26 Bonus Benefits Clients Need to Know

Businesspeople having a meeting over coffee sitting together at a table discussing a document, young man and two middle-aged women presentAre you letting your clients know all the value-added ways you can make their business lives better?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Here are some value-added benefits to consider when performing obligatory services such as an audit or tax return, or any work for a client.

MORE: Stop Pricing by the Hour | Things Change | How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | The Background to Saving a Business
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This is not – cannot be – a complete list, but you can use this to help think about the benefits and value you bring to the client on every project or assignment you do for them. Have a look, and let me know in comments what you think. What would you add to the list? What would you eliminate? READ MORE →

Stop Pricing by the Hour

Scale with coins on one side, alarm clock on the otherWhat are you really selling?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

When I was starting out I read a number of books by master salesman Elmer Wheeler, who said, among many other things, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

MORE: Things Change | How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | How I Saved a Business | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee
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This left me with thoughts of always telling clients, or whomever I interacted with, about the value and benefits of dealing with me while de-emphasizing the cost.
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Things Change

Businessman holding a wastebasket with a desktop computer in it“We have to use what has become almost universal if we want to be connected.”

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Innovation requires change, and many of us resist or are reluctant to change. But hopefully not me.

MORE: How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives | Getting by Giving Back | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech | What Consulting Is
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I continually look for what’s new that can be adapted to what I am doing. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up and it seems it is getting harder and harder.
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How an Out-of-Work Tax Preparer ‘Saved’ Our Lives

Portrait of a cheerful businessman smiling at the cameraAlways be ready to help others.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

A number of years ago we purchased a practice in late February to get the business clients. However, we had to agree to service the individual tax clients, of whom there were about 180, with each paying a very low fee. The seller did not want to hang up his longtime clients.

MORE: Getting by Giving Back | How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | The Background to Saving a Business
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We had just moved the files into our office and were really concerned about how we could get the returns done without totally straining our system when Lenny called asking if we had any per-diem tax season work for him.
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Getting by Giving Back

Professionals don't operate in a vacuum.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I had lunch recently with a colleague who was surprised when I mentioned that I helped another accountant with a problem and “did not charge him.”

MORE: How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’ | I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | Getting a Referral from an Adversary
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I know this colleague and he is a very nice person. He’s a sole practitioner and seems to like what he does, but he has always complained to me that he wasn’t growing and just kept doing the same things over and over again. He told me at the lunch that he would never help someone the way I did without charging for it.
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How to Be ’the Other Guy’s Accountant’

9 concrete tips.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve written about wanting to always be the “other guy’s accountant.” I received a number of calls and emails asking how I do it, so here is a followup.

MORE: I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’ | Some Mistakes I Made | Growing with a Client | Getting a Referral from an Adversary | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh
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No matter what client I meet with and no matter what the reason, I try to engage them to find out what’s on their mind.
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I Always Want to be ’The Other Guy’s Accountant’

Your reminders must be constant and relevant.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I once worked for someone who lost a client to “the other guy’s accountant.”

MORE: Some Mistakes I Made | Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | The Background to Saving a Business | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal
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It happened when the client went into a new business with another person – the “other guy.” So my boss lost both the client and the new opportunity to work on the new business. From then on, my boss always wanted to be “the other guy’s accountant.” Me too!
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Some Mistakes I Made

... and some lessons I learned.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve been around a long time and did some really great things. I’ve also made some mistakes.

MORE: Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly | Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | I Lost a Client to an Accounting Firm with Cheaper Fees | How I Saved a Business | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart | How I Got a Mercedes as a Fee
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The mistakes linger on my mind more than many of the great things, and I am sharing some of the mistakes here.
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Why We ‘Kill’ to Get Partnership Returns Out Quickly

Businessman looking at calendar on tabletEveryone benefits.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Many real estate and venture capital partnerships and LLCs have investors that need their K-1 tax statements to file their individual returns.

MORE: Learning from Lee Iacocca Et Al. | Growing with a Client | Getting a Referral from an Adversary | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters
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Depending upon the way they are managed, some never have their books up to date and ready for tax filing until late in the summer, while others are maintained monthly and are closed and ready for tax preparation the end of January or beginning of February.
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What Lee Iacocca’s Life Teaches Accountants

Woman on city train using tabletSUMMER READING: 14 proven leaders can teach us a lot.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

Lee Iacocca passed away July 2 at age 94. He was a brilliant business and civic leader and a cultural icon who was even considered for president.

MORE: Growing with a Client | My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | High CPA Fees Should Be a Client’s Goal | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech
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I never met him but read his autobiography and besides enjoying it I took away a management technique I am sharing with you here.
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Growing with a Client

Businesspeople coming together to cup hands and hold dirt and a seedlingResponsiveness benefits both of you.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I’ve told the story of how we were hired to prepare corporate tax returns at a much higher fee than the client said they wanted to pay. This client grew to become our largest client. Here is how it happened.

MORE: My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business | I Lost a Client to an Accounting Firm with Cheaper Fees | How I Saved a Business | The Staffer Who Was Too Smart
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We completed the initial work earlier than the deadline, raising the confidence level with us. We were then asked to bid on a system evaluation of a small retail chain they owned and were thinking of expanding. This was also a fixed fee. Next came an audit of their employee benefit plan, then some pricing consulting, and a flow of continuous phone calls with tax and accounting questions and eventually an audit of their company.
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My First Thought Is to Never Turn Down Business

Someone else could do it, but why?

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

One of my partners once was asked to recommend an accountant who could do corporate tax returns for a very large company.

MORE: I Lost a Client to an Accounting Firm with Cheaper Fees | Getting a Referral from an Adversary | Start with the Cash | Why a Break-Even Analysis Matters | How I Owned a Printing Company and Restaurant | Am I Happy? | My Boss Hated the Client | Fired from My First Job | Staffers Need to Speak Up with Clients | Bored by CPE? You’re Missing Out! | Clients Buy Solutions, Not Hours
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He was told it would take about 20 days and the fixed fee was an amount that was about a third of our normal rates. My partner was going to refer a CPA who sublet from us who seemed to have the time and he asked me if I thought the accountant could do it.
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I Lost a Client to an Accounting Firm with Cheaper Fees

Businessman holding two papers with happy and angry face each on themWhy they came back.

By Ed Mendlowitz
Call Me Before You Do Anything: The Art of Accounting

I have never been the lowest-priced accountant, but neither was I the highest.

MORE: Getting a Referral from an Adversary | The Background to Saving a Business | Secret Success Formula: E=fs4Uh | Becoming an Expert in IRS Collections | How Hidden Bias Taints Results | When to Keep Some Plans to Yourself | When Writeups Went Extinct | Kennedy’s Acceptance Speech | What Consulting Is
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Sometimes prices charged are subject to the perception of the client and not reality. Fees are always related to the value provided, although that isn’t always evident.
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