The thought of switching from hourly billing to fixed fees can be anxiety-inducing for accountants and bookkeepers. Building and implementing a new pricing model is a complex undertaking, and it’s not always obvious where or how to start.
An added apprehension (and maybe the biggest deterrent to change) is the tough conversation that will need to be had with each and every client. The key to achieving buy-in for fixed fees is to start priming your clients for change early. Below are three ways to prepare your clients for a conversation about pricing changes.
Conduct Regular Client Check-ins and Build Systems to Ensure Transparency
Before you talk to your clients about a pricing change, make sure that your clients are happy with the value you are providing.
Sit down with them on a regular basis, or schedule a recurring phone call, to review your working relationship. Take stock of the work you have done and the value you have delivered. Use each meeting to reinforce how you have addressed their pain points with effective solutions. Demonstrate – quantitatively – how you have helped them grow their business.
It's also key to look for opportunities to create transparency within your relationship. For example, why you're using the accounting apps you do and why/how your workflow was designed. Take time to jointly review your workflow, your onboarding system, etc. This is an exercise that will give both you and your client a chance to share ideas and opinions on where efficiencies can be implemented and more time can be saved.
Critically examining each step in your workflow and how it guides your working relationship will help reveal where your current value lies and where more can be instrumented. This will make it easier to propose a pricing plan aligned with how your clients value your relationship.
Make an Effort to Deeply Understand Client Pain Points
Preparing your client for a pricing change conversation requires a thorough understanding of their specific business needs.
By showcasing concern for your client's business problems and your ability to provide solutions, you will be able to better position yourself as a valued partner in their business success. Your clients will become more open to a fixed fee model as a viable option if they understand how you can add to their business.
In order to understand client pain points, ask what keeps them awake at night. Talk to each client about the pressing issues they're experiencing in operating and building their business. Pay careful attention to their vision for the future and where they want to be in the next five to ten years. Focus on the specific elements in each business vision that you can help turn into reality. Make the advisory services and solutions that you provide a part of their business plan.
Start Providing Higher Levels of Advice and Direction
Whether you're currently providing advisory services to all of, some of, or none of your clients, make an effort to either introduce advice or find new ways to add more value. Position yourself as a trusted advisor that can guide them towards sound financial and business decisions. This type of trust builds a deeper relationship and gives value-driven pricing merit.
- Provide insight on how they can grow their business in headcount, customers, etc.
- Seek out technology solutions that can remove roadblocks and increase efficiency
- Use your network to make introductions that will help develop their business
- Focus on giving advice and providing services that impact their bottom line
Approach the transition to fixed fees as a process, rather than an event. Take the worry out of the transition conversation by understanding your clients’ pain points well before any formal discussions take place. Deliver value beyond their expectations. Reinforce the value you deliver at every opportunity. Do a great job at preparing your client and they'll be more likely to say yes when you get to the pricing change discussion.