As accounting professionals, we need to bridge the “We do it for you” attitude with the “We help you make decisions” ethos without breaking your client’s monthly accounting budget. That path is in offering Training Services.
Accountants are increasingly making the shift into an advisory role, however most of my colleagues argue that although they want to do this, there are many factors getting in the way. If an accounting firm successfully educated their clients to do the data entry and bookkeeping accurately and timely, the amount of clean-up work gets significantly reduced allowing you to shift some of your labor budget to into more valuable services such as advisory.
In my practice, we have offered training services for most of the years we have been in business. Training helps drive our revenue, in fact around 15 percent of our current revenue comes from Group Training while another 20 percent is from Private Training. Our overall revenue is driven significantly from leads that come from our training activities.
Training Pros and Cons
Now, what are the Pros to accountants training their clients?
- “Billable” training services
- Opportunity gain an in-depth understanding of client’s operations by interacting with their entire team that touches events with financial impact either directly or indirectly
- Observe interactions with multiple staff members, understanding of the company culture which enables conversations about how financial strategies can affect the interworking of the business; even simple things like observing how they delegate and relegate tasks
- Understanding how their computer systems are setup and what kind of opportunities to improve IT infrastructure; especially with so many cloud-based options available today
- Observing the “paper-trail” process and transaction workflow to discover potential gaps in internal controls and separation of duties
- Shifts your own business model from compliance into advisory
Here are some of the Cons:
- Loosing billable bookkeeping/accounting work
- Dealing with the internal issues of the company may require more emotional involvement from the accountant
- Clients tend to demand a more technical level of support from their accountant once they are exposed to this level of service
- Managing change, this will be an existential shift on how you will work with your clients
“QuickBooks Training Services” can be grouped in different approaches:
- Group: Normally for 3 or more individuals
- Seminar-Style: No Computers for the users, predetermined topics, and predictable timing
- Workshop-Style: all trainees have a workstation with the software installed (ALL MUST BE THE SAME VERSION) or logged into QuickBooks Online on a practice company file. Topics can be customized to specific group or adapted to the crowd and timing may be less predictable as some individuals are less computer-literate than others
- Individual: One-on-One (which could also mean 2 or 3 people max) but is designed for the trainer to focus the attention to just one individual (other person(s) are just watching)
Pricing these training services can be a little tricky, here are some general guidelines on how I have priced my services in the past:
- Onsite One-on-One: typically flat fee for half-day or full day. “5/9” Rule, i.e. $500 Half Day vs. $900 Full day. No explicit “trip charge”
- Remote One-on-One: 1-hour minimum and 3-hour maximum hourly rate (i.e. $175/hr). Use remote access software such as Zoom.us or Teamviewer. The great thing about Zoom is the ability to record sessions, and you could even charge additional for this recording
- At accountant’s office: slightly higher (i.e. $195/hr) than remote
- Onsite Group: do not charge per “head”, rather per charge premium for bringing projector and computer with QB for training. I charge per workstation brought to client’s office. Topics are customized. Assign a note taker, as internal procedures/processes are likely to be discussed. Priced per day, typically $1,500 per day
- Classroom Seminar: charge per head, offer aggressive discount for groups, friend, referral, etc. Requires strong reference collateral/material since retention rate is lower than workshop. This means you need to include a book of some sort or access to videos, typically $150 per person/day
- Classroom Workshop: Double (or close to double) the seminar price; allow twice the time to cover same topics as seminar. It has higher retention rate, but it does require more time for same number of topics. Usually a book or other reference collateral is not required. Typical $250 per person/day
For Group Training (not at your client’s premises) you may want to consider building a classroom. There are significant benefits to having an on-site classroom:
- WOW factor is significant and lets the attendees know that we are in the “business of training,” not just dabbling in training services
- Allows you to maintain your private training services high price and high value
- Prep time is significantly less, as computers, desks, projector, etc. are setup already
The biggest benefit is seeing the student/attendee visualize their entire accounting team in one place and then request additional customized training or services on other topics such as accounting, Excel, business processes, taxes, etc.
Defining Your Client’s Needs
If you start offering and advertising your training services, you will get a lot of calls inquiring about “training,” but half the time the people calling do not really know or understand the options available. I build this script that we use in our office to learn about the person’s training needs:
- Is this for you or someone else?
- Is this for your own business, current employment or looking to improve your “resume” skills?
- What is your current experience with QuickBooks?
- Are you looking for a Certificate? CPE Credits?
- What version of QuickBooks are you using? Or expect to use?
- Do you want to learn generic use of QuickBooks or specific to your business/industry?
- What is your availability: Business Hours? After hours? Weekends?
- Do you need to learn Inventory?
- Do you need to learn Sales Tax?
- Do you need to learn Payroll?
- Are you looking for several short sessions? Or few long sessions?
- Have you looked into local Community College offerings?
Sometimes it is a good practice to “test” your attendees before bringing them in a group training to make sure that attendees are all at similar skill/experience levels in order to enhance the experience of all participants. Advanced users will always feel that novice users “hold the class back” and novice users will get lost the minute you start catering to advanced users.
About Hector Garcia
Hector is a CPA practicing as an Accountant and QuickBooks Trainer/Consultant in Davie, FL for his own firm Quick Bookkeeping & Accounting LLC. Before working in public accounting, Hector worked in several accounting & financial departments of past fortune 500 companies such as: Best Buy, Circuit City, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.