Tax services have long been the bread and butter service for small CPA firms. But as technology advances and the business world shifts, depending on taxes and other traditional one-and-done services can make success even more challenging.
The ticket to surviving this CPA evolution? Implementing technology
to free up time to develop new lines of service for your clients.
The Demand for Client Advisory Services
According to the Journal of Accountancy
, clients are looking for their CPAs to step into the advisor role more than ever. Almost 30% of clients in a CPA.com survey said they need and are ready for advisory services, while almost 70% said they would want their CPA to be a regular consultant if money was no issue. You’ve already earned your clients’ trust, making it easy to expand your relationship and become the advisor they seek.
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying,” says John Seale, CPA, Indiana CPA Society member and managing partner of RBSK Partners PC. Seale says he sees “technology deficient” firms popping up for sale month after month, their owners unwilling or unable to adapt to a changing world.
Survival largely depends on breaking free of the feast or famine merry-go-round of a January through April flood followed by a slow trickle the remainder of the year. INCPAS member Mary Kay Prasco, CPA, owner of Prasco & Associates PC, urges small firms to break the cycle with services like market research and payroll management–services her firm can do year-round. “For me, it’s all about cash flow,” Prasco says. When firms offer year-round services, they become year-round resources for their clients.
Five Key Steps to Start Adding New Lines of Service
Though accessible and a natural extension of what you do, effectively moving to offer new lines of service isn’t an overnight transformation. Here are five steps to ensure your success.
1. Change Your Mindset
Offering new lines of service is as much about a change in perspective as it is an adoption of new platforms. Paul McCann, CPA, founder and CEO of Red Earth CPA and an INCPAS member, emphasizes the need for a reenvisioning of the CPA’s role. “So much of accounting … is about change management and mindset,” McCaan says. Firms large and small have to be ready for the transformation in order for it to work.
2. Become Experts on Your Clients
In order to offer services your clients can’t live without, you first need to become intimately familiar with clients’ needs and daily operations. Small firms’ value lies in your ability to connect with clients one-on-one, which will strengthen those relationships.
You likely already have an insight on the operations of some longtime clients, making them a good option to start conversations around what services could enhance their business and boost your bottom line. Focus on building deeper relationships with clients to expand trust and position yourself as an advisor.
3. Reimagine Your Operations
Adding new services isn’t just a one-and-done situation. It can impact several areas of your operations. Be sure you’re taking time to thoroughly assess what you need to make the change happen, including the tech you need to implement, training for team members, marketing of services, communications processes, and what delivery of the service will look like.
4. Start Small
Launching new services can be overwhelming if you try to do too much at once. Begin with a concrete service like payroll management, then expand into areas like market analysis and financial planning once you’re more comfortable with the territory.
5. Adding new lines of service can look like:
- Helping clients formulate and implement budgeting strategies.
- Handling accounts payable/accounts receivable.
- Conducting market analysis to keep clients abreast of trends.
- Compiling and distributing financial statements.
Give Yourself No Choice
Change can be the most daunting for small firms, but it’s the most essential for them, too. Prasco advises small firms to give themselves no choice but to invest in adding new lines of service and related tech, promising it’s worth it to see your business evolve, grow and become indispensable for your clients for years to come.
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