By Pam Phillips
A lot of people assume accountants are doing ok right now.
And it’s true that some are even profiting from all the panic and uncertainty out there as struggling businesses flock to them for advice.
That’s not how it’s working for us here. Yes, we’re helping just as many people - fielding client questions, putting plans in place, helping with loan applications - but because now’s the time to act like a human being and not to look for a profit, we’re doing it either at cost or for free.
Which means, once all this flurry of activity dies down, we’re anticipating a time when our business is a bit quieter for us too. Some of our clients may postpone non-essential projects and that means some of our staff will have less to do. But I’m not letting that worry me. In fact, I’m seeing it as an opportunity, and if you’re at that stage right now where you’re struggling to keep yourself and your team occupied, you can use it as an opportunity too.
Instead of laying off staff, we’re planning to plough that extra time and manpower into those projects that will make our business stronger, but we don’t usually have time to do - because I know that’s not only future-proofing but reinforcing and building on what we already have.
For us that’s things like, tweaking our website to make sure we’re communicating exactly who we are; making our processes and systems as efficient as they can be to save us time and money; doubling down on our marketing to attract more leads and raise our profile; upskilling our staff so we can provide an even more comprehensive service, and improving our client experience for that all-important customer retention.
You can use this time in panic mode, or you can use this time in planning mode...
So if your work’s dropped off a cliff and you're ready to take action and be pragmatic about it, here are 10 things you can be doing right now inside your business to make sure that when things return to the new normal, you can come back stronger, win more clients and be more profitable too.
10 Things you can do right now
1. Look at your marketing and your messaging
Is it attracting ideal clients? Are you showing up enough? Now’s the time to batch content, show up and stay front of mind with your audience.
2. Review and improve your processes
What can be streamlined? What can be automated? If you’re spending a day on your book-keeping, there’s tech that can do that for you in minutes (see our blog on receiptbank). If you’re spending hours building your proposals, it’s time to find a system that can do it automatically. Here are some more apps to help make your business more efficient.
3. Review your pricing
Are you charging the right amount for your services? Have you got an efficient and consistent way of working out what to quote for work? If not, now’s the time to fix this.
4. Do some strategic planning
What is your business’s reason for being? It’s purpose? What do you want it to look like when this current situation passes? Use this time to review where your business is and where you want it to be. Then work out what you need to do to get it there. We can help with this.
5. Look at your client experience
What does it feel like to be a client of yours? Have you considered all the touchpoints your clients have with you? What can you do to make every touchpoint count? Thinking of your client interactions like this will help you use every touchpoint as a marketing opportunity.
6. Implement good credit control procedures
How do you collect payments from your clients? Can this be improved by introducing direct debit payments or online payments? What can you do to reduce the risk of bad debts? Perhaps you can start taking deposits in advance of starting work or you could even automate your debt chasing processes.
7. Identify skills gaps in your team
Work out how to plug these whether it be through internal or external training or even through recruitment. On a personal level I’ve never done so much video editing as I have this week and I’ve realised that this is a skill I’ll need to invest in for the future.
8. Develop your sales pipeline
A good sales pipeline will help you turn potential clients into actual clients. Linked to this is to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. A good CRM system can help improve your client experience as well as help increase your sales.
9. Improve how you track time
Staff costs are one of the biggest costs in an agency which means understanding what your team spends their time on is important. We’ve written a separate blog with 5 reasons why it is essential to track project costs if you want to find out more. Tracking time is simple enough to do so long as you have the right systems and processes in place (we recommend Harvest).
10. Review your service offering
Are you happy with the range of services you are offering? Can you expand your range or should you be making your range narrower? Are you focusing your marketing efforts on your most profitable services? Now we are all used to remote working, can you reimagine how you deliver your services to give a better client experience and save money?
Ps. These are all things we support our clients with (we’re not just your average accountants, you know). If you want to find out more about working with us to make your business more efficient and more profitable, let’s chat.