Note: This blog post was first published on 10 February 2017 and was last updated on 15 January 2018 .
As an accountant, we are sure that you can pretty much lay out the surges and wanes of your business year without even trying. From December to January, the phone just won’t stop ringing, and in February, your clients don’t want to talk to you – until the next SA season of course!
But instead of worrying about the downtime post the tax season, it’d be worth taking an objective view of your client’s business outside of its regular needs. And there is no better time to do this than now.
Use this quiet period to explore which clients would be the best potential targets for additional services. Find out if you can offer these services profitably. (You can do this even if your practice is looking healthy and the pipeline is pretty full.)
Once you’ve decided on a list of clients, begin re-establishing yourself in their mind. Call and find out how they are getting on. Ask them:
- How do they manage their bookkeeping? Are they aware of automation? Explain the changed ways of working they could migrate to.
- How do they feel about payroll, especially in light of the employment tax changes that come into effect in April 2017?
- What challenges are they facing with regards to the implementation of auto-enrolment?
Remember your clients need more of your expertise that you think. In fact, they might be actively looking for it as your read this.
Let’s review two additional services you can offer to power up the quiet period:
Very few accountants go out of the way to actively market bookkeeping. There is a very good reason for it: it’s an administrative nightmare.
However the situation is changing. Thanks to smartphones and online accounting tools such as Receipt Bank and Xero, you no longer have to just sit there and plod through the numbers.
As accountants you can offer these services, and then take the results of the bookkeeping function and incorporate it into the client’s accounting cycle. But don’t stop there. Share this information with clients to tell them how they are doing. It will help you demonstrate your relevance year-round and serve as the perfect springboard to introduce them to your full range of capabilities.
Payroll & auto-enrolment
For years, accountants have steered away from offering payroll. This is mostly because of the admin work that comes with it. Not forgetting the technical aspects within the challenging arena of payroll, where compliance is the key.
So you must wonder, “Why should I start now?”
One main reason is that payroll is a natural task for accountants to take over as it is entwined with your clients’ overall business expenses and tax liabilities. The second reason is profit.
Add auto-enrolment (AE) into the mix. With 500,000 businesses expected to enrol this year, there is much evidence that 2017 is set to become a crucial year for UK’s small and micro-business community.
We agree it is a great opportunity for accountants to add value to their clients and generate a new revenue stream.
Paul Bulpitt, co-founder of The Wow Company, spoke to AccountingWeb*, “Payroll has always been a thankless task, but now there’s actually a lot of value that can be added by taking away the hassle of auto enrolment and RTI - and delivering services around employment issues.”
How to get started?
Before we round off this blog, we’d like to talk about a national group of accountants and business advisors: UHY Hacker Young. They offer specialist support in bookkeeping, management accounting, and payroll/human resources to their clients through a range of sister companies, namely, Virtual Business Source, Pay Plus and Recruitment Accountants.
We are not sure if they outsource or not, but just like they’ve done, you can also offer bookkeeping and payroll services by creating a separate outsourcing brand. This will allow you to market a business with a cost base that supports a competitively priced service offering.
The real challenge is to be able to offer the best possible service without the exorbitant cost of hiring and training additional staff.
There’s an option. By exploiting services available through outsourcing companies like QXAS, you can diversify your practice with minimum investment. Accountants with an entrepreneurial spirit are already collaborating with such B2B service providers to become more productive and profitable as ever.
It’s a brave new world of accountants out there. Quiet periods are far from periods of low activity. It’s an opportunity to assess your current position and explore new markets. The accountant who can collaborate and progress can always make it profitable.
What other things do you work on in your practice during the quiet periods? Let us know in the comment section below.