The fallout from Covid-19 has been extensive. Too many companies (even accountancy firms) have lost a substantial amount of business, some of who have even been forced to declare bankruptcy or shut their doors for good. Even now, too many accountancy firms are still feeling the pinch as they try to find new ways to increase revenue. The problem with trying to replace revenue is that methods often cost money and take up a lot of time with little payoff. In this article, we explore 6 ways to increase revenue from your existing client base, all of which don't cost a penny!
Focus on your existing client base first
If you have lost some clients as a result of Covid-19, it can be tempting to jump back on the sales horse and go out to generate more leads. While this isn't wrong, as such, there are better ways to initially generate new revenue than winning new business. One of those better (and easier) ways is to look at how you can get more from your existing client base.
At a time where money is tight, this route makes sense. Not only does it give you the chance to review your client base and develop stronger relationships with them, but it is also quicker and doesn't cost you a penny.
6 ways to increase revenue from existing clients (in descending priority order)
We are all guilty of cherry-picking easier tasks or tasks that we enjoy, but when it comes to generating extra revenue in difficult trading conditions, we need to prioritise. What are the tasks that will generate revenue the quickest? Do these first.
1. Look at money owed and bill completed work
If you're looking to generate more revenue quickly, you need to look at what money you are owed first. Talk to clients who owe you money and agree on how they are going to pay their debts. Next, bill any WIP or completed work that has been invoiced.
You'll be surprised by how many accountants need to do this because it's not a particularly 'nice' job. During an economic downturn, however, it is absolutely necessary. Try not to be awkward about having these conversations, it's business and you've already provided this service. Approach it in a way where you're trying to help your clients pay you in a way that works for them too.
2. Review what you are giving away for free and start charging for it
This is often where there are significant amounts of extra revenue to be found. Why? Because we all like to go that extra mile for clients. Now, we're not saying that you should stop doing anything above and beyond what you offer, just look at what you're currently giving away for free.
If you're like most accountancy firm owners, when you look at everything you're doing outside of what you're charging for, you're probably banging your head against a wall. All you have to do now is work out what is in the scope of your service and what you need to start charging for.
Once you've done this, you then need to educate your team on this. An easy way to help them work out what is chargeable is to alter the workflow. Put the first task as 'check whether this task is within the scope of the clients' package.' Or, if you know this is a job which is always a paid-for extra, put the first task to be ‘gain agreement from the client for the fee quote to complete the work.'
3. Consider increasing your fees
Another easy way to increase revenue is to raise your fees. Now, you may be filled with panic with that prospect, especially if your client base has been hit hard with trading restrictions from Covid-19, but bear with me.
Ask yourself two questions:
- When did you last do a fee increase?
- How much more time are you having to spend with your clients right now?
Depending on your answers, it may be time for a fee increase. If you are like many of our Accountants' Growth Club members, you are most likely spending way more time with your clients than you've budgeted for. You may know that you need to increase your fees but think that, morally, you can't because your clients are struggling.
Whatever your reasons for convincing yourself that you can't increase your fees, just remember, everyone is struggling in some way or another in this recession, including you and your firm. If you are spending more time with your clients, you can justify a price increase to keep giving them the support that they need during this time.
Resources to help with this:
4. Switch on the internal marketing engine with your existing clients
Which existing clients need some more help from you?
Can anyone benefit from other services that you offer?
How often do you communicate with your existing clients?
If you don't know the answers to these questions off the top of your head, you most likely don't have a consistent and well-thought-out client communications plan. Now is the time to change that. To retain loyal clients who continue to buy from you, you need to have regular touchpoints with them. Here is what you need to do to switch on your internal marketing engine:
1. Segment your client base into A, B, C or D clients.
A clients are your most valuable. Perhaps they bring in the most business, you enjoy working with them, they pay well and on time or they are a great source of referrals. B and C clients are reliable and of good quality, and usually make up the majority of your business. D clients have usually been with you for a long time but they are now low payers, irrelevant to the direction you want to take your business or they cause more hassle than they are worth.
2. Decide on the level of communication for each.
What extra communications can you give A and B clients? How will you stay in touch regularly with C and D clients? For example, one member of the Accountants' Growth Club started to send out weekly valuable information to his clients via email at the start of the pandemic. This was the first time he had ‘marketed’ his practice and this one action turned his handful of leads a year into 4+ leads a month.
3. Ditch your D clients or convert them into B/C clients.
Decide which of your D clients are worth keeping; let go of the ones who aren't and try to convert the ones who are. For example, one of our members converted all of his ‘D’ (ditch) list of clients. He patiently rang each of them and had a frank conversation about what extra paid support they needed from his firm. Nearly all of his D list stayed and significantly increased the money they spent with his firm.
5. Focus on follow-ups
One of the most valuable ways to increase revenue is to follow up! Whether it's making contact with any leads which have gone cold or booking in some time to catch up with your good referrers, you never know what can come of a conversation. (Download our free script to warm up old prospects)
When you have ticked off these first 5 steps, start focusing on follow-ups. You can ring old prospects or existing clients to check-in and see how they are doing. Due to the social restrictions during the pandemic, there isn't going to be anybody that won't appreciate you asking how they are. In fact, it's a great way to stand out and you may even be remembered for it.
For example, one of our members spoke with his bookkeeping team to identify which clients were the hardest to do their VAT return. He then rang these clients individually to see how they were doing and actually upsold the firm’s bookkeeping services. Just a handful of these conversations yielded an extra £1500-£2000 per month of bookkeeping work!
6. Increase other marketing activities
Once you've done the highest priority tasks for generating revenue, you can focus on other marketing activities. To keep spending down, a great focus is to increase your online presence. This enables you to stay in front of prospects and clients and it ensures that you are remembered when they are ready to buy your service. The goal here is to listen to their needs and wants and to produce high-quality and valuable content that they are interested in and find useful.
Here are a few examples of what our members have done as ways to increase revenue for their firm:
- One member rewrote his LinkedIn profile and directory entries to focus on his dual capabilities as an accountant and financial planner. This one-act turned on a tap of 5-10 new enquiries per week.
- One member rewrote his Quickbooks Advisor directory to highlight his sector specialisms. His entry was written in such a way that these specialisms were visible without having to click through into his full profile. This lead to 2 high-value clients joining his firm within a month of making the change.
- One member regularly puts together short videos showing his clients how much extra cash and profit they could make if they increased their revenue by 5% and decreased their costs by 5%. These short videos - typically under 3 mins in length - generate him either business coaching or business planning work most times he does a video.
These simple actions cost little or nothing for high reward, so think about what you can do. Whether it's social media and blogging or improving your existing materials, being in front of your audience is key. (If you need help with this, check out our content plan template!)
Focus on your existing clients before trying to win new ones
If you have lost some clients as a result of Covid-19, take a second to sit back and think about how you are going to replace this revenue. Don't panic about having to go out and win new clients or about spending more money on marketing, there are plenty of ways to increase revenue.
The key to building your business back up is to plan exactly what you are going to do and then executing your plan consistently. First, look at how you can get more out of your existing clients. If you execute these 6 steps and stay in front of prospects consistently, you'll patch up that gap in no time at all.
Learn how to quickly add an extra £2k of monthly recurring income to your practice (even if you are a reluctant business developer)
Download (for free) the workshop recording of 'How to quickly add £2k of monthly recurring revenue to your practice' and you will discover:
- How to generate more income from your existing clients without putting in place a price rise
- How to get your clients to pay for more services without seen to be profiteering or ambulance chasing
- What marketing your firm can do right now which is going to cause new good clients to flock to your firm