How to add value to your practice: part 2

In the second article in our three-part special, we show you how to add value to your core services

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In my last article, l looked at adding value to every touchpoint in your customer’s journey – today I want to look at adding value to your core services.

What can you do that makes your services more valuable to your clients? How can you give them more – more than your competitors – in a way that’s meaningful to them?

Communicate the value you already give

Before you start adding bells and whistles, start by examining the value you already bring. Most accountants fail to communicate this, let alone add more.

Communicating value can include everything from detailing the qualifications and experience of the people who’ll deliver the service, to the exact process they’ll go through to ensure clients get the outcome they need. In fact, you need to detail everything, even – or perhaps especially – those things that you and every other accountant take for granted.

If your client thinks you simply click a button to produce a cashflow forecast, for example, they won’t place much value on that service. But if you explain the work you put into it and how to interpret the figures so the client can make better decisions for their business, they’ll see it as something really valuable.

What matters to your clients?

So what additional value can you give to your clients? The key is to offer benefits which take little effort for you, but mean a lot to your clients.

For most business owners, if you can save them time, uncertainty or difficulty they’ll be delighted.

I know many AVN members video conversations with clients around management or year-end accounts, showing the data on screen. This means the client can revisit the video at any time to check on the details of what was discussed in the meeting. (And this also saves you time, as the client won’t have to phone you up for the information.)

Fixed fees are always welcomed by business owners, and what about offering a guarantee? In my experience, guarantees are almost never triggered – as long as you do what you say you’ll do, of course – but they have huge value to the client. Your guarantee could be on turnaround times, value for money, call back times, no surprise bills. Something that you already do but spelt out with a guarantee to give an additional benefit.

Can you offer unlimited phone support? Although it might appear you’ll be opening the floodgates to endless calls, the reality is that customers are usually too busy to phone unless they have a problem. And if that’s something you can solve, it gives you the perfect opportunity to explain the benefits of your solution and how much it will cost. Remember, many people will think twice before making a call if they’ll be charged for it. So by charging, how much of this additional work have you been missing out on?

What existing clients already value

If you’re finding it hard to come up with ways to add value, it can help to ask your best clients what they value most about you. In this way, rather than sounding like you’re blowing your own trumpet, you can say: ‘Our clients tell us that what they really value about us is...’ and reel off the best points.

At first, you may feel a little uncomfortable asking clients what they value most about you and the services you deliver, but remember that these are your best clients and they like working with you!

One AVN member who ran this kind of exercise found that a common theme came out of these discussions, even though they were very different businesses and she was providing very different services. They all really valued her down to earth approach and felt they could ask her any questions without fear of being laughed at or patronised. It's the kind of thing that you might not have considered as significant, but for these clients it really did add value.  

There’s much more about adding value in my best-selling book for accountants, Putting Excellence Into Practice. Download your free copy.

Shane Lukas – AVN for Accountants