Many firms have “fallen into” ancillary services such as business valuation because there was an occasional need from a client, but it was never intended to be packaged and marketed as a value-added service that can be used as a wedge to open new doors. However, few firms take a truly strategic approach to identifying viable services, and working to build them into their overall package.
You don’t need to look too far to determine what the hot services are. The annual Top 100 Firms ranking from Accounting Today lists ancillary services by the percentage of firms growing or adding revenue in each service over the prior year. Based on this ranking, firms are aggressively pursuing SALT, international tax, business valuation/litigation support, HR consulting, fraud, staffing, and technology services, among others. So, what services could your best clients use that you can and should be providing? Further, what opportunities do you have in your marketplace to fill a gap or meet a need that is underserved to fuel expansion of market share?
Don’t limit yourself to 1) services you think you can provide with your current people, 2) services traditionally within the umbrella of professional services, 3) services you understand!
Create a deliberate plan to investigate potential services, determine market demand, and understand the service delivery process and how this new service would fit into your firm. Then consider how you might staff this service and what your competitive differentiators would be, as well as revenue and profitability projections. Is there someone internally willing to step up to the plate and own it (and invest 100 percent of their time into this new niche), or will you need to bring in someone new to enable success? Is this person a current partner or future partner? This is the equivalent of R&D—you are making a strategic investment in your future through this process.
Will every service be a winner? No. You may be sour on ancillary services because of a failed attempt many years ago. Think back—did the first marketing director you hired work out? No? You eventually hired again, didn’t you! Set your expectations properly. Not every well thought-out idea (calculated risk) wins.
Winning the growth game today takes a strategic approach to exploring additional high-value ancillary services that you can use to boost your top and bottom lines. So don’t just “fall into” your next ancillary service—create a deliberate plan for your success and watch your opportunities grow.
Art Kuesel is the president of Kuesel Consulting, which helps CPA firms perfect their growth strategies and actions to drive revenue in the door. Reach him at email@example.com or (312) 208-8774.