche Down
Accounting firms can learn a lot about how they position and sell themselves from retail stores.
Think about it. How many stores do you see that sell a little bit of everything? Typically, a business will start small and expand from there. Maybe they start off selling coffee equipment, then expand into kitchenware before becoming a whole home outfitter. But it’s a gradual process.
Outside of big department stores, every successful retailer creates a niche and expands from there.
There are two benefits to choosing a niche:
- Specific customers and messaging: When you niche down, your prospective customer pool is more limited. This is offset by how specific your messaging becomes. Rather than chasing leads from all industries, you have a refined message that has a higher likelihood of converting.
- Strengthening your processes: Knowing an industry through and through gives you a stepping stone for all advisory conversations. You can benchmark clients based on industry trends and your prior experiences. Not to mention, you’ll refine your processes for quicker turnaround times and higher-quality output.
Choosing an industry and developing expertise in a vertical ultimately benefits the work you do, your efficiency, and how you bring in new clients. It benefits across the board.
Choosing the Niche for You
Knowing that you need to niche down is part one. Part two is choosing your niche.
Start by going through your existing clients. If you’re already trending towards a specific industry, there’s the perfect stepping-off point.
If you don’t have any common industry across the clients you have, it’s time to think about what you most want to work within.
There are two possible approaches to take when it comes to choosing an industry:
- Choose an industry based on prospects: Start by looking at the local businesses or prospective clients you’d like to bring on in a perfect world. When you find a common trend, start developing a brand identity and processes around serving this niche.
- Choose an industry based on prior experience or interest: Anything where you can draw from personal experience, gets you an upper hand in developing your firm. Whether it’s something you’re interested in or maybe have been exposed to in the past, consider using that as your inspiration.
Going Beyond the Financial Data
Let’s dig deeper into the main benefit of understanding an industry.
A client approaches you to look over their financials. They’ve been operating for a while now and are trying to better understand their performance. They come to you with their financial reporting and some operational stats. Where do you start?
You provide a breakdown of some key metrics and how they’re connected. You highlight some trends to paint a picture of how everything is interconnected. But can you answer the question of how they’re performing?
To understand performance, you need a baseline. A hitter in baseball is considered a star if they get on base 40% of the time; a basketball player is considered good at free throws if they shoot above 75% from the line. Despite one of them having a better percentage, you can only understand their performance within the context of their sport.
Understanding an industry helps you frame stats and metrics more effectively. Then, when you take on a new client, you’ll know exactly where to start looking and what drivers to track when it’s time to start providing analysis and advice.
Marketing to Your Chosen Industry
The other benefit to niching down is refining your messaging.
With your chosen vertical, you want to lean as much into that identity of a specialist as possible. Leverage your skillset and understanding of the industry in your marketing and conversations with leads.
Being able to benchmark a business against others in the industry is a huge value add. Any analysis or decision-making that understands the industry context is going to provide deeper insights.
Every CAS engagement typically has a learning phase. But with industry experience, you streamline the process and deliver value right away. Lean into this and leverage any client success stories you can.
Your clients will also be familiar with others in their industry. Don’t hesitate to ask for references. You can set up a referral program to incentivize clients to help you make new connections. Also, try to get any quotes or testimonials that can be used on your website or marketing materials.
Leveraging Tech to Scale Operations
Developing expertise in a specific vertical is a big step to working more efficiently, having thoroughly standardized processes, and providing the highest value client advisory services. You can level up even further by using technology to streamline your work. With Jirav, you have an all-in-one FP&A software that gives you unlimited reporting potential.