It Is Time To Spell It Out ..... Help Me Run a Better Business!

Accountant's Minute 204

“The truth is that while I’ve been patiently waiting for you to escape the compliance cubicle, I cannot hang around much longer.

Business is getting more competitive by the day and I need your help!

Over the years, I’ve sat through meeting after meeting with you about my tax returns.  To be honest, I do this under sufferance – tax does not light me up!

Besides, I pretty much know by now what you are going to say. 

It is time to spell it out……. Help me run a better business!

Meet with me quarterly, at appointment set 12 months in advance.  Know that I’ll look forward to them and be interested in what you have to say.”

This is an extract of a letter that was published in “Accountants Daily” on 20 April 2019.  How would you and your accountancy firm have responded to this letter from a client?

This letter very clearly identifies some very important issues for accountancy/business advisory firms.

The marketplace is asking for changes!

A periodic meeting – quarterly or monthly is a great way to ensure that you and your team have evaluated a range of “business matters” – not just taxation issues at least four times per annum on an ongoing basis and discussed these issues with your client.

Your client will benefit from being able to talk to you on a CEO to CFO basis at least five times per annum – four times for quarterly review and once the taxation review.

These meetings will be very valuable for those of your clients who aspire to “scale up” their businesses.

To be able to offer a periodic reporting and meeting service for your key clients on an ongoing basis you will need to implement a “system” so that the client perceives that they are receiving value for money and so that they are happy to pay your fee.

It is important to identify the key issues that your client is interested in discussing with you – remembering that you are performing the CFO service reporting to your CEO.

You will need a standard Agenda that is able to be added to for particular issues from time to time during the year but there are some standard items that should be included at each meeting.

Minutes should be prepared on each meeting and distributed to the attendees and individual Action Plan should be prepared at the end of a meeting and forwarded to the persons responsible for implementing the items listed on the Action Plan so that at the next meeting the results of that initiative can be determined.

The periodic Financial Accounts should be prepared on an individual business unit basis – not consolidated in the format that financial information is submitted to the Taxation Office because the CEO/your client will want to clearly understand what the financial accounts are telling him/her.

This will include an analysis of:

  • Key performance indicators
  • Comparison to budgets
  • Where did the money go? (An easy to read Statement of Source and Application of Funds prepared so that the client can understand it)
  • Cash flow position compared to Budget with your suggestions on remedial action that may be necessary to bring the cash flow position back closer to the targeted position
  • Benchmark comparisons to similar businesses highlighting any abnormal results – both good and bad for your client’s business
  • Revenue analysis, including gross profit percentage, number of sales transactions, where did the customers come from

Customer Analysis

  • New customers
  • Lost customers
  • Percentage of customers that sales were made to
  • Average sale

Prospect Analysis

  • How is the client’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system operating?
  • Response to communications that were sent to prospects in the previous period
  • conversion percentage from various campaigns

Effectiveness of Communications

  • What has been the result of your client’s activities relative to:
  • Newsletters
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Social Media

Sundry Debtors

  • Balance outstanding
  • Debtors’ aged analysis
  • Debtors’ days outstanding
  • Problem debtors

Inventory

  • Inventory investment amount as compared to Budget
  • Stock turn rate on individual product lines or departments

Work In Progress

  • Investment in work in progress at the end of the month compared to Budget
  • “Ageing” of work in progress – is there any jobs which are taking a long time to be finalised and then the profit/loss brought to account?

Sundry Creditors

  • Creditors’ aged analysis
  • Creditors’ days outstanding
  • Details of any creditor who you are making payments beyond the payment terms that were negotiated with the creditor

Team

  • New engagements
  • Resignations
  • Total team numbers
  • Team training conducted since the previous meeting – what were the results of this training?
  • Sales income per individual team member as compared to the results in previous periods

Business Financing

  • Discussion on bank support
  • Discussion in relation to the possibility of raising capital from the market:
  • What is involved?
  • What has to be prepared?
  • What is the approximate cost?
  • Section 708 Corporations Act Capital Raise
  • Early Stage Innovation Company Capital Raise
  • Crowd Sourced Funding Equity Raising
  • Initial Public Offering (IPO)
  • Grants – which grants might the company be eligible to apply for?

Risk Management Issues

  • Insurance reviews
  • Personal Property Securities Register review
  • Other potential areas of risk that might affect this client’s business

Pricing of Products/Services Review

  • Results of review of current labour costs,
  • Productivity
  • Direct material purchases mark-up
  • Business overhead costs
  • Targeted profitability
  • Does this analysis mean that the company should be attempting to change the charge out rates that are being utilised so as to earn a predetermined profit?

Key Action Plan

  • What are the three key items to be implemented in the next quarter?
  • Who is responsible for implementing these key items?

The big question is “should your firm be offering these types of services?”

“Accountants Daily” has also reported recently about “fee resistance been shown by some clients”.

Most clients do not see any “value-add” in the services that accountants provide relative to the preparation of Income Tax Returns and therefore in these difficult business times and with clients having an awareness of the new computer packages that are available to assist them to perform tasks that were previously only ever performed by their accountants it is not surprising that some clients are showing “fee resistance” if their accountants are only producing for them a set of annual accounts and income tax returns and are not attempting to assist the clients in running their business more effectively.

The key to earning additional fees per client is to add “value added services” in addition to the preparation of the annual accounts and the Income Tax Returns.

Why not have a conversation with some of your clients and give them an overview of the type of format that a periodic meeting to review their overall business finance would take?  Stress to them that this is the same role that you would perform if you were the employed CFO helping them on a day by day basis to add value to their business.

The letter writer to “Accountants Daily” also said “broaden my horizons – suggest systems to run my business better”.

Our recommendation to assist you on this journey with your clients is to proactively discuss with your clients the introduction of quarterly review meetings.  We are very confident that this will assist you to “broaden your client’s horizons”.

ESS BIZTOOLS has developed a full range of product packages and other material to assist accountants/business advisors to deliver a range of “Business Improvement Services” to assist your clients to better run their businesses.

We are presenting a Special Free Webinar “Periodic Meetings to Add You to Your Client’s Businesses” on Tuesday, 20 August 2019 at 12:30pm AEST to register please click here.

If you have any questions about any aspect of the services provided by ESS BIZTOOLS or ESS BIZGRANTS please do not hesitate to contact us:

Email:  peter@essbiztools.com.au

Telephone:   1800 232 088

Come to our website to see our “40% Discount Promotion” for the month of August 2019.

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