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June 11, 2019

How to Be Your Client's Advisor with Mary Andersen

How to Be Your Client's Advisor with Mary Andersen

Mary can remember always being good at bookkeeping, even when she was young. While going to school, she worked full time in a corporate office in the accounting department for three years. She never finished her bachelor’s degree. Instead, she moved...

Mary can remember always being good at bookkeeping, even when she was young. While going to school, she worked full time in a corporate office in the accounting department for three years. She never finished her bachelor’s degree. Instead, she moved back to where she and her husband were from and worked for a local pharmacy where she was mentored by the in-house CPA.

[4:30] During that time Mary’s husband deployed so she needed something to keep her busy. She was nominated to be the president of the local business association. It was around that time that Mary started to look for more flexibility so she could spend more time with her growing family, this lead to some timely advice from a friend to just do bookkeeping for more than one business.

[7:00] Self-discipline has been key to Mary’s success. Being able to manage her time and still get things done is a very important quality to have once there is no one to tell you what to do.

[8:40] When Mary started her business, she already had four clients and has built up her client base to 24 over the past five years. The flexibility of owning her own business really came in handy after Mary found out that her daughter had a heart defect.

[11:30] At this point Mary works around 20-30 hours a week and has a contractor that works for her for roughly 10 hours a week.

[12:30] Mary’s secret to getting clients has really been her relationship with the CPA that mentored her years ago. Several of the clients that she has now came from a referral from her mentor. You never know what relationship is going to be a goldmine for you.

[13:55] Mary is trying to balance taking on new clients and building out the processes and systems that will ensure she can handle them

[14:40] Mary has also recently opened a second business. It’s a coworking space for mom’s that need a place to work that provides childcare.

[15:50] Mary is a bit of a creative, so she enjoys the marketing and creative side of the business alongside meeting people at networking events and having conversations. It’s quite the reverse of the way most bookkeepers approach business.

[17:10] Keeping up with her email is what Mary finds the most unfun. She uses a tool called GQueues to stay on top of her to-do list. She doesn’t want to waste time trying to figure out what to get done.

[18:30] In terms of vision, Mary is looking to double the number of clients she has and add a full-time bookkeeper to her business. She wants to be able to do the marketing and the client-getting and having another bookkeeper handle the in-the-weeds work.

[20:10] Being able to bring her husband into the business is another potential goal to work towards.

[21:00] Never stop marketing or looking for good people. For Mary, she should hire a second bookkeeper and start them out with a small amount of hours. You don’t want to be totally dependent on one person.

[22:50] Mary is not currently doing the interpret and advise portion of the business that Ben talks about all the time. That’s why she’s not charging the rates that she would like, which means that she has to bring on more clients to increase her revenue.

[24:20] Her current clients haven’t really asked for any extra advice but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need it.

[25:35] It’s hard to say to your current clients that you are adding a new service so now you’re going to charge them more. It’s better to be more selective about the clients you take on in the future. For future clients, you have to educate and then sell them on the value of the service. If you work with higher value clients, the main benefit would be you wouldn’t need as many clients to hit your revenue targets.

[27:50] Look for clients that are going to value you and are looking to collaborate instead of abdicate. When looking for new clients, you are going to look for clients who are already interested in that service.

[29:40] While you’re looking for new clients, you need to start educating yourself on the services they will value. The good news is you have a built-in think tank with your existing clients to find that out.

[31:10] The next time Mary is having a conversation with her client, plan for some time to talk about what they really want in their business and how she can help them get there. What roles do they not like to do in their business that she can take off their hands? This is essentially market research into what they value. Don’t guess, ask.

[32:50] Look for key phrases and use their language. You can use the information you learn to speak and sell to your new clients.

[34:05] We are paid in proportion to the value we put into the marketplace. Ask them what they need and then create something around it. Start thinking about a system you can brand from the language and words they are using.

[36:25] There is learning that you’re going to have to do to deliver on the additional services. The best way to do it is to just pick a client that you already work with and do it for free. Nothing beats practical experience. The worst case scenario is you get experience and put goodwill into the relationship.

[39:15] Look for the low hanging fruit and what could put on semi-autopilot so you don’t have to work a lot more to produce a particular result. Your relationship with your clients is ultimately going to be the thing that protects you from the growing trend of automation.

[41:10] Mary’s action items include opening up the dialogue with her existing clients and looking for a need they have in common. To create a tool that she can use to attract more clients, and to find a second contractor.