I just became a ProAdvisor & opened a company for bookkeeping. I think we will charge set fees, instead of hourly. But I don't know where to begin. Can anyone give me examples of what your pricing is? Here's some basic client needs to tag a price on, or whatever info you have would be greatly appreciated!!
- Simple individual tax prep
- Teaching a client QBO
- Monthly bookkeeping for a small business
- Quarterly tax prep for a small business
- Past years bookkeeping clean-up (3 years?), set up bank rules for future, & autopay bills
I've done so much research on this, & can't get a grasp on where to start. Please help!! Thank you, Amber
(I've taken many accounting classes, but I'm NOT a CPA)
Welcome to the community! That is a great question that I am sure hundreds of people here are wondering. There was a similar discussion started by @JenPM a few weeks ago that might be of interest to you, and there are a few other users (@girlFRIDAY @EmilyMockett, @mcwagner and @lynda, just to name a few) who might be willing to offer guidance from their own experiences.
I'd like to give my two cents, though I am not a ProAdvisor, based on my experience doing teaching, web design and restaurant consultations. To start broad (getting meta), do you want to be the kind of advisor who leads your clients through the process, or do you want to teach them the process so they can eventually go out and do work on their own?
In the past, most of my clients fell into two categories - client (a) who has a very "just do x,y, and z for me and I will call you in a month" and client (b) who asked me to teach them how to do what I do so they can take what they've learned and run with it. I actually prefer working with client, that's just the teacher in me (b). While it might seem like I am putting myself out of work with this approach, I've never found this to be a problem - my ultimate goal is to help my clients succeed and not have to rely on me. This builds trust. These clients are hungry - they always come back wanting to learn more. Moreover, this approach actually gets me more business through word of mouth. Nothing wrong with client (a), it's an absolutely fine approach.
For client (a), I tend to charge less because I don't really provide "knowledge" as much as perform labor-by-the-hour. We set a schedule and expectations, I deliver, and the process repeats. This is how I did most of my web-design work and how I charge for photo sessions.
For client (b) I charge about 50% more because I am giving away my secrets, and I make that clear. The initial consultation hours be longer than client (a)'s sessions and while it seem more expensive up front, what I teach them should (in theory) pay off more in the long-run. This was the approach I took when I did manager training and teaching consultations. I price based on what I see is the value I am providing. Does that make sense?
My rule of thumb is, charge more for training because it requires you to do more original work in order to cater to the client's individual needs, and generally, these sessions tend to be a little more difficult.
That’s wonderful information. Thank you @JamesOng!! I’ve watched all the webinars on value pricing, & that’s what my partner & I want to do. I did teach someone QBO recently for her small business, & asked for $350. It was quickly accepted & I wondered if I left money on the table. I want to hit that sweet spot where both parties are happy & feel the “price is right.” I appreciate all your links & names of people that might help! I agree with you about teaching vs me handling. We should charge more for the knowledge we possess, in my opinion.
I also have a profile on the QB ProAdvisor site (in hopes of getting clients), & I haven’t had many leads from it. Any suggestions on how to obtain clients (outside of the usual methods, I’ve read many articles & watched many many many webinars on that too)!
I really appreciate all your help, & time!!
My pleasure. Really glad it helped .
Even though I am not an accountant, this mindset applies for most forms of consultation. There's a sweet spot, I am sure of it, but I've yet to find it. Another way to also think of it: do I want consultations that benefit the short game (quick money) or long-term growth (building a brand through trust). Both methods work for the results you want.
I definitely don't think you left money on the table. Foremost, it made you stop, think, and reflect. Learning moments are invaluable. Moreover, you made an impact on the client and decided what kind of teacher you are going to be - you thought her how to fish. Others may disagree with me, but impact on others is worth a lot.
Obtaining clients - is ProAdvising your main gig? I've always gotten work through word-of-mouth recommendations. I took jobs that were initially low (or no) paying for people who were willing to give my name out to colleagues. One writing gig I did for a few hundred dollars for a friend of a friend got me in a room with the founders of The Hundreds (a big streetwear clothing company). They liked what I had written (totally unrelated subject matter), but I ultimately decided not to pursue it. It created something priceless - opportunity. Do good work, genuinely with people, be willing to give "free" advice - delight and the clients will come knocking.
Do you know @hectorgarciacpa's YouTube channel? He has tons of incredible advice on the subject. The man is a superstar.
I have a two-prong strategy:
1) Give up 90% of the knowledge for FREE via YouTube, Social Media, Blogs, etc...
2) PRICE that 10% high enough, so you continue to give that 90 for free...
This will require that you ditch the concept of "hourly" rates. that last 10% is very personal and customized, therefore it deserves a well thought out plan.
Here are some videos I have about pricing and adding value:
This is definitely where I struggle to but I have learned it's alot of trail and error. I have learned tk stop overthinking it because I would do what it sounds like you are doing and worrying about what if I would of done this. However that is in the past and now you have a base as to what you could charge. Honestly I think that is a fair price without knowing all the details. But now you know maybe to up your price next time and see how it goes!
One thing that hasn't been mentioned so far is it really also depends on 1. Where you are located and 2. Your clients. Big cities are going to have different price points then the small towns. I would recommend looking up the salary of an accountant in your area. Then Divide that by the number of hours in a work year to get the hourly rate. This was my base. Then decide if you want to raise it from here.
I also charge differently based on my clients. I have small businesses and I don't want them to go bankrupt. It also depends on the complexity and time I'm going to dedicate to it. I wait until I actually talk to the person (or meet) so I can get an idea of how important they think accounting is, and overall just a sense of who they are.
Good luck! I'm still trying to hit that sweet spot!
“I wait until I actually talk to the person (or meet) so I can get an idea of how important they think accounting is, and overall just a sense of who they are.“
I'm a CPA. I work from home. Just me and my computer (and my pinball machine). No staff. Low overhead. Most days I wear pants.
Given all that, I charge $150/hour. I only charge when I'm doing actual work; ie: I don't charge for phone calls and emails, time to the "nearest quarter hour" or anything like that. Mostly I'm too lazy to track my time that closely. Clients that are a little more of a pain, with lots of phone calls and "nagging" will pay a little more. Easy clients get a little break.
I give away a lot of free advice (like here, as well as a couple of other online resources). I don't mind because my best, highest value is what I can offer to people who become clients, and that happens AFTER the free advice. I want them to remember "that Wagner was a nice guy that seemed to know what he was talking about," so that they will call me in the future, or even recommend me to a friend. I have tons of clients that I have never met, who came to me after giving "free" advice.
I've never had to advertise, and I have more work than I can do. So the results speak for themselves.
But that's just me.
@Eugene_S, I love that you are asking this question right out of the gate!
We are talking about pricing, positioning and how to grow EVERY DAY in the Momentum to a Million group here in the QB Community (I'm the Business Coach!), so check out this post that will help you get laser focused ASAP:
After you check it out, be sure to also watch for new posts every day at 11am PST.
Lastly, tag me with "@julieatthewell" to let me know what you think. Talk soon! J.
What do you bring to the table that's unique and what value does that bring to your potential clients, in your opinion? Define your value realistically and never compromise on what you're worth .
Do you offer any services other than just bookkeeping? Are you thinking of charging by hour or by project?
I did sign up for your Momentum to a Million group, you put out some great info. I'm an accountant myself and been doing public accounting for many years now so I do have direct experience, my biggest block is getting the first handful of clients. Everyone seems to goo back to getting referrals but before the referrals could even potentially start you need some clients that would then pass the word around.
Isn't that a simple but at the same time one of the most complicated questions to answer... it's like answering "what are your strengths and weaknesses" questions at an interview. Looking at it from a business owner's perspective Bookkeeping/Accounting is all the same all the way around therefore, in my opinion at the moment it's hard to come up with something that would trully differentiate me with anyone else. I have a number of years of public accounting experience and every firm that I had worked for never did any marketing, advertising, etc. some didn't even have websites... that says that most of their clients were referrals and every firm was up to their eyeballs with work. So one thing I know for certain is that there's enough work out there to stay busy all year around but as I had mentioned in another post, my biggest concern is how do I get the first clients to start doing work for and have them refer more business to me down the road.
So, I'm in a very similar position as what you described for yourself education and research-wise. I'm not a CPA, but I have had plenty of accounting classes (as well as business management, marketing, negotiations, etc...) I've scoured forums just like this one looking at the ideas of others in our industry sometimes just out of curiousity, sometimes because I need to find that starting point to dive into an intense study of a particular area. I just wanted to add to the other advice I've seen on here.
1.) Price higher than you think you are worth. I think that most people in our position under value themselves and their contribution to clients overall status. I can't tell you how many clients have asked me "Is that all?" when looking at my invoice... or how many times I have thrown out a number a little bit larger than I would expect the client to accept, only to have the client not even bat an eyelash at the final total. They tell me the same thing too - that they aren't willing or aren't capable of doing what I do, and the peace of mind I provide in just taking care of their books is worth more than they just paid. You will define what you are worth by what you invoice and subsequently collect... and this will change as your knowledge, skill set, and confidence build. Ask for more than you think you will get. Worst case scenario, the client is outraged, and you can graciously discount their bill to something you think is more acceptable for both parties. The next time you do a similar job you have a baseline for what the first one paid, and can adjust your pricing accordingly.
2.) Don't be afraid of calling around. Like another member posted - different areas are going to have different pricing structures. If you are in a large metro area - call around to different people you find online that you think would be similar to you! You are a business owner looking for bookkeeping services and you would like to know more about their pricing. You can hear what the firms around you have as a "standard response" and you can learn what you want to say/don't want to say when you get the same type of cold calls. I personally work in an office where we do a lot of tax prep for individuals. Every few years we will call around to the bigger "franchise" offices and just ask what they charge for this type of form, or for a return that has this and that on it. We don't have to identify ourselves and we never take up more than 5-10 minutes of time for the single phone call. With the bookkeeping services, you should be able to at least find what ballpark you are looking at (in your area). Charge on the higher end of that.
3.) Talk to the clients that you are onboarding to find out what they were paying before you... they will likely tell you how they felt about it too... Use that information to adjust your pricing on the fly.
Lastly, from your original post I think that you are looking for some specific information (which is really really hard to find in these things!) so I figured I'd just post what we charge for the items you listed.
- Simple individual tax prep ($200-$350 depending on complexity, form based pricing structure)
- Teaching a client QBO (billed hourly at $100/hr)
- Monthly bookkeeping for a small business (estimated hourly for the first few months and then billed out at a steady average fee after the "norm" has been established, usually around $150-$250 per month for a client with 1-2 financial accounts, doing no financial statements)
- Quarterly tax prep for a small business (if we are doing books, additional $75 per quarter for just payroll reports - if we aren't doing books/tax then it is either the $75 or time billed at $100 per hour)
- Past years bookkeeping clean-up (3 years?), set up bank rules for future, & autopay bills (*** Your efficiency is your profit... I would charge flat fee per month -$175/$200 depending on volume of data input - and make sure you bill out at that rate for the entire 36 months... Will each month take you the same amount of time? Especially if you are setting up bank rules, etc.? No. You are increasing your profit... and also setting the expectation for the client of what it will cost in the future. At the same time, you can bill out the months individually or grouped by quarter/year/whatever - so you can space out your billing/collections which should help both you and your client.)
Absolutely, sometimes the simple questions are the most difficult to answer. Often, we pose our strengths and weaknesses in relation to the context -- who is asking and why they want to know.
I am sure the experience you possess and perspective you bring to the table are in and of themselves unique and therefore valuable. The breadth of experience you described I am sure has allowed you to see accounting as an end-to-end process and thus consultations as more than a transaction. If I were to hire a consultant, I'd want someone who has both public and private sector experience who can give me advice on the how and why behind accounting.
From conversations I've had with @ParkwayInc, generating word-of-mouth leads in the digital age comes from content creation - - people see you demonstrating your knowledge in digital spaces and eventually reach out once they're convinced you're the right fit for their business.
This is great! I'd love if you could expand on point 1.
I've done a ton of free creative work for folks in the past in hopes of bolstering my reputation. One day, my mentor (who is a paid writer and artist) sat me down and told me bluntly that the fact that I was doing work for free meant I wasn't valuing what I was truly worth. People picked up on that which was why he believed everyone asked me to do work as "a favor" or for a reference, but never pay.
As newbie in the industry, it can feel scary to ask/demand what you think you're worth, and it's very hard to say no to those early opportunities when you're hungry (literally and figuratively). My second web design gig came from a referral. The client wanted to pay me half of what I asked, even though what I asked was far below industry standard. Suffice it to say, it was a very awkward call.
Do you have any good stories for context? Any tips for how to approach those conversations?
The second hardest price to come up with is your second client. The good news is that after you get your second client, the third client pricing gets easier if you enjoy working with your second client. The hardest price to offer is getting your first client (which is you!). Once you give yourself permission to do then it frees up a lot of mental energy you have to go out and serve to the best of your abilities.
Good luck. If you haven't joined Hector and Kirk's Art of Value FB group, you should.