As I mentioned in my last blog, there are two parts to solving the clients don’t value services dilemma. The first, showing your value, you can find here. In this blog, I’ll write about one of my favorite topics: finding better clients.
This topic comes up a lot for me: in an interview with JetPack, a video on StacyK Academy, an article about building boundaries for Intuit and in my enewsletter and course material for StacyK Academy. At the risk of becoming redundant, I’ll hit the highpoints here.
- DON’T WORK WITH JERKS.
If warning bells go off during the sales process, it isn’t the right client for you.
If they call you at all hours of the day, it isn’t the right client for you.
If you feel a sense of dread when they call or email, it isn’t the right client for you.
There are a lot of people that need bookkeeping services. The ones that are jerks will NEVER value your services, so don’t work with them.
Jerk clients don’t value service; avoid them at all costs
- Establish processes with all clients.
Last summer, Bill.com released their State of Bookkeeping Practices Survey 2016. The statistic that astounded me, that made my peacock blue hair (yes, new color for spring) turn grey, was that 85% of survey respondents said that their workflow depends on the client!
Don’t do that, people! You’re setting yourself up for failure by not using repeatable processes. Being consistent makes it much easier to deliver on what you promised, remember what you need to do and even outsource when you need to.
- Set consistent boundaries.
Notice a theme here. Consistency. Consistent boundaries not only define how I treat my clients, they define how my clients treat me. When I’m treated as well as I treat my clients, I feel good about the relationship and valued.
The real secret to ensuring your clients value you is having a good relationship with them. If you have other suggestions for how you share your value with clients, I’d love to hear them!
Intuit just announced QuickBooks Online Pricing that will go into effect on March 15, 2017. You can find the entire announcement here: https://stacyk.site/2kfkovP, but here are the highlights.
This only affects QBO accounts that were NOT included in the price increase that was rolled out in October 2016, and only accounts that pay Intuit DIRECTLY. (This means, if you’re an accounting professional and have your clients on Wholesale Billing, it won’t affect their pricing.)
A few other things to mention: accounts paid monthly and annually will see this on the billing cycle following 3/15/2017, and this won’t apply to QBO subscriptions that are bundled with payroll, and if you’re using the “Your Books” feature in QuickBooks Online Accountant, it’ll still be free.
My own suggestion: many accounting professionals fail to review their fees/pricing on a regular basis. Now might be a good time to do this for clients that you haven’t increased in the last 12 months, and notify your clients of the increases to both QBO and your services at the same time.
I recently sat down with Bill.com to help discuss their State of Bookkeeping Practices Survey 2016. The survey results are now published; it was exciting to see the optimism in the industry—most of us anticipate our practices growing in the next couple of years.
While these results were impressive, I was a bit dismayed at our industry’s progress in workflow, although not that surprised. You see, 65% of respondents still spend time at their client’s offices. I suspected the percentage was pretty high, based on the conversations I have when I’m out doing QuickBooks Online training.
That means, they get in the car, drive to the client’s office, spend time there, before heading back to their own office (where I can assure you, they are much more productive, and can do almost everything remotely that they do on site.). I’m exhausted just typing this, and hope they’re including that drive time in their billing. Let me remind you folks, it is hard to work while driving! (And never text while driving!).
Even crazier, 80% still manually enter payment transactions into accounting software and 68% enter issued invoices into accounting software.
And what really boggles my mind, 85% said they vary their workflows depending on each client!
Seriously. What the what? If you don’t streamline your workflow, you open the door to more labor-intensive processes and the potential for fraud and errors!
As I told Bill.com, it’s like making 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches 100 different ways for 100 different people.
If I could wave my magic wand, I’d have bookkeepers and accountants improve their workflow by:
- GET ONLINE! I’ve been preaching this since 2010, and we’re getting there—the Bill.com survey found that 51% of respondants use multiple cloud solutions.
- Create a workflow that will assign tasks for both the firm and the client.
- Establish a timeline. To keep your process moving, you need timely inputs and approvals.
- Go paperless. Do whatever you have to do to avoid paper.
Since I moved to an almost entirely remote practice in late 2008, I’ve done everything I can to streamline my practice—that means cutting down on trips to client offices, standardizing processes and seeking out, then taking advantage of technology to minimize data entry and speed things up. In fact, I only travel to a couple client’s office once a month, and that’s because I really need to interact once in awhile with real people. My cats and the characters of Law & Order don’t really count…
This is not only about good business. This is about having better work/life integration. I work hard to make my life what I want it to be—meaning: a great business, but time with my two kids, my husband and time for me.
Here’s my call to action (and shameless self promotion):
- If, like 85% of Bill.com respondents, you have a different workflow for each client….
- If, like 65% of Bill.com responents, you are still spending time at your clients’ offices each month….
- If, like 80% of Bill.com respondents, you are manually entering data…
Then, consider the StacyK Academy (SKA). Starting July 16, we’ll address all of these problems, and more. We’ll help you find your groove, get better clients, improve your workflow, find the right apps to simplify your life and increase your revenue.
In the spirit of sharing data, I’ll share the results from our most recent StacyK Academy survey.
Nearly 20% of respondents have more money, 20% have better work/life balance and 20% have quicker processes. Nearly 40% have other stuff going on, but didn’t tell me what that is!
In my own practice, I’ve seen great results since implementing the workflow I now teach in the StacyK Academy:
Drop me a line if you’re interested in the next session of the StacyK Academy. And don’t forget to download the Bill.com survey report. If you’re more of a picture person, here’s a link to the infographic. I’m sure you’ll find it as interesting as I did.
Last year, I launched StacyK Academy (a.k.a. SKA) to share many of the tools I have used to grow my bookkeeping practice. The first two sessions were a great success, a lot of fun, and students are seeing great results. One of my students has been able to go from working a full time job to part time because she increased her revenue and improved her processes so the hands-on work takes less time. SO AWESOME!
Our private Facebook group is still really active – just the other day someone asked if anyone had 1099 and 1096 forms from 2014 and within the hour, 5 other StacyK Academy alumni had replied that they did and could send them asap.
This February, I’m teaching the third session. Yes, I know it’s busy season… but it’s still just the start of busy season – the shit hasn’t really hit the fan just yet. What better time to put the tools and processes in place to make 2016 the best year yet?
We’d love to have you—I promise it is worth the time. If you’re not sure, check out some of the things that people have said about previous sessions:
“The systems you’ve developed are awesome and extremely helpful to me to see how a business runs effectively and efficiently.” Steve Meister, simplifiedmgmt.com
“We are so excited to put the final polish on some of our bigger procedures thanks to Guru Stacy Kildal’s consulting and documents.” Kim Hornsby, www.singletrackbookkeeping.com
“New pricing makes a lot of sense. My employees are able to sell it on their own instead of having to go through me.” Jill Ulett, www.accounting-girl.com
(Sign up for the SKA here.)
PS: Beefing Up the Academy
In 2016, I’ve decided to add a few things to the StacyK Academy—after all, academies usually teach more than one subject, right?
We’re starting with a sales and marketing class. For years, I’ve been hearing bookkeepers and accountants say “But I’m not any good at sales.” or “I know nothing about marketing.” (I’m pretty sure that second comment was me!) It was one of the most common topics during the first two sessions, so I decided to do something about it. I asked two people – Sales Machine Richard Roppa and Marketing Expert Laura Wooten – to develop and teach a new class under the StacyK Academy umbrella. They’ve name it S’marketing, which I love so much!
S’marketing is defined as a combination of the words smart, sales and marketing. The class is going to offer practical tips for becoming stronger at sales and marketing. Plus, I’m sure it will be fun.
Right now, we’re only opening the class to current and former StacyK Academy participants.
I may be offering additional courses in the months to come, drawing from resources I know. Let me know what you’re interested in learning more about!
One of the best parts of what I do for a living is when I get a chance to show a client how to do something that is going to make it easier for them to do their jobs. That huge sigh of relief on the phone, or watching seeing them sit back in their chair and relaxing are so cool to witness.
A few years ago, I figured out a way to get QuickBooks Online to do some aspects of job costing that aren’t really built into the program. Sure, you can assign time and costs to customers, but there wasn’t (and still isn’t, as I’m writing this) any feature that allows for Progress Invoicing, Receiving Partial Purchase Orders or Estimate vs Actuals Reporting.
Job costing. While it isn’t sexy, it is helpful for me and my clients. But QuickBooks Online doesn’t make it easy. In fact, a lot of people don’t even think you can do it in QBO. But I’m here to tell you, you can!
Who needs it?
Pretty much any business that wants to send multiple invoices from one estimate or needs to create multiple vendor bills from one purchase order. Even if a business doesn’t need those things, every project based business will benefit by comparing estimated costs and revenues against the actual money in/money out. You could even use it your accounting or bookkeeping practice.
How can you use it in your practice?
Once you are familiar with the process and have tested it out, use it as a reason to meet with clients – let them know that you can do job costing it for them or train them how to do it. It’s a great way for you to grow your reputation as a trusted advisor, with skills and knowledge your clients don’t have time to figure out on their own.
One of our clients at Kildal Services LLC is a architectural consultant firm. As a distributed team that works in 4 different states, they wanted to move to QuickBooks Online but didn’t see it as a good fit because it doesn’t have the built in progress invoicing. They’d been using QuickBooks Premier for a number of years, but the lack of easy access to it as they grew just wasn’t working.
After explaining to them that there IS a way to create multiple invoices from one Estimate, we converted them to QuickBooks Online, and because they were so excited it could be done; they ultimately decided to have us manage the process. This way, they’re able to do the work that makes them money, and not spend time worrying if the Progress Invoicing is being done, and being done correctly.
In fact, they’re so pleased, the last email we received from them had one line in it:
“Have I told you lately I love having you work for us? Thanks!!!!”
Download it today and get started!
Happy New Year! It’s another new year, time to clean off the desk and have a fresh start. While I love the idea of a fresh start, I hate the idea of resolutions. You see, I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. The problem I have with resolutions is that I don’t think they work – and neither do a bunch of other people that are smarter than me.
Resolution makers have the best intentions, but most of the time, they don’t map out how they’re going to keep that resolution. How can you make huge changes in your life or your business without a plan to do it?
As you look at your goals for 2016, don’t make a resolution: make a plan!
- Figure out what you really want. New clients, more time with family, higher profit, skinnier waist line—whatever it is, the first step in getting it is to decide you want it.
- Make sure it’s realistic. “I want to double my gross revenue” sounds great, but is it a goal that you can truly reach?
- Break it up into smaller pieces. This is what I call the Mount St. Laundry theory. A giant pile of laundry seems overwhelming until you starting sorting it – darks, whites, etc. Look at what you want by the end of 2016, and then set quarterly and monthly goals to get there.
- Create a plan. How are you going to accomplish your goals? Figure out one, two or three things you can CHANGE to achieve your goal. Is it tracking what you eat? Cutting out sugar? Firing crappy clients?
- Get help. Sometimes the reasons we haven’t accomplished our goals is because we don’t know how. That’s when it is time to get help—and there are a ton of place to get help, no matter what your goals. Weight Watchers, a marketing manager, an online course like the StacyK Academy.
- Be accountable. If you have a staff or team, make sure they’re involved in the entire process. If you don’t, think about joining an online group to share your progress or find an accountability buddy. Our new Facebook group, Between Wall & Main, may be just what you need to share your progress and get input. Ask to join!
If your goals are any of the following:
- More time with family
- Working only with people you like
- Increasing your sales funnel
- Making more money
then the StacyK Academy may be just what you are looking for.
The next session of the StacyK Academy starts February 11 and we’d love to have you. Space is limited, so sign up quickly! Check out our FREE webinar on using Google Forms in your practice on Wednesday, January 13 from 12-1 p.m. ET. Register now.