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Topic 1: The 2 Reasons Why You Can Begin Generating Fees from Advisory Services Tomorrow

Philip Arnfield February 7, 2022

Accountants play a vital role in producing accurate financial reports and ensuring clients are clear as to the reality of their circumstances, as a profession, we do this well. 

But imagine an expanded responsibility, where in addition to preparing the lagging indicators of performance you could influence the behaviour of clients,  in terms of the way they manage their business, so as they are better able to solve problems and improve their lives. 

You possess the capability to begin providing this service from tomorrow, there are 2 reasons why this is so.

Reason #1 - The Solution to Every Business Problem is Already Known

The solutions to all the challenges your clients face are known.  The reason businesses fail to reach their full potential is not because remedies for their problems don’t exist, it is not even because the owners are not aware of what they should do, it is simply this – management fails to prioritise the implementation of the appropriate process.

Reason #2 – You Are Not Supposed to Be the Expert

Accountants who believe they must position themselves as “experts” are committing a fatal error and are setting the benchmark for success as an advisor at a point far higher than it needs to be or should be. The expert in the client-advisor relationship is the client.

Clients almost always know the solution to challenges they face; the function of the advisor is to facilitate a process to elucidate the correct response to the dilemma or opportunity.   

Reframing your role from expert to facilitator is the secret to success. It widens the scope of the engagements you are comfortable performing thus making you a more valuable resource which leads to client success and a growth in fees. It also removes much of the stress associated with advisory assignments as you do not feel the pressure of having to know the answer to every question.

Presenting Solutions to Clients, Positioning Your Role & Earning Fees

ProfitSURGE® comprises 8 modules covering the full business development cycle, but initially we want your clients to engage with the 2 modules focusing on improved profitability and cash flow. This accordian steps you through exactly how the process unfolds.

Begin by testing the water with one client. Not one of your stars, find a B or C Class client and together we will turn them into a star. A business with a few employees run by nice people who are keen to improve but are forever experiencing cash flow problems.

We will provide templates you can adapt to suit your style. Send an email or call them to deliver a message similar to this:

…I think you will benefit from this program in particular from the information on how to increase profit and strengthen cash flow. 

I have evaluated the content and encourage you to engage with the material, you can do so risk free in that if you don’t achieve a positive outcome there is nothing to pay – you are the sole judge of this and you get to make the decision after completing the module of work.

…my role will be to help you adapt the strategies to suit your particular circumstances and then to implement….

Core strategies are presented to business owners in bite size chunks, opportunities will be available for deeper exploration of topics if that is what the business owner wants to do.  The material we present is representative of mainstream management principles proven successful over a long period of time.  As you evaluate the modules you are unlikely to come across concepts you have not previously been exposed to.

Positioning your role is done through the use of language. In this extract from Pricing for Profit, it is achieved through the written word, by a third party – us.  

“Don’t expect your accountant to be a pricing expert, or to be fully across the competitive forces at play in your industry segment, their strength is being able to assist you in evaluating which of these strategies are likely to be effective and to ensure you follow through on the commitment you make.”

We constanty remind clients the accountants strength is to act as the faciltator of a process as well as a playing a critical role in making the owners accountable for the delivery on actions agreed to.

For each module in which your client enrols the process is for you to meet with them twice, we suggest for no more than 45 minutes each time. There will also be an introductory phone call of no more than 15 minutes. We provide you with discussion points, templates and client action items.

We will pay you 75% of the client enrolment fee for the time you spend at the meetings. In Australia this will be $638.

Each module has a definite end point, clients are left in no doubt as to when this is. Beyond this point significant fees are likely to be generated from ongoing advisory work and monthly financial reporting. Although we will be offering continuing advisory support (see below) all such fees are yours entirely and are subject to your client letters of engagement.

Business development is a continuing process. Having started your client down the profit improvement pathway through ProfitSURGE they will keep coming back to you seeking further advice. Both you and your clients are bound to come across situations where it will be necessary to seek assistance and guidance from outside.

We offer support at the client level and accountant level.

For Business Owners

Any client completing a single ProfitSURGE module has lifetime access to our business owners advisory service, at no cost.

  • Twice each week live office hours sessions are held providing business owners a public forum for direct access to our advisors who will respond to business development and profit improvement questions. Queries can be logged in advance or asked live on the day. Sessions are recorded and available 24/7.

  • The ProfitSURGE Hub is a social learning community that assists with the business development process allowing owners to learn by observing the behaviours of others and evaluating the positive and negative consequences of their actions.

  • Through the Hub business owners receive weekly feeds of information directly relevant to the ProfitSURGE modules they have participated in.

For Accountants

  • Members have access to the business owner’s office hours sessions and Hub.

  • In addition, there are two dedicated office hours sessions each week exclusively for accountants allowing them to discuss the specific challenges they may be having with client implementation, knowing the client community is not listening in.

  • Training events are regularly delivered to accountants covering profit improvement and business development.

Good Advice Creates a Permanent Change in the Behaviour of Management.

People retain 8% of what they hear. If you think about this in terms of the traditional way we deliver business advice, much of the knowledge we transfer will be lost and it is unlikely to result in change to the way clients manage their businesses.

 

In stark contrast we recommend a model based on the flipped classroom approach to education where the purpose of the advisor meeting is to consolidate learning previously undertaken by the client and tuition, practical application and review result in retention rates climbing from 8% to 92%.

We encourage those who successfully complete ProfitSURGE® to work more frequently with their accountant, applying some of their additional cash flow to fund:

  • The preparation of an annual budget – the first one being for the remainder of the current year.

  • Monthly Financial Statements.

  • Management Board Meetings where the accountant acts as chair.

 

Don’t Make This mistake

The ProfitSURGE® offering is a great way for you to attract new business clients to your firm and we provide our members with substantial marketing material and automated processes to assist with this endeavour. However, do not make the mistake of underestimating the impact you will have on existing clients.

Don’t judge your client’s ability to afford to pay you for the preparation of monthly financial reports and attendance at monthly management meetings on the basis of their existing profitability. The table below is an extract from our Foundations course for business owners. It outlines the profit improvement we expect clients to achieve as a result of successfully engaging with ProfitSURGE®.

Even the smallest of enterprises will be cash flow positive after funding additional accounting services, and as you are aware, the more services owner’s access, the stronger their business becomes.

The profit improvement targets we set are not just numbers, we built our business model around clients achieving such results and crafted a guarantee to assure them of the outcome. As you will see in the next topic, we invite our members to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this unparalleled assurance of client success.