Five Strategies For Growing Your Accounting Practice
Creating a successful, highly profitable accounting practice takes more than a CPA license. Whether you are just starting out or looking for new ways to boost your revenues, these five strategies can help.
- Refine your branding.
A brand is a promise of a consistent experience. Think about who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
Your goal is to position your firm as the obvious choice for your ideal clients. Be sure that every team member can effectively describe the value that your firm can add. Whether you make a decision to create a specialty niche or not, check that your branding collateral (logo, business cards, letterhead, and website) is consistent with the image you want to project.
- Offer strategic reviews.
Accountants are uniquely positioned to serve as trusted advisors and key strategic partners in solving complex business problems for their clients. Offering complimentary (or low-cost) strategic review sessions to prospective clients can be a great way to demonstrate your value. Consider using any combination of the following tools to start the conversation:
- Budget to actual analysis
- Key performance indicator benchmarking
- Cash flow analysis
Be generous with your ideas. By giving the client insight into how your team solves problems and thinks, you are replicating the experience of working together. Offer your observations and use them as a springboard for discussion. Get clarity on the client’s pain points, potential process bottlenecks, and areas where your expertise is a natural fit.
- Ask for referrals
Simply doing great quality work and hoping that clients will refer their colleagues and business connections to you is not enough. Here are some basics of an effective referral generation process.
- Ask for what you want. Think about the best clients that you would wish to replicate and describe them in a way that’s clear and specific. Talk about their challenges and goals so that the referring party will accurately recognize a great prospect for you.
- Eliminate the relationship risk for the referring party. The primary reason why professionals don’t refer is reputation risk. A bad referral can compromise their business or professional relationships. If you can minimize that risk, your clients will be more comfortable making the introduction. Compile a list of testimonials from clients who were referred to you, as well as quotes from your referral partners who delivered value by introducing their clients to you.
- Make referring easy. Offer to send your clients an e-mail they can use to introduce you to prospective clients in their network. Develop the introductory e-mail with a focus on your expertise in solving the challenges that your prospective client is facing, your experience, and clear steps for action. While that may seem forward, your clients will thank you for doing the writing work for them.
- Boost your proposal process
Preparing proposals is a key part of the selling process. A great proposal can make the difference between being hired and losing the project, so invest time and strategic thought into the proposal document.
Whether you are participating in a competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) process or are the only one asked for a proposal, start with the client’s pain points. Sometimes you can find those in the RFP. Otherwise, call the prospective client to clarify the underlying reasons for the project. That understanding will allow you to add value and build a connection. Create an impactful executive summary, as decision makers rely on it to provide key information and can use it to disqualify weaker RFPs in the initial assessment rounds. Focus your proposal on expected results – not on your tools and methodologies. Keep it brief and check the final product thoroughly for spelling errors and inconsistencies.
Lastly, write a new proposal for every opportunity. While re-using templates for certain sections can save you time, a boilerplate document will lack the impact and the connection that ultimately win projects.
- Conduct and share research
Conducting original research and publishing a whitepaper with results can work well for opening conversations with prospective clients. Choose a hot-button subject within your area of expertise, conduct interviews with prospective clients, and compile their thoughts and experiences into an informative and actionable document. The interview process gives you an opportunity to build relationships, and the resulting whitepaper can help position you as an expert.