by Jon Hubbard, Director
Many of the businesses that make up the client base of CPA firms are tightening budgets and putting projects on hold. So a question on the minds of many CPA firm leaders is how to find new growth opportunities.
Despite the challenges our profession is facing over the next few months, we believe strongly that there are also many opportunities to not only survive, but thrive in the “new normal.”
The business development efforts that worked just a few months ago may no longer be as effective. Growing your firm requires taking a good look at the reality of our current situation and pivoting to meet your clients where they are now.
With that in mind, we developed a seven-step process for finding new revenue opportunities that many of our clients are already putting into play and finding success.
All progress starts with the truth. Examine where your firm’s revenue stands right now versus where you want to be. Specifically, think about the areas of advisory and consulting. We’ve talked to some firm leaders who are thankful for their compliance work because it seems as though advisory and consulting opportunities have dried up. However, other firms have seized the opportunity to create more consulting and advisory services in the first two quarters of 2020 than they have in the last two years combined.
Right now, one of the most important things you can do is to assess the remaining months of 2020 and consider what makes the most sense for your firm and your clients from now through the end of the year. Then you can be laser-focused on what’s most valuable to your clients.
Identify some potential advisor and consulting areas that you see could be of value to your clients, select the areas of greatest potential, and consider adjusting the scope.
For example, one firm we work with recently launched strategic planning services to its clients. When COVID-19 hit, suddenly their clients weren’t as interested in engaging them to perform a two-day strategic planning session looking at the next 12 months. After all, those clients were more concerned about surviving the next 90 days!
Anticipating that reaction from clients, the firm scaled back its strategic planning service from a two-day engagement to a half-day engagement focused on planning for the next 90 to 120 days. With a smaller time commitment and lower fee, the firm has successfully sold strategic planning to clients who will likely be much more ready to commit to the full-scale service later on.
Now is the best time to talk to your clients. Based on the services identified in step two, create a list of your top 20 clients. Reach out to them via email to set up an exploratory call.
We know many firms who think they don’t have the time for these types of calls, especially with the extended tax deadline and helping clients with Paycheck Protection Program applications and other compliance work. They feel they need to keep their heads down and get through that work rather than talk to clients about strategy and the future.
However, the firms that are making these calls are having great success. They are the ones who will come out of the current situation stronger than before.
The purpose of your client calls is to explore your clients’ dangers, opportunities and strengths. Remember, in these calls, questions are superior to answers. Some of the questions you might ask are:
What are your three biggest dangers?
What are your three biggest opportunities?
What are your three biggest strengths?
How can we best help you minimize your dangers, capitalize on opportunities and leverage your strengths?
Your clients need you to ask questions that will help them think. Some of their answers may have nothing to do with you or the services your firm provides, and that’s ok. The value you’re really providing is strategic thinking time. It will create opportunities for follow up later.
If you haven’t done this before, you will be amazed at the results.
Package and Price
After asking your clients how you can best help them, it’s ok to end the conversation asking for more time to reflect on the conversation and come back with options.
Now is your opportunity to consider how you can create value for your client, and we recommend giving them multiple paths to success. You do this by packaging three options – let’s call them bronze, silver and gold.
The bronze option may just be compliance work, the silver package has compliance and advisory, and the gold package offers compliance, advisory and consulting, such as strategic planning. The key is, all three options make the business stronger.
Step six is delivering those services to clients. We can’t stress enough that your clients need you to figure out how to provide those compliance, advisory and consulting services virtually right now. If there’s one takeaway from working during COVID-19, it should be that this is possible.
Even after COVID-19 passes, your clients need you to be a leader and demonstrate how to deliver services virtually.
Coaching & Accountability
Arguably, out of all of the seven steps, this may be the one that has the biggest long-term impact on your clients. Whatever you package for your clients, you need to build in ongoing coaching and accountability. They need you to follow up to ensure they do what they said they are going to do. It’s the ongoing coaching and accountability that makes consulting work reoccurring rather than just one-off project-based work.
This shows you care, are invested in their success, and they will begin to recognize you as a true trusted advisor. When you build that relationship, it will lead to ongoing work and revenue.
Does you firm have a clear Marketing & Business Development strategy?
We can help provide your firm with clarity and understanding so that you can focus on the right objectives at the right time. Schedule a discovery call with one of our Solutions Advisors and get on the path to transforming your firm.
Jon Hubbard, Director at Boomer Consulting helps accounting firm leaders find success in the areas of leadership, talent and growth. Jon is a facilitator for the Boomer P3 Leadership Academy, Boomer Talent Circle and Boomer Marketing & BD Circle. He also guides firms to grow and be more effective in the areas of client service, marketing and business development. Jon speaks at various industry conferences, user conferences, state societies, and associations. He is a Storybrand Certified Guide and Certified Kolbe Consultant.