One of the most powerful ways to grow your CPA practice is to develop a strong personal brand and establish yourself as an expert, your client’s trust advisor. When individuals and businesses go shopping for a CPA firm, they’re buying more than just services – they’re buying a person and/or a team of professionals. Your objective is to give clients and prospects a strong reason to have personal confidence in you and your team.
Before I delve into how to go about developing a strong brand, I will share with you three reasons why this is so important.
The first reason is that it helps to make new client acquisition a whole lot easier. Why? You are no longer competing with a ton of other firms in your area. Your brand helps you to stand out, to become clearly distinct from the rest.
The second is that it allows you to charge higher fees for your services. Specialists command higher fees than generalists.
Finally, retention becomes a whole lot tighter. Client loss is the "leaking hole" that plagues many CPA firms, and a strong brand serves as a good reminder for clients to continue to do business with your firm, year after year.
Now, let’s discuss a few tips to how you can establish yourself as an expert.
Tip #1: Channeling Your Energy and Attention to the Right Things
As a practitioner, you need to recognize that "client attraction, retention, maximizing client value" is your #1 responsibility. This responsibility cannot be left for the end of the day like most practitioners do. It should be the order of the day, perhaps one of the first things you attend to as you start your day. You've probably heard the analogy that if you want to fill a bucket with the most, you start with the big rocks (most important things and the #1 responsibility), then put in the pebbles, then the sand.
Tip #2: Become Your Client’s Trusted Advisor
Your clients need your help, and they all have very similar business challenges (raise revenues, improve profits, manage staff, etc.) Your role as their trusted advisor is to identify what these are and to help them think through them. Whether they implement is up to them, however, you are prepared to engage them with these issues. The practitioner that just simply prepares their tax return and financial statements is a commodity; there is nothing of “real” value there. As I mentioned earlier, experts can charge higher fees, but not if they are producing just the bare minimum and not offering any solid advice to their clients.
Tip #3: Promote Your Expertise
Some of the steps I took to becoming an expert in my local market was to start a blog, write and offer a special report on my website, host live events for small business owners in my area, and perhaps the most important and influential step I took to become an expert, publishing my own book: Straight Talk About Small Business Success in New Jersey.
Poorly positioned firms have to compete on fees to attract and retain clients because they are viewed as a commodity. However, establishing yourself as an expert will have clients knocking at your door.