What are all businesses — accounting firms included — trying to achieve on a daily basis?
Typically, firm growth happens through a mixture of gaining a greater number of clients and maximizing the rate those clients pay (on average). And a sound way to secure more revenue from clients is to offer new services that:
Add value for clients
Complement your current services
Fit into the type of accounting firm you’re building
Sometimes new services come about through your clients. A business owner asks if you do budgets or tax planning, and you oblige with a hearty “Of course we do!”
After that first budget, planning session, or forecast, it’s easier to get an idea of how you could roll out such high-value services to other clients. In fact, customers often ask their accountants if they provide additional services, but without a solid plan to roll out and support new accounting services, some firms fail to launch.
But those firms that take the launch of a new service seriously put a simple plan in place:
Identify the right services for your firm to offer
Create and prepare a launch strategy
Execute the launch (and pivot if necessary)
First, Identify the Right Service(s)
There are four checkpoints you’ll need to tap when deciding on the perfect services to offer. Each point provides a different angle and discussion, but considering all four together gives clarity, bringing the correct move(s) to the forefront.
1. Understand your business goals
How big do you want to grow? Is that growth in terms of the size of your team, a revenue target, and/or the number of clients you serve? What’s the next move for when you reach your goals?
The services you offer are largely impacted by your overall direction as an accounting business.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate:
Example One: You’re a regional accounting practice serving mostly small businesses who are looking to improve year-over-year. After talking with multiple clients, you realize that service offerings like tax planning and budget creation bring more immediate value to your clients and offer a chance to close a decent amount of deals.
Example Two: Your goal is to specialize in fast-growing startups and help them manage incoming funds, create a budget, and maintain profitability. Fractional CFO services, complete with detailed KPI tracking and up-to-date financial reporting, could help you appeal to more startups.
Asking questions about the direction of your firm and who you’d like to serve goes a long way toward setting up the right service packages.
2. Talk to your existing clients
It might seem simple, but asking your clients about their specific goals can help you identify which services will most benefit them. This is especially helpful if you’re overall satisfied with your firm’s existing operations and book of business.
Here are some starter questions to ask your clients:
What big decisions are on the horizon for your business?
What financial hiccups are you having?
What can our firm do to help you overcome your obstacles and reach your goals?
Chances are, you’re already familiar with their challenges since you know their finances. But letting them speak to their problems and goals in their own language can help you drive value that feels unique to them — and possibly works in your marketing efforts and reaching similar clients.
3. Understand the marketplace
Businesses solve problems, and choosing the best services requires a bit of research to understand the current market environment. Primarily, your research falls into three general categories:
Competition: Successful accounting firms have become amazingly adaptive to changing economic landscapes. Some have focused their firm to serve a particular type of business or industry. Others have created tiered monthly service packages to clearly label what they offer, better communicating their offerings while stabilizing revenue. Look for what other firms are doing to create services that compete and could stand out from the competition.
Industry: In most cases, industry research is about finding markets that are poised for long-term growth. Then, as you specialize , it’s likely you’ll uncover specific services that benefit your industry. For example, an accounting firm serving law firms can create services built around trust accounting compliance.
Technology: Financial technology (Fintech) creates an entirely new element to research. New available tools use AI, machine learning, and real-time integrations to make traditionally complex services (like forecasting) more approachable. Your clients are likely spending a bulk of their time in a non-financial software system — either their CRM or project management system. Consider learning how to connect their operational data to financial data for more robust reporting.
4. Talk to your team
Your accounting team wants to see their skills pay off for the businesses they serve. They’re the in-house experts on what services your client roster needs most, and they can give you an idea of how much bandwidth is available to provide those services.
A few ways to glean service offerings from your team:
Their strengths: Leverage your team for what they’re best at, regardless of new services or not. If someone is strong at advising on payroll and headcount, it could be something to offer.
Their interactions with clients: They talk with their clients and may hear a common need you haven’t considered.
Their ideas: Be clear about what you’re trying to do, and give them an opportunity to offer their candid feedback and ideas.
Then, Set a Launch Strategy
Once you have services in mind, it’s time to figure out how to introduce them to current and future clients. Now is also when you’ll set up the tentative process for handling the workload of additional services in your firm.
Fortunately, the contemplation process helps in both marketing and standard operating procedures.
Think about everything you know so far:
What your clients want/need
What your business goals are
What the marketplace looks like to your clients
And how your team will help you pursue new growth through additional service offerings
A bonus from talking with your clients and your team is that you might be able to determine which teammates may be best-suited for particular tasks. Knowing that can be a sort of head start to launching a new service!
You can also consider additional factors and strategies for your new service launch:
Create package(s): Give something tangible to your leads by packaging services. A few “tiers” allows clients a choice of what they need or can afford. It’s also a great way to manage expectations by showing specifically what is and is not included in packages.
Create a discount (for early adopters): A new service launch is something to celebrate! You can extend the celebration by offering a discount to draw clients into new services. These early adopters will also eventually be great for testimonials, case studies, and critical feedback.
Offer to your existing clients first: The first clients of your new services should be those who enjoy your current offerings. If it fits into their current services (which it should) call it an “add-on” that will provide more value. This language pairs well with a discount.
Hone-in on messaging and process: Call it a soft-launch, if you will. But taking in early adopters and current clients allows you a bit more grace. They’ll understand being the first in line and that it comes with inevitable issues. Narrow down your messaging (to better sell) and your processes (to better serve).
Finally, Avoid Becoming Overwhelmed During Launch
The last step in this process is somewhat a surprise: if you follow this guide in full, you’ll have technically “launched” new services!
That said, the ability to have a trial run is invaluable; it offers an introductory experience, helps reinforce the messaging, and clients will get a chance to see results before fully investing in your new service offering. An overlooked element of a launch is preparing a solid foundation through a promotional trial run, which helps your team and your clients avoid the tension that comes with feeling overwhelmed by big change.
Before a new service launch, your team is used to how things are done and your current workload isn’t a huge problem. So, what happens if 10 to 20% of your clientele takes you up on your pre-launch promotional offer? Will everyone have to work overtime for a few weeks? Or will you quickly find, interview, and hire additional staff?
One solution is leveraging automation to help improve and expand your firm’s service offering:
Cloud-based accounting tools can save time for your accountants by making real-time data accessible any time, anywhere.
AI-powered bookkeeping handles the redundant tasks that bottleneck your ability to grow through your new services.
Workflow tools allow you to templatize and manage tasks so nothing slips through the cracks
Find your new services, package them in a way that makes sense for your firm, and launch them to your current and future clients. And before you do, make sure to take a look under the hood of your business to make sure you’re ready for growth.
If you’re ready to take your firm’s service offering to the next level, get in touch with a Botkeeper specialist today for a free consultation. They’ll walk through your challenges and growth goals and show you how Botkeeper can assist you. Click below to get started!