If you’re thinking of the old school BEAN COUNTERS.
There’s an entirely new breed of financial consultants that aren’t just sticking to the traditional domain of doing the books and taxes…
They’ve moved on to greener pastures and new lands.
They work alongside entrepreneurs (and sometimes individuals) to help them see…
Exactly how much PROFIT they’re making down to the penny.
Understand the key DRIVERS of their specific company’s profits and how to expand them.
They’ve gone on missions to discover the OPTIMAL TAX STRUCTURE for their clients.
Even sometimes, they create methods to INCREASE REVENUES for their clients.
Chances are, you MAY actually already be offering CFO services, but you just don’t know it yet.
That’s actually why I’m writing this post. I’ve found out that most accountants and most clients aren’t sure exactly what services a CFO offers.
Are you already providing some of these services — or do you want to know how you can increase your value to your clients even more? Then just keep on reading…
#1 – Are You Secretly Providing CFO Services?
I’ve discovered that most people don’t know what CFO services are.
Clients don’t know. And neither do accountants.
At first, you may think a CFO just helps with obtaining investor funding or securing debt contracts, but in the small business world, it can be much more than that.
If you, the accountant is performing a basic engagement, where all you’re doing is reconciliations at the end of the month and closing up the books…
And you’re not doing any:
-Higher level reporting
-Controller level services like accrual accounting or consolidation
You may think that you can only call yourself a bookkeeper, right?
If you’re doing any type of accounting services, you should call yourself a CFO.
Even if you’re just doing basic services.
Because right out of the gate, there’s a concept of what value you bring to the table if you are labeling yourself as a bookkeeper.
And it comes at a cost…$100/mo bookkeeping client vs a $2000/mo Outsourced CFO engagement.
If you switch your title to Outsourced CFO, you are taken seriously right off the bat and you can start charging what you deserve.
#2 – What Is The First Step, After The Client Said “YES” On The Sales Call?
Kick off calls are important, because without them, onboarding takes forever. If you just send a list to the clients… they’re not going to respond.
You end up waiting forever for them to send you the things you need to get started.
So here’s the better way to onboard a new client.
Explain to them, “This is how it’s gonna go. We’re gonna schedule a kick off call. It’s best to have any of the people that are going to be working with us on this call.”
I’ll typically use zoom or sometimes a google hangout call.
Zoom is nice because you can record meetings and it’s also free.
I suggest video for a couple reasons…
It’s good to be able to share your screen.
It’s also important for the client to see who you are.
I tell them, “I just want you to see who I am. I’m actually a real person. Hopefully I’ll get to know you and vice versa.”
The main purpose of the call is to review the scope of work and to gain access to anything. Also, be sure to talk about any communication expectations and important deadlines.
#3 – Where Should You Focus Your Time, As A CFO?
Have you ever heard of the concept of compound interest? I’m sure you have…
But I’ll tell you a little secret about it that maybe you didn’t know.
Compound interest doesn’t just apply to money.
Most of all- it applies to your time!
I want you to think about this: If you can just tweak your priorities & time allocation a little bit… let that compound over time.
And watch what happens.
Because it only takes a small improvement to gain huge momentum over time.
A big mistake I see people make a lot is this…
They have something that takes a lot of time, so therefore it’s the first thing they work on. It’s the thing they allow the most into their lives.
They let customers text and email them all the time. They let it interrupt what they’re doing. They don’t set boundaries.
Remember this- if your interest is not compounding & you’re going into debt… you’re never gonna end up anywhere.
So if you’ve got the wrong priorities, got the wrong time allocation you’re not going to gain momentum.
#4 – How Many Clients Do You Need To Run A Successful CFO Practice?
Here’s the thing about the CFO business that’s different than financial coaching & tax planning.
CFO engagements can often be BIG deals. Because these clients will stick around for a long time!
You get one client at $1,000 or $2,000 a month… that’s $24,000 a year.
If that client stays for 5 years, then it’s a $125,000 deal!
When you get a client to stay, there’s a lot of value that’s created over the long term.
So with CFO services, you don’t need that many individual clients on a weekly and monthly basis in terms of appointments and meetings.
#5 – Which Is Right For You – CFO Services Or Financial Coaching?
Financial coaching and CFO services are slightly different.
For example, if you get a financial coaching client for $4,500… that’s a one time deal.
But if you get a monthly recurring accounting client at $1,000 a month… that’s $12,000 a year reoccurring. And they could stay with you for many years!
With financial coaching you’ll get higher upfront fees. But it could drop in an instant.
CFO services involve monthly retainers that you can rely on.
With financial coaching you can get higher sales, faster. But it can also drop in an instant and you have to be on it all the time.
CFO services take a little bit longer to get ramped up, but it’s an asset you can scale and even sell.
So there’s a psychological component to this.
People that can delay gratification are potentially more suited for CFO.
I wouldn’t say one is more difficult than the other.
But they each come with different challenges. So you have to be honest with yourself about what types of challenges you want to face.
CFO services take a lot more sales and marketing. Financial coaching takes a lot more service delivery, onboarding, hiring and training.
Both can be incredible. It just depends on which style fits you best.
#6 – Is your pricing too low?
If you feel like you’re good at sales because you close people all the time… that might not actually be a good thing!
You might be thinking, “Wait. How could closing deals be bad??? You’re insane.”
But hear me out real quick.
If you’re closing 30-35% or more of people you talk to… it means your pricing is too low!
And you don’t want that!
You should only be closing around 20% of the time.
For example, if you want to close 4 clients per month, then you need to put 20 appointments on your calendar.
Your time is valuable. So make sure you’re not undervaluing your services and selling yourself (and your clients) short!
#7 Are You Setting Your Goals High Enough?
How many years do you have left until you retire?
Let’s assume the same growth rate between now and the time that you retire.
How big is your company going to be when you retire?
Let’s start at your current age.
Say you’re 40 years old. We take your age, 40. Until the age of 70.
Pretend your annual growth rate is $300,000.
So you’ve got 30 years left to work, and it grows by $300k each year.
$300,000 x 30 = $9,000,000.
You don’t think anybody’s ever built a $9,000,000 business?
We did $10M in sales last year.
You know I joke with my sales team…I say, “Guys, sometimes people come into our training program. And they think they’re gonna be so successful. They throw out these huge numbers. You can’t help but think…is this person just crazy?”
But to be honest… some of the most successful people who have gone through the program have been a little crazy!
But I mean that in the best way. Because you have to believe that you can do something.
The only way to get what you want… is to believe that you can do it before you have it.
Otherwise you don’t even try.
So you have to believe it in your mind before it happens. That’s the way it works.
If I’d told people that at my age in my situation that we would have hit those sales goals last year, nobody would have believed me .
Whatever the case may be, you just ignore those people and put your head down to get to work.
Remember to believe in yourself and you can achieve your goals.
One of the big, I think, confusions that goes on in the industry right now and most small business owners do not know the difference between tax preparation and tax planning. Tax preparation is where we’re just doing the return based on what the client did, right? We’re putting the information in, we’re setting up the return based on what actually happened. That’s preparing the return to be filed with the IRS. And that’s obviously a seasonal activity, it happens at certain times of the year, there’s also extension season, okay? Versus tax planning where we’re gonna be looking at the client’s entire life and business and trying to figure out, okay, look, how could we restructure things in their business, in their life, to pay the least amount of taxes as legally possible? And we’ll maximize deductions, we’ll be restructuring legal entities, restructuring potentially the domicile country, the home country, that they’re located in, setting up retirement accounts. There’s a variety of things we’ll do and we actually have an amazing tax planning training later on in the program for anybody that wants to get started in this type of work. But these are two separate engagements. If you’re saving people money and you’re gonna be restructuring their business and their life to do so, and it’s not a de minimis amount, you know, it’s not $500 or $1000, it’s 5,000, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, 30,000, 50,0000. You should not just lump that into the preparation, you want that to be a separate engagement.
Does Mindset Influence How You Grow Your Accounting Practice?
As we continue to help people start from scratch with starting or growing their accounting and tax firms, we notice a common thread amongst people struggling with taking their firms to the next level: mindset. Many firm owners and new accountants can even be oblivious to the affects that mindset can have when trying to grow your accounting practice. Even seasoned accountants had trouble with this; watch the following video from our CFO/Financial Coaching Bootcamp.
Do You Just Need More Leads To Grow Your Accounting Practice?
As James Rainwater mentions in the video, he thought he just needed more leads. To an extent, he’s right; more leads is definitely part of the process to grow your accounting firm. To really grow your firm, changing your mindset can have a more impactful, over-arching effect that can resonate beyond just getting more leads. There’s a process for getting leads (we teach it in Next Level Firms™ and in our Sales & Marketing Workshop!), but beyond that, a shift in mindset is needed to grow your practice.
Learn to Grow Your Accounting Practice & More!
Book your FREE strategy session: https://www.accountingtax.com/book
Want to learn more? Visit: https://accountingtax.com/training
When considering the pricing of your accounting services, there are a lot of factors to consider. Profitability, the structure of your services, the value you’re providing your clients/prospective clients, etc. should be considered. Pricing for accounting services can quickly become complex, especially as you start to adjust pricing on a per-client basis. Sometimes you adjust your service structure to meet perceived client needs as well. The following video from our CFO/Financial Coaching bootcamp in early 2019 addresses the creeping complexity that often plagues accountants when pricing for accounting services.
In the above video from our recent CFO/Financial Coaching bootcamp, we focused on an audience question about pricing strategy. The featured question was regarding adding clauses for different cases/clients. We recommend keeping your pricing structure (and your service structure as well) as simple as possible, especially since layered pricing strategies don’t always result in a profitable engagement. Simplifying your pricing runs in parallel with our beliefs on not using contracts with your clients (see “Do You Need A Contract For Your Clients”).
Streamline Your Pricing
A profitable engagement is always the goal. Why introduce complexity to your pricing, packaging and sales if the bottom line does not reflect the effort to get there. If you spend a limited amount of time and effort testing a more complex pricing and service structure and you stop closing clients, go back to a simplified pricing strategy.
Learn How to Price Your Accounting Services and More!
Book your FREE strategy session: https://www.accountingtax.com/book
Want to learn more? Visit: https://accountingtax.com/training
Personally I don’t care about contracts, because for me I just wanna win the engagement on value. You know I wanna build a system where the person doesn’t wanna leave because we’re a lynch pin, we don’t need an agreement or a contract to make them feel like there’s something in. I just think it’s sticky, and if somebody want’s to leave, I mean I don’t wanna work with people that don’t wanna be around me. And so I just don’t, I’ve never seen anybody exactly to this point where, you know they engage contracts like, “You need to stick to this contract, there’s 24,000 for the year, yes we’re in month four”, and you sold the business, you wanna work with somebody else, you’re not happy, we got to you late, whatever the combination of reasons is. And it just, it’s weird, so, I don’t think they’re really enforceable, even if you have it, because in small business it’s like, what are you gonna do, you know you gonna hire a lawyer?
The key thing is the reason why that works is because even if they walk away from that meeting and they don’t take that, she still provided a value. The original value she promised on the first call, which is I can save you x amount, she’s already proved that out in the first tax plan, she’s walked through all that. Hey, the original value I promised provided, but there is a more complex opportunity that you could go through and so there’s nothing that she’s doing that wasn’t promised. I talk about this a lot that if you want something, it’s important to bring it up on the first strategy session. You can even say on the first strategy session that you require anybody, once you’ve gone through the process, to give you two references, and then at the end, if he asks for two references, you already said it at the beginning so it’s no big deal.
You can say anything at the beginning and it can be fine at the end, but if you start to ask for stuff at the end or you start to do stuff at the end and not include stuff you promised or ask for extra stuff that you didn’t say you needed, that’s where people get touchy but if you say you were going to do something at the beginning and you do it, you can pretty much do anything.
Margot says, “Hi, Andrew. As you know, I have been working with real estate niche. I’m not getting volume. I’m thinking to add peer contractors, designers, women-owned businesses, to bring in heavier volume. Thoughts.”
So, what I would say is, if you’re in the real estate niche, instead of going to designers or … What the other one, here, designers and contractors? I would try to think about, “Okay, if I’m in the niche of real estate, what does that really mean, first?” If I’m in the niche of real estate, and in that niche of real estate, are we talking about agents? Are we talking about brokers? Are we talking about property managers? Are we talking about developers? Are we talking about investors? Right? These are some of the major categories of people in the real estates base.
So, whenever you think about niche, and as you go further down and you think about changing your targeting on LinkedIn, or on Facebook Advertising, you wanna be very clear. I’m helping a friend of mine. He’s doing three, four million a year in sales and he’s got a great company. Three or four million a month, sorry, in sales. So he’s doing 30, 40 million a year. He’s got a great company and he’s done a lot of great stuff. He’s, actually, starting a separate business. So I was giving him some advice and what not, and I was talking about picking a niche and how that’s been super valuable and important for me and everybody here.
I was saying, “When you pick a niche, every single word, when you describe that niche, matters. Okay? So, when you say, “real estate,” you’ve gotta be real specific … like, who is in your niche? Then, within each of these, there’s also sub-components. Right? So if you think about agents, there’s people that are interested in getting in, but have no license … because you have to have a license to be a real estate agent, from my knowledge. Interested in getting in … people that started but are doing zero in sales. Right? So they, actually, don’t … They’ve started. They’re doing it full time, or almost full time, but they don’t actually have even one client that they’ve won or any money that they’ve made from this. Then, you have people that are doing, sort of, zero to a hundred K. You have people that are doing 100 to 500, and you have people that are doing 500 to a million. Right? And all these people are just agents. So, just agents. Right? Not to mention you go into brokers, proper managers, developers, investors.
There’s all sorts of things … Like investors, it’s like, are they commercial? Are they residential? So you wanna be … If you’re thinking about widening your niche, you first wanna get really clear about what the niche is. Then, when you widen it, I would first rather widen it up the tree, rather than jumping to something else completely or jumping through a completely different niche, like designers. Right? Designers. So, I would try to widen it to something that’s as close to this as possible, rather than going to medical practices or something. That would be more like evolving the niche. You know, I always talk about evolving the niche as opposed to changing it. You wanna be somebody that evolves the niche … doesn’t completely change it.
First … Margot’s case, in particular, I wanna get really clear about who it is. Then I wanna think about evolving it and seeing if we can widen it that way, so I do get some sort of bump. I don’t have to completely change my message. People don’t get confused.
So when you think about putting a statement out there, it doesn’t have to be a statement that’s true for every single person. It has to be a statement that’s true for some people, for some people. Because think about it, guys. Think about it like this. If you say that you can save somebody $10,000 in taxes, $10,000 in taxes, or you can increase profit margins to result in an extra $10,000 to the owner or whatever the case may be. Or you say that you could save somebody $75,000 in taxes, this is going to attract a certain type of person, a smaller company, someone that cares about $10,000.
I can tell you, if you told me you could save me $10,000, I’d say I wouldn’t even care. Not even worth my time to take the call, because my time is more valuable spent somewhere else. Because first off, I’ve got to have a call with you. Then maybe it’s going to work, maybe it’s not going to work. Then I have to pay you. At that point, that much thinking, that much time, I’ve already lost money relative to my business and where it’s at.
But somebody who’s got a business that does $125,000 a year in sales, if you could save them $10,000, they’re like, “Hey, I got all the time in the world to figure this one out.” Now if you say $75,000, a bigger company’s going to be interested. So you have to use an aggressive claim. You have to have an aggressive claim, and that aggressive claim will come true because it’s simply going to bring these people out of the woods. If your claims are small, you’re going to get small clients.
And so people say, “Well, I’m only getting small business owners on the phone. I’m only getting micro companies on the phone. People doing 50, 70,000 a year in sales or just getting started.” And then I look, and it’s because they’ve got small claims. If you want big clients, you’ve got to make big claims.
It doesn’t mean that if somebody comes along and is doing $60,000 a year in gross sales, that you’re going to be able to save them $75,000 in taxes. I mean, obviously it’s ridiculous. But once they get on the phone, you can walk through their specific situation and give them an estimate themselves.
When trying to attract bigger, more profitable clients, you need to change your messaging to attract that level of client when trying to grow your accounting firm.
Make more aggressive claims to bring in bigger clients for your accounting firm. That claim has a higher likelihood of becoming true because of the size of the client you’ll begin attracting. If your claims are small, you’ll attract small clients. If you’re trying to grow your accounting firm, make bigger claims to attract bigger clients.
Some people are concerned that bigger claims will not fit for a lot of their existing base, but your messaging does not have to fit everyone you’re attracting when trying to grow your accounting firm. Once you get the client on the phone, you’ll be able to adjust your claim relative to the size of their business.