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Bundle me – moving accounting from an annual fee to a monthly fee

The bundling of client fees among accountants is starting to become more mainstream. I started using bundles with my clients almost 10 years ago. With Xero it makes it so much easier to be connected to your client because there is no data transfer and you have limitless access to your client’s main business productivity tool, their accounting system.

As an accountant if you use Xero as a ‘Single Ledger’ you’ll be saving time on core compliance work because there is no data friction. In a nutshell the Single Ledger is the same ledger used by business owners to run their business and it’s the same ledger used by accountants to prepare Management Reports and Annual Reports. So if you stay on the old time and cost model, it makes sense that you would bill for less. The solution is to move to an agreed fee base from the outset. This way clients know upfront exactly what they’re up for. It’s also an opportunity to be able offer services beyond compliance and give real business advice.

A bundle is like a shopping list, which your client can chose from. You charge a monthly fee for the provision of these services. Great examples of accounting practices that offer bundles successfully include Cloud Accountants and Interactive Accountants.

The main benefit to your client is fee certainty, which is the number one reason why your client avoids calling  you now – they’re afraid how much this might cost. If you introduce an agreed monthly fee to your clients they will respond positively to it. Every accountant I have even spoken to who has done this, says clients love it.

So how do you make it happen?

Step One

Create your bundles (tailored selections of services), plus your terms of agreement and a proposal document.

Step Two

When you do end-of-year reports, decide which bundle would best suit each client and create a proposal for them.

Step Three

At the year-end meeting with your client, present the bundle and explain why you think it is best for them. Also show them the full list of services you offer and another couple of bundle options. Talk them through how the new service would work and answer any questions.

Step Four

The client agrees for you to deliver the new service bundle to them.

If you follow these steps you should have all your clients on bundles within a year. We’d be keen to hear what’s worked for you when offering bundles to clients.

 

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6 comments

Guy Pearson
16 December 2011 #

Hamish,

Nice blog, thanks for the mention. I’d Like to add the following, if I may:

- Change > Remember, change is hard. Letting the opportunity to change pass you by is a lot harder to swallow then trying your hand at something new. Revolution is a form of natural progression.

- Is there risk? Yes. – Where there is risk, there is also reward. Be prepared to learn + embrace the lessons learned and innovate.

As a firm interactive accounting now gets more leads in a week then a mid tier usually does in a month and 80% of those are cold leads. New people, we’ve never met or engaged…. It’s brilliant.

Best of luck to one and all heading down the path of fixed fees and regularly billing, it’s an exciting journey!

Rhys Jones
16 December 2011 #

Great blog Hamish, couldn’t agree with you more. Such potential and possibility with this approach to billing. Happy clients are a product that every business should strive for and this is one of the many ways to do it.

Gillian Rossouw
17 December 2011 #

Excellent blog Hamish – to add to the thread Bookkeepers and Consultants are also adopting this method as more a clients are embracing the cloud – we are doing what we are trained to do and that is assist clients with conversions, GST compliance & bookkeeping issues and not having to worry about installing software upgrades

Accountancy
17 December 2011 #

Great point Hamish, I am trying to bring all my new clients into this monthly package now. $3000 a year or $250 a month.

$250 will deliver much better value but I am more efficient. The key here is Xero!

Hamish Edwards
19 December 2011 #

Great messages, thanks. So pleased that Xero is helping to make a difference. I guess we just know bundles are the way to go. We (Accountants) like them and so our customers, (the SME owners).

Elizabeth Salter
30 December 2011 #

As Gillian mentioned, bookkeepers are also moving toward monthly fixed fees. I’ve found both my clients and myself are so much happier with the change. In fact, I find it quite a liberating way to work!

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