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The Move Every Single Successful Accountant Makes

successful male accountant meeting a new client

What’s the difference between a successful accountant versus an average one…and how would you define “success” for accounting professionals? We are talking here both from the client’s side and from the perspective of the accounting firm. What does success look like? How do you measure it? 

First, we’ll look at the issue from a broad angle, then we’ll break it down more in-depth for tax and accounting professionals.

General Business Success Traits That We Can Apply to Accounting

Broadly speaking, there are two main drivers for a great customer experience in any industry, which aren’t unique to tax and accounting. 

#1 Provide Value

Every business needs to provide value in a product or service in order to sell it. If it isn’t valuable, no one would spend their hard-earned money on it, right? So fundamental to all successful businesses is the ability to provide value—and the more value given, the better the customer experience will be.

#2 Provide Quick Delivery

No one likes slow service delivery no matter what industry it is. Whether it’s waiting in line at a check-out or being put on hold over the phone, any kind of delay is annoying for people. Successful businesses find ways to speed services and delivery to make customers wait less time.

Providing Value While Giving Quick Delivery

Combining both value and quick delivery can be difficult. Usually, value is sacrificed to some degree for quickness or vice versa. Let’s take a look at familiar examples:

Food—Customers come for fast food to get super quick delivery, but generally expect little value compared to a pricier, yet slower 4-star restaurant. It’s a tradeoff between speed and experience.

Entertainment—The lines at an amusement park are typically longer for the better, highest  quality rides. People know they will likely sacrifice more time waiting in line to experience the most thrilling attractions.

Retail—The lower the prices, the more self-service is evident. Stores that wage war on having the lowest price have quick self-checkout counters. Meanwhile, upscale retail may focus more on providing value with attentive service.

The Accountant’s Dilemma

Does the tax and accounting professional have to make the same trade off? Is there a sliding scale between value and speed? If so, what’s the sweet spot? Here is a graph with two axises, on one side you have “time” and the other you have “value”.

accounting firm time vs value

The time is how long it takes you to do the work of whatever accounting service you’re providing. From the client’s side, it’s speed of delivery. Meanwhile, on the horizontal end is the amount of value you’re giving the client (and also their perceived value).

The biggest problems accountants have is they’re spending too much of their time on services that aren’t providing enough value. As an example, an accountant who is spending the bulk of their time doing accounts payable would be here in the red, right?

tax firm time spent vs value provided to your clients

The goal of every successful accountant has been to move toward providing higher value while maintaining their time. This, in fact, is a clear way to define success as an accountant: “How much time am I spending on higher value, lower time draining services?” Unsuccessful accountants are spending the bulk of their precious time with lower value services that take too much time!

Questions Successful Accountants Ask Themselves:

If you’re trying to get tax and accounting clients, you always want to be thinking…

What value am I currently providing to my clients?

What value do I want to be providing to my clients?

Do you want to focus on services that take a lot of time, but don’t bring a lot of value? There’s some services that provide high value but also take extensive time, such as CFO services. But you should be asking…

What services can I provide to my clients that would provide a lot of value and NOT take us a lot of time?”

Why Low Value Accounting Services Are Going From Bad to Worse

Technology has given the opportunity for people that didn’t have any previous experience in accounting to jump in headfirst and to just figure it out. This has caused a huge glut of low-value service providers in the accounting market. There are also plenty of business owners that have started doing their own accounting because technology has made it possible. 

Point being: Technology can now accomplish many of the lower value accounting services for you. 

Doing data entry is never going to be a high level service for an accounting professional. Instead, we need thinkers…we need accountants trying to analyze problems and look at the numbers to find where areas of opportunity are. This is where high value comes in and where more successful accountants help business owners. 

Automation is only going to continue driving down the value of basic tax prep and will force the shift to tax planning and value added services. This is why you must be thinking of all the different areas that you can help business owners and individuals save more money and time. This only happens once you begin higher level thinking that goes beyond bookkeeping and tax prep and move into more advanced services like tax planning, CFO, financial coaching, and wealth management

Successful Accountants Move to Advisory Services

The future of accounting is forcing accountants to actually become smarter and to be better at what they do. Successful accountants actually have to communicate with clients. With higher level services comes greater impact on helping a client grow. 

As you provide more value, you can and should be commanding higher prices. The accounting industry is going to change even more in these next few years, with successful accountants continuing to move away from time-draining, low value services.

We’re always hunting for different services and different solutions to find accounting professionals niches and markets that are high value and low time. We have abundant resources and coaching available to help you reassess what you’re currently doing, and find new and profitable services to offer. Our goal is to help make you a more successful accountant.

Ready to increase the value you provide to your tax and accounting clients?

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