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Earn More From Your Bookkeeping Cleanup Projects


It's the busy season again, and tax professionals don't have time for additional headaches. Fortunately, you can eliminate a lot of cleanup issues before you dive into a client's books. Loren Fogelman of Business Success Solution explains how.

Jan 6th 2021
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Imagine your team completing bookkeeping cleanup projects efficiently, without glitches. Following the firm’s onboarding process, your dedicated bookkeeper easily transitions from one cleanup project to the next without any unexpected surprises. 

This scenario can be a reality for your accounting practice. Your onboarding process has the potential to finally eliminate your cleanup headaches.  As long as you possess the desire, the way already exists.

Modify Your Initial Consult

Traditionally, accounting professionals quickly review the books during the initial consult.  Scanning through the bookkeeping records offers a glimpse into the scope of the project.

Your quick review, however, possesses a downside.  In fact, you’re better off not reviewing the books during the initial consult.  I realize that’s a break in tradition. Although it’s an efficient way to enroll a new client, it contributes to costly pitfalls.  

Since time is valuable, let’s optimize your initial consult. Ask great questions which offer insight about the client’s business. Discover why she decided to meet with you and what’s highly important to her. During this initial meeting, you decide whether or not this person’s a good fit for your accounting practice. 

If so, then discuss the next steps. At this point, you offer a paid diagnostic review of the books.

The typical quick and somewhat superficial review fails to fully assess the project’s scope. Whereas a paid diagnostic allows you to thoroughly scope the project. An accurate assessment benefits you and your client.

Simple Bookkeeping Cleanup Projects Become Complicated

Reviewing the books too quickly causes headaches. Suddenly, your simple cleanup morphs into a complex, time-consuming challenge.  Your heart sinks as you realize the project requires more time than you originally estimated.

So, what do you do now? You have two options. 

  1. Speak with Your New Client: Explain what you discovered once you dove into the books. Then, discuss how the new discoveries increase the price. 
  2. Stick to Your Agreement: You decide to complete the cleanup at the agreed-upon rate. Of course, you realize the additional time reduces your profits. Maybe you’ll make it back once you start maintaining the monthly books.

It’s not an ideal way to kick off a new client relationship.

 Get Paid to Review the Books. Then, Be Patient!

You deserve to be fully compensated for your work.  Instead of partially relying on your client’s assessment of the books, fully scope out the project yourself. Then calendar time to review the books on your terms.

By the way, a paid review has value. There are hidden benefits to offering this as a standalone product.

  1. Low Risk: It offers a low-risk way for you and your client to work together. If it’s not a fit for either one of you, then the client moves on with a full report regarding her bookkeeping records.
  2. Income: You receive payment for work you previously gave away for free.     
  3. Accuracy: Once you fully scope the project, you can price the cleanup with confidence. 
  4. Meet with the Client: During this second client meeting, you discuss your findings, the price of the project and review the work agreement.
  5. Advisor: Your review meeting raises your value. You’re now perceived as an advisor instead of a technician.

This process spares you from two headaches.

If you realize the client’s not ideal, then don’t offer to do the cleanup. Simply hand over your diagnostic report. Then someone else can follow your notes to get the books up to date.

With a paid diagnostic review, you no longer end up underestimating the scope of bookkeeping cleanup projects. Now, this may require more time in the beginning. As with anything done repeatedly, efficiency improves as you continue following this onboarding process.

Consider Scrapping the Billable Hour

The billable hour is slowly being phased out in favor of value pricing. With this strategy, your clients pay for the value you provide as opposed to the amount of time you invest. After all, if it takes you two hours to complete a project while another bookkeeper takes four hours to do the same work, you should not be paid half as much. 

Your clients hire you for accurate, up-to-date financials, not for the time you spend cleaning up the books. So, don’t undercharge by basing your rates on time. 

Start to gain awareness about the value you provide. Then, price your accounting services accordingly. This critical step separates your fees from time.

Eliminate High Maintenance, Low-Profit Clients

Don’t attempt to work with everyone. Some people are not an ideal fit for your accounting practice. Simply put, a certain type of client creates headaches for you and your firm.

These clients aren’t worth the fees they pay you-even if they are your biggest client.  There’s a high cost to working with headache clients.  Since letting them go feels uncomfortable, you end up working with them longer than you prefer.  

Let’s say you’re cleaning up a new client’s books. During the project, you realize this new client’s high maintenance. Maybe she doesn’t quickly respond to your requests for access or she drains your energy.  From experience, you know non-ideal clients add frustration and lower your profits. 

When you slow down your onboarding process, you select who you turn into a long-term client. Cherry pick your clients.  Then, delight your current clients by exceeding their expectations.

Implement Value Pricing Today

As we already discussed, diagnostic reviews reveal the scope of the bookkeeping cleanup project. This first step in your onboarding process allows you to thoroughly audit the books. Based on the review, you recommend what’s necessary to get their financials up to date. 

Now is the time to work with clients who value your service and happily pay your fees. Take charge of your accounting practice. Now’s the time to value price your services and eliminate high maintenance, low-profit clients. This sets the stage for your practice to grow without causing burnout.  Claim your FREE RESOURCE today to fast-track your practice’s evolution.

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