Boris’s Budget…

In typical flamboyant style the Prime Minister delivered his very own mini-budget this week when he launched the new tax on income, the Health and Social Care Levy. Breezing over a broken election promise, to avoid tax increases, he justified the need to reduce the take-home pay for most UK taxpayers by citing the demands on government expenditure due to the COVID outbreak.

The 1.25% increase in National Insurance, morphing into the new Levy from April 2023, will impact all wage earners paying Class 1 NIC and the self-employed paying Class 4 NIC.

Employers may avoid any increase in their Class 1 employer contributions as this would still be sheltered behind the £4,000 Employment Allowance, but they will have to stump up for the increase to Class 1A contributions based on BiKs provided to employees.

Health and Social Care Levy

This Levy is a modern day attempt at a hypothecated tax. The idea is that proceeds will be directed at the NHS and social care budgets.

Cynically, it is another “soft” target for future tax increases. It is likely that this week’s announcement would have created more turmoil if the Prime Minister had announce a 1.25% increase in basic rate Income Tax.

It will be interesting to see if the transfer to the new 1.25% Levy from April 2023, will result in a return to present day levels of Class 1 and Class 4 contributions – as set out in policy paper on this topic – or will some of the increase be left as a permanent increase in National Insurance rates?

More red tape

When the Levy is introduced this will require changes in payroll software as the Levy will be shown as a separate deduction on payslips.

The Levy, as is National Insurance, remains a tax still administered UK wide, no regional variations. However, the Treasury will need to dole out an appropriate amount to the regional governments to feed into local health and social care budgets.

Effects on individuals

According to HMRC, the levy will be paid by employed and self-employed individuals earning above the Primary Threshold and Lower Profits Limit (£9,568 in 2021-22 tax year). In 2022-23 tax year an individual earning the median basic rate taxpayer’s income of £24,100 would be expected to pay an additional £180; and an individual earning the median higher rate taxpayer’s income of £67,100 would be expected to pay an additional £715.

A number of self-employed traders may also be encouraged to consider incorporation and adopting a low salary high dividend strategy to avoid Class 4 NIC charges.

Interestingly, individuals in receipt of property income as well as pensions income will be unaffected as NIC and the Levy are not applied to these income sources.

When the Levy is introduced, April 2023, wage earners aged above their State Pension age will be subject to this new tax charge.

A further tax increase for individuals will also kick in from April 2022, when the 1.25% increase will be applied to dividend income tax rates.

Told your clients yet?

Landmark distributed an update on the 1.25% changes as part of its Fee Builder services. If you haven’t taken a look at Fee Builder, we are offering free access to our Fee Builder resources and alerts, over the winter months, until 1 February 2022. If you sign up this month, you will have access to our client alert on this topic, issued this week.

Take a look>>

Purposeful business planning

As a practitioner, I have many conversations with clients about the value of business planning.

Over the years I have concluded that unless the client can see the reason or value of the planning advice, then – obviously – they are much less inclined to pay for this service.

The sort of planning I am referring to here is budgeting and period reporting to map progress towards defined goals.

Purposeful planning

I like to think that when I approach clients regarding business planning services I start by setting out the purpose of the planning advice; rather than a cold description of what is involved.

For example, clients who are looking at their choices as the furlough scheme comes to an end this month should really be drilling down into their crystal balls and figuring out what level of business they can reasonably expect in the coming year, the operating costs involved, other investments required what they need to withdraw from the business to support their own lifestyles.

Added issues will include inflationary pressures, supply disruption and so on.

This data will reveal staffing levels required and point to action that clients need to take. Otherwise, clients will be making critical and emotive decisions by sticking a pin in their choices map.

And when the primary purpose is fulfilled

If clients buy into this process, and you assist with the necessary planning, it is then a simple step into periodic reviews to make sure the business stays on track or takes fast remedial action if targets are not met.

Advisory-led compliance buy-in

In this way you can expand the value of preparing annual compliance accounts (or quarterly MTD returns when fully implemented) into a service that clients will appreciate has more than a prepare and file objective.

This approach has a clear win-win outcome for your practice and your clients. As you start to demonstrate positive outcomes for the advice you offer – for example, a plan to deal with staffing levels as the furlough scheme ends this month – clients will be more willing to pay for the ongoing support you have offered and will see the benefits or value.

Try this out in September

You can purchase the resources Landmark have created to support clients as furlough support comes to an end. Rebrand and send our update to clients or prospects that you know will be struggling with this issue. Even if any uptake of your assistance in the form of new instructions does not arise, you will be promoting your practice as advisors who care.

You can purchase our Life after Furlough resources here.

In recognition that we are approaching the busy end of the tax cycle for 2020-21 you can try out Landmark’s Fee Builder Plus service, that offers these ideas and resources on a low-cost subscription basis, with no financial risk. Landmark has a free trail offer if you sign up this month. No fees payable until 1 February 2022 and you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Sign up to FIVE month trial offer here or find out more about Fee Builder here.

Gatekeepers

If you employ a person to take calls for your practice you have a gatekeeper. If all your staff can take outside calls you have a number of gatekeepers. If you work alone, you are your own gatekeeper.

How do your gatekeeper(s) manage incoming calls?

Blockers

We all have calls from suppliers who would like to sell us their wares. In my experience – calling firms as a supplier – most gatekeepers will not connect to a relevant decision maker, they will simply request that information be sent in the post or by email to an info@ email address. From a busy practitioners point of view this is appropriate.

However, the problem with this blanket approach is that occasionally, the supplier will be offering something of real value value to the practice.

Clients calling

Clients present different issues when they call. They are not calling to sell you something, they are calling in response to an email or call from your office or because they have a problem or other issue to discuss.

Your gatekeeper(s) need to respond accordingly. A blanket “we will call you back” response may not be sufficient. For example, you could train your staff (and partners) to ask a series of open questions when clients call.

If they ask for a particular person it should be possible to ask “will xxx know why you are calling?”. In this way your gatekeeper should be able to figure out the degree of urgency involved.

If the client has received a threatening letter from HMRC or has discovered their business is running out of cash, a global response “will will call you back” may not hit the spot.

Missed opportunity

Panning for gold with your eyes closed will never make you a rich person. Gatekeepers need to be observant to spot those nuggets when they arise. Suppliers with products or services that may be of value to the practice, clients with urgent problems that need attention and quickly, prospects that should be called back asap to secure new business for the practice.

Gatekeepers should not be trained to block and delay communication with callers, but to filter calls.

Opportunity rarely calls twice.

Know your clients

What do you know about your clients beyond the data you collect to meet your compliance obligations, create accounts and file returns?

Will you remember that their eldest daughter was recently married or that they are struggling to cope with cancer in the family?

What should our relationship with our clients look like?

Memory may not be your most reliable source

There are certain facts about your clients that are easy to remember; their name, face, business interests and so on. But even those facts are subject to the flawed process we rely on, our memories.

The grey matter between our ears enables countless billions of connections. In memory terms, what we remember as fact can be a collection of random thoughts that bear some, but not an accurate, representation of past events.

For that, we need to resort to the written word.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Most advisers store basic data about their clients in their choice of accounts, tax or similar software. Some of these options accommodate CRM, many do not.

It is possible to adapt Outlook or your preferred email provider as a way to record and recall past email conversations with clients. Unless you are rigorous in filing data, finding past conversations can be rather like recalling a client’s name when you bump into them in Sainsburys…

Even if you have a formal CRM system for your practice its effectiveness will depend on usage.

Being known

Personally, I am always amazed when a business contact remembers some long-past incident. It feels good to be remembered in this way. Your clients and other contacts will appreciate you recalling these details.

The way in which you recall is very much dependent on your memory or on the way you can access notes from previous conversations. In my opinion, it is well worth the effort.

Advisory-led compliance

In the coming months you will hear more about our ideas to start the gradual change from offering pure compliance services, to rewiring these accounts preparation and return services by bolting on a front-ended advisory element.

In this way you can gradually wean clients away from dedicated “grudge” compliance activity and get them to see the value in taking your advice.

Why worry? Compliance has been our bread and butter for years…

There are few practices that have not been affected as less qualified firms – with lower compliance costs – have started to encroach on this service market. They have lower costs and are prepared to work on lower profit margins.

Add to this the impact of the major players in the bookkeeping and accounts software market, and it should be evident that the days of relying on pure compliance services are leaching away.

Time to lift your head above the advisory parapet

Clients who are used to annual accounts and tax service levels, will no doubt react negatively if you suddenly try and offer advisory services “out of the blue”. Many are used to considering your services as something they are required to do, and they may have major concern about your cost.

Accordingly, they may not immediately see the benefits of advice.

However, just because you cannot see how you would ever get a reasonable number of your clients to appreciate and engage on an advisory level, does not mean this is a lost cause. Far from it.

What is advisory-led compliance

We are staking our claim to be one of the first practice development firms to promote the idea that you can merge compliance needs with the advantages of advisory services into a composite “advisory-led compliance” offering.

The two options are not mutually exclusive. Most practitioners will sprinkle their compliance conversations with advice. The issue is not your ability to offer advice it is more that clients may not appreciate that they are advised; or appreciate the value in that advice.

In the coming months our Fee Builder program will focus on creating advisory-led services that you could offer to your clients. The service packs will include easy to read updates that you can use to “convert” clients and prospects to this novel approach.

Like to be kept in the loop?

Don’t bury your head in compliance sands. Register now as a firm that is interested in this process and we will send you updates as and when we add relevant material to our Fee Builder library.

Email me now, bob@landmarkpd.co.uk, and register your interest.

Outsource – save time and money

Most advisers would recommend that clients who are strapped for time consider outsourcing tasks.

We recommend that accountants consider this advice and outsource basic marketing tasks.

What tasks are we talking about?

At a bare minimum, professional advisers should be undertaking the following, basic marketing tasks:

  • Inform clients of the advisory services they provide,
  • Send clients targeted alerts and reminders.
  • Send prospects alerts and information on a complimentary basis that will help to distinguish the adviser’s practice from competitors,
  • Keep staff abreast of practice marketing strategies.
  • Use these processes to update and push traffic to your website.

Using these simple strategies firms can then set up and manage social media campaigns using the content produced.

And the outcome?

If you could create and maintain this level of activity you should be able to increase prospect conversions and cross-sales to clients. You will also have staff, fully-informed, who are actively supporting your marketing efforts – now they know what this activity is…

How much would this cost if managed in-house?

Deciding on services to create and promote would probably take a major fee earner at least two days a month to research, document and write the relevant deliverables (updates for clients and prospects and monthly campaign material). At say £150 per hour this would amount to £2,100 per month – the cost of lost chargeable time.

Organising the delivery of updates and campaign material would take a £20 per hour part-time marketing person say one day a week or on average £560 per month.

Updating your website and managing social media campaigns would probably add a further one day a week of tasks for your part-time marketing person. Say an additional £560 per month.

In-house costs and lost fee income would be – on this basis – £3,220 per month…

How much would this cost if outsourced?

Landmark’s Fee Builder services provide weekly alerts and monthly campaign material to promote advisory services to clients and prospects, with updates for staff.

The monthly cost of the Fee Builder Plus option – which covers the above – is £55 plus VAT.

We are working on a delivery option for Fee Builder that will automate the broadcast of alerts and campaign material. Our price point for this add-on is presently estimated to be £100 plus VAT per month.

Other in-house tasks that would still be required are:

  • Reviewing content for distribution to clients say one hour a month at £150 per hour – £150
  • Updating distribution lists – two hours a month at £20 per hour – £40
  • Updating your website and managing social media campaigns – no change here unless you decide to outsource – which in both cases would cost approximately £560 per month.
In-house, outsourcing costs and lost fee income would be – on this basis – £905 per month…

Time to consider your options

Every practice needs to be stepping out and promoting its services; particularly those of an advisory nature. The days of relying on compliance income may be approaching a “mass-extinction” event.

Based on the assumptions we have made in this post, there appears to be an argument to outsource . Reductions in costs of almost 70% seem to be available.

Bob Edwards, Landmark’s Founder director, would be willing to discuss your marketing outsourcing needs and to explain what the Landmark Fee Builder service options could offer. Call any time 07879 896073 or email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk.

How would you feel?

Imagine that you are not an accountant in practice. Instead, imagine that you are one of your clients that wants accounts and tax sorted each year. A basic compliance package.

As a client, you can see there might be some value in having your tax affairs handled by a professional, but being required to prepare and file annual accounts seems like you are having to pay for help to obey the law.

These feelings of being the victim of red-tape only increases when you are told that any “planning advice”, tax or business development, is extra…

Your practice is facilitated by legislation

It is worth entering the world-view of your clients from time to time as this is the nearest you will get to objectivity; how you would feel if required to add costs to your business just to comply with red-tape, with legal requirements?

From your perspective, much of the work selling your compliance services to the business community is done for you. Legislation sets out regulations that demand an annual response to stay compliant; which means when you win a client you are winning a recurring income stream.

Your clients, on the other hand, have to market and sell in order to win customers. Most cannot rely on the need to meet regulatory dictate to create a market place for them.

The compliance advisory conundrum

Many practitioners have reported that their clients just want a basic compliance service and show no interest in buying advisory services. For some, this is a pragmatic reaction to your fees, which they see as a required cost determined by legislation, and one they desire to keep to a minimum.

Clients in this position will push at the boundaries, wanting free telephone calls or any other complimentary assistance they perceive as diluting the cost impact of your services.

We are entering a new era…

Perhaps advisers, being aware of these factors, could reshape their services and place their advisory skills at the top of their “this is how we can support you” services list, when they first meet clients as prospects?

Instead of offering a paid for compliance package, why not offer a business support and tax planning package and throw in the compliance aspects as free, no charge. This would position your firm as a much needed adviser rather than a “grudge purchase” bean counter.

Landmark’s resources will help you make this transition

At Landmark, we support this point of view. Our services, particularly Fee Builder and Spotlight, provide a wealth of development material and at low cost. Make a start on your practice transition today, take a look.

Safe harbour

Is your firm a safe harbour for your clients or are you just another vessel weathering the storm in open seas?

What do your clients need right now?

Aside from its literal meaning as a sheltered port, the word harbour is also used as a metaphor. In this wider context it is described as a safe haven.

Surrounded by sea walls a harbour is insulated from the worst effects of any turbulence on the high seas. It is a place of safety where ships’ crews can draw breath, relax and consider their options free from unremitting activity where survival is the only game in town.

Your clients need this space. They need to be able to stand back and consider their options one-step removed from the daily survival grind.

COVID challenges have been their storm for the last eighteen months; non-stop turbulence and disruption. What they need right now is an opportunity – perhaps with a seasoning of permission – to take a break and consider their options.

How could your firm meet this need?

One obvious way you could create calmer waters is to offer clients a meeting to discuss their options. We would suggest this as a first step towards providing relevant advisory services in the coming months. We would recommend that this initial meeting be provided on a complimentary basis, face-to-face if possible, perhaps an outside table at your local pub or restaurant.

The aim would be to offer an opportunity to discuss clients’ anxieties in an environment where those concerns are not in evidence. Suggest switching off phones when you meet. And ask lots of open questions.

If you can help clients reveal their problems you can start to consider how to create and offer solutions.

Any “pro-bono” costs of providing this opportunity will be more than offset by increases in goodwill, and who knows, your conversations may lead to the provision of additional advisory services.

Which clients should you approach with this offer?

Select your A and B clients for this offer; those that appreciate your advice and are usually willing to pay for it.

Don’t offer to clients who always want something for nothing and take an age to pay your bills.

Where do you turn for this advice?

Although finding a safe place to meet may be difficult until COVID restrictions ease, we are willing to speak with any practitioners who have concerns about the future direction of their practice following the challenges of the last year.

Pick up the phone. Bob Edwards – our founder – can be contacted most days on his mobile 07879 896073, or email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk.

Perspective

Do you have a choice about what you do during your working day?

Who drives this activity?

The clock is a merciless adversary

Language is rife with euphemisms that describe what most of us feel each day, that there is never enough time or that we don’t know where the day goes.

Is this true? Do we have no control over the clicking clock?

Can we interrupt the passing of time, no; can we stretch time, no; but what we can do is plan how we spend our time and this raises a question that all busy practitioners should consider:

Who is in charge of your day, you or the clock?

Victim or master of time

Most of us would agree that we are victims of time. After all, we can’t stop the clock. Which is true, but we can step back from driven activity to make space for considered activity.

“Considered” in this context should be read as reflective, taking time out to plan activity based on your goals rather than blindly attempting to meet the demands of the day.

If you can make this shift, even failing to complete tasks will point to solutions rather than leaving you with the feeling that you have failed to get stuff done. For example, if you really have too much on your plate would it be possible to delegate tasks?

Perspective

In a previous post, we discussed the value of stepping back from your normal routine in order to regain perspective. Reasserting your control over the ticking clock can help. Warning signs should be belting out if the voice in your head is telling you there is no time. A helpful suggestion here is that maybe there is no time because you are not making time.

There is no need to re-read Einstein’s second theory here. By making time read taking time out.

If you have ever worked out in a gym you will know that it is necessary to take a breather between routines. Taking time out allows you to stand back and regain perspective.

Try it for five minutes now…

Getting away from it all

I’m pretty sure that when our remote ancestors ventured forth from their caves in search of food, they were cautious. Food sources tended to bite back…

Now that we have “civilised” the food gathering process, leaving our homes should be enjoyable and most of us would agree with that sentiment, until COVID came along. Now we wear masks and avoid close contact with other human beings, who we are told, are harbingers of the dreaded coronavirus.

Traffic lights now control the booking of an overseas holiday in the sun; will we or won’t we have to self-isolate when we return home, including the risk of a red light change and the prospect (and cost) of a forced stay in a UK hotel?

Time to confront these challenges

Opinion is no longer divided, we need to get used to living with COVID. Vaccines will help and annual booster shots will become a common part of our health management routines.

If we need to work part-time from home, so be it. But one thing is certain, we are sociable beings and to survive we need to socialise. Whilst we all love our homes – well most of us do – there are times when we need a change.

Head for the beach

Whether we travel abroad or the UK coast it is time to pack your bags and get away. And there is a good reason for doing this – apart from saving our sanity – and that is achieving a measure of objectivity.

Back to the cave. If we never ventured outside the cave, aside from the health risks and having no food, the outside world would cease to exist. Our world view would reduce to rock on all sides. Once outside, we can see, objectively, that there is more to life than four walls.

Business will suffer

Aside from the very real disruption many businesses have had to cope with in the last eighteen months, taking a break from work will give you a chance to see the wood for the trees.

Ironically, we are all guilty of spending more time in our businesses than working on our businesses. If you physically distance your self from work (including your home office) you may regain some perspective on why your are in business in the first place.

And more on that question in my next post.

Unprofitable work

According to the 80:20 rule, we are spending 80% of our time looking after the concerns of 20% of our client base. Fine if we get paid for our efforts, but what if we don’t? What if we are busy fools?

Barriers to delivering profitable work

There are quite a few, including that you will have clients that:

  • are not prepared to pay for work with added value – advisory work,
  • don’t appreciate the value of the work you do provide, and
  • always want more for less – they consider your fees a cost not an investment.

To some extent this is a reflection of your willingness to accommodate clients, for example, by answering yet another call that you know you will not be paid for, and the current COVID effect; clients simply do not have the resources to pay for advice.

Strategies to counter this trend

Depressing as it may seem, the best way to deal with a problem is to realise you have a problem in the first place. If you are finding it difficult to expand advisory services – the profitable work – there are a number of strategies you could employ to counter this trend. For example:

Sacking clients

We all have clients that waste our time, don’t appreciate the work we do for them and are constantly seeking to reduce our fees. Surely the obvious solution is sack them…? Wouldn’t this free up time to complete more interesting work with clients who are prepared to pay?

Pro bono

If you have clients, good clients, that really can’t afford to pay for “extras” due to COVID disruption, would it not be sensible to offer a limited pro bone service for a short period of time? As long as you can see that by undertaking the work you can return clients to normality in an acceptable time period. This will sow good seeds in your practice goodwill patch.

The alternative is to stand aside and perhaps see- what may be a potentially valuable client – go to the wall. You will then need to acquire new client(s) to replace these losses, and the cost of acquisition may exceed the short-term cost of any pro-bono support.

Assessing risk

COVID has underlined the need to take a fresh look at your client lists and assess risk. For example:

  • Are they transactional, seeking to minimise activity to reduce fees or relationship biased: can they see the value of advisory services?
  • Are they bad payers, constantly seeking to reduce their accountancy support costs or are they good payers, appreciative of the work you do for them?
  • Are they survivors or will COVID disruption prove to be the end of their business ambitions?

Fee Building the Landmark way

If you are looking for ideas to make a positive impact on your efforts to build a profitable practice, take a look at our Fee Builder service. For a monthly investment of £55, this service will provide you with ideas and resources to implement fee building strategies.

Volunteers required

Are you interested in acquiring new clients but don’t have the time to undertake the processes that will start the acquisition ball rolling?

If the answer is yes, you are interested, read on…

We are looking to prove a point

Case studies prove that the pudding really does taste good. And whilst we can provide professionals with all the resources they may need to make progress with practice development, we cannot implement the ideas for them, at least, not at the price we charge for the marketing resources.

What we would like to do is partner up with a few practices – they can be existing Spotlight or Fee Builder subscribers or practices that have not tried these services as yet – and help them implement a specific marketing plan that will move them closer to new client appointments.

What is involved

You will need to identify a number of local businesses – if possible, in a specific business sector – that you would like to work with. They can be existing prospects or firms that you have never contacted before.

We will then identify, from our library of Fee Builder and Spotlight resources, an approach that you can make to your selected list.

You will need to send an initial email to each selected prospect (we will provide the copy) and follow up your emails after a few days.

Expected outcomes for you

Prospecting for new business is like panning for gold. It is possible to find a nugget as you sift through your first dip into the river, but it is more likely that you will need to repeat this process a few times.

Persistence pays off…

There is every likelihood that our joint efforts will win you new work. That is certainly our intention. But an initial, and incredibly useful outcome, would be that action pays off. Wishing with no action does not.

Expected outcome for Landmark

We would ask your agreement to document our collaboration and use the material as case studies on our website. We need to prove to practitioners that actions really do create results.

Interested?

According to the economists, the UK is on track for growth between 6% and 8% between now and the end of 2022. Although this rate of growth will simply take us back to activity levels not seen since early 2020, if achieved, it will provide opportunities for practices that demonstrate they are willing and capable of supporting businesses during these turbulent times.

Contact me if you are interested: email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk or call my mobile 07879 896073

Post COVID risk

We like to believe that all our clients are worthy individuals who deliver information on time, are hungry and appreciative of our advice, and pay our bill as soon as it’s presented.

So let’s dispense with that myth. Reality is very different to this rose-tinted viewpoint. And COVID has added additional layers to our usual way of assessing risk.

How do we assess risk post COVID?

In our Fee Builder resource pack for July 2021, we offer a new perspective on this issue.

We assert that there are now three flavours to the neopolitan bar that determines risk in the post COVID world. They are:

  • ability and willingness to pay,
  • interested in the value of your services or just want you to prepare and file, and
  • at risk of failure due to continuing COVID disruption.

These three elements provide enough data for you to reconsider which of your clients are high risk, low risk or somewhere in between.

Is a reassessment of client risk necessary?

Without a formal reassessment of risk, you are basically walking into a minefield with no knowledge that you next step may prove to be terminal.

Staff may agree to undertake work for a client without appreciating that their time will never be paid.

Also, practitioners need to take a hard look at the changed reality facing them now that COVID continues to disrupt economic activity.

  • How many dependable clients – based on pre-COVID criteria – have morphed into the high risk grouping?
  • What if the high risk element leave or cease trading?
  • Without a formal assessment, how can you manage these risks?
  • How will these changes affect your practice development?

This risk assessment process could be a useful service to sell to clients

Nothing is wasted in this process of recalibrating risk as the systematic approach we have created can be offered to clients to reassess the risks of their customer base.

Sign up for free access to our July 2021 resources

As a contribution to tackling this issue, we would like to offer you the chance to use our July 2021, Assessment of Risk resources on a complimentary basis. Fee Builder – the service that provides these resources – is low cost and high value. We feel sure that if you take up our offer you will continue to benefit from an ongoing subscription.

Take a look>>

Or email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk for more details.

What is it worth?

We may not say this, at least not openly, but it is a question that demands our attention; what is it worth?

Every time we buy something or consider selling something we are making subjective judgements about the value of an object or a piece of advice.

How do we value?

Perhaps an example will help. If we attend the dentist with raging toothache or our local garage when the car won’t start, we will have less issue with the cost of remedial services IF the outcome is no pain and a car that starts.

Alternatively, when we fill up at the pump or buy new jeans we are not really solving immediate – and critical – problems, we are simply consuming regular stuff.

In the first examples, we are paying for the solution to a problem. The more acute the problem, the less price sensitive we are about the cost. In the second examples we are more inclined to check the price tag.

How do clients value your time and fees?

Perhaps the same principles apply to the delivery of professional services.

Consider Joe Smith, who has delayed and delayed supplying his tax return information and arrives with the necessary material one week before the filing deadline.

Joe now has a problem, and one he is delegating to you to solve. If you remind him that you are working round the clock to file returns – that like his are late in supplying data – and he will have to pay double the going rate to ensure you miss even more sleep to process his return, he may feel aggrieved, but will likely pay your bill otherwise late filing and late payment penalties may apply.

If Joe delivered his paperwork eleven months before the filing deadline, he would be justifiably upset if you tried to charge double the going rate for processing his return. But if you managed to spot opportunities to save Joe tax as part of the return preparation, then he may be open to paying more…

These are over-simplifications, but they do emphasise that it is always beneficial – for you and your clients – to assess the possibility of:

  • solving problems, or
  • creating opportunities

In both cases, the person buying will have a higher number in mind when answering that auto-responder “What is it worth”.

Small steps

When we start out in life, our urge to stand and walk is achieved on a progressive basis. First we stand and wobble, trying to stay balanced, and then take those landmark first steps.

It takes a few years before those initial shaky efforts at two legged progress develop into long walks and running.

The rest of this post discusses this analogy in terms of our ability to market and develop our practices.

Resources v implementation

There is a temptation to be bowled over by the need to acquire the resources to help you sell services to clients or to win over new clients. These might include valuable items such as client facing material on topical issues, material to promote your practice online – including social media – and other marketing deliverables.

The problem is, until you do something with these resources, they will rest unread, untended in your inbox or consigned to a hard-drive for later retrieval.

It has always been our contention that drowning practitioners with resources may create the opportunity for development, but until these resources are put to some use, implementation, the investment will be ineffective.

Chicken v egg conundrum

Recognising this, that resources without implementation are likely to have only marginal impact on practice development, we have created products for practitioners that include implementation support.

For example, our Fee Builder program provides you with alerts to send to clients and prospects that can be rebranded and sent to affected taxpayers with a minimum of effort. Fee Builder Plus also includes a monthly resource pack that leads with how each monthly strategy can be implemented.

In this way, we at Landmark place implementation on a par with acquisition of resources.

Resource to implement

In a final twist to this theme, perhaps the first thing you need to consider as you embark on planning practice development, is to fund and create the human resources that you will need to do the work of implementing the marketing resources you acquire.

We can help. Please email or call if you have an urge to take your first steps on the practice development ladder. We can supply the resources AND the advice to ensure that these resources are implemented.

Call me, Bob Edwards, 07879 896073, or email bob@landmarkpd.co.uk.