Moving to upfront pricing AND upfront payment for your clients, (as opposed to time/cost billing) can be one of the best decisions you make for your business, especially for your cashflow! Utilising our favourite engagement and payment software, Practice Ignition, the new experience for your clients is practically magical!
It doesn’t come without it challenges though, for example, your team need to get their head around scoping work and providing a fee to the client, BEFORE they begin working on the job, which means that their level of accountability to be efficient in completion, just increased a great deal.
Then there is trying to ascertain how to handle those “special” clients that every firm has, you know the ones, those clients that get you to do so much adhoc work that you couldn’t possibly upfront price them! The answer to this, is that upfront pricing in an accounting firm, especially for compliance work, should be applied for 90-95%, that 5% or so of special clients get handled in the exact same way, so fret not!
Final challenge is how to have the “conversation” with your clients. The thought of this for some accountants can literally skyrocket their anxiety levels, so we’ve put together a quick guide with a basic script, along with some of the random comments we’ve experienced and answers to combat.
A few things to remember that will help with the changes you’re making to the way you engage with your clients and take payment pre-service.
At the point where you’re ready to have the conversation, here’s a basic script to help you:
Firm: Hi this is XXX from XXX calling. We recently sent out a letter with information about some new software that we’re installing here at XXX, along with some changes we are making internally to the way we will be engaging with and invoicing our clients moving forward. Do you remember seeing that letter/info?
Client: Yes, I do actually!
Firm: Oh great, did you have any questions about this process?…..no….well then, as a reminder, as we mentioned it’s time to get your XXX work done, so now that we have you’re work in, you’re going to receive a proposal that will have the details of the service we will complete, it will ask you to enter your payment details, you can read the terms and conditions and once you accept it, it will take your payment so we can then proceed with completing your work, just like when you pay for a flight online! - If there’s any issues or you wish to discuss this proposal before you accept it, don’t hesitate to give me a call and we can talk through these.
Client: No, I don’t remember seeing it?
Firm: Okay, not to worry, I’m sure it will come in the post etc soon! Whilst I’ve got you though, to explain, we’ve recently implemented some new software that allows us to send our clients a proposal for the work we are going to complete, in advance. The software also allows us to take payment in line with our new terms, which is now prior to beginning your work, much the same as if you were to buy some plane tickets online. Now, because it’s time to get your XXX work done, as we have this work in, you’re going to receive a proposal that will have the details of the service, it will ask you to enter your payment details, you can read the terms and conditions and once you accept it, it will take your payment so we can then proceed with completing your work - If there’s any issues or you wish to discuss this proposal before you accept it, don’t hesitate to give me a call and we can talk through these.
Questions or Statements & Answers
I don’t have any money in my account though at the moment?
There’s probably a number of other random things clients will say to you, and ultimately the more conversations you have with your clients on this topic, the better and more comfortable you will feel.
The key to this, is to remember the reasons why you have made the decision to transition to this new piece of software and new methodology of upfront payment. Be excited about this decision and approach the conversation you have with your client with a smile on your face. It’s when they hear hesitation in your voice and a lack of conviction as to why this is happening that they will challenge you...change is hard at the end of the day, even for the little things!
Be pumped, be excited and get your clients excited by the experience too - ultimately, communicate!
If you want to know more, get in touch!
Clarity Street was conceived from years of engaging with Accounting firms on a daily basis and a constant desire to make Accounting firms & SME’s more efficient and profitable.