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Grow Your Practice While Others Are Failing!

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This post was inspired by “It’s Not Sales. It’s Your Duty,” by By Ed Mendlowitz, The CPA Trendlines Practice Doctor, in CPA Trendlines

 

Paramecium_in_Same_PetriEvery night I lie awake, wondering what my subscribers and clients are thinking, and how their plans to build economic security and a more fulfilling lifestyle as an independent, local, accoutning or tax professional are progressing.

I’ve dreamed about the brainstorming sessions where members discussed one ‘strategy’ or another for building their practice and awoken thinking about how, almost to the person, my subscribers were discussing and focusing on tactics rather than on strategies.

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On the weekly calls, I regularly suggest that the industry is in a crisis and has been ever since the advent of the personal computer. I suggest that an understanding of strategies is a requirement before the selection of tactics.

After all, what would your reaction be if you got everything in the car ready to go visit your in-laws, when all of a sudden, your spouse informs you that they have just emigrated to another continent. You need to know what your destination will be, so you can plan your trip (strategy) and choose the proper mode of transport (tactic).

Over time, I realized that many practitioners secretly thought of me as ‘Chicken Little’ running around telling everyone that the sky was falling,

Well, the sky is falling. At least parts of it are falling.

The industry is already flooded with practitioners offering generic services and struggling as clients and prospects move more and more work ‘in-house,’ or automate processes. Large mega-firms are moving into localized markets, and changing their business models in order to grab more of the business that had once been reserved to the local practitioner.

Software is forcing the commoditization of services that were once the domain of knowledge professionals.

We’ve just finished another tax season and the results are all over the board. The only clarity that emerges is that I am confirmed that the accounting and tax preparation industry is in turmoil.

Major tax preparation firms, most notably Jackson-Hewitt and H&R Block, report revenue flat or slightly down. Liberty excitedly posts news that their revenue is up, even though it is only 3%. But, they do that without disclosing actual numbers (they are currently held by a private investment firm). However, they point to their software division as a saving grace, indicating that they too, are actually a casualty of a contracting market.

Software giant Intuit admits it is responding to an ongoing SEC investigation after ‘whistle blowers’ report that the company sacrificed consumer security in its software in an attempt to rush product out the door and drive early season sales, and thus improve their stock performance.

Small surveys and anecdotal evidence from local practitioners indicate a drop in the early season easy returns, with revenues holding generally flat rather than dropping, only because of the increase in complex and higher end returns late in the season.

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For tax preparers, the writing is on the wall. Ever since the demise of the RAL and the easy money that represented, there has been an industry contraction taking place. Firms are exploring their options, and experimenting with alternate business models.

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In the midst of this, H&R Block has disclosed that they are experimenting with their business model, as they once again experiment with the idea of focusing on the small business accounting market by announcing a joint venture with Xero, a cloud based accounting software firm, as well as stepping up their recruiting efforts for accounting personnel, including CPA’s, bookkeepers and marketing representatives.

Over the past few years, the major payroll providers have been adding human relations services, such as health insurance brokerage services and benefits administration. Services which most small payroll services are finding it difficult to add.

Meanwhile, the IRS announces a new focus on payroll preparation firms in an effort to enforce compliance with escrow requirements, with the primary targets being the smaller, independent, payroll preparation firms, such as you.

Major knowledge based firms are contracting.

Booz Allen Hamilton recently announced a decline in revenue, while McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group all indicate they are struggling to maintain volume as smaller boutique firms open their doors and many large firms develop an internal ability to analyze and interpret ‘big data.’

Do you feel like the world is crashing in on you?

So do the large firms.

The old pyramid model of Partner – Principal – Managing Consultant – Senior – Junior is crumbling at its base. The need to have a large contingent of juniors on staff, and the economic model (blended rate with lots of cheap labor at the base) is being replaced with new more flexible hybrid models, leveraging skills and rates, into lower level projects.

No wonder you are competing head-to-head with the big four (or their regional equivalents) for business. Larger businesses are developing an internal capacity for self-analysis, and the major accounting firms continue to face the costs of overhead and vested principals.

What can you do? Get out and start soliciting more clients? Cross Sell and Upsell to the clients you have?

You need to know what to do. Your future depends on it.

Your first, and possibly your easiest option is to cross-sell, or upsell, to your existing clients, an act that does more than just increase your current revenue, it lowers client churn by strengthening the relationship as well as increasing client lifetime value.

In his article “It’s Not Sales, It’s Your Duty,” Ed Mendlowitz likens cross selling of services to dentists, auto repairmen and lawyers. He describes how the typical customer would be concerned if and when they discovered that the professional had not exercised due diligence in their recommendations to the client.

I’ll add to that and say that a professional who does not suggest the appropriate additional services may not only be doing a disservice to the client, they may be exercising malpractice. Of course, after four wives, I’m so paranoid I’ll go crying the sky is falling when the sun goes behind a cloud.

As Ed points out, if you are already performing the service you are promoting, this is a good deal for your practice as it can increase revenue without a large investment in the time required to develop new skills.

One thing I feel Ed fails to go into, in enough depth, is how you determine what new services to offer and when. That is where Dear Ol’ Kirk here comes to the rescue with a recommendation that you, Dear Reader, do a CNA.

I’m suggesting that you need to do a Client Needs Analysis before you ever start thinking about cross selling and offering additional services to your client.

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It’s not just becoming aware of life-altering issues as you prepare the client’s tax return, or review their monthly financial statements and cash statements. It’s about a continuing analysis of your clients situation, and it’s an analysis of things beyond their financial situation.

Each moment of your professional life must be spent trying to understand your prospect’s and your client’s needs. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably be heard saying it again, you have to know your prospects and clients so well that you will feel like you have walked in their shoes.

Ed also suggests that you should “ask the client if they know of anyone else in their circumstances that you could be referred to.”

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At this point, I gotta disagree with Ed. There is a much more professional method of getting referrals from your client or prospect, one that results in many, many, more referrals, and one that is much more professional than trying to sponge off of your client or prospect’s good nature.

It’s also one that is more in keeping with your role as an empathetic resource and, as Ed says, allows you to become “a trusted adviser who transcends tax preparation.”

That solution, Dear Reader, is to discover what other firms in the particular industry have the same problem. You learn this as part of your Client Needs Analysis, looking for comparative examples, while showing concern and empathy to your prospect or client.

After all, what you need to qualify a suspect as a prospect is a name along with a defined need you can fill. A name without knowing their need is useless. The phone book is full of names.

And, a prospect or client will more readily give you the name of a competitor with a similar problem than act as a ‘pointer’ sending you to their friend or peer. They would much rather give you the name of a competitor with a similar problem. After all, how many business owners want to appear to be so inept by being the oly one in their industry with that problem?

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By empathizing with a client and their problems you show them that you understand their situation, and quite possibly can fill their needs.

But, all that ordinary cross-selling and upselling does is buy time. It doesn’t really address the problem of what is going on.

By now, you should already understand that the industry is undergoing a massive change. The structure is being realigned and the king is walking around in his underwear. What used to be eight are now four, and as the old pyramid model collapses, the cracks are starting to show.

How can you adapt and prosper in this time of uncertainty and stress?

How can you build a model for the future and align yourself with the stars of tomorrow?

This is where you have to determine which parts of the sky are falling, which parts are still floating above and for you to work toward, and where the gaps are forming that need to be filled.

This is where it becomes necessary for you to evaluate your business model, devise an actual strategy, one that is unique to you and the way you work, and where you select the marketing tactics that will allow you to implement that strategy.

It’s not an easy process, and is one out of the reach of the ordinary practitioner, your competitor.

But you are a shining beacon in a world full of ordinary, generic, professionals. You know that given the knowledge, you can surmount your situation, and build for the future. You know the answer is just around the corner.

Or, better yet, as simple as clicking on the button below, and enrolling in the most powerful accountancy marketing training course available anywhere.

From anyone.

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I say that without any hint of modesty. It’s a damn good course, specifically written for the aspiring accountancy professional, who wants to grow their practice beyond the sole proprietor model, and into a regional powerhouse.

And, I say that despite the fact that I wrote it.

Because I spent three years in researching and writing the Rainmaker Marketing Protégé Course just to solve the problems my subscribers , and the members of the Instant Practice Builder were facing.

And, the end result is a powerful ‘Master’s Level’ course designed to teach you, a practicing accountant or tax professional how to develop your own Business Model, your own Strategy, and to select the specific Tactics that will help you achieve your goals.

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The Rainmaker Marketing Protégé Course is not a bunch of tactics, that some guru hack calls a strategy. This course teaches you how to build a practice, using resoruces you have or can develop. How to identify the resources you need, and how to identify and develop services and products that your market wants and needs.

The Rainmaker Marketing Protégé Course is filled with worksheets and resources that will guide you through the entire process. Nothing is left out.

The Rainmaker Marketing Protégé Course starts out simple, with background information, such as a description of the lifestyle of an accounting practice, how strategy is a part of the natural world and cannot be ignored, and what your limited choices are in the selection of a strategy.

First, it goes deeper as you are introduced to the generic business model, and to the generic strategy selections available to an accountancy firm.

Then, you are introduced to processes you can use to determine what your target markets particular needs are, how to acquire or develop the resources, systems and procedures you need in order to fill those needs, and how to go from there to a prospect specific Client Needs Analysis.

Finally, you are introduced to Tactics. How to design tactics, and how to select standard marketing tactics. And, given access to an inventory of unique and specific tactics that will help you dominate your market.

The Rainmaker Marketing Protégé Course normally sells for $497, but if you act right away, and are one of the first 50 people to use the coupon code kfg8dd60 after you click the ‘Buy Now’ button, you can get the entire ninety lessons for only $247, a savings of over 50%.

And, if you are one of the first 50, I’ll throw in access to the ‘Absolute Beginners Guide To Starting And Building Your Own Accounting Practice When You Are Flat Broke’ training course, one of the best courses on cold calling available anywhere.

Go ahead, click the ‘Buy Now’ button below, and when you get to the processing page, enter your coupon code and click ‘Apply’ in order to save.

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I would love to see you become a part of the Practice Builder Publishing, and work with you personally to reach maximum profit potential this year! Nothing I teach or help you with damage your credibility. It will simply get you more clients and help you make more money.

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Best to you and yours,

Kirk

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