Accountants who offer business valuation services can bring in new business for their practices, although perhaps not as frequently as they would get from more familiar bread-and-butter services.

Aaron Lively, a regional valuation consultant at the financial information company Sageworks, pointed to recent reports by the research firm IBISWorld that found profit margins for the business valuation market to be 60 percent higher than traditional accounting services. However, valuation work for some professionals can be less profitable per engagement.

Seventy-one percent of business valuation professionals surveyed during a recent webinar hosted by Practice Builder Academy said they bill business valuation engagements on a flat-fee basis. The other 29 percent of the webinar participants said they bill valuations on a per-hour basis.

To improve the profitability of valuation engagements, Lively advised accountants during the webinar, “You either need to start charging more or start saving time.”

Report writing, the most time-consuming part of an engagement, is one area where valuation professionals can improve their efficiency, according to Lively and Rod Burkert, co-founder of Practice Builder Academy and founder of Burkert Valuation Advisors LLC.

“Report writing is really the final frontier,” Burkert said. While valuation professionals have access to various mathematical tools to help with their work, most haven’t yet developed an efficient system for writing a quality report, he noted. “That’s the last place where people can save time and money if they’re efficient and effective about how they go about writing the report.”

Seventy percent of business valuation professionals polled during the webinar cited writing the report as the most time-consuming aspect of conducting valuations, topping data collection, data entry and calculations. Many business valuation reports, which must document methodology and assumptions to support the valuation in court, can run 80 to 100 pages or more.

Automation can shorten the report-writing process by five to 10 hours per valuation engagement. With just 10 engagements a year and a savings of five hours, that’s more than a week of time freed up, noted Burkert.

“What would I do with 5 or 10 hours per engagement?” Burkert asked. “You can go out and get more work, but you can also spend more time with your family.”