More Accounting Tomorrow Posts

Accounting ... like Mary Kay?

July 19, 2010

I love a good party. I also love to support my clients, so if one of them is throwing a grand opening or hosting a Friday barbeque, I make great effort to attend. It’s fun and it’s good for business—offering another touch point with my clients.

Recently, I was invited to a Mary Kay – Girls Night Out spa party by one of my salon clients. I grabbed my staff accountant Aleksandra (Alex), and we were off to be educated on proper skin care. On the ride home, I professed to Alex how selling Mary Kay is like selling accounting services. Alex gave me the old “what’s-my-crazy-boss-talking-about?” look, so I proceeded to explain the similarities. By the end of the car ride, she got it.

Essentially, both Alex and I left having purchased a complete skin care system. Purchasing products separately was costly and didn’t provide the value of a complete system. Additionally, the three components of my new system were packaged just for me. A thorough analysis by a skincare expert allowed me to identify the products I needed to ensure that my unique needs were met. You see where I’m going with this, right?

As savvy business owners, accounting professionals need to think along these lines. At my firm, we sell services in a package—one that has been customized for the client’s unique business needs. I start with a basic package—a QuickBooks quarterly review, a tax return, and payroll. From there, clients can build on to their package with such services as consulting or comprehensive financial reporting. In the end, we build a custom system for each client…and all for an affordable package price. Of course, clients also have the option to purchase services separately, but not before we thoroughly educate them on the value of a complete system and it’s affordability.

It’s all about how you inform your client upfront. Like Mary Kay, we carefully evaluate the client’s needs and then build their package based on this information. Clients love the fact that they understand how their accounting needs will be met and that it’s at a fixed price. Also like Mary Kay, they leave feeling good about purchasing exactly what their small business requires—no more, no less. The only difference that I’ve identified so far is that my clients don’t leave with a cute gift bag, but I’m working on that.

Jody L. Padar, CPA, MST, is a Certified Public Accountant experienced with Complex Federal & State Income Tax Compliance for Business & Individuals. Jody is an adjunct professor at Oakton Community College, where she teaches Taxation and QuickBooks Courses. She is part of Intuit Trainer Writer Network and speaks nationally on various Technologies and Taxation. Reach her at

Comments (2)
Very good analogy, Jodi. I also wish more firms would think of ways to cross-sell their services, just like Mary Kay reps are trained to do. If accountants did spend more time upfront evaluating a client's needs, they would realize that there is much more to the engagement than a one-off tax return or an audit.

Great posting.
Posted by scytron | Tuesday, July 20 2010 at 9:31AM ET
I own my own accounting firm, and I never thought of accounting services as being like selling Mary Kay Cosmetics, but Jody Padar has convinced me. I currently do not bill my clients at a package rate, but now I will be rethinging the concept. Great idea!
Posted by katysams | Tuesday, July 20 2010 at 9:06AM ET
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