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5 steps to highly profitable bookkeeping cleanup projects

Accepting anyone and everyone gets your business going. You quickly engage new clients after your initial consult. As your accounting practice grows, it’s in your interest to say no to some clients. That’s because some clients lower your profits.

A percentage of your new clients start off with a cleanup project. Depending on the condition of the books, these projects can be extremely complex. When you quickly review the books during the initial consult, it’s easy to underestimate the project’s scope.

Frustration builds as you realize the bookkeeping cleanup project has transformed into a nightmare. Designing a process to carefully select which projects you accept avoids these headaches.

Select your new clients

When you work with everyone, a portion of your clients will undervalue your accounting services. Since some business owners don’t fully grasp the essentials of bookkeeping, they are unaware of the true condition of their books, or simply don’t care.

Without some type of pre-qualifying process, you find yourself working with clients who don’t respect your time, resources, or expertise. Those clients, even if they become your highest paying clients, lower your profit margins. Why serve clients who don’t respect you?

Since it’s your accounting practice, you decide who you accept as a client. You’re not obligated to continue working with non-ideal clients. Letting these clients go lightens your workload and reduces overwhelm. Plus, you end up with ideal clients who are enjoyable to work with and more profitable.

Systems give you freedom

A pre-qualifying process that weeds out non-ideal clients protects your valuable time. With this process, you select which bookkeeping cleanup projects to accept and which to say no to. Then, watch your profits grow.

At this point, you may wonder how this works. Here’s my five-step process:

  1. Potential clients answer a select few questions prior to booking a consultation appointment. Check out the questions I ask.
  2. If it appears like it’s a good fit, then send a calendar link to schedule the consultation.
  3. Ask great questions to discover why they contacted you now.
  4. During initial consultations, both of you are deciding whether to work together.
  5. If it’s a yes, then discuss the next step. Offer to do a paid diagnostic review to fully scope the project.

Don’t rush the process

The beauty of a slow onboarding process is that you can identify the clients who value your service from the ones who don’t.

Slowing down the onboarding process immediately puts you in charge of the project. Plus, this lowers the risk of ending up with a more complicated cleanup project than anticipated.

Scoping the project allows you to accurately estimate what’s required to complete the project. And, you’ll want to check your calendar before meeting with the client to discuss next steps.

Determine your time frame through the following process:

  • Estimate start and end dates for the cleanup project.
  • Who on your team will be doing the cleanup?
  • List all additional resources required for the project.
  • Avoid delays by getting all necessary access prior to starting the project.
  • Educate your client regarding communication expectations, response times, and updates.

By the way, don’t overpromise and underdeliver. If you don’t currently have the time or resources available, then let your client know your availability. Clients who truly value your bookkeeping services will agree to wait a bit longer than originally anticipated for high-quality work.

The project details

After you complete the diagnostic and determine your time frame, meet with your client to discuss the next steps. Generally, clients are unaware of just how much work, time, energy, and other resources are necessary to complete their cleanup project or other accounting work.

During the follow-up meeting, review your recommendations and detail the project’s scope. Take advantage of technology by sharing your screen as you explain what’s involved. Then, patiently answer all questions to make sure your client grasps the project’s scope.

How to charge for bookkeeping cleanup projects

Slowing down your onboarding system increases your perceived value. Clients now view you as an advisor instead of a technician.

You raise the value of your services when you:

  • Decide not to work with everyone.
  • Offer a paid diagnostic review.
  • Review the scope of the cleanup project.
  • Educate about the benefits of accurate financials.
  • Discuss the next steps.

Instead of billing for your time, charge for the project’s value. Offer three options to choose from. Each package option includes a specific timeline for the project’s completion.

Consider these examples.

  • You complete the project in 6 weeks.
  • The project is completed in 4 weeks.
  • The project receives priority and is completed in 2 weeks.

Clients feel empowered when given choices about how to work with you. They no longer challenge your invoice.

With this approach, clients choose between completion dates. Delivery services offer similar options. Express service has greater value than the standard option.

It’s a win-win. Clients appreciate having options about how to work with you. My clients routinely earn two to five times more from bookkeeping cleanup projects with this approach.

Start value pricing your bookkeeping cleanup projects today

Carefully choose who becomes a client. Then, value price your bookkeeping cleanup projects. This process highlights the unique value of your accounting practice. As a result, you end up with ideal clients who respect your expertise and happily pay your rates.

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