What Do You Enjoy Doing,
What Do Clients Need/Want
For What Work Can You Charge Good Fees?
This post is part of The 1, 2, 3 Practice Management Series from Added Value Corporation Pty Ltd
When preparing a Strategic Plan for your practice, start with what you want, not what you have
So often when preparing a plan, we start with what we already have, maybe with a SWOT analysis. If you were starting a firm from scratch, then you would first ask the obvious question, what work shall I offer? To determine this, answer the following questions
- What work do I enjoy doing, what seems easy for me, indeed, what is fun?
- What work do clients need and want? So often these can vary, some accountants get trapped delivering the “want” service and lack the time to discuss the work clients “need”, to help them with their business.
- What work is most profitable? This will vary depending on the current or proposed, business model of your firm.
I remember years ago being so impressed when I first came across a Venn Diagram. It was used for a non-scientific purpose, but I considered it to be a great graphic for focusing the mind.
There are now more and more specialist firms. Historically there were specialist tax advice firms and others specialising in a particular industry, eg hotels, motor vehicle dealers and agribusiness. Now there are specialist firms for medical practitioners, franchise businesses, providing outsourced CFO support, specialist SMSF consultants, etc. There are also specialist audit firms, undertaking only audit and risk reviews, no other work.
Accountants are risk adverse, when they provide good client service, their firm grows. The result is most firms have trouble saying no to work. Maintaining an exclusive specialisation can be difficult. Firms do one of two things
- Take whatever comes in and run a general practice, beside the specialist practice. Depending on size, there may be separate teams in the office. The intention may be to drop the general work, once the specialist work reaches critical mass.
- Form alliances with other firms and refer non specialist work to them. These may be firms referring in specialist work, former colleagues or employees.
As would be expected, many firms with a specialisation are more profitable than generalists. It is also expected they would deliver a better quality service for clients, with greater industry knowledge, an ability to benchmark, etc.
To help determine a specialisation, review your client list, do you have a number of clients from a particular industry? Do you enjoy working with those people, do they need/want your service and can you make good money out of their work? That may be your specialisation. Within your existing firm?
© Thea Foster, Added Value Corporation Pty Ltd, www.addedvalue.com.au
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