To Advise or Not to Advise

I spent a very enjoyable day yesterday, with Nick Kay. Nick is a progressive Sole Practitioner, based in the Ramsey, near Cambridge and we were discussing the arrangements for one the first Business Growth Clubs in the UK, which Nick is organising for his client base and I am delivering.

Nick takes his learnings from a wide variety of sources. He is CIMA qualified, and a previous client of mine at PANALITIX. Before starting his own business, Nick delivered management information for a national retailer, with over 800 shops. He is currently shaping his practice to offer a wide range of “advisory” services, using tools from around the world and offering a selection of stack of services to potential clients – can be seen on his differentiated website.


Onhko Practice Management

Castaway Forecasting



Go Proposal  

Business Growth Clubs are some of the tools used.

Nick is also a reseller for The Gap, recently launched Business Development program in the UK.

So a very progressive Sole Practitioner, who has a clear vision on the services that he wishes to offer clients and after much research is very close to having finished his preferred design of business.

So, having now painted a picture of his business, I wanted to share a story, which is commonplace to 99.9% of accountants in the UK. Nick was chatting with a retail client, who have an underperforming business. It’s a repeating annual conversation. Want to change, but the business has no money – or in sales teams yet to feel the real pain, which will induce action. That is – engage Nick to deliver “advisory services.”

So, with a background in retail, Nick asked to have access to the EPOS system. This was offered as a quick overview, to see if any data jumped out at Nick.

Nick very quickly identified that with some minor adjustments to the two shop’s opening hours and a change in the teams shift patterns, that productivity in the two shops could be improved instantly.

One shop opened at 7am, to sell to early birds – but the figures clearly show that no sales take place between 7 – 8am.

One shop stayed open between 4 – 5pm – to catch the after-school trade. But the figures clearly show that no sales take place.

Both shops was shut for Monday. Commercial madness, as the owners were losing out on 20% of the working week.

So, Nick agreed a 90 day plan, and results will dictate any additional engagements.

Within 7 days, revenue had improved positively.

But the rub is, that Nick did not charge for this advice.

And I’m sure that any accountants reading this piece will be able to recount similar tales.

“Well they are only small”, “they are struggling” and” they are one of my first clients” are some of the reasons that justify not charging for this advice and immediate improvement in results.

I’m vendor agnostic on Onboarding tools, but the great benefit that Go ProposalPractice Ignition and Pricing in the cloud bring to the profession is the structure that they bring to a firm. All team members understand that they have to price for all services and work delivered and price up front which ensures consistency across the business and no scope creep.

Now Nick is a Sole Practitioner and can run his business how he wants. It’s also a lead generation tactic to offer the advice, prove that it works and then sign the client up. This is not designed to be a detailed analysis of Nick’s sales approach. I’ve used similar approaches myself, as long as there is commitment to proceed quickly, on proof of results. Nick is after a long-term project, where financial analysis and accountability will be delivered.

However, the point of the piece is to prove that many accountants are offering the advice that “thought leaders” are telling them too. It’s the pricing of the advice that needs to change.

Delivering his initial offer, with statements such as:

If I see opportunities in my quick 10 minute, you agree to a meeting where we discuss how we can work together on a monthly basis, with agreed targets, to improve the business.

As this is a quick 10 minute look, I will not be charging, but my normal fee for this is £xxx.

The last client I worked on in this situation, was delighted to pay the monthly fee, because I delivered increased revenue of £xx

This piece has not been written to criticize Nick and his approach, far from it, but to highlight:

·       Accountants are offering advisory every day.

·       Accountants are not charging for this service

·       Accountants need to fine tune their approach, to ensure clients have an expectation that accountants offer these services and they should expect to pay for them.

The next time this situation arises, Nick will be able to position himself, more positively.

Nick has seen this article before publishing and agrees that no accountant called Nick has been harmed during its writing.

Accountants: Feeling overwhelmed? Cloud, Apps, advisory, MTD and GDPR causing you headaches? Looking for a cure to the above issues and then grow your firm, whilst spinning all these plates.

I am the Sales Director at TAG, working with ambitious Accountants, looking to grow using the principle of “Acres of Diamonds.” Ideas to help your clients grow, include running Business Growth Clubs at your premises.

I have worked in the accountancy software sector since May 1996. I worked at IRIS ( Corporate Sales Director: 1996 – 2006) and Thomson Reuters Digita (Sales Director: 2008 – 2011). Since working for myself, 2011, I have consulted with Bstar, Nomisma, onkho and PANALITIX, amongst working with many firms directly.

I can be contacted via LinkedIn, @LangdonHamblin or [email protected] 

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