Voices

Monetize clients while building their value

This is what CPAs should be focused on. The client’s perceived value is not in compliance. It is in how they can use you to build the value of their business, help them make more money, give them time back to enjoy their life or free up time so they can implement their next vision.

If you are a partner in a CPA firm, you are an entrepreneur. In a large firm, it might be harder to quickly innovate. If you are in a regional to local practice, you can create new services, make investments in growth or staff, make pricing decisions, etc., and you can do that because you control your future.

Somewhere, many firms lost sight of the mission. The mission is not to address the compliance. Compliance is a task to accomplish that is part of the mission. The mission is to help the client build value. It is to provide their leadership with ideas and insight to increase margins, make progress toward their goals, evaluate opportunities, and help the client overcome obstacles.

Monetizing should be the outcome of building client value. Every firm has significant value-building opportunities, but they get derailed trying to move the pile of tax returns or audits to the completed stage. Then they add more compliance to the pile and try to figure out ways to be more efficient with their piles, but somewhere the building client value part gets overlooked. Time gets away from all of us, but when we lose track of the core point, which is to build client value, we start to fail in the mission.

The irony is every CPA firm has the data they need to build client value. They just do not use it. You know how old the client is, how much money they make, their cash flow positions, etc. It is right in front of you in their financial records. You only need a few talking points to get a client to share because every owner needs someone to trust to talk about their vision, risks and concerns.

First, self-assess your firm’s “client knowledge.” What do you really know about your clients?

  • How many business owners do you have over 60 years of age?
  • How many businesses have adult children working in the company?
  • Pull your top 20 clients. What percent of firm revenue do they represent? Do you know how many are over 60 or have family in the business? Can you list their top three goals and obstacles?
  • Of those top 20, do you know which service or product segment makes them the most money?

Now, start asking questions. This is the hard part. Many professionals are not comfortable asking questions or know what questions to ask. Every firm has their “eagle” — the person or people for whom words just flow naturally and who always gets to the key points. They can get the client talking about everything. Most people are not “eagles” and they need more structure. If you are not consulting you are a commodity.

Then, upscale and elevate your firm. Clients will love the support. Staff will want to stay and be engaged. Recruits will want to come work for you. Your firm will monetize those clients and increase the bottom line, and the clients will not care about the higher fee because you built their value or solved their problem.

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