Monthly Archives: June 2017

Who Has Time to Market My Firm?

While most accountants want to grow their accounting practice so their practice is worth more when they decide to retire, they typically lack the time, skills and desire needed to grow aggressively.

  • Z - Lack timeLack the Time – Most accountants get sucked into the operational side (back end) of their practice by staff and demanding clients. We all know that the squeaky wheel gets greased.  As a result, accountants typically lack the time to aggressively market and generate enough leads.
  • Skills – Let’s face it, accountants are technically proficient but not marketing savvy. The road to becoming proficient at accounting and tax has nothing to do with lead generation, reputation management, and branding.
  • Desire – And worst, most accountants simply don’t have the desire to proactively market their own practice. They enjoy operating in a consultative manner but hate marketing.

Why Is Outsourced Marketing growing within the accounting industry? 

For most accountants, the market value of their accounting practice is the most important component of their retirement plan.  That’s right, the value of their accounting practice on the open market is the linchpin to how prosperous their retirement years will be.

Here are some of the other reasons why more accounting firms are outsourcing their marketing:

  1. Hiring marketing people is expensive. A competent marketer commands a six figure compensation package which is not feasible for most accounting firms.
  2. Partnering with marketing experts yields better results because they have much more experience testing which methodologies work, and which are worthless. This eliminates the need to throw spaghetti up against the wall and test everything under the sun.  Savvy accountants would rather use a proven system to grow quicker.
  3. By partnering with marketing gurus, my practice will become easier to sell, more profitable and worth a higher multiple. It’s not about doing more of the same thing, it’s about improving our profit margins, hourly realization rates and obtaining a better balanced lifestyle.
  4. Hiring a marketing firm provides me with access to several different experts to better avoid problems and be more efficient with my time.

Why Do Accounting Firms Stick with Outsourced Marketing? 

Z - Key to SuccessThe business model for outsourced marketing within the accounting industry works.  And because it works, accountants are now using outsourced marketing for 5-15 years to develop practices that are worth more on the open market, transition the practice from a job into a business, and make more money.

Said another way, the average accounting practice is typically worth 1.2 – 1.3 times gross revenues.  And the cost to acquire $100,000 in revenues is approximately 0.5 – 0.6 times gross revenues, sometimes lower.  Essentially, outsourced marketing enables savvy accountants to acquire new business at a 50-70% discount to the market value.  This gap between the cost to acquire and sell has motivated many accountants to continue enhance their retirement nest egg for 5-15 years.

And if the practice operates at higher profit margins, then the multiple for this practice can be 1.3 – 1.7 times gross revenues because the profitability is higher.   That’s right, a practice that operates at profit margins of 50-70% will command a higher multiple than a 30% profit margin accounting practice.  The math is simple.

Build Your Firm’s Outsourced Marketing Program

Build Your Firm is the leader within the accounting industry for outsourced marketing and lead generation because our system is more effective, sustainable, and makes your accounting practice worth more on the open market.  And, it works with a wider array of accounting practices.

The core components of the program provide:

  • Training – At the onset, BYF’s program provides training on marketing, practice management and selling effectiveness.
  • Coaching – Throughout the program, BYF’s is your coach and partner through the myriad of business challenges.
  • Tangible Results – Our program is bottom-line focused. If the results are attained, we both will want to continue for 5-15 years.  If the results are below expectations, we both will want to end the relationship.  This win/win approach is why over 75% of firms continue beyond the initial program duration.

And like any professional, our wisdom and expertise gets better over time.

 

Million Dollar Example

Recently, we had an accounting client start from scratch and then grew to $1 million dollars in six years.  And while on the surface that may sound hard to believe, this person managed to do with taking 8-10 weeks of vacation each summer.   My gut instinct is that the next $1 million will be attained in less than four years.

If you are ready to turn up the volume on building your accounting practice, consider outsourcing your marketing for Build Your Firm.  Let more by watching what accountants around the country are saying.

 

Does the Location of My Accounting Practice Matter?

If you want to develop a high quality clientele gradually over time, the location of your office matters.  Ideally, you will want an office location that is near businesses that you’ll ideally want to attract into your practice.  In other words, if you locate your practice in a glitzy part of town (Wilshire Boulevard, Park Ave, Michigan Ave, etc.), you will attract businesses and individuals in that immediate area.  If you locate your office in a suburban location, make absolutely certain the location has a population large enough to support your growth goals and demographically, it matches your ideal client.

While your accounting practice does NOT need a retail office space with walk-in traffic, the physical location does matter in today’s digital world.  In other words, when someone is searching for a CPA or accounting firm near their business location, you will want your accounting firm to be located nearby because most business owners “feel” that they need an accountant nearby in the event of an emergency.  Perception does matter.

By this, I mean that you can be located on a second floor or third floor of an office building to avoid paying retail office space pricing but the physical location should be near the businesses that are in your target audience.  Also, the location should be near the center of the city.  If you want to be towards the top of the list on Google/Bing/Yahoo when someone is doing a search, you need to be physically near the location the searcher requests.  With geographic targeting capabilities improving all the time, it is becoming far more challenging to dupe the search engines if your actual location is not in the city being requested.  In other words, you can’t claim to be located near Times Square in New York City when you are actually located in Staten Island or New Jersey.  Yes, I understand it is relatively close in miles (from your perspective) but the prospect wants a firm near Times Square, not someone in Yonkers.  The days of saying you are located downtown when in fact you are 8-15 miles outside the city are over.  And if you are successful duping the search engine, the prospect will eventually find out and dump you before you get to establish yourself as the trusted advisor.

With the explosion of smart phones and tablets, increased sophistication of search engines, combined with prospects becoming more adept at searching, the location of your accounting practice is become more and more important.  Location matters now more than it has in the past.

Increasing Conversion Amongst Visitors to YOUR Website

Generally, 98% of visitors to your website never take that next step to complete the sale.  In other words, they read a couple pages on your website, may like what they see, but don’t call or register on your website.  If you think about your own behavior, this probably makes sense to you as a prospective buyer.  In other words, you like to browse online for tons of information and prefer to shop online incognito.

As a business owner, what proactive steps should you take to increase the number of inquiries and target your advertising to people who are actively shopping for accounting and tax services?  Have you considered behavioral retargeting?

Behavioral Retargeting

Retargeting Adv2Behavioral retargeting (aka – remarketing or retargeting) is a form of online advertising targeted to consumers based on their previous internet shopping behavior.  In other words, suppose you were shopping online for an SUV and noticed that you were all of a sudden seeing lots on ads for SUVs.  In fact, the ads were for Jeep, Toyota Land Cruiser and Ford Expedition, all of which you were seriously considering.  Is this a coincidence that you were seeing tons of online advertising after visiting the Jeep, Toyota Land Cruiser and Ford Expedition websites?  No, this would be an example of behavioral retargeting where these brands have placed a cookie onto your browser after you visited their website, and they are now targeting ads based on your potential interest.  This is behavioral retargeting, at its best.

Basically, retargeting is serving ads to people after they left an advertiser’s website.  Retargeting pinpoints advertising to prospects soon after they visit a website and is very effective.  Retargeting helps companies advertise to visitors who leave without making a purchase – which is approximately 98% of all website traffic.

Early Adopters of Retargeting

Z - Oil and GasimageTo help accountants generate more leads from the internet, Build Your Firm has been using remarketing for years to help accountants improve the quality of lead generation and increase the quantity of leads.  This is particularly true for those that have niche accounting services because the ads are extremely targeted, and stand out.  For example, if someone is searching for an oil and gas CPA firm and conduct a Google search, they will easily find McKinnon Patten & Associates as a leading provider of oil and gas accounting services.  Regardless of where the prospect comes from, they will probably land onto the McKinnon Patten website for oil and gas services, a cookie is placed onto their browser, and they will see McKinnon Patten oil and gas advertising for over the next thirty days.  This targeted advertising raises the awareness for McKinnon Patten and encourages them to return back to the oil and gas website.

Another example would be a restaurant owner in Indiana who wants to hire a CPA firm that specializes in Z - Rest Acctgaccounting for hospitality businesses.  They may have conducted a search for a CPA and landed onto Garrison Sims CPA Group website, which targets hospitality businesses.  And for the next thirty days, they will see Garrison Sims CPA advertising as they navigate the internet. The retargeting advertising will elevate awareness of Garrison Sims amongst restaurants, hotels and bar businesses, and attempt to bring them back to the website to create the lead.

In summary, retargeting increases lead generation amongst prospects who are actively searching for accounting and tax services by keeping your brand name front and center.  And, it seeks to bring “window shoppers” back when they are ready to buy.  If you would like to generate more traction amongst visitors to your website, consider using retargeting.

Refinancing Student Loan Debt

Z - RefinancingWhen was the last time you took a close look at your student debt? If you’re like most borrowers, particularly those with six figures of student loan debt from graduate school or MBA programs, you probably shudder at the thought.

Chances are, you set up a loan repayment plan after graduation and figured you’d revisit it “later”—say, when you’re making more money, when your career is more secure, when you have more time.

With the skyrocketing price of advanced education, the recent graduates owe lots of money.

          Average Principal Loan Balance

Dental school grads                                        $200,078

Medical school grads                                      $169,775

Law school grads                                            $100,454

Veterinarian school grads                               $ 68,598

This approach is understandable, since after receiving your undergraduate or graduate degree your focus is on other things (like building a career that will help you pay off your loan balance). But if you let that nebulous “later” date turn into “never,” the repercussions can be costly. At some point, refinancing your student loans could save you a significant amount of money. You just need to figure out if you’ve reached that point.

So how do you know when it’s time for a student loan debt check-in? Here are four factors that should prompt a second look:

  1. Your current student loans have high interest rates.

The first thing you should look at is the interest rate that you’re paying on your student loans, particularly federal (direct) unsubsidized loans, federal Graduate PLUS loans and/or private loans. These loans tend to have higher interest rates than federal subsidized student loans, and you may be able to find a lower interest rate private loan option.

Depending on how high your loan balance is and how much you can cut that interest rate, your cost savings can be significant.

  1. Your financial situation has improved since you took out the loans.

You were likely a starving student when you first applied for your student loans, but ideally your financial situation has improved with time. This is great news for your bottom line, because a higher credit score and income level are key to helping you qualify for a lower interest rate.

And if you expect to stay on an upward financial trajectory, you might even consider refinancing with a variable rate student loan. Variable rate student loans typically offer lower interest rates than fixed rate loans; however, the rate is tied to prevailing interest rates, which are very low today but should go up over time. The upshot is that these loans are usually best suited for qualified borrowers who intend to pay off their loans at a relatively fast pace.

  1. You don’t get any advantages from federal student loan benefits.

Certain types of federal student loans offer perks that should not be overlooked before considering refinancing. If you’re a borrower who is a teacher, enters the military, or goes to work in the public sector, you’ll want to read the fine print on your federal loans to see if you qualify for federal student loan benefits (such as potential loan forgiveness) before you consider refinancing.

Some federal loans can also offer relief for borrowers that experience financial hardships (such as loan deferment and graduated/income-driven repayment plans). If you expect your income to be unpredictable, it’s usually a safer bet not to refinance federal student loans that are eligible for these benefits. But if you aren’t able to take advantage of any of these federal student loan benefits listed above, refinancing could be a good option.

  1. You’re about to take out a loan for a mortgage or other large purchase.

For loans like mortgages, lenders will take a look at your FICO score/general credit rating before moving forward with your application. To get the best interest rate on a mortgage, you’ll want to improve this score as much as possible before proceeding. Buying a new home or taking out another loan for a large purchase could be a good time to refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate, because it could help you get into better financial standing to get a good rate on loans like a mortgage, too.

If you’ve answered yes to these four questions, you may be a good candidate for student loan refinancing. The next step is to do a little research by checking out several private loan providers to compare interest rates and other features.

The market leader for student loan refinancing is SoFi.  We recommend you start there as there.  They offer rates as low as 2.615% APR for variable, and 3.35% for fixed rate loans.

Save Thousands on Student Loan Debt

Z - Student loan debtWith the mounting cost of higher education, here is something that you can help well educated young professionals with…  refinancing student loan debt and saving thousands of dollars in the process.

In today’s world, the student loans that were thought to be a good deal are often overpriced.  That’s right, interest rates today are dramatically lower than they used to be so those student loans that you took to cover the cost of higher education are extremely high.

Build Your Firm has negotiated a relationship with SoFi, the leader in refinancing college loans, to provide the following:

  • $500 bonus for refinancing your college loan debt
  • Fixed rates as low at 3.375% APR and variable as low as 2.615%
  • No origination fees (in most states)
  • No prepayment penalties

SoFi has over 70% market share in refinancing college loan debt.  They service dentists, doctors, MBA’s, lawyers and undergrads as well.

Complete a two minute questionnaire to learn your rate and earn your $500 bonus when you refinance SoFi.