How CPAs Can Help Plateaued Businesses

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Most CPAs have “bread and butter” clients who own neighborhood businesses may have found that they have plateaued; the owners keeping afloat from year to year as expenses increase and online competitors and big box stores pick off their customers.  So, how can you help them?

The Financial Side

As an accounting professional, helping analyze your clients’ finances is your area of strength.  They need to know where their money is coming from and where it’s going. 

  1. Revenue. Understand where your clients’ revenue is coming from. Dry cleaners utilize a ticket system identifying clients and order size.  In 2012, the Huffington Post reported 66 percent of purchases are made with plastic cards, debit cards accounting for 31 percent. Who are their big customers?  Which clients fell off the radar?
  2. Corporate clients. The downside of business accounts is compression of margins.  The upside is volume.  When was the last time the business owner gained a corporate client?  Have they lost any lately?  Are they buying the same amount or hollowing out the relationship?
  3. Best selling products. Understanding which products are best sellers will naturally help your clients build a better business. Supermarkets scan UPC codes, telling them what people are buying and when.  Does your client review this data?
  4. Loyalty programs According to First-American.net, 89 perecent of customers are enrolled in a reward/loyalty program.  They also report 74 percent of Baby Boomers, 68 percent of Gen X and 41 percent of Millennials indicated they would be persuaded to shop with a business if they have a loyalty program. Even drugstores and hardware stores have them.  Look to see if your client has a loyalty program already, if not it’s good suggestion to help them drive more business.
  5. Expenses. Your client likely pays for business insurance, trash collection, internet access, telephone service, electricity, cleaning services, office supplies and many others.  When was the last time they shopped around for a better price?  Large businesses do this constantly, their provider might come back with a better offer just because you mentioned shopping around.
  6. Staff. Is your client utilizing staff efficiently? Do people stand around waiting for customers to walk in? Their tech savvy employees might enjoy the challenge and additional responsibilities of building a social media or internet presence for them. Look for ways to leverage the skills and interests of the staff to your clients’ advantage.
  7. Advertising. Years ago, businesses ran local ads and got a listing in the Yellow Pages.  In 2012 Yelp reported 85 percent of consumers find local businesses by using Internet searches.  Is your client spending ad dollars in the right places?  Do they have a website?  Is it equipped for e-commerce?  When a potential customer does an online search for local florists, where does that business appear?  According to a 2014 study by Advanced Web Rankings, (reported by the leverageway.com) the average user won’t go beyond the first five listings. Your business owner should consider paying for a prime position in these listings to attract those customers.

Cheap Money and Free Advice

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About Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, can be found on Amazon.com.

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