Properly defining, documenting, packaging, and pricing your firm’s service offerings is an important step for any accounting or bookkeeping practice.
If you’re just starting out, these steps will help to set your practice up for success by building the framework from which you operate. If you’re a well-established firm, you’ve likely already completed these types of foundational activities; however, coming back to them can help increase practice efficiency, introduce new services and pricing, and better prepare your firm for the future.
While these activities can sometimes be tedious (and might end up uncovering additional projects that need to be addressed), they’re especially important for practices that wish to offer advisory services.
But before we dive into the value of defining both your compliance and advisory services, let’s take a step back.
Are you ready for advisory?
Moving into advisory can seem like a daunting process for accounting and bookkeeping practices, but the fact of the matter is, you’re probably already providing advisory in some capacity.
In a recent blog post, Twyla Verhelst of TwentyEighty and Helm discussed the ambiguity of the definition of “advisor” as it applies to accounting and bookkeeping professionals, concluding that the definition is broad and mystified. Advisory can range from simple conversations with your clients about how their business is tracking (based on the financial data you regularly collect and process) to virtual CFO services.
As it pertains to “readiness” for advisory, Twyla sums it up nicely:
“So let’s own it. You’re an advisor. I’m willing to bet that you’ve all had at least one conversation with a client that is beyond basic data punching. That client dialogue has already been there so you simply need to decide how much of these types of client interactions you want to include as a consistent part of your service offerings to your clients.”
While there are steps your practice can take that will help to better position your firm for advisory success (e.g., nailing down your data collection processes, and choosing to specialize), it’s ultimately up to you to determine what types of advisory services your firm is equipped to offer. Consider your client needs, your staff’s expertise and experience, the client data you’re able to collect and analyze, and the overall value you’re able to provide in an advisory capacity.
With this in mind, perhaps a better question is: are you ready to add advisory to your firm’s service offerings? If the answer is yes, your next step is to define, document, and package your compliance and advisory services.
Provide clarity, consistency, and control
Defining and documenting your services will provide a lot of value for both your practice and your clients. Moreover, this part of introducing advisory will help to inform how you price and package your services, and eventually go-to-market.
While the scope of many compliance services is often more cut-and-dried, there is some ambiguity with regard to advisory – e.g., what exactly does cash flow forecasting entail, and what can the client expect as an output from this type of service?
Clearly defining your services and how they are executed will establish a structure that your firm and clients will work within, which helps to ensure:
- Clarity – Both your staff and your clients will understand what is expected throughout the engagement, which is critical for improving client relationships.
- Consistency – Even for small firms, documenting your services will ensure that consistent quality is maintained, regardless of which staff member is executing and which client they’re working with.
- Control – A challenge that is sometimes associated with advisory services is scope creep. Defining and documenting your services will ensure that all types of advisory stay within scope, enabling your firm to continue to operate efficiently.
The benefits of defining and structuring your services
Structuring your firm’s services will enable you to eliminate much of the ambiguity and friction that might surface when transitioning to offer advisory services.
In addition to the above, defining your services will also enable a number of benefits for your firm, including:
- Opportunities for upsell – Defining and packaging your services will eventually result in tiered pricing and packages. If a client starts with a lower-tier package, having a clearly defined “next step” will enable them to continue growing with your firm if they’re satisfied with your level of service.
- Growth and scalability – In addition to potentially growing revenue through client upsell, the standardization that comes with defining your services will make it easier for your firm to operate efficiently, and therefore scale in other areas (i.e., by spending less time gathering high-quality data, and more time analyzing it to provide relevant insights to clients).
- High-quality advisory – If you’re just starting to formally offer advisory services, the clarity, consistency, and control that comes with defining and packaging your services will result in high-quality output, and with this, better partnerships with your clients.
Stepping into advisory
You’re likely already providing advisory in some capacity to your clients. If you’re ready to start to include these services as a consistent and described part of your service offerings, you’ll need to first define what those services are and how they’re done.
To learn more about how to define, document, price, package, and go-to-market with both your compliance and advisory services, download our free guide (created in partnership with Aero Workflow and Practice Ignition) – it provides best practices for completing each of these steps efficiently and effectively, which will help you continue to make progress on the road to advisory.
Learn how to define, structure, and package your bookkeeping services – download our free guide!
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