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When It’s Good to Offer Free Bookkeeping Help

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Providing an initial consultation free of charge

woman working as a bookkeeper for free
No one should expect you to do work for free, but spending time getting to know your clients will help distinguish you from a bar of soap!

IT’S NEVER REALLY a good idea to work for new client or potential new clients for free, particularly if you’re an established business. But it’s also difficult getting a client to feel comfortable that you’ll do a good job for them, when they don’t know you from the proverbial bar of soap.

Rather than working for free or charging less than the minimum wage for your bookkeeping services a better idea is to spend some time with your client, either in-person or over the phone, to go through your processes and procedures before you commence work for them. It’s also important that you make your clients aware of value adds you’re providing to them.

Schedule a consultation with prospects

If you take the lead and schedule a an initial consultation call or meeting with your new clients or prospects, you get to control how the working relationship progresses. This gives you the opportunity to set some ground rules around the assignment of work, turn around times, payment terms, and so on. 

Aside from making you look professional and organised, it’ll also make your job easier because you’ve clearly outlined how you operate, what’s expected from the client in order for you to do your job, and what happens after you’ve finished your work.

For example, is BAS lodgement included in your fees, or is that additional? Do you follow up late payers on your client’s behalf or is that additional?

Read more about what you can cover at an initial consultation

Do some needs analysis

It’s a good idea to look at how much knowledge your new clients have of bookkeeping and the software you’ll be using (Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks, etc). Carry out some quick needs analysis during your consultation, so that if there are any areas they are unfamiliar with you’re both prepared and able to give them a quick overview. Further, in-depth training is a potential source of additional revenue, so be careful not to spend too much time here. All of this will help you form your bookkeeping business strategy and, in particular, ensure your rates are competitive, yet sustainable. 

Read more about what you can cover at an initial consultation

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Start a bookkeeping business today

Start a bookkeeping business not a franchiseIf you’d like to start a bookkeeping business, then visit our online bookkeeping directory, National Bookkeeping. You can find information about how to start your own bookkeeping business, promote yourself through our directory or become a licensee.

As a licensee with National Bookkeeping, you’ll have access to EzyLearn training courses (which also means the license fee is one hundred percent tax deductible. Visit the National Bookkeeping website today and register your interest online.


 

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Should You Charge Less Than the Minimum Wage as a Contract Bookkeeper?

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Don’t attract interest in your services for the wrong reasons

RECENTLY I’VE WRITTEN about how your prices should be part of your business strategy and not your marketing strategy. I talked about Mark, the painter, who advertised a really low day rate but wasn’t able to carry out the volume of jobs he needed to make enough money (see Is Your Charge-Out Rate a Marketing or Business Strategy?).

A better strategy for Mark would have been to research the market and find ways to provide customers with savings elsewhere (Researching the Market is a Crucial Part of Every Business Strategy).

The same principle can be applied to contract bookkeepers charging less than the minimum wage. Although this may get you a lot of regular work early on in your business, you will soon learn that it’s unsustainable. And because it’s also really hard to increase your rates substantially, you’ll just find yourself back at square one if you do so anyway.

Check out the National Bookkeeping Rates of Pay to get indicative pricing for contract bookkeeping services.

Remember your entitlements

When you’re setting your prices, don’t forget to factor in your entitlements. As a full time employee of a business, you receive annual leave entitlements equating to four weeks’ salary, sick leave equating to ten days’ salary, public holiday pay, superannuation, and tax withheld on your behalf.

As a contract bookkeeper, you should earn the equivalent of a full year’s salary proportional to how many days or hours you work each week.

Contractor or employee?

As a contractor, your hourly rate will be higher than that of a full time employee, sometimes two times as high. If you have clients who don’t want to pay a higher hourly rate to hire you as an independent contractor, they might be better suited to employing casual staff instead.

If you’d prefer the life of an employee check out our Career Academy Success Program.

Increasing your rates

If you decide it’s time to increase your rates, you need to show how you provide value to your clients’ businesses, in order to discourage them from seeking the same services from another, cheaper bookkeeper. If there’s some extenuating circumstances, it may also be worthwhile explaining the reason for the increase — if your compliance costs have increased due to government regulatory changes, for example. (Note: Rising electricity, broadband or rent is best kept to yourself.)

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You’ll learn ways to increase your rates without losing your clients by enrolling in Research the Market module of our Business StartUp training course as a standalone mini course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.  

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Why Aren’t The Phones Ringing or Leads Coming Through?

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Researching the Market is a Crucial Part of Every Business Strategy

EzyStartUp business startup and admin training coursesIn a previous post, Is Your Charge-Out Rate a Marketing or Business Strategy?, I talked about Mark the painter, who charged a really low day rate that ultimately proved to be unsuccessful, because he couldn’t carry out the volume of jobs he needed to for it to be profitable.

When I asked Mark why he chose such a low day rate, he said it was because no other painter could possibly compete with him. Sure that’s probably true, but obviously, for good reason!

What Mark really should have done was to research the market to determine precisely what other painters are charging, and for which services.

Cost of bookkeeping for a contract bookkeeper using Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks OnlineDetermine the industry average

A good starting point is to determine the average price for your industry. Be diligent and look at as many businesses in your local and surrounding areas to ensure you’re getting a clear picture of what people are charging.

It’s really hard to justify charging much below the industry average, even if you’re trying to get new business.

As I mentioned in the last post about day rates, low prices is a numbers game. Unless you’re able to turn work around exceptionally quickly to justify taking a cut on your profit margin, then it’s probably not worth it.

In our work with National Bookkeeping we discovered that bookkeeper charge out rates fall into some distinct categories based on their knowledge, experience and how they prefer to work. These rates are a great guide to help you become comfortable with your own hourly rate.

Give customers savings in other areas

Rather than reducing your rates to get new business, try to give customers savings elsewhere. You can do this by providing something your competitors aren’t, which is why researching the market thoroughly is a crucial part of your business strategy.

If you determine that your competitors charge a call out fee or a fee to prepare walls, this is a good place to start reducing or eliminating those charges in order to make yourself more competitive.

How are people finding you?

If potential customers are finding you via your website, it’s important to have a good call to action that contains reasons for people to make contact with you. Then make sure you highlight the reasons to call.

Competitors copy so keep changing your offers

Believe it or not, one of the most challenging aspects of your market research and the OFFER you make to potential customers is that your competitors will also be researching what you are doing and if they feel it is a good offer they may copy it — so you may want to have a couple different offers and discounts and change them regularly to stay unique.

Use WordPress, a Blog and Social Media posts to keep your business looking fresh online and as well as attract the attention of potential customers — we cover all of this in our Digital & Social Media Marketing Courses.

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You can learn how to research the market by enrolling in the Market Research Module of our Business StartUp Training Course as a stand alone mini course. Visit our website for more information or to enrol.


Blog Ref:#699

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Is Your Day Rate a Marketing or Business Strategy?

virion Digital Marketing Manager

Painting a house renovation of investment property in NewcastleI RECENTLY MET A PAINTER during a residential renovation I was involved with in Newcastle (an extremely valuable experience that will help us add to our property investment courses.)

We got talking about how he wins new clients and he said:

I advertise on social media that I’m available for $150 a day because no one can compete with it.

The price he chose is insanely cheap, and he knew other painters wouldn’t be able to compete with this as a day rate. However, there are downsides to this. Such a cheap day rate also means that he’ll be stretched financially and that he won’t be able to hire anyone else to do the work. He’ll need to be paid daily and likely can’t afford to provide any sort of credit (like 7 day terms etc).

It made me wonder whether it was such a good idea because cheap prices is a volume game. Companies like Amazon and Kmart are willing to lower their profit margins to undercut other retailers if it means they make up for it in the volume of product their shift.

In other words, rather than make $20 profit on an item, and only selling 200, they’re willing to make $5 as long as they sell 100, minimum. Otherwise, it’s just a bad business strategy. You may want to read more about blue ocean versus red ocean strategies.

Is trades and services ever a volume game?

Mark, the painter I was talking about, received lots of enquiries. In that respect, his social media campaign had been a success! But Mark wasn’t a big company; he was a one man band. Now he spent most of his days driving around and quoting for jobs.

This meant that when he was working for clients, there were often days where he could only work a half day or had to break the day rate down into an hourly one. Some days, Mark only earned $100. This was simply because he wasn’t doing the number of jobs he needed to in order to make his low day rate a profitable strategy for his business.

Focus on your business strategy first

virion Digital Marketing Manager What Mark had inadvertently done was prioritise his marketing strategy over that of his business. He’d generated lot of interest in his business by advertising his services at such a low day rate, but by not setting any terms or conditions around that rate, it makes it really hard to Mark to increase his rates next time those clients ask him to work for them again.

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Setting rates correctly is something we cover in our Business Start Up Online Training Course. In particular, we look at determining a business strategy for your business, before you start marketing your business and services.

The question of pricing and what we offer in our advertising is something we consider before ever going live when we help clients with their marketing strategies too. Hire a marketing manager to oversea all your digital and social media marketing for a low monthly fee. 


Blog ref: #698

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When Your Business Strategy Changes

There are websites that make it easy to change your business name

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Having a plan rather than changing your business strategy in an ad hoc fashion, ensures greater success of your business going forward.

PLENTY OF BUSINESS OWNERS change their business strategy, but what makes this successful? We say, above all, planning and a willingness to change the ordinary operations of your business. In a new workbook contained in our Xero training courses, we take you through the steps you would take in Xero to affect a change in business strategy.

In this blog post, we’re going to look more generally at some of the things you might need to do if you were making a change to your business strategy — even before you would start making these changes in your accounting software.

Business name change

A change of business strategy and direction may warrant a business name change. As a basic example, a builder who begins offering plumbing, electrical, and handyman services should change their business name from John’s Building Services, for example, to John’s Building and Home Maintenance Services.

If considering a business name change, visit the ASIC website. There you’ll be able to register a new business name and make sure one you’re thinking of doesn’t already exist. ASIC doesn’t allow you to update or change your business name, but provided you’re operating your business under the same structure — i.e., sole trader — there’s no limit to the number of business names you can register and assign to your ABN.

In April this year, the business.gov website launched a new Business Registration Service, which although still in Beta, allows you to easily and quickly apply for a business name, ABN, company, and tax registrations for free. At the moment it’s only available for new businesses — whether they’re sole traders, partnerships, companies or joint ventures — but it’ll soon be rolled out to existing businesses, trusts, and superannuation funds.

Registering for GST

Many contractors don’t register for GST because they do a combination of contract work on their ABN and TFN. Provided their business doesn’t generate $75,000 per year or more, they won’t have to register for GST, even if they do earn more than that by also working as a contractor on their TFN.

If the change in business strategy means your business is going to generate substantially more than $75,000 per year, or even if your suspect it may get close to it, you should register your business for GST.

You can register for GST via the ATO’s Business Portal. Registering for GST does mean your business will need to lodge regular business activity statements. This is additional compliance that can yield fines for late or inaccurate lodgements.

If you’d like to try and defer registering for GST for as long as possible, run a profit and loss statement in Xero and compare your current revenue with the estimated additional revenue your new business strategy will generate.

If there’s good, safe margin between your projected income and the $75,000 GST threshold, you can hold off.

You can learn what you need to implement the financial side of your changed business strategy, plus how to run profit and loss statements, complete and lodge business activity statements and much more in our Xero training courses. For more information, visit our website.


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At EzyLearn you can choose from a range of XERO online courses, depending on your skill level — or you can access ALL courses for ONE LOW PRICE. All our courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses.