Are You a “Me Too” or “Differentiated”?

Accountant's Minute 151

Welcome to Accountants Minute.

Are you a “me too”?  Your clients are competing in a competitive world.  Accountants are no different.

Things are changing all the time.

All types of businesses, including accountants, need to be differentiating their services to make them look different, to be able to offer the products/services that the customers are looking for – your clients.

Too many accountants are offering a “me too” service. 

Without differentiation, what type of firm is your organisation?  Are you attracting new clients?  Are these clients looking for the services that you’re able to provide?  Are you attracting young accountants who are keen to create some “action” to help clients add value to their businesses?  Are they happy that they’re doing “real accountant’s work”?

So where do you start if you want to convert your organisation from a “me too” to a diversified commercial business advice organisation; which is what, I believe (and plenty of experts also believe) the accountancy firm of the future is going to be like.

First, you need to identify the products or services that your clients would like you to produce for them.  So why not ask them?  Conduct a survey.  Hold a seminar.  Get their feedback,

You then need to develop your team because the prime group of people involved in the delivery of these services will be your managers and accountants, because most partners are very busy already.  If you are a partner in your firm, you need to be the mentors and rainmakers.  If you are not a partner, why not start talking to the partners in relation to diversifying the range of services that your firm is offering.

Then the clients need to be told (and also the prospects).  Talk in the marketplace about what you’re going to do.

Differentiation means that you are “different”, so don’t afraid of being different.  You will need to promote the range of “business friendly” services that your firm is going to offer to your clients.

Why not prepare a list of services that your competitors provide so you can use this as a reference to guide you on your “differentiation process”?

I suspect that your competitors’ list of services will look like this:

  • taxation advice
  • taxation returns
  • superannuation accounts preparation
  • perhaps, if they got registered in time, superannuation audits
  • perhaps some financial planning – again, if they are appropriately registered
  • perhaps some audit work
  • and probably some assistance with clients in submitting bank loan applications, renewal of bank overdraft facilities etc

Have you had the opportunity to read the review of Australian Accountancy Businesses for 2016/17, prepared by Benchmarking.com.au?  It’s quite interesting.

The all firms' average for that year for Australian accountancy businesses was an income of $1.75M, of which accounting fees comprised 94.5%.  Financial planning was a very small 3.3%.  Other revenue was 2.2%.  That meant that other revenue generated the sum of $38,000 from the average practice, according to Benchmarking.com.  The average revenue per client was $4,784.

These are the “me too” figures.  Why not set a task that you are going to set a course that your income from other revenue, business advisory services will be 10% of your income over the next 12 months and on this example, that would mean that $200,000 was going to be earned from these activities over the next twelve months.  That would then represent 10% of the revenue which would then be $2M. 

We’re not advocating that you reduce any of your current taxation work...  you add more services to it.  You delegate within your organisation to enable the work to be undertaken.

What other services could you provide quickly?:

  • debtors’ reviews
  • strategies to reduce debtors’ days outstanding, for which Australia has the dubious title of having the “longest in the world”
  • Personal Property Securities Register – Due Diligence Reviews – every one of your business clients is potentially going to be lose a lot of money through ignorance of the Personal Property Securities Register, because already more than $400M has been lost by businesses in Australia, basically through ignorance of how this legislation operates.
  • business plans/succession Plans
  • identifying government grants and then, perhaps, performing some of the work that the government grants will finance e.g. business plans, budgets, cashflow forecasts, management mentoring

So, to get started, you’ll need to train your team.  You can do that by using the ESS BIZTOOLS’ material over a thirteen-week period, 2-hours per week, you’ll develop your team of accountants to be able to offer a broader range of services. 

You will then need to communicate with your clients.  Tell them that you’re now offering a wider range of services.  You’ve heard what clients have been saying in the various surveys.  The marketing material to assist you, produced by ESS BIZTOOLS, would be via:

  • newsletters
  • on your website
  • seminars/webinars

ESS BIZTOOLS has a full range of product packages to assist accountants to deliver a very wide range of services to your clients so you would no longer be a “me too” organisation but will have started on the “differentiation path”.

I have some clients who are already generating 50% of their fee income from non-taxation services.  I think that should be the aim for every accounting firm in Australia.

I would like to work with you. 

The next step is yours.  Please give me a call (07) 4724 1118 or send me an email – peter@essbiztools.com.au, or better still please go to our website – www.essbiztools.com.au – and log on for a free, no-obligation 30-day Guest Login so you can obtain a full appreciation of how ESS BIZTOOLS can assist your firm to diversify its activities.

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