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5 ways accountants can add value to small-business clients

July 20th, 2019

accountants, value add, small business, tips

At the core of every business are the clients and customers who help drive the growth of the company. Your small business clients, in particular, can help you expand and are more open to new ideas and solutions. The smaller clients may have access to limited resources and finances and require more assistance from your company than larger and more established firms. In addition to this, they have a huge potential for growth as well. Here are 5 ways your business can help add value to small business clients:

1. Define your firm’s position

Your firm can add a lot of value even before you engage with the client. The first step is to define the way your brand image and services provided are perceived by the client. This includes the firm’s social media presence and the benefits your company can bring to the client. 

The information put out by the business can expand its digital presence and build authority for your firm. This can also give the client some pre-set expectations on what kind of service they can expect from your business and use the information provided to grow their own business. 

Another benefit that your firm can bring to the table is to define your company’s niche. This is providing information on whether your niche is focused on a specific market or if you can satisfy the client’s needs across multiple industries. The inability to define the target market is a common pitfall faced by most accounting firms.  Your small business clients will have an idea of the kind of expertise that you can bring to their business and can provide direction on the areas of the business that they need assistance with. 

2. Know your business’ value

A company’s value is not always quantifiable but a discussion with the client can help understand the value you bring to them. Your client needs to know how you can benefit and add value to their business prior to engagement. This will keep the client well informed on what to expect and will help avoid any confusions or conflicts over the course of your relationship with them. 

The next step is to conduct research on your client’s company to understand how the value you can provide aligns with their needs. A few ways that you can add value to the client’s business is a quick response to any queries your client may have concerning sales tax, general business practices or the firm’s ability to provide results for the client. Other factors to take into consideration is if the client is looking for a specific line of services that you provide or if they are looking for support in broadening their scope of work. 

During the proposal stage of the pre-engagement process, the company has to identify the needs of the client so that your firm can provide the service accordingly. When you have a clear idea of exactly what the client’s expectations are, it provides more liberty to add value and creativity in the execution process. 

3. Make your client’s growth your main priority

As you aim to strengthen relationships with your client, make sure to involve them in the process. Instead of providing services on an as-needed basis, make your client’s growth and business objectives your priority as well. You can meet with them to learn more about what their growth plans are and how you can help them achieve their goals through the services you provide. This can include reducing operational costs to improve the cash flow situation, potential risks that the businesses faces and any regulatory reforms that can affect business practices. 

Your business can also add value by offering discounted training sessions to keep the client updated on the latest accounting technology and practices. Many small businesses often require assistance in bookkeeping services which can be a great starting point for your firm to add value to the company. These services are not only useful for your client but also help you get more facetime with them which can be great for building long-term relationships

4. Don’t just market the services as a product

The premise of the accounting world is selling services but as an advisor to small business services, it is more important to market the value you can add to the business rather than just the services you provide- namely the knowledge and expertise. Accountants are in an optimal position to provide advice on the best way to grow a business by reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Focusing on just services and strategies can be counter-intuitive to adding value to the small business. Instead, your firm should share expertise and knowledge with small businesses. Marketing your knowledge can help reposition your business and what it has to offer. 

5. Train, hire and quantify your results

If you plan on getting more hands-on with your client, you will need an extra hand to help you provide the best service to your client. This includes hiring additional accounting resources or outsourcing a few functions of the business before the workload becomes too much to handle and eventually overshadows your ability to add value to the client. 

Once you have taken all the necessary steps to add value to your small-business clients, it is important to quantify your results so that you can place a numerical value on the benefits provided. For example, if you help improve the efficiency of a certain process, your value adds can be the costs savings that the client benefits from after switching to the new process. 

As a trusted advisor to the small business, it is your firm’s duty to embody the goals of the client during and after the job at hand. You can represent the enduring value of your service by providing assistance beyond the scope of accounting and help the business grow. Another key strategy is constant communication with the client. Following up with the client via a phone call after the job is complete will help the business stand out and can help drive home the added value. 

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