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chapter four of six, how to get a business loan (debt)

Pricing and charging


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How do you walk the line between profitable for you and affordable for your clients? And how do you give your clients some certainty so that they can budget pretty accurately?

The importance of pricing

You have two levers to drive profitability – money in and money out. Money out (or expenses) is affected by many things like efficiency, marketing, technology, staffing and more. Money in is driven by the volume and value of work, which can both depend on pricing.

It goes without saying then, that pricing will have a big bearing on your revenue and profitability. It’s worth spending some time on it. Think about what you and your client need out of a pricing structure:

Bookkeeper

You – enough income to run the business and make your work financially rewarding.

Client

Client – a good return on investment (ROI) at an overall cost that will fit in their budget.

Pricing advantages for bookkeepers

Because there’s so much at stake, setting prices can be daunting. But as a bookkeeper, you have some advantages to keep in mind. 

You can deliver a lot of value
Small businesses often feel lost when it comes to bookkeeping, finance, tax and accounting. By taking away a lot of that anxiety, you deliver immediate relief. That initial perceived value might then plateau for a few months while you go about getting their books in order, but it will spike again when the first tax returns come due and the monthly reports start sinking in. If you can structure a deal that keeps clients onboard for a few months, they’ll really begin to see the ROI.

You can get really good at estimating work
Bookkeeping is cyclical. Some tasks come round monthly, others annually. That makes the workflow fairly predictable. Estimating work can become relatively straightforward based on the jobs your client wants done. As a result, you may be able to offer a flat fee for certain tasks, which clients love because it makes budgeting much easier for them. 

Affordability is at an all-time high
Technology can smooth away a lot of the data double-handling that traditionally made bookkeeping labour-intensive and expensive. You can now deliver a top-class service for a fraction of what it used to cost. That allows you to pitch a more affordable price while still generating a good margin. Consider using a job costing system so you can easily see profit margin or loss.

How bookkeepers charge

There are many models for charging clients but they essentially fall into three main categories.

Hourly

You charge a stated hourly rate until the work is complete.

Hourly Pros
Fixed price

You provide an upfront price for the services required.

Fixed pro
subscribe

You charge a fixed monthly fee for an agreed set of services.

What bookkeepers charge

Your market will have a big say in the price you can charge. Are your prospective clients price sensitive? How much do they value your services? And what else can they get for their money?

The fastest way to answer these questions is to check what other bookkeepers are charging. You’ll see a big range of course. But look for bookkeepers in your region, or serving your industry, or providing the same services as you.

You can do all of this on the Xero advisor directory.

More on pricing strategies

You can read more on pricing strategies in our guide to starting a business.


Chapter 7: Marketing your bookkeeping business

You’ve got your bookkeeping business set up but how do you get noticed? Learn how and where you can market your services.

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