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How to Tell People About Your Specialized Services

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Nov 9th 2017
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Unless clients and future clients only want their individual taxes filed, you need to differentiate yourself to win higher paying business. This is where specialized practice areas come in, but how do you let people know about them?

One approach almost every local accountant takes is providing services to local businesses.  According to the Small Business Administration, in 2010, small businesses represented 99.7% of US employer firms. Over three quarters were non-employer businesses and 52% were home-based. Each needs to file returns plus other documentation.

The Market Niche – I Know You Better Than Anyone

But you want to go where there’s money and employees, yet still within the small business category. Say you’ve decided to specialize in small medical practices. According to the American Medical association as quoted by Medscape, 60.7% of doctors were in practices of 10 or fewer physicians. The report also mentions in 2014, 50.8% of physicians were owners.

You already have several medical practices as clients? How do you make your case to others?  You can’t give names because of client confidentiality, however, it should be ethical to talk about the number of practices who are current clients and the number of years you have serviced this market segment. 

Talk about professional certifications earned that are relevant to their business segment. Robert Half provided a listing of the major certifications in the US and Canada. The guide is available on AccountingWeb.com.

How do you find these prospects? The Medicare website (5) may be one of the easiest places to find local practices in your immediate area. Referrals and professional associations are two other resources.

Financial Planning – The Value of Impartial Advice

If you provide tax advice to individuals, expanding into financial planning may be the most logical first step in offering advisory services. The American Institute of CPAs estimates “25% of its 394,000 member accountants also offer some financial planning services.” The US News and World Report article quoted highlights only CPAs can qualify for the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) designation.

The fiduciary relationship between an accountant and their client is a major point in your favor.  You are providing advice by the hour, not selling product.  As the client’s tax advisor, you have a deeper understanding of their situation than other professionals who only see part of the picture. 

You are prepared to work with their other advisors including their insurance agent, attorney and financial advisor. You provide the objective advice and they choose where to buy products.

Business Services – Local knowledge Helps Solve Problems

Local neighborhood businesses are often family-run operations. Some are happy at their present size, while others dream of expansion or operate in an industry where smaller competitors are constantly being squeezed by big box stores on the edge of town. 

However, the big store isn’t always the winner. In 2008 NBC News reported how a True Value Hardware Store in Brattleboro, VT outlasted the local Home Depot.

The story goes on to reference 200+ other cases where small businesses have succeeded in similar situations. They need impartial advice to succeed.

At the other end of the spectrum, business owners may also want to sell someday, especially if the next generation doesn’t want to follow in the owner’s footsteps.

In these cases, accountants have different opportunities to help and bring value, if they can align the advisory services they provide with the opportunity or problem facing the business owner.  The local business owner likely knows the local accounting firm understands their situation. 

The local firm also has another advantage: Their employees are likely current customers of that business.

Getting advisory service business means aligning the issue on the business owner’s mind with the potential solutions you are able to provide. This isn’t business that comes from reading a marketing brochure.  It comes from face to face conversations where you discuss the problems you help solve.

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