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”.

Bob Edwards

Bob has been working with practices across the UK offering novel ways to improve cross-sales and increase new client acquisitions. He is also interested in "step changes" in legislation that offer challenges, and therefore opportunities, for practitioners to provide new recurring and one-off support services to clients.

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