Monthly Archives: November 2014

Online Reviews – Fuel Growth in Practice

If you’d like to have a wonderful year in 2015, then take some time to obtain more online reviews in Google and Intuit’s Find-a-ProAdvisor website.  This will improve your local reputation, elevate your website organically in Google/Bing/Yahoo, and support the other types of marketing that you are doing.  The BYF Reputation Management tool makes this so easy if you make this part of our firm operations.

For the accounting firms in our Outsourced Marketing Program, I encouraged each of them to obtain 20 online reviews in Google, 20 in Intuit plus 5 in Yelp.  The Yelp reviews were tough because most do not have Yelpers as active clients.  The results for the few firms that dedicated the time to obtain 20 online reviews have been knocking it out of the park over the past 2-3 months.

By all means, the online reviews are not the “end all, be all.”  A diversified marketing approach is still needed.  Each of these firms that I reference are still marketing by direct mail, pay per click advertising, retargeting advertising and have niche websites but the online reviews support all elements of the marketing.

For example, Luke Gheen in Colorado has acquired over $75k in new business since Sept 1st Luke Gheen(probably 20 new biz clients).  That’s pretty solid and gives him confidence to gradually elevate pricing for future new clients and let some of the PITA clients loose.

If you have the reputation management tool on your BYF website, please use it to obtain 5-10 more online reviews over the holidays.  You will be very happy….

Avoid the “One Size Fits All” Website

Have you ever wondered why accountants are so willing to accept the cookie cutter approach to a website?

Often, your website is the first opportunity to create an impression and it seldom is a good first step.  By all means, the bar across the accounting industry has been raised but there are still many practices that don’t have a website, or it poorly represents the type of accounting firm that they are.

To me, the purpose of the website is to generate leads for your practice, “brand” your firm gradually over time and help you operate more efficiently.  In other words, a website for a bookkeeping firm should look very different than a payroll firm.  And a sole practitioner tax accountant should look different than a large CPA Firm with 5-10 partners and many staff members.  And a boutique CPA Firm that focuses on non-profit accounting will look very different than an accounting firm focused exclusively on IRS Tax Resolution.  That’s why custom website development is so important to creating the right, first impression and growing your accounting practice.

If you’d like a custom website designed around your accounting practice, call Build Your Firm.  The monthly price is extremely reasonable and we will take responsibility for designing it around your unique set of services.

Getting Clients to Pay Up

At certain times of the year, does this cartoon resonate with you?

Cartoon - Pay Up Bill First

If you’d like to avoid getting into this situation by having more control over getting paid, then attend the free webinar titled “Boosting Cash Flow – Essential Ways to Get Paid Faster”.  The webinar is instructed by a practicing accountant that uses this electronic payment processing system to get paid faster and less expensively.

Wednesday, Dec 3rd at 12pm EST

 

Getting More Leads from Intuit’s Find-a-Proadvisor Website

By all means, I understand that some accountants still resist the urge to embrace QuickBooks.  Heck, I even remember accountants telling me how much better Thomson Reuter’s CBS and Peachtree were. After a decade of clinging to alternatives, it’s time to jump on the band wagon and swallow that bitter pill.

In December, Intuit will be launching a new certification called QB Online Advanced, to support their improvements to QB Online.  By all means, I realize that it’s not elegant but it is better than it used to be.  If you would like to improve your placement within Intuit’s Find-a-ProAdvisor website and continue getting leads from QB users (small business owners), please plan to take this certification in early December.  Being one of the first to pass this will matter to your placement.

For small tax practices that want to acquire small business clients, here are my suggestions:

– Obtain at least four (4) QuickBook certifications.  If you obtain all six (6), your placement will be towards the top.

– Support your profile completely with a picture, hyperlink to your website, and treat the profile like an advertisement, which it is.

– Encourage happy clients to post glowing reviews about your QB review and clean-up services.

– Support your QuickBooks concentration with a BYF website dedicated to your QuickBooks services, for more leads from Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Boosting Cash Flow for Tax Season – Free Webinar for Accountants

Please join us at one of the upcoming webinars on CPA Academy.  We just added these three sessions based on the enthusiastic feedback that was provided on Oct 21st (Get Paid Faster).  The webinar is free and CPAs can earn 1.5 CPE credits.

Boosting Cash Flow for Tax Season – Simple Ways to Get Paid Faster and Less Expensively

Dec 3rd at 12 EST – Weds

The webinar will be conducted by a practicing accountant.  At the end, you will wonder why a tool like this has not been developed previously for accounting firms and why many accounting firms wait so long for payment.  With electronic payment processing, your days of waiting for checks in the mail are over.  BizPayO - logo w desc underneath

As background, the tool that Allan Ratafia has developed works wonders for all types of accounting firms.  In fact, Paychex was so impressed with this tool that they are selling BizPayO as a stand alone application for accounting firms nationwide.

Unbundle Your Message for More Impact

Have you considered “unbundling” your services to attract more leads?

Over the past ten years, many industries have begun unbundling their services into smaller bite size nuggets to generate more inquiries for their services.  Sometimes, this change is forced upon them and other times, it’s opportunistic to generate that initial discussion, which leads into multiple engagements down the road.

Unbundling has been huge for the music industry.  In the olden ages, the music industry would bundle together a batch of songs (e.g., album) and sell the bundle for higher price.  With the digital age, songs are now unbundled and purchased a la carte.  As a result, the barriers between music artists and genres has lowered thus creating over 1,000 bewildering microgenres.

In the restaurant business, have you found yourself getting sucked into ordering tapas which end up costing you more than buying one comprehensive entrée?  This is what unbundling your services can accomplish for your accounting practice.

To illustrate my point, have you considered delivering your services in the comprehensive manner that you’ve always done but also offering them in smaller pieces?  In other words, breaking a full service, comprehensive set of “we do it all”  into smaller micro websites which break the message into smaller, more meaningful  a la carte pieces.  Below are some examples:

Forensic Accounting – In addition to your main website which communicates your comprehensive forensic accounting services, have you developed micro websites which break forensic accounting into fraud investigation, litigation support, business valuation, expert witness, collaborative accounting, child support calculations, trial preparation, innocent spouse relief, etc.

International Tax – In addition to your main website, have you unbundled international tax into micro websites like expatriate taxation, foreign tax credits, transfer pricing, offshore voluntary disclosure (ODVI), immigration tax planning, tax inversion planning, multinational family tax planning, etc.

To be more specific, here is a live example of how one accountant has unbundled IRS Problem Resolution into delectable pieces of the pie.

Unbundling of IRS Problem Resolution IRS Prob Res

Back Tax Work – State and Federal Back Taxes

Offer in Compromise

Innocent Spouse Relief

Relief from IRS Tax Levies

Try the best of both worlds, deliver your corporate message in the full entrée manner that most restaurants serve food but also try a tapas approach with smaller micro websites that make it easier to sample your services.

Effective Marketing Techniques for Accounting Firms

Are you one of those accountants who does not aggressively and continuously market your practice?  Clearly said, does your marketing program suffer from ADD?  If so, this is common so here are some tips to focus on given your lack of commitment.

  1. Focus on a Differentiator.  Something that Truly Makes Your Firm Unique.  – In today’s overcrowded marketplace, it’s extremely important to differentiate your accounting practice from all of the rest.  In other words, pick something that distinguishes your practice and enables you to eventually, become superior at providing a particular service.
  2. Use Websites as Selling Tools – An effective website can educate prospective clients about your firm services and generate new clients.  In fact, it should be making money for your accounting firm.  And while I appreciate the added benefit that it has practice management tools as well, it’s first goal is to bring money in the door. Second, I would encourage you to break your mindset that everything your firm does needs to be communicated on one website.  While your main website needs to broadly communicate the most important things your firm provides, it is often impossible to get into the detail of key aspects your firm does, and how you are uniquely suited to exceed their expectations.  For example, we have one client who has unbundled IRS Problem Resolution into over six different websites that focus on smaller pieces of the pie.  And each website makes money for this practitioner so his creative approach can work wonders for you, too.
  3. Identify Your Most Important Clients – Every savvy business owner identifies their most important clients and uses them strategically to grow exponentially.  In many cases, these VIP clients are not based on current revenues but the potential that acquiring many more clients like them could turn into a home run.  For example, you may elect to focus on a client in a particular industry because learning from them may enable you to penetrate a certain type of industry.  In other cases, some accounting firms focus on business clients that routinely refer the most business.
  4. Market Your Practice Even When You Are Too Busy – Even when your accounting firm is nearing full capacity, I would encourage you to maintain your marketing.  To deal with the capacity issue, I often encourage accountants to “cull out” a small portion of their practice.  That’s right, accountants seldom package up less desirable clients and sell them on the open market to another firm.  The reality is that you should maintain your marketing to improve the quality of your clientele while freeing up capacity by selling off your lower quality clients to someone else.
  5. Make Reputation Management a Priority – Online reviews and reputation management are here to stay.  With today’s electronic world, the consumer has more power and can flame your firm at any moment.  Rather than wait until this blows up, you need to own it and become proactive in the management of your online reviews, and local reputation.    Going forward, online reviews will become more and more important to your branding and long-term reputation.
  6. Embrace Social Media As Another Marketing Outlet – Whether we like it or not, social media is not going away.  And when you ultimately acknowledge this beast, the next challenge is to develop a strategy that elevates your practice in a meaningful way that creates long term value.