Pivoting Your Services in Challenging Times
by Jon Hubbard, Director
The COVID-19 global health crisis has dramatically changed what “normal” looks like for many accounting firms and their clients. Many are focusing on how to cope with the crisis right now. But the truth is that every crisis also creates opportunities. Of course, this isn’t about capitalizing on the chaos, but about providing real value to clients at a time when they need it most.
Pivoting a client engagement
I’ve seen this play out with members of our inaugural Certified Consultant Training program. When COVID-19 hit, we didn’t want our Certified Consultant candidates to lose momentum on their consulting projects, so we started having more frequent coaching calls.
We learned that prior to much of the country implementing shelter-in-place rules, many of the CPAs in our program were talking about strategic planning with their clients. But their clients were putting those initiatives on hold. After all, they were focused on immediate survival – not where they wanted to be in the next one to five years.
Rather than throwing in the towel, we suggested that our members consider their clients’ state of mind. Then, think about what they can do for those business owners right now that they actually need. Those business owners couldn’t commit to a two-day strategic planning retreat. But would they be interested in a four-hour virtual consultation to help them figure out the next 120 days? The answer, overwhelmingly, was yes.
This engagement provides real value for the client, who is likely scrambling to figure out how to deal with the disruption of their business operations and manage cash flow. It also keeps the client moving forward with strategic planning, but with a smaller scope, less of a time commitment and a smaller fee.
What services are you taking to market?
A scaled-back strategic planning session is just one example of how your firm can pivot a client engagement in these challenging times. What other consulting or advisory services are you currently taking to market that aren’t really resonating with clients at the moment, but could be tweaked to be relevant right now?
If you’re in the process of adding talent management to your menu of services, could you help clients identify non-productive employees? Could they benefit from building a strategy around a smaller core of full-time employees supplemented by freelancers and outsourcing?
If you provide M&A services, could you help clients identify opportunities to acquire struggling competitors at very reduced prices?
If your firm offers technology consulting, do you have existing clients who could benefit from consulting around digital capabilities and help selecting the hardware and software that allows their team to work from home successfully?
If you provide process improvement consulting, could you deliver a scaled-down version that helps business owners adapt their processes to comply with social distancing guidelines?
Can you help clients look for cost-saving opportunities and new opportunities to generate cash?
Think about how you can be innovative to help clients through their short-term challenges. Many clients feel stuck right now, and need someone to reduce their mental load and with easy, achievable progress.
Given the uncertainties in the market right now, the only way to know what your clients need is to talk to them, ask questions, and experiment with ways to solve their problems. Then you and your clients can move beyond the current crisis to a more prosperous future.
Does you firm have a clear Growth 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.