By Andrew D. Schiff
In a previous article published in this column ("Taking the Fear out of Getting New Clients," July 1998), a number of tactics were discussed for marketing accounting services to small businesses. These tactics were developed over 20 years of experience assisting accountants that target the small business market. They have worked in a variety of contexts, and are particularly useful for practitioners just beginning to acquire clients.
One of the primary tactics that was discussed was to emphasize the benefits of the accounting services being offered.
The following list of more than 40 ways to increase the cash flow and profits of a small business through accounting services was developed in response to requests for specifics. They are grouped into sections based upon the procedures that generate them. Some of these benefits will appear obvious to those with strong financial backgrounds, but to small business owners they are often not apparent.
The benefits can be used in a variety of marketing efforts. They can be incorporated in brochures to prospective small business clients or in newsletters to existing clients that have not yet decided to take advantage of accounting services. They can be the focus of presentations to local trade and industry groups. They can also be used to train staff to help clients better appreciate the accounting services they already receive, or to promote additional accounting services. Small business owners and managers quickly see the relevance of the benefits. They are written in plain English, avoid technical accounting terminology, and are phrased as if the accountant were speaking directly to the small business owner.
Benefits of Accurate Records of Accounts Receivable
Benefits of Maintaining Perpetual Inventory
Benefits of Accurate Records of Current Liabilities
Benefits of Accurate Records of Cash Receipts and Disbursements and Bank Reconciliations
Benefits of Accurate Expense Records
Benefits of Monthly Financial Statements
Benefits of Job Costing and Process Costing
It is no doubt possible to identify other benefits in addition to those listed above, both for a typical service or merchandising business and for more specialized types of organizations (e.g., medical and dental practices and nonprofits). However, one caution should be noted. When reading a brochure, small business owners can typically only absorb about 10 to 15 of these benefits before their attention begins to turn to other matters. Therefore, it is best to emphasize only the ones that are most relevant to the prospective client.
Experience has shown that the majority of prospective clients are not highly price-sensitive to the value-added services that CPAs offer. If a small business owner or manager is convinced that she can benefit from the services offered by an accountant, she will be likely to engage the accountant's services when the fee is reasonable. Small business accountants that emphasize the benefits of their services for increasing the cash flow and profits of the business, communicate in a manner that the small business owner or manager can easily understand, are sensitive to the needs of the prospective client, and patiently generate leads and pursue them will reap the rewards of a growing practice. *
Andrew D. Schiff, PhD, CPA, is president of the Center for Small Business Accounting in Baltimore, Md. He is also an associate professor of accounting at the University of Baltimore. He can be reached at (410) 882-7862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
James L. Craig, Jr., CPA
The CPA Journal
The CPA Journal is broadly recognized as an outstanding, technical-refereed publication aimed at public practitioners, management, educators, and other accounting professionals. It is edited by CPAs for CPAs. Our goal is to provide CPAs and other accounting professionals with the information and news to enable them to be successful accountants, managers, and executives in today's practice environments.
©2009 The New York State Society of CPAs. Legal Notices
Visit the new cpajournal.com.