Beyond Compliance Services

As compliance services become more commoditized and automated, accountants are faced with how this affects their practice and their bottom line.  They can:

  • Serve a higher level client that requires greater complexity, making themselves fairly immune to these changes
  • Serve a larger number of clients to offset a drop in revenue per client averages
  • Add new services to their practice to boost revenue per client

Those are pretty much the options available to keep profits from shrinking.  In today’s article, I want to focus on the third bullet point above, adding new services, and provide you with some ideas on how you may be able to serve your tax compliance clients in new ways.  Even if you don’t do taxes, you will find some ideas for new related services you can think about offering to your clients.  (Remember, it’s easier to sell to existing clients than to acquire new ones.)

More than Taxes

Most of you who do tax services do far more than that, but perhaps you haven’t itemized it for the client:

  • Federal tax return preparation and review by experienced senior partner
  • State tax return preparation and review by experienced senior partner
  • Tax savings suggestions
  • Tax payment projections for current year
  • Copy for your records
  • Electronic filing
  • First line representation with IRS available for you

Just listing what clients get will help reduce price resistance during a sales call.

Cost-Reduction Reviews

Why stop with saving people money on just their taxes?   Offering the following three reviews can help clients save money, period.

  • Annual (or quarterly or monthly) financial review with cost reduction advice
  • Bank account balance review – review each cash account and determine whether excess cash can be moved to an interest-bearing account
  • Recordkeeping reduction costs review – do you have ideas for how the client can save money on recordkeeping or bookkeeping?

You can expand on these ideas to fit your skillset and your client base.  Then systematize the process and offer it as a service, a bonus, or a competitive advantage.

No-Deadlines Nirvana

Think about small business deadlines as additional revenue opportunities.  Sales tax, payroll tax, and franchise tax are all compliance work we can and do help with.

If you work with a particular industry, you may be able to help further.  Some businesses need to pay additional taxes and file additional reports, such as for PCI compliance with credit cards, special product or drug permits, hazardous materials reports, OSHA incidences, or product recall recordkeeping, to name a few.  Helping our clients with these additional compliance areas might get you thinking about  services you can provide.

Forms Freedom

Many small business owners are drowning in paperwork.  Create a service to help them with these corporate requirements:

  • Statement of Information
  • Corp meeting minutes
  • Board of Directors meetings and documentation

I’ll never forget one of my mastermind pals who moved cross-country the year her income soared tenfold.  Her accountant did all of her address changes for her, and I remember thinking, what a huge help that would have been.  Now that I moved three states east myself, I am asking my staff accountant to help me with all that.  To time-starved entrepreneurs, this is a huge value-add.

Risk Reduction

Staying in business is all about managing risks.  Since you already know the recordkeeping requirements of the tax agencies, you’re a natural for offering a Records Risk Review, which would measure how well your client would survive an audit based on the documentation they are able to provide.  At the very least, you can provide a handout that describes what they need to keep and what they can throw away.

Spreadsheet Superstars

Are your clients struggling with Excel?  You might be able to help them complete the spreadsheets they need in half the time they would take to do them on their own.  In fact, accountants are great at building databases, designing reports, and presenting information, and every business needs those skills.

Have a conversation with your clients to see if you can relieve them of some of their spreadsheet tasks.

Beyond Compliance

Try these ideas to serve your clients better, build your revenue, and most importantly, gain some relief from price resistance.