3 Behaviors Needed to Grow a Profitable Accounting Firm

Written by
Accountant Hustle
Published on
April 28, 2024

I started my own accounting firm with my best friend back in 2012.

It was the first “outsourced accounting model” firm I had interacted with because I actually made the value proposition myself.

But this article isn't about how stacking value propositions and services together lead to an immense value proposition; I want to talk about three core behaviors you'll need to master in order to succeed when starting your accounting firm, bookkeeping business, CPA firm, or tax firm.

1 – Prospecting and sales are king

Without sales, you don't have any work to do.

Too many accountants are behind-the-scenes people who love to do the work of accounting, processing taxes, and being intelligent assets that are not always front and center.

If you're going to have a successful business, you cannot stay behind the scenes and just do the work; you must be prospecting and focusing on client acquisition for the first 2 to 3 years.

The good news is that, on average, most customers stay with a CPA or accountant for seven years or more, so every effort you put into sales doesn't have to be replicated over and over.

That being said, the best customers often already have an accountant that you would have to win business from, or you'll have to intersect with people when they are at a critical point in their business and ready to find a solution for their tax, accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, and other accounting services.

The core fundamental behavior is prospecting.

In order to prospect, the best thing you can do is work really hard to ask for a meeting 10 times a day in person, over the phone, through text, through introduction, through referral, or some other way.

10 to 20 appointment requests a day will lead to a new appointment every day.

Your goal is to have at least one to three new client "connect meetings" every day in the beginning.

The prospecting you do today turns into clients 2-4 months down the road.

2 – Add Massive Value & convey it in meetings

How do you close more high-retainer clients? By adding more value and properly conveying that during a sale so people choose it.

How do you close more sales? By connecting the dots on what's valuable to a customer and then showing how massively valuable you will be to their organization.

There are many levers of value:

  • Efficiency to their staff and business
  • Quick access to answers
  • Excellent and prompt data and reports
  • Avoidance of audits & wasted time
  • Time not spent doing it themselves & spent on high-productivity activity
  • Lowered taxes which is a bottom-line savings that is crucial
  • Avoidance of future problems by having accurate records
  • Being an alternative to a staff person
  • Replacing all the costs of current services
  • Being in a position to never miss new deals or opportunities because of poor financials
  • Being able to really manage your business and make great decisions

The value you add is immense, and you can't allow it to be cheapened down to "just bookkeeping and tax services."

Being able to go broad, mid-level, specific examples is key.

One key thing you'll want to do to help people connect the dots in the value you'll bring is to be able to take broad value proposition talking points and give specific and real-life examples so the business owner can connect the dots.

You can't just say "I'll save you time."

You should instead explain that "almost every business has a need for a bookkeeper, and too often that results in hiring a part-time admin to work in your business. If you hire someone for eight hours a week, at $25 an hour, that's $800 a month minimum, and they're probably just making more mistakes than you know, and I'll have to clean it up."

Or if they want to do their own bookkeeping, tell them what it usually looks like at the end of the year when you have to charge to fix things, they miss out on tax deductions, or they've wasted their time they could have spent on real productive activity.

Give specific examples of how people often mess things up.

The other thing is to remember that value to a business owner is about achieving operational autonomy.

If the business owner doesn't surround themselves with empowered employees and services, then the business will never be able to actually scale. Having an excellent accountant tackle things in a professional manner rather than having their staff or the business owner themselves will lead to a better future for the business owner.

Go above the fray with your messaging if you want to convey real value.

You gotta get out of the weeds but be able to go there if you need to. You want to sell the fact that you'll help them save money and make more money.

You're not in the accounting business; you're in the business of helping businesses achieve scalability, profitability, and operational health.

3 – Provide Leadership

Guide your customers to a better future.

Don't let them get stuck in the weeds; don't wait on them, don't put this confusing stuff in their lap, provide leadership.

You're essentially guiding them to move from a place of stagnancy, frustration, overpayment in taxes, wasted time, and such, to a better future.

You must provide leadership to your prospects and clients, firmly guiding them to where you think they should be.

Don't ask them what they think they should do until you've cast a vision for where you would recommend they go.

Accountants are notoriously terrible at providing vision, and they end up being "order takers."

You can't just be an order taker; you need to be a guide for your clients and firmly guide them in the right direction.

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