Increase Fees and Keep (Most of) Your Clients

Growing stacks of blocks with an arrow tracing upwardBONUS: A sample letter you can send clients.

By Sandi Leyva and Michelle Long
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

When is the last time you increased your fees? Was it the past year, the past one to two years, over three years ... or never? If you haven't, you should.

How do you increase your fees?

Sometimes it’s a sticky situation but you should start setting a policy where you’re going to increase your fees on a regular basis, maybe every year or two. That allows you to avoid having large increases.

If you haven’t increased your rates for five years and you have to go up quite a bit at once that will be harder for the client, but once they get used to an annual or every other year increase and accept it then it’s easier to keep your fees.

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The Dreaded ‘Quick Question’

Young businessman in office on phoneMaybe a training session is what's needed.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

Let’s talk about how to handle those "quick questions." How many times do we have clients who say "I just have a quick question" and it’s never a quick answer?

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: How to Manage Client Expectations | How to Handle Price Sensitivity | How to Handle Referrals – And How Not To | Trashing the Spreadsheet: Best Practices in Modern Expense Management | How to Find Hidden Money for Your Clients | 3 Ways to Implement Value Pricing | How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing | Building Reputation to Build Your Business | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

What are we going to do? Are you going to bill? What about the time and effort to track and invoice your clients for those quick questions? What about the questions that are never quick?
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Best Practices for Handling Mistakes

Businessman horrified by what he sees on computer screen3 steps to take.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

We’ve all made a mistake. Admit it; we have all made a mistake before. Maybe we missed a deadline or you posted things to the wrong account or overlooked something. What’s a mistake you made before?

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: How to Manage Client Expectations | How to Handle Price Sensitivity | How to Handle Referrals – And How Not To | Trashing the Spreadsheet: Best Practices in Modern Expense Management | How to Find Hidden Money for Your Clients | Why Clients Need Dashboards | 3 Ways to Implement Value Pricing | How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing | 3 Ways to Raise Your Prices | Building Reputation to Build Your Business | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

The first time I made a mistake I thought the world was going to end. I was devastated and thought my future and having my own firm was over. I’m out of business because I messed something up.
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How to Manage Client Expectations

Businesswoman conducting video meetingNeed data by a certain date? Make it clear what happens when you don't get it ... and what it costs.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

You've accepted a new client and now you have to communicate with that client and set the expectations. So we want to clarify and manage the expectations. We want to make sure we tell the client what information are they supposed to give to us and when, how and in what format. You need to tell the client "I need your receipts to be scanned and input into this folder by the 10th work day of the month" or every week on Thursday – whatever it is.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: How to Handle Price Sensitivity | How to Handle Referrals – And How Not To | Trashing the Spreadsheet: Best Practices in Modern Expense Management | How to Find Hidden Money for Your Clients | Why Clients Need Dashboards | 3 Ways to Implement Value Pricing | How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing | 3 Ways to Raise Your Prices | Building Reputation to Build Your Business | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

So keep in mind when you get a new client you have to spend a little time with them up front training them. It’s like having a new puppy right? You have to train them initially, spend more time with them and hopefully they don’t potty all over the floor. So we have to train our clients, spend more time with them up front and give them very specific information. If you want them to scan and upload documents, then do a remote session and log in and show them how to do it and walk them through it how to do it.
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How to Choose Clients Right

Businesswoman on the phone in front of modern buildingQuestions to ask, plus a welcome letter for those who make the cut.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

You really need to have confidence when you’re discussing your fees with your clients and realize that you may lose some clients. That’s okay because they’re probably not the kind of client you want to have anyway.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: How to Handle Price Sensitivity | How to Handle Referrals – And How Not To | Trashing the Spreadsheet: Best Practices in Modern Expense Management | How to Find Hidden Money for Your Clients | Why Clients Need Dashboards | 3 Ways to Implement Value Pricing | How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing | 3 Ways to Raise Your Prices | Building Reputation to Build Your Business | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

I had one conference participant say, "Many ask about price but I now see it as an opportunity to explain the value I can provide." That’s great, I like it. Someone else suggested saying, "It seems like responding to price is your primary concern." That puts it back on them to let them explain it and so that’s a good idea as well.
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How to Find Hidden Money for Your Clients

$100 bills behind a curled pageData will lead you to opportunities if you know how to use it.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva

We're talking about using dashboards to make more money with Mike Milan, the senior vice president of Finagraph.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: Why Clients Need Dashboards | 3 Ways to Implement Value Pricing | How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels

Mike Milan:

How do I use this dashboard to talk to an individual? Every business may be a little different but you can always start from the same template and then add in or take away.

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3 Ways to Implement Value Pricing

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 3.28.20 PMWhere's your client's ROI? That's where you meet.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

Here are three tips on implementing value pricing.

  1. Focus on one of your services and not all of them.
  2. Focus on the best service you think you have.
  3. What do you think is the most profitable service you have? That would be the one that is right for converting to value pricing.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing | 3 Ways to Raise Your Prices | Building Reputation to Build Your Business | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

What I mean by profitable is profitable for your clients and not necessarily profitable for you – although it will be once you move to value pricing, because value pricing is very profitable.

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How Small Firms Can Use Value Pricing

Two businesswomen meeting in an officeStep 1: Know what your customer values.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

Value pricing is commonly used with consultants in large firms, but how do we apply it to the very small firms?

What is value pricing? It’s a special type of pricing method that is highly misunderstood in this industry. A lot of people, when they go up on their price, they call it value pricing and that’s not correct. Value pricing has nothing to do with cost, it has nothing to do with time or market; it has to do with what the customer vales. That is the only input that goes into value pricing: what the customer values. There is no relation to cost.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: 3 Ways to Raise Your Prices | Building Reputation to Build Your Business | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

Value pricing is hard because you have to know what the customer values. You have to be really good at putting yourself in the client’s shoes in order to do value pricing. Now let me talk about different pricing methods briefly because I think that will help you a little bit.

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Five Ways to Raise Your Prices

Money roll, calculator and magnifying glassHint: You don't have to do it all at once.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva

We know some of you might be afraid to raise prices, but there are some painless ways for both you and the client.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: Building Reputation to Build Your Business | 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

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Here are five:

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Building Reputation to Build Your Business

Leverage your knowledge.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva
The Ultimate Accounting Virtual Conference

Marketing has changed in the last 30 years. One lead generation channel is reputation.

Buyers really value industry expertise. As a matter of fact, studies show we underestimate the buyer when it comes to valuing industry expertise. That means as accountants we need to promote our expertise more than what we’re doing. Building a reputation is part of that and you can do that a lot of different ways.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: 3 Killer Lead Generation Channels | Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

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3 Killer Lead Generation Channels

The real magic comes when you combine them.

By Michelle Long and Sandi Leyva

I want to share with you the highest ROI channels for lead generation. Let me define channel.

What I mean by channel is a marketing source. For example, your website is a channel or if you send a newsletter, that’s another channel. Referrals is a channel, Google search is another channel, search engine optimization is another channel and those are the different channels for lead generation.

MORE SMALL FIRM GROWTH STRATEGIES: Your Existing Clients Are Your Best Leads | Need More Business? Focus on Referrals

Some marketing channels are fabulous but they’re not good for lead generation. Social media is one example of that but there are many, many exceptions. A blog is probably another best example of a perfectly good marketing channel but very poor for lead generation, but again it varies.

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