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Value Pricing: How to Move Your Clients to a New Way of Billing

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In the first article of this two-part series, I explained how to value-price your work with your new clients. It’s always easier to change your pricing/billing plan when you take on new clients, as they are eager to get on board and have no knowledge of your past hourly billing method.  

 

It’s a little more difficult when you start to migrate your existing clients who are accustomed to the hourly billing. Put on your psychologist’s hat here and remember that most people do not like change. You are going to need to sell them on this new way of billing by giving them something in return.

 

Here’s how I successfully approached the challenge:

 

  1. Make the pricing migration at a good breakpoint. I chose the beginning of the year. You can also do this when an existing client’s contract expires.
  2. Sell your client on your offer of “unlimited access” for bookkeeping support. Let them know you are available to them whenever they need you, and you won’t be setting a timer and billing them back for it. It is all included in your package price.
  3. If you are still in Desktop with your customers, offer to convert them to QuickBooks Online for free. I offered unlimited training in the new program and shared the Getting started in QuickBooks Online tutorials right here in this community. It is a wonderful resource.
  4. Give them the service of document attachment for free. They will love this feature, and it will make selling them on value pricing a bit easier. Frankly, I think this is what sold my older clients on my pricing shift! If you use Hubdoc, adding documents is extremely simple.
  5. Include the subscription to QuickBooks Online in your total price to your customer. (Note: This benefit will be discontinued on October 31, 2018. If your client uses Desktop,  you can convert them to a new QuickBooks Online subscription and still get that wholesale price.
  6. Accept that you may lose a customer or two. Not everyone is going to like your new pricing system or an increase in fees, and some may want to stay in QuickBooks Desktop. I made the decision to only work in QuickBooks Online.   I partnered with a bookkeeper who was a whiz at QuickBooks Desktop and referred them to her. Bottom line? You need to be firm that your new policies means a fee increase (and possible platform change) for every customer.

 

Did I get pushback when I made these changes? Absolutely, and particularly with clients I was either billing weekly or invoicing every two weeks. Be aware that when you send an invoice for the month and asked clients to pay you upfront, it may seem like a steep increase. I made sure to explain the new pricing bundle reflects my transition to using more robust software (with features like document uploading and payroll). It also includes unlimited time for questions and answers. In the long run, I firmly believe more communication with clients leads to better accounting records.

 

I was fortunate and only lost one client. It always hurts when a client leaves you, but it is part of being in business.

 

My last tip is to be prepared to discuss this new approach with your customers in person or remotely via a Zoom meeting or similar software. I strongly recommend you do not discuss it by email. When you’re talking in real time, you can answer all questions on the spot and keep everyone on the same page. If you’re converting clients to QuickBooks Online, show them their file in QuickBooks Online with the documents attached.

 

I hope that gives you some insight into how to make this transition to fixed- or value-pricing for existing customers. Trust me, it is worth the effort. You will raise your profit margin and stay current with a new, growing technology.


Lynda Artesani owns Artesani Bookkeeping in Estero, Florida. She is our first QB Community Expert Columnist and excited to be part of the team to share her knowledge and love of everything QuickBooks and to help others start or grow their businesses.  She is also a member of the Intuit Advisory Council. Message her @lynda!