CEO High Rock Accounting
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How Accountants Can Create an HR Service Line

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We all know that people are the biggest off balance sheet asset that a company has! Let us support the companies that support the humans that are the foundation of our economy through offering a line of HR advisory services.

Jun 7th 2021
CEO High Rock Accounting
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Many articles tell you what you should do, but few tell you how to do it. This one shows how to build HR services into your practice with confidence.

Building a Service Offering

As an accountant, it is fairly easy to add in a payroll services line. If you do not already offer payroll to your clients and you plan to have a suite of HR services – this is the easiest lift. If you already offer payroll, skip this paragraph and move on to the next part.

Every business that hires employees needs help with payroll. They might claim that their general ledger software processes it just fine. However, we all know the reporting errors and issues that occur when a company does this on its own.

Partner with a software company that has your back. Pick the tools that offer a whole suite of information, software, and support for payroll and for human resources. When vetting who you partner with, ensure that they will be able to support you with your entire HR offering.

After you have established a strong payroll presence, decide what other HR items you are excited to offer. Our firm started with basic compliance help. As we were processing payroll, we saw that our clients were required to register in new states to run payroll for expanding virtual teams.

We also know that there are wildly different state laws surrounding employment. As such, we started with helping clients maintain their state compliance.

This service includes:

  • Reviews and updates of their employee handbooks for state laws (or creating handbooks if they do not already have one)
  • Ensuring they are processing payroll in approved cycles (i.e. some states do not allow monthly payroll or require termination checks to be paper checks given to terminated employees within 24 hours of termination)
  • Helping our clients file new hire paperwork

Many payroll processors do not automatically report new hires to the states and most states require that reporting. These basic levels of state compliance are a simple lift when you have HR resources behind you.

We built our confidence with basic compliance and expanded our service offerings as our clients needed. As the companies we work with started to feel comfortable coming to us for compliance questions, they started bringing us more detailed HR requests.

We launched into a full-service HR team with incremental services over a year. Our clients started asking us to price out their benefits and consult on what new benefits to offer.

We started working on employee relations with clients and helping them fix or create the cultures they wanted. We started consulting on compensation plans (ensuring compliance) and helping negotiate employment contracts for high-level team members. We utilized the support of our vendors, their research databases, their professionals, and their software to provide these services to our clients.

Is it possible to start a service line offering everything on day one? Absolutely. It is expensive and difficult to manage, but it is doable. I built HR into our practice slowly and systematically. It gave us the opportunity to beta test with our strong client relationships and perfect our processes before rolling it out across the board.

The phased-in approach allowed my team the time to learn new things at a rate they were excited about. Even with the support of an HR database and service offering from companies such as ADP, there is still a learning curve on process and delivery that needs to be managed effectively. 

Getting the Word Out

Go climb onto your roof and yell “we offer HR!” I doubt any clients will hear you, but it might feel good to yell something exciting really loudly. All jokes aside, announcing that you have an HR service line is how you will get the right attention.

Sit down and identify your strongest client relationships and offer the services to them first. Tell them that you are expanding your offerings to focus on holistic business success and see if they would like to work with you.

Refine your processes and offerings with those relationships that will endure the bumps that come with a new service line. Always be open and honest with them about your learning and expectations. After you have practiced on your A+ clients, tell the rest of your clients.

If you have a newsletter, include a piece about HR services. Better yet, publish a blog post on your website about how you are expanding your service lines and link that into a paragraph in your newsletter on HR services.

Be very clear with the scope that you are providing and how it will help your clients. It would be best if you could include a client testimonial from your A+ beta test group about how successful working with you on HR has been.

Build website content that reflects your values. Showcase the HR services on your website proudly and be specific in how this service line aligns with your values and company as a whole.

Leverage the HR resources you have to find the right offerings and what you know you can support with the vendors you work with. Some payroll & HR providers like ADP offer marketing support to partners as well if you need help brushing up your marketing game.

Launch a social media campaign on the new services. Link that back to your website content and have an easy way for clients and prospects to reach out to you. When you do receive an inquiry, be responsive and build it into your normal sales funnel. This is another touch point with companies that could lead to more than just HR advisory.

We also list HR services on every accounting proposal we send out for awareness of the service line. We have had a few clients come back later remembering that proposal and adding that service to their package with us. These are all free ways to get the word out. When you are operating and thriving, you can assess whether paid advertising makes sense for you.

When to Hire

Us accountants tend to believe that we are superhuman and can do all the things, all the time. It’s a bit unrealistic and quite anxiety inducing. To mitigate that, I hired an HR professional to help support our clients in the growth of this service line.

However, you need to be able to support that person, right? Right! Start small with the backend support of a vendor and build the service line first. Once you have enough recurring revenue, hire a contractor.

That contractor might be the first hire you make full-time or they might be a stepping stone. However, their background will help you help more clients.

Having an HR account manager to support overseeing the service line can be invaluable when or if you want to scale. I equate this to hiring your first tax preparer for a tax firm. You are capable of doing it all however, your time is more effectively spent on the strategy and the review.

Conclusion

Building a new service line will not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it. Supporting and advising clients are what we do best and human resources is a logical next service offering.

Take your time, hone your processes, learn what your vendors can support, practice with your best clients, tell the world, and hire yourself some support! It sounds easy, right? All change is difficult, and this change will be worth it for you and your clients.

We’ll dive into even more detail on my free two-part webinar on HR advisory service opportunities for accountants, so I welcome you to join us!

Grow your practice with HR Advisory Services. Sign up for this free, two- part webinar series. Register today.

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