I’ll eat my hat…

I am amazed by the willingness of many practitioners to leave money on the table.

And yet, looking back to my own time in full-time practice, I can see that I was as guilty of the same lack of foresight. Driven by the clock, by countless phone calls and numerous interruptions by staff. There was barely time to deal with what was in front of me let alone consider other options to increase client service levels and our fee income.

Low hanging fruit

Whether you are still in the heady days of initial growth, spurred by plentiful referrals, or on the downward slope of an ageing client base, pressure on fees from unqualified competitors, you are likely to be missing a trick or two to capitalise on your endeavours.

You have already met the cost of acquisition of your clients and are no doubt providing the services that met their needs when you were first engaged as their adviser, but what about other services you could be providing? These opportunities are your low hanging fruit: they are in easy reach and you will already have the ear of individuals who are willing to sit and listen to what you have to stay.

Cost benefit considerations

If you are selling additional services to clients, there is one aspect of your approach that you will need to take into account: the perceived benefits of the advice you want to provide must always exceed the cost of your time, and their co-operation, in taking the advice.

Often times this will be evidenced by a reduction in a present liability, a reduction in risk and associated anxiety or by creating some future benefit.

Do you have a cross-sales program for your practice?

If the answer to this question is no, or you have a nagging suspicion that you are leaving money on the table, then consider the following challenge.

I’ll eat my hat

Now we get to the nub of the OTT title of this post. I will, hypothetically, eat my hat if during a short phone call I cannot identify at least one campaign that you could use to increase cross-sales to your client base.

All it will take is lifting the phone, or email with a time when you are available to speak.

Bob Edwards: m 07879 896073; LL 01723 363133; email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk.



Always expect the unexpected

What are the challenges to our fee income 2019-20 and beyond?

Grudge purchases

For most business owners it is hard to place a value on costs that merely keep Her Majesty’s government off their backs: filing annual accounts and tax returns. This annual compliance chore is often completed well after the accounts period end date  and is a fait accompli.

Fait accompli is an interesting phrase. It is defined as “a thing accomplished and presumably (presumed) irreversible”. In other words, any advice we as advisers give – on these historic numbers – will be received as a “I told you so” remark. What clients need is something relevant what they are doing now.

As far as we can ascertain there are no upsides to after-date compliance work other than meeting filing deadlines and tax payment deadlines.

What percentage of your fee income is pure compliance?

This is an interesting question.

Most practices, especially smaller practices, will likely have a significant proportion of their fee income generated from the supply of pure compliance services.

If so, and if you accept that clients, by and large, see your fees as a grudge purchase, then it makes sense to take a fresh look at the services you offer and consider how to transform fees into services that have perceived value.

What are valued purchases?

The phrase “value added” has been bandied about in our profession for many years. It was sold by practice development pundits in the 1990’s and beyond as a way to increase fees by repackaging compliance work and representing to clients – for vastly increased fees – as “Business Builder” or specialist tax-mitigation services.

For the average, smaller business owner, being exhorted to buy tax planning or business development services is rather like selling leather seat options to a car owner that just wants a seat cover to hide the mess his kids have made – and will continue to make.

What is actually required is a strategy to transform ALL the services we offer, and that we are paid for, as offering the client value, and importantly, value that seem relevant and appropriate to their circumstances.

The way forward?

If you want to engage in this process, to transform grudge into valued, take a look at the ideas I have shared in my Fee Builder workbook and associated features. In my opinion if you stick with the “grudge” services, you will likely continue to leach fees to less qualified practitioners, and to accounting package software developers, who will soon be adding an annual accounts and tax return facility to their offerings.

The door is steadily closing on markets that we have traditionally considered to be our sole domain, and there is no future in relying on the past for inspiration.

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