CPAs are the trusted tax professional business executives rely on to make sure they are positioned to maximize tax savings while staying in compliance. But since there are many CPAs who want to be perceived as the best choice their client can make, how do you differentiate yourself?
In the competitive, dog-eat-dog world, companies will often change audit CPAs for a 10% lower fee. Without producing added value, many professionals are finding it increasingly difficult to create new business and maintain their current clientele.
The CPA who wants to add new clients should ask him/herself…
- What was it that I said or did that convinced my newest clients to choose me and leave behind their previous CPAs?
- What do I offer that other CPAs don’t? What could I be offering that most others don’t?
- When I lost clients that I wanted to keep, what was my departing client’s (mis)perception of my added value compared to the CPA the client went to?
Losing a client is rarely the result of “high fees.” Sometimes companies are unhappy with performance, but most businesses that make a change do so because they are presented with an alternative that is bringing them something more. There is a value-add that they aren’t seeing with their current CPA. This difference may be small, but if it is significant to their bottom line, then it’s significant – period.
How can you proactively bring additional value or new solutions your client is not already aware of?
Partnering is a great way to do this. Every professional and trusted advisor has their areas of expertise, and when you can partner with another professional that adds value to what you are already offering without disrupting or taking away from your core funciton, you not only increase the value you bring to your client but you add to the level of trust and assurance that you understand their business needs better than the average CPA who just wants to do what’s asked and then bill. As a truly proactive CPA, you show them that your value is much greater than the average CPA who will try to soliciting your client with lower fees!
Many CPAs become complacent and “reactive,” contacting their clients with the same requests for data and producing essentially the same work year after year. Instead of being the advisor who is looking for ways to improve their client’s business, they fill out forms and bill for their time. If you are a CPA and this sounds familiar, you might want to consider what you can do, right now, to proactively bring your clients more value!
One CPA successfully recruits new clients for his firm by using a “punch list” of questions that he asks, such as:
- “Are you claiming hiring credits?”
- “Are you taking advantage of research tax credits?” and
- “Have you done a Healthcare cost audit?”
When finished with his questions, the business owner/CFO generally says, “I don’t think my CPA has told me about those things. How much would it save me?”
The check list is a sure-fire way this CPA uses to win new business. You can do the same!
Partner with Another Expert
As I’ve said before, teaming up or partnering with a peer whose specific subject matter expertise reflects well on yours will create synergy and brings significantly more value to clients. By partnering with a cost reduction and specialty tax savings team you are now broadening your business offering without any additional time or cost, but with significant upside for you, your firm and most importantly your client.
During his regular client visit, a CPA invited me to meet with the owner of the company. He introduced me by saying, “I asked for this meeting because there’s no way my firm can do every specialty tax credits and cost savings that could benefit you.” Before the meeting ended, the client signed the DCI engagement letter and the business owner will now attribute all the additional tax credits and cost savings (in the six figures) to his CPA/trusted advisor.