Becoming a Firm Of The Future with Michelle Long: Part 3 of 4 - Become The Trusted Advisor
Hello everybody. How are you all today? I hope everybody's enjoying the holidays and that you can hear me fine today. I'd like to welcome you to Becoming A Firm of the Future with me, Michelle Wong. This time we're talking about becoming a trusted advisor. I'm very glad to have you all joining us today. I am from wonderful Colorado. I am in Keystone, Colorado right now enjoying Christmas that we had here and getting ready for a New Year. I hope you guys have had a good one as well. I do have a bit of a cold today, so I apologize for that.
For those of you that don't know me, I am Michelle Long, CPA in Kansas City, Missouri. I've had my own practice for, gosh, about twenty-four years now, and for the last several years I've been an international speaker for Intuit, going around helping accountants and bookkeepers learn about QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online literally around the world. I'm really glad to have you guys joining us for this today. I'm also the author of several different books, five different books actually if you want to check those out on Amazon. One of them that you might be interested in is the QBO Practice Set to help you practice learning more about QuickBooks.
Enough about me though. Let's go ahead and talk about this Firm of the Future webinar series. We've already done part one and part two. Part one we talked about getting on the cloud and where to start. We talked about the basics of QuickBooks Online, the different versions, how to convert and how to know when it's the right to convert a client to QuickBooks Online and all that stuff. Then in part two we talked about once you're in QuickBooks Online, how do you streamline the workload and ways to automate things and make things a lot faster and more efficient for you and your client. Both of those have been reported. If you go to FirmOfTheFuture.com, scroll down towards the bottom and you'll see the links where you can listen to those. Again, that's FirmOfTheFuture.com. FirmOfTheFuture.com, and you can listen to those recordings.
Today we're talking about becoming a trusted advisor and how do we add value for our clients as well as how to move to value pricing. It's going to be a great one today. We do have an hour and a half scheduled for this webinar today and we will probably go the full hour and a half. I've got a lot of content. I don't think I'm going to get through all of it in the first hour, but I will pause and take time for some of your questions as we go along. Then part four, which is coming up after the New Year on January 15th, we're going to talk about getting connected and tips and tools for managing social media, helping you learn more about how you can get referrals, make connections to grow your practice and also connecting with your peers and other people as well as clients. That's going to be a great one. I hope you'll join me for that. If you haven't registered for it yet, please do register for that one as well.
The training today is eligible for up to one hour of CPE. Each one of these live webinars that you attend would be live, not when you listen to the recording. Each one of the live webinars is eligible for up to an hour of CPE. The CPE keyword will be provided during the webinar. I usually say it four or five times, and it will be up on the screen from them. I'll try to take some questions during that time, but you have to write that down. Then towards the end of the webinar, so after the first hour sometime, towards the end of the webinar, we will give the poll question, and you need to answer that poll question to be eligible for the CPE. Then you'll get your certificate emailed to you within three weeks to the same email address that you used to register for this webinar and then you need to keep that copy for your records.
Now today we're going to go through a lot, but there's additional resources that are available for you out there that I wanted to make sure that you know about. If you go to QuickBooks.com, and you'll see the Accountant tabs, you'll see that there highlighted in yellow, and then down on Accountant Learn and Support, this is where you can find additional resources like the moving online slides that they have available, as well as Accountants University. You can see there's a link in there also, a Firm of the Future under Accountants University. Great resources out there. I encourage you to check some of those out for additional resources.
What we're going to be talking about today is strengthening your role as a trusted advisor. We're moving right from bookkeepers and accountants and we're really moving towards trusted advisors. What can we do to help make sure that we strengthen our role as the trusted advisor. Then we're going to talk a lot about implementing value prices, and we're going to give you some examples and some ideas and lots of things to think about today. Now I'm not going to tell you how to write or what to write, but I'm going to give you lots of ideas on how you can move away from hourly billing to value pricing. First of all, let's talk about how we are moving from data entry to data management.
The accounting profession has changed tremendously. I mean it's changed over the years a lot. If you remember back when QuickBooks first came out or we also had One-Write, we had DacEasy and Peachtree and all these old accounting systems. When they first came out, a lot of us were worried that the clients weren't going to need us anymore. They had a computer, they had an accounting program. They could do it themselves, right? Well all that did when they started using QuickBooks, it changed what they need from us. They needed now our services to help them with QuickBooks consulting and training because they were trying to do it all themselves, but what happened? They'd mess it up, right?
Wen the accounting programs came out, it didn't change the client's need for us, but it changed services that we provide and how we work with our clients. That's what's happening now that everybody is moving to the cloud and that we're downloading transactions and using bank feeds and bank rules and all that stuff. Again, our services are changing. If you built your practice doing data entry and entering stuff from the register, you're quickly being outdated very quickly. People just aren't doing that anymore because everything is automated. The nice thing is when we're doing data entry a lot of times the clients look at us as just the bookkeeper. I was frustrated, I had a client and I was their accountant doing their monthly bookkeeping and payroll and everything. I would try to talk to them about their numbers and things and they wouldn't listen to me because I was just the accountant.
Your clients might do it too. Why should I pay you $75 or $85 an hour? You're just doing data entry. Anybody could do that. I'll go hire a college kid. The good thing is we've moved away from data entry. Now we're streamlining and automating the workflow and we talked a lot about this in the last webinar that we did so you can watch number two if you want to. We talked about how downloading transactions and the bank rules, they recurring transactions, the document receipt management, third party act, all of these things are streamlining our workflows saving us hours every month. Instead of something taking us twenty or thirty hours, now it can take us four or five hours. It's really changing how we're working with our clients.
This is leading us to more data management, and the data management is making us much more of a trusted advisor. We really are doing more data management and now more of a trusted advisor. How can we really enhance and become more of this trusted advisor. There's several different things we can do. First of all, we want to specialize. It is too hard anymore to know everything. There's just too many rules and regulations and too many industry things that's really difficult to be a generalist anymore. It's really helpful when you specialize. You might want to specialize by industry, maybe construction or e-commerce or nonprofit.
I know a CPA in California who does nothing but nonprofit organizations. There's another accounting up in Canada that does nothing but medical practice. He works with doctors. You choose your specialty and then you start to specialize in certain industries. Maybe you want to specialize in the services that you offer. I decided that I didn't want to do taxes at all. I initially started by doing bookkeeping and payroll but over the years I changed that as well. Then it got to where I only did QuickBooks consulting and training. I remember back then somebody said to me, "You can't build your whole practice on QuickBooks. You won't have enough work." Well I proved them wrong because millions of people use QuickBooks and millions of people need help.
You can specialize by the service, and then exchange referrals with other accounting professionals for the services that you don't provide. Then also you might specialize in some of the third party apps that are available. Auditors now have partner and affiliate programs. They offer training and support, and some of them, like [inaudible 00:09:06] [Tishi 00:09:07], they even offer certification. Find something that you're interested in where you already have a lot of clients in that area and specialize because that allows you really to become an expert in that area and also allows you to charge higher fees and higher rates. We're going to talk about the value pricing later, but it helps too to enhance that role as you're the expert and the trusted advisor in this particular area. That's one of the first things to think about.
Then also if you haven't already, you want to joint the ProAdvisor program. I hope a lot of you already are, but the ProAdvisor program has a free version, so all members that's free access to QuickBooks Online Accountants, you get discounted software and services, you get the QuickBooks Online training and certification. I'll talk more about the different versions of the ProAdvisor program in just a minute because I know there are lots of questions about those on the last webinar that we had.
You also get special pricing on third party apps. Some of them give you free subscription like Tishi, they'll give you a free subscription that you can use on your own, [inaudible 00:10:16] so you can learn more about those. You also get a subscription to the ProAdvisor Newsletter, and one of my favorites is the phone and the support for QuickBooks Online. The U.S. based support is just great. There are, those of you that don't know or maybe forgot about this, there are three different ProAdvisor options now. There's the free option that I was just saying everybody gets those benefits for QuickBooks Online. You get the online training, certification and support, all of the online stuff is for free.
However, then there's the option if you still want to use desktop because a lot of people still have desktop clients, then they still want QuickBooks Accountant Desktop and to get certified in the desktop. In that case, you would want the deluxe membership, which is $349 a year, and then if you want also the Enterprise QuickBooks for Mac at point of sale, then you're going to want the premium version. You need to choose which one's right for you, but there's no reason you shouldn't at least join the free ProAdvisor program. It's kind of a no-brainer. When you first join, you'll be at the silver level. That means you're not certified or you have less than five online clients. Some people don't want to get certified, but I'm not sure why. I encourage everybody to get certified, and then you become a gold member.
As a gold member you get listed on that Find A ProAdvisor director, and then also you get access to the advanced training material. Even if you're not ready for the advanced test, you can at least access those materials. They're a great resource. I'm sorry, I'm going to try to drink some water to keep me coughing so much. Then at the diamond level, this is when you get advanced certified. There is an advanced certification for QuickBooks Online in addition to the desktop version. Once you're advanced certified, you're a diamond level. You get the premium support, which is great because we don't have to wait in line and it's faster and things. Then also you get priority ranking on that Find A ProAdvisor directory. You'll be ranked higher in those search results.
I encourage you to get certified. It doesn't take that long. The QBO certification, most people can do it in a couple of hours. It's five modules and fifteen questions per module. Once you get that certification, you will be listed on the Find A ProAdvisor website. We'll talk more about it next time and some things that you can do to help maximize your profile out there. Once you're certified, you're listed, and then again, I encourage you to get advanced certified. I don't know the exact percentage but it's somewhere maybe around five percent of the pro advisors get certified. I'm sorry, not five percent of the pro advisors that get certified but five percent that get advanced certified.
First of all, when you join the ProAdvisor program and get certified, you're differentiating yourself from other accountants and bookkeepers who haven't done that and there's no reason not to now because it's free. There's a free option. Then get certified, and then to further distinguish yourself as an expert, get advanced certified. It's easy and it does take some time, but really helps a lot in distinguishing yourself as an expert and trusted advisor, and even when you get certified you're also able to charge higher fees again. You're more valuable because you have more education and experience. I encourage you work on certified.
As a matter of fact, there's webinars I think about every week where you can take the free online certification prep training. You can do the self-study. There's recordings available in your ProAdvisor Course Locker if you will, but there's recordings where you can listen to those or you can do a live webinar or an invite you to join me in a couple weeks from now, January 13th and 14th, is the Intuit Vcon and I encourage you to go to QuickBooksVcon.com. I will be doing five webinars and hopefully I won't cough on you then, but I'll be doing five webinars for the certification training, the preparation training. I encourage you, those are all free, so I would encourage you to join and get certified. Again, it helps differentiate yourself, and then you can use those logos on your website and on your business cards and everything else.
Now let's talk about other ways that as a trusted advisor we can add value for our client. This is a great little chart to help you think about ways that you can help your client. Now you know your clients want to be more profitable and grow sales and things like that, but look at other things on there. You can help your clients increase visibility on there on the bottom. You can help them reduce complaints or risk or conflict or definitely the paperwork. You can help them improve their processes with third party apps that will help them streamline their processes. There's lots of things that we can do for our clients to help add value to them. This chart just helps you think about a few different things there that you can go through and add value for your client.
That's what we're going to be talking about now because as we're moving away from data entry, we move to data management. We need to add more value for our client, and this is a great opportunity because a lot of this we can do data entry really fast. You can go through a check register and type those checks in the register really fast. We're really good at typing it in and stuff, but there's no real value in that. We want to add some value for our clients in addition to just the basic bookkeeping and things like that. Think about some of these things here, and then I've got some specific examples here of things that you can add value for your clients with QuickBooks. You can do budgeting.
It wouldn't take you any time at all, less than five minutes to create a budget based on current year actual and then you give that to the client and you start giving them budget versus actual boards, and you can tell them, "Hey, this is not as good as it could be because we just based it off of just your actual. We could actually schedule an hour if you wanted to sit down and go through and do some budgeting." That's something you can do very easy for them, just creating it in QuickBooks in a matter of a minute.
Cash flow forecasting, you can help them with that. Online invoicing and payments, I had several clients that want to use QuickBooks Payment and they see how cool it is and how easy it is to get paid by your clients. They want to implement that for themselves and a lot of times it can save them some money too because with the APH transfer, when the client pays with their bank account information, it's only fifty cents per transaction as opposed to the credit card fee. That's something to [inaudible 00:17:07]. The automated recurring transactions, automated reports. We talked about some of those things and I demoed how to do that in the second webinar. I'm going to encourage you to go back and watch that webinar if you need more information on that, as well as creating custom reports for your clients. Management reports are now available in QuickBooks Online, and then also something else you might want to be doing is monitor the key ratios and trends for your client.
Let your clients know, "Hey, we're going to keep an eye on your gross profit margin and if we see any problems we'll let you know," or "We're going to keep an eye on your net profit margin." Let them know when things are getting out of whack or if expenses are getting out of line. Maybe small tools and equipment, maybe that's been going up a lot lately. Maybe there's some thefts going on. Help monitor things for the client in addition to just cranking out the books and having the monthly [inaudible 00:17:59]. These are some ways in QuickBooks that's really easy that you can do for your client. You might want to then get into more of the ratio analysis and monitoring things with some reporting apps or some data force. There's lots of them available now which are really affordable and provide great information.
A lot of times your clients don't want to just see the P&L and balance sheet. They don't want to just see a bunch of reports. They want to see charts and graphs. They want to quickly see, uh oh, red is something I should be paying attention to or agreeing that something is going well. There's lots of different things that you can find out there that you can use to help you monitor the client activity or you may want to share them with the clients as well. Have them logging in and seeing some things. Again, this is taking us away from just the bookkeeper or just the accountants to that trusted advisor. Clients really do trust us and we need to be helping advise them on how to run and manage their business and what to watch out for and things like that.
A lot of times they're not the type of clients that are accountants most of them, but they wouldn't be using it. These are great things that you can do. Then there's other ways that you can add some value for your client. Maybe you want to do a newsletter or email updates to the clients. The QBO blog comes out every single month with new updates in QuickBooks Online. Share that with the client. Forward it to them. Maybe you want to make a quick video or do a webinar of the updates or things that are going on. Maybe it's new tax laws that you want to let them know about. There's lots of things that you can do for sharing information that's valuable to the client.
Maybe you're specializing in certain industry. Let's say you're specializing in e-commerce and retail, and you want to let the clients know about the new law with the chip on the credit cards. Maybe you want to do that with them. Think about ways that you can help the client stay up to date in their industry, as well as with the tax laws and payroll changes or any of those things. Then also some of your clients, like if you're in a firm, let's say you have five bookkeepers working in the firm. Maybe the client wants one specific staff person all the time assigned to them. That's very valuable to them to have the same person doing it all the time. Maybe you want to give them a satisfaction guarantee. If they're not happy you'll take care of it, you'll do something for them.
Think about it, if your client's unhappy anyway, you need to take care of it or they're going to go somewhere else. You're already probably guaranteeing your work and guaranteeing that they're satisfied. Why not put it in writing for them? That's something that they value and you can actually charge a premium for that, like a ten percent premium. Maybe you want a guaranteed delivery time. If you give us your tax information by January 31st, we'll give you your taxes by February 15th, I don't know. You have guaranteed delivery time. The converse of that too is you need to also set up a policy with your clients that this is the due date when we have to have certain information. If you don't get it to us by the due date, you pay a $25, a $50 penalty for every week or day or whatever. You need to establish deadlines for things with your clients on when you need things and then have consequences if they don't meet those deadlines.
There's no reason their procrastination should cause us to have an emergency, you work overtime and weekends and go crazy trying to meet the deadline if they give us things too late. Make sure though that you clearly specify what the terms are there.
Then also a lot of accounting professionals globally now are really switching over the value pricing, and what they're doing, they're just including QuickBooks Online in with their pricing because with wholesale billing, as accountants and bookkeepers, we can get wholesale billing where it's fifty percent off for the life of that subscription. For QBO Plus for us it's like $15 a month. It's not very much. There's other apps. Maybe clients need bill.com, maybe they need TSheets, maybe they need different things. You may consider bundling these things in with your prices, especially with QBO Plus. For $15 a month you're not sending files back and forth anymore. You don't have to worry about getting the backup or an accounts copy, the client working in the wrong file. All of those inefficiencies are gone when you're working in QuickBooks Online.
Not to mention the beauty of the downloaded transactions and bank rules and all the other things that you can do to automate processes. A lot of accountants are just including QuickBooks Online in their fees. We'll look at an example of how you can do that in just a minute. Also you might consider, and we're going to talk about these two in depth in just a second, but separate a la carte option or bundle stuff in with your packaging when it comes to training and support. One of the things that I noticed out there is if you go to anything online like the Intuit community forums, the LinkedIn groups, Facebook, you go look anywhere, you'll see people posting questions. "How do I do this? My accountant told me to do that. How do I do this?" I see these people out there asking questions and I'm like why don't you ask your accountant? "Because they'll charge me for it."
That's putting a wall up between us and our clients. We don't want them to do that. We can build in some training and support options for our clients. For example, under Training, you might have something where you have okay, we will do the setup of QuickBooks and training for you all in one package, or you may say setup is going to be X amount of dollars and then we have this four hour training package as well. You can decide how you want to do that. I encourage you to set up a training together in one package, in one price. Then for example, you might say, "We're going to give you the setup plus four hours of custom training." You can do these one each day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon. You can figure out how you want to schedule these. Usually I would not suggest doing a four hour session all at once with a client. That's going to be overload for them, so break it down.
Maybe the first time you go over basic navigation or working with their list, with the customers and vendors and accounts and things. Then maybe on the second session you go over money in and how to do all the sales and the receivables and all those transactions in the related reports. Then on the next one money out, how to enter those expenses into purchases and payables and all that. Then reporting and other. You can do these four training sessions. When you do it, you can use a remote access tool like Go To Meeting, Join Me, Team Viewer and record the session. Then what you can do, you also log into your ProAdvisor website and under training, there's a training for you and training for your clients.
Go get those manuals from the training for your clients and now you've got for your clients, you've recorded the training sessions so they could watch it again in case they forget something, and you customize it just for their business. You've got that recording and the handout that you've got from the ProAdvisor website where you can give them these training materials. That's very valuable for your client. They've got that training there for them. Think about that. That's a great way to add value for your clients and then also, again, provide them with those recordings and those handouts. I think both of those are going to be great.
Somebody says how safe are the remote access tools? They're all very safe, especially Go To Meeting, Join Me. Those have been around for a long time, Team Viewer. Those are very safe when you're logging in remotely. It allows you to see what the client is seeing or they can see what you're doing so you can do some training there. Somebody says where can I get some QuickBooks slides for a presentation? Somebody wants them to talk about QuickBooks, so they'd like to get information on it. If you're a ProAdvisor, which if you're not I just told you about how you should join because it is free, so you should join a free ProAdvisor program. Then in there, again, go under the training for your client, and you'll find some resources and materials in there. Hopefully that will be helpful for you.
Provide training options for your clients. You really need to consider including some basic support in all your offerings. You do not want your client going out online and saying, "What should I do here? What should I do there?" For one thing let's say somebody like myself answers their question for them and I say, "Gosh, why don't you ask your accountant?" They say, "Oh I'm afraid to" or "They don't explain it well" or "They're going to charge me for it." You're not going to have client loyalty and they may want to switch. They may say, "Gosh, you were great. You were very helpful. Would you be my new accountant?" That's something you don't want the client afraid to contact you for help. You really want to make sure that the door is open for that client to contact you. I encourage you to consider including some basic support for all of your clients.
It might be something like if you've got a quick questions, send us an email. We'll answer within twenty-four hours. That might be the free support that you include for all your clients. Your clients aren't going to abuse this option either. They will have more questions when they're first getting stated, but that's to be expected. After the first month or two, they're going to have fewer and fewer questions for you, and it might be something like, "We bought a new vehicle, how do I record this" or "I need your help to get a bank loan." Then you negotiate [inaudible 00:27:46] and stuff. You want them contacting you.
You want to provide them with some options when it comes to support. Do they just want the free quick email question within twenty-four hours or are they willing to pay for more support? I'm out here in Colorado, we do an annual ski trip every year. We've been doing it for years and years. I remember one year I had trained the bookkeeper for this construction company. I had been training her for a couple of days. It was Friday, and I was like, "Okay, well if you need anything, let me know. I'll be out of town next week. I'm going on a ski trip." They're like, "Oh no." The owner of the company says, "You can't leave. She's just been trained. What if she needs questions for you?" I said, "I'm sorry. It's spring break or Christmas and we're going on this trip." He said, "Well you've got to be available in case she has questions."
He says, "Doctors are on call. Why can't you be on call?" I was like, "Well what'd you have in mind?" He says, "If she has a question, she'll send you a question of whatever. You call her right back." I said, "Well I'm going to be on the side of the mountain." He's like, "Okay, well call back within an hour." It gets kind of cold and tiring when you're skiing, and I need a break. I said, "Okay, well how much do you think that would be worth to you?" He said a really big number in addition to my normal hourly rate, because this was years ago when I was charging hourly. It was like $1,000 to be on call plus my normal rate. I was like, "Okay, I can do that." I would have never thought to do that.
Your client sometimes, they want support and they're willing to pay for it. Think about it, people are willing to pay for support and the help that they need, so let's give them the option. What kind of support do you want? Do you want the basic free support, an email question within twenty-four hours, or do you want to have different packages? You'll see there, I've got the example of bronze, silver and gold. Maybe reply within eight hours or four hours. Maybe you want to have calls included. Maybe the platinum level is phone calls to you to help with doing their stuff. Think about how you can offer support options for your clients. They're willing to pay for support because they like to know you're there.
It's just like when we pay for insurance. We like it because we know it's there when we need it. Your clients want to pay for support so they know it's there when they need it. Give them some options. Let them choose. That way too you're helping with the client loyalty. They're going to turn to you when they have questions, and hopefully when they need additional services they're turning to you as well instead of anybody else. Offer some support options for your clients as well. Don't forget that. Now let's do the CPE keyword, and I'll answer a couple of other questions. Baboon. Have you seen a baboon lately? If you've been the zoo, you've probably saw a baboon. Write down baboon. Write down baboon and you'll get the CPE keyword a little bit later. I'm sorry, I took another drink so I'd quit coughing.
Somebody says should some kind of [inaudible 00:30:59] agreement to identify the responsibilities and liabilities? Yes, we're going to talk about an engagement letter coming up a little bit later where you do want to clearly lay out the responsibilities and due dates and terms and all that stuff. We will talk about engagement letters towards the very end. Let's see. Thank you Woody for flagging some of these questions for me and answering some of them on your own. I love it. I thought I saw another flagged one. You're doing great. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Support options. Would you recommend anything different for a one person practice? No. I still would give them support options. My policy has been if it's a quick question you don't want to worry about tracking and charging for that stuff anyway. I want my client to send me an email with quick questions, things like that. If it's not a quick question, I'll email them back and say, "Sorry, I'm going to need to log in to see this. We need to set up a remote session." You may have fifteen minute remote sessions with your clients to log in, fix things, talk about things or whatever, but I think we should be providing support to our clients. We don't want them afraid to call us when they have questions. We don't want them making mistakes and messing it up where we got to clean it up either. We went to try to get them to where they can do some things on their own by helping them to do what they need to do.
Maybe they want to do the invoicing and the estimates on their own and the checks and the reconciling, but we want to have that support where they contact us and that they see us as their trusted advisor, they don't go looking at somebody else. Somebody's asking a question about value pricing and we're going to get to that in just a few moments. Right now we're talking about the adding value and things like that. Billy says how do you offer support when you have clients that are both tax and bookkeeping clients, and how do you mark those as a bronze level to remind myself to call them within their scheduled time? Susan and QBO A and in desktop, but in QBO we've got a client dashboard, and in the client dashboard you can put notes that would show up when you just hover on the little note right in front of the client name so you can quickly see what level they are, so that's going to remind you there.
Then also as far as clients that are tax and bookkeeping, you can go ahead and say[inaudible 00:33:25] tax update newsletter that you're going to send out to everybody is included or something. Then at the higher level, maybe some of them get a half an hour of one on one tax advice and planning or maybe they get an hour. You can go ahead and build those into your packages as well for tax support and bookkeeping support.
I'm going to go ahead and move along here. Baboon. Write down baboon to get you CPE keyword at the end of the webinar. Baboon, baboon, baboon. There I said it a whole bunch. I see now we have Emily here who's helping us as well. Thank you Emily for helping with some of the questions. I really appreciate that. Let me get this slide going onto the next one. Let's talk about value pricing and what the differences are and we're going to talk about how we can start moving over to value pricing and everything. Let me just check to see if Emily got made as staff so she can help to answer questions. There she is. Thank you Emily for helping and Woody too.
How do we define value pricing? Everyone knows what hourly billing is right? I worked five hours, I'm going to bill them five hours. What's happening though is let's say you worked twenty hours entering all the checks and the credit card expenses and reconciling the account and everything. Now you're converting to QuickBooks Online. You're setting rules and you're automating things. This only takes three hours a month instead of six hours a month. Do you want to make less money? Are you providing the same value to your clients? Are you providing the same service to them? They're getting their financial records taken care of or their payroll taken care of. You're doing the same thing but you're faster and more efficient. Should you make less money because you've invested in learning about the new tools and the new technology and stuff? No.
Furthermore, your clients don't really care how long things take you to do. When you go in and get your oil changed, do you care how long it takes them? You just see the price, right? This is where more and more accounting professionals are getting away from hourly billing and we're value pricing. We're basing our fees not on the time but on the value to the client. We can't underestimate the value of the benefits that we provide. I've had some people say, "Well gosh, that's pretty easy. I can't charge that much." It's easy for you, it's not easy for them. If I tried to go do something in FileMaker Pro, let's say I want to edit an image or graphics or whatever, I don't know how to do that stuff and it's going to take me a lot of time to learn it. I'm happy to pay somebody to do it for me. They're happy to pay us to do the accounting and bookkeeping, and we need to realize that and not underestimate the value that we're providing to these clients.
We've got to realize, we are not selling our time. You're selling your knowledge, your experience, innovation and customer service. Think about the first time you did a bank rec, do you remember how long it took you? The first time you tried to fix undeposited funds? Remember, you're like, "Oh my gosh, how do I fix this?" Those things took you a long time, right, when you were first were new and getting started. They took a long time. Now you've got more experience. You've got more education. You've learned more. You've got more knowledge and skills and it takes you no time at all. It's very valuable what you've learned over your years.
We've got to focus on the value to the client and forget the time. We're getting so much faster and more efficient now, billing hourly is totally dying. A lot of people are getting away from that now, more so than ever before. We've got to remember that. There's several different benefits to value pricing as well. For our clients, they want to know what it costs upfront. They like to know what it's going to cost, not, "Can you do this for me?" "Sure." "How much is it going to be?" "I don't know. It depends." They don't like not knowing what the costs going to be. Somebody says the bank rec in QBO is so easy I feel guilty. Exactly. That's one reason though I wanted to help you learn how to add value for your clients, like helping them do a budget real quick and easy or adding some of those automated reports for them so that you're adding value for your client so you don't feel guilty.
I know Kathy, a lot of people say that, that they feel guilt. I don't know about you, but I remember when I used to bill hourly I used to hate when my client was like, "What are you working on? How are you spending your time? What's your hourly rate? Oh my gosh, it's how high?" You don't want them worrying about what you're doing, are you working on their stuff, what you're doing every minute and being accountable for it and things like that. Also you get pushback. "Oh my gosh, you're [inaudible 00:38:22]? Outrageous." That's where they say you can go get some data entry person for $15, $20 an hour. When your value pricing they're like [inaudible 00:38:32]. Plus they're going to feel better knowing that you understand their needs and their values. A lot of times your clients will appreciate and will love the fact that they know it's going to be $500 every month or $1,000 every month. They like knowing that the accounting, bookkeeping and payroll's taken care of and their taxes and how much it's going to cost them.
Then it's also beneficial for us because as we improve our efficiency, we learn how to use these new tools, like the bank rules and automated features and stuff, when we improve our efficiency it allows us to improve our profitability as well and it helps bu8ild that client loyalty. We talked about the fact that you don't want your clients afraid to contact you, and this helps build up some of that client loyalty so that they aren't afraid to go elsewhere.
Let's talk how do we move to value pricing. Let's talk about some of these basic steps now, if I want to start moving away from hourly billing [inaudible 00:39:32].
Michelle, we can't hear you.
Everyone, we know that Michelle has lost the audio. We're going to give her a couple minutes to come on back. I just emailed her, so I'm sure she'll just log out and log back in.
Michelle, is that you? Oh sweet. Perfect. I was just letting everybody know you'd be back soon.
Yes, thank you, thank you. I'm not sure what happened. Sorry about that everybody. Hopefully you had just a little bit of a break there, not too long. Let's talk about the four basic steps to move to value pricing. This is where if you've got new clients you want to start the first couple of months you'll just get a feel for their activity and things like that and then move them to value pricing. For existing clients especially, we've got to have a path on how we're going to move them to value pricing. The first thing we want to do is establish some packages, and we're going to talk about each one of these in just a moment here.
We want to establish packages, we've got to determine our pricing, and then we also need to implement this in phases. You're not going to do all of your clients, as of January 1 put them on value pricing. We're going to move a few clients at a time over there. We'll talk about that as well as evaluate and revise. We're also going to talk about that engagement, what I know. Somebody brought that up just a minute ago. These are the four steps. Let's talk first of all about ... sorry, let me get this to go. There we go. [inaudible 00:42:03] create some packages. These are going to be tailored for each one of your clients, but you can have some basic ideas because there's going to be some stuff that we'll apply to lots of clients.
Your basic package, like the client might do some tax. Maybe the client wants to do all of the sales and receivable side of things. Maybe they want to do all that, they want you to do all the bills. The client is doing something. The middle package, that's the one that's going to be the most common services that you're providing, the one that you do most of the time. That's the one that most clients will choose. Then you want to also have a premium package. This is like the white glove service. You're going to give them additional reports. This is where you might use those dashboards with some key indicators, things like that. They get priority service and response. Instead of an email reply, maybe they get a call back within two to four hours. You want to create three different packages.
The middle package is the one that's going to be the most commonly selected. This is proven. There's lots of research on the magic of three choices, and think about it. Everybody has three choices. Small, medium or large, right? Everybody has three choices. As a matter of fact, this is true, there's lots of research on this, and in fact Wendy's paid some consultant millions of dollars and wanted to increase the sales of their doubles, and they paid these consultants millions of dollars, "How do we increase the sales of our doubles?" The answer was add a triple. They said, "Well we don't want to sell lots of triples. We want to increase the sales of doubles." Exactly. It will increase the sales of doubles when you have a third choice.
You want to have three choices for your clients keeping in mind the middle one is going to be the most commonly selected and the one that you have most often for most of your clients. You've got to have at least three choices for your client. For example, in the silver level maybe the client's doing almost everything, you're just doing the bank rec and email support. That might be just the basic level for those clients who are on a big budget and they want to do a lot of it themselves. Then you want to have a gold level where you're doing the monthly bank rec and you're doing the accounts payable management. Maybe you're using bill.com to do the bills. Maybe it's a restaurant and they have lots of bills and things.
You might also include email support with a little faster response time there. Then you can have a platinum level where you're doing the monthly bank recs. You're not only doing the accounts payable management. Now you're also doing the receivable side and you're doing payroll and maybe this one includes an hour of phone support. You might have payroll as an add-on option, an a la carte option. These again are going to be customized for your various clients. You can have some standards like, okay, here's where I'm going to start, but then you have to customize it for your various clients. Some clients are going to need payroll, some don't. Some are going to need inventory, some don't. Some are more complex than others. You're going to need to customize and tailor it for each one of your clients.
Here's an example that somebody has on their website where they have three different packages. You can see there they've got the accounting [inaudible 00:45:14], which would be QuickBooks Online, paperless workflow. You're getting receipts from them and doing document management. You don't have to send papers back and forth. You're reconciling and closing the accounts for a couple of them there, so you can see one account, two accounts or three accounts. That can vary, and so you do need to take into consideration not just the number of accounts that your clients have but the volume of the activity. You've got to take that into account as well. That's where you'll see the banking activity. There's different levels of activity there.
Chart of accounts. Is it a standard one or custom? How often are you doing it, monthly or weekly? Then look here, we've got controller call where they're going to spend some time on the phone with them talking to them about how the business is going, things to look out for and helping give them advice on managing their business. That's one example. Here's some other examples. Now these examples came from Ron Baker's book, which is a great resource. Also if you go out into Intuit Academy, you'll see Ron Baker has done some webinars in the past and he might have some more coming up soon, but Ron Baker wrote the booking Implementing Value Pricing. These are some examples I took out of there, so I want to make sure to give credit to him and mention that book, a valued resource and their webinars at Intuit Academy. Those are free. I guess it's Accountants University now.
Anyway, for example, here's the silver level. Notice it says we're going to prepare your tax returns, your financials, statutory returns, which might be state tax returns and stuff. Plus this one he's got unlimited phone discussions, advice [inaudible 00:46:56]. A free review of your business and private loan. Notice that thing in red down there though. This is very, very important. When we're putting these packages together, we've got to clearly define in an engagement letter, and we'll talk more about that in a little bit, clearly define what work is included and what's not included. Let's say the client wants to get a bank loan and they want you to help prepare the loan documents or something. Maybe they want you to help do some tax planning for them. You need to have a change order for anything that's not covered in the basic package that you've specified.
Maybe they're being audited by the IRS. You've got to have a change order. Here it's called a variation order. Just like in construction they do that when you're building a house or doing remodeling and stuff, they'll have change orders for additional work. You've got to make sure that you include that in there as well. Then here you've got the gold level. It typically includes all the services of the silver level plus we may add some of these other things on. Again, this is going to depend on each client. It's assistance with wills and succession planning and business planning, team advisory boards, client advisory boards. All of those won't apply to all of your clients, so those are just some examples, and you're customizing this for each individual client.
Then at the platinum level is where they really go all out and that's when you give them the white glove treatment here. On the platinum level, this is where, again, they're saying what is excluded from this package, and that's where you might even say excluded is representation in an audit. If you're doing their tax return, you may say audit representation is excluded, or you may include that. You can charge ten to fifteen, twenty percent premium for audit representation because think about it, what is it like one or two percent get audited. The odds are they're not going to be audited at all, but they may be willing to pay for me for that knowing that not only are you going to do the tax return, they get audited it's included in the fees.
That's something that you can add value and charge more for. You're going to see in just a minute an example of some of this. Once you get an idea of some packages that you might be putting together for your clients, you got to go through and determine what you're going to be charging them, how much you're going to charge for this. One of the things that I suggest you do when we're choosing which clients to start with, start with a client that you've had for a long time that's pretty consistent, look for some clients that you've been dealing with for maybe a year or two, and take a look at what their annual fees were. You might want to look at both, bookkeeping and taxes. Let's say what were their annual fees over the last year. Some months might be a little more, then other months might be a little less. What were their annual fees?
Take a look at the billing rate survey. That's out on my blog and the accountants blog. There's some results of Intuit's average billing rate survey, and there's three specific examples on some fixed fee jobs or value pricing kind of jobs. Go look at some of those out there as well. Then also determine the base price for each level, and you've got have some parameters. For example, here's one that I took off somebody's website for bookkeeping. As you can see it says monthly $300, quarterly $900. Well first of all, I think I don't like that aspect because you don't encourage them to do monthly. If it's the same three months, the quarterly is the same as month, so they can just give you their stuff all at once. You may like that, you may not.
You might want to charge more if you've got to do three months at one time. You might want to charge $1,000 for that to encourage them to do monthly. Think about some of that. Also notice there's an asterisk there next to bookkeeping services. Pricing may vary depending on the complexity of the work or large volume of transactions. Some clients have one line invoices or one line checks and bills and expenses. Other clients, maybe they're buying and selling inventory and there's multiple lines. Maybe they're doing class tracking and location tracking. Things can be more complex, so you've got to allow for that parameter in there. Prices starting at, especially if you decide you want to list these on your website.
Some people are listing their pricing and their packages on their websites now, so you can go search some of that, especially if you know that Australia or New Zealand, and if you do Google New Zealand or Google Australia, you can search those websites from those countries, they are way ahead of us on creating packages and value pricing clients.
Let's go through an example here, and I'll answer some of these questions here in just a minute because I Woody flagged some for me, Woody and Emily. Thank you guys. Let's take an example. Let's say you've got a client that's been a stable client of yours, you've worked with them for a couple years. Currently their annual fees over the past twelve months was $12,000. Of course I did an easy number, right? Let's say it was $1,000 a month.
Yep, we know guys. Looks like Michelle lost connection again, so let's give her thirty seconds or a minute to come back in. Should work like last time. She'll just log out and log back in, dial back in. I'm sure she's physically okay, it's just something with the connection. I do appreciate you guys putting in some of your well wishes because of the cough, but I think it has nothing to do with the cough. It's purely a technical issue. We'll give her a chance to dial back in. Thank you. Hey everybody, can you hear me okay? Let's give her just a little bit more time to reconnect. She's dialing back in.
I'm back. Boy, it's not my day is it? I'll tell you I don't know what the problem is. I apologize everybody. I've been talking on the phone all week, and this is the first time I've been losing my calls like this. Then I tried my speakers and mic and it didn't work either. Hopefully we won't have this again. I apologize and glad I'm back because I want to continue with this example.
We got our stable client. We're charging $1,000 a month for ten hours. We're going to convert them to QuickBooks Online and use one third party app. Maybe it's Tishi, bill.com, who knows. This is going to allow us to save half the time. Instead of ten hours, we're going to save five hours a month, and usually it's much more than that. Usually you're going to save a lot more time but let's say its going to save us fifty percent of our time. We're going to be getting the work done a lot faster now. We're also going to add some value for them. We're going to add a satisfaction guarantee. We're going to tell them satisfaction guaranteed, we're going to get it done on time and blah, blah, blah. If you're unhappy, that month is free. You're going to give them some kind of satisfaction guarantee.
You have a client who's still using QuickBooks 2002 from the desktop and don't want to upgrade? Guess what, we're going to include QuickBooks for you and it's going to be updated every month and you won't have to worry about updating it or backing up anything. It's all taken care of. You're going to include QuickBooks Online Plus and you might include one third party app for them as well. The value to the client is the $1,000 that they were paying before because you're still doing the same thing. You're still providing the monthly financials, reconciling, doing the payroll, whatever it is. You're still doing the same thing. The basic added value, you can add more things into that as well. You're already providing about $1,130 of value to your client, and then you can add more value in there. Plus we're going to give you these automated reports where every week you're going to get a collections report and a sales report automatically emailed to you where you can look at it quickly and stay on top of those things.
Maybe you're going to do a budget for them. Maybe you're going to do some additional support or training. This is where, I think Kathy said it earlier, I feel guilty because this stuff is so fast now. I get it done so easy. I feel guilty charging them the same amount. Add some value for them that takes very little time on your part, but is very valuable to them. Giving that collections report emailed to them every week automatically might be very valuable to the client so that they can stay on top of overdue invoices, it takes you less than five minutes to set it up. Then it happens automatically all the time. There's ways that we can add these value in here for the client. That's just one example there.
Somebody says, "Most of my clients in the range of $60,000 to $100,000 [inaudible 00:57:05] for years, very difficult to charge them $1,000 a month because they don't see the value. Michael, this was just an example for a pretend client. You may not be doing $1,000 a month. You may be doing $500, maybe it's $300. That's going to vary depending on your clients, the volume of work and what you're doing for them. You're right, this example isn't going to apply to all clients. It's just to show you though how you can add value into the client.
Once we streamline and automate that workflow, we don't want to keep charging hourly anymore because if I did I'd cut my income in half or more because I'm saving so much time. That's why we need to get over towards the value pricing here. Somebody says, "What is the best place to find differences between different online packages plus?" I'm not even sure what that means. Marge, on the QuickBooks Online, there's three different versions, simple, [inaudible 00:58:05] essentials and plus. I talked about those in the very first Firm of the Future webinar. If you go back, listen to that recording, I go over some of that for you there. Hopefully that will help.
Hopefully though this example helps you a little bit. What I'm going to do here, because it looks like we've got plenty of time, I'm going to look back at some of these questions that we had. Somebody says, "I do more QuickBooks training and process improvements than a monthly bookkeeping service. Would value pricing work for training and process improvements as well?" Absolutely. I always do my training based on fixed fees. Like I said earlier, you might do a four hour training package and one of the things that I do as well is I will tell them after we go through [inaudible 00:58:50] and you have some questions, write them down, because as they start using it, they're going to have questions.
My training package includes not only the initial training, but it also includes some multiple question time. Bill that in and [inaudible 00:59:05] improvement. That's a great opportunity for value pricing. Let's say you've identified that someone's manually writing invoices out in the field and manually writing down the credit card number or they call it into the office. You tell them, "You know what, we're going to streamline this process. We're going to automate it for you so that you can receive credit cards in the field, and it's going to cost X amount." Yes, you can go through and do those things as a value price service as well because they don't know how long it takes. They don't care. They want to see the result. Absolutely you can do that.
How do you utilize KPIs and other reports from apps like that and when they're not available for the client in QBO A, unless I'm just mistaken? Tim, with [inaudible 00:59:49] and some of those other reporting apps like [inaudible 00:59:51] and some of the other ones, there's quite a few of them, but with those a lot of times you can make the client the user so that you can share those reports with them, or you could save the reports as PDFs and email them to the client as well. That's something that you can take a look at. A lot of clients really like that as well.
How can we know what the competitive fees to charge for support packages? Should we charge a fee less than Intuit support? Linda, that's a good question. What's a competitive fee for support packages? What you need to think about is they're going to use the support package a lot more initially than they do later. Initially you're going to be doing a lot more, and as they get more self-sufficient and more knowledgeable than using QuickBooks, their support calls will be less and less. You might take that into consideration. You might even want to consider support for the first three months and maybe you're charging $100 a month for two calls or two remote sessions and you got an add-on fee from there. You got to sit down, work it out and see what makes sense.
As far as what Intuit charges, I think you can look at that. I would tend to charge more because you know their business better and I just think we can provide better support, so we can charge more. We're closer to the client, we know the business, and a lot of times we know actually what they're doing a lot better. That would be my thought there. Billy says, "I have a new client, an hourly rate. Definitely see something I need to go with them. How do I get them to switch and provide the outsource controller service with training, help with changes, the problems they are having? I don't do taxes." One of the things that I suggest that you do is we've got to talk to our clients and listen to our clients.
If you get them to talk about things that they're worried about, things that they're concerned about, things that they would like to do better, more efficiently, things that would change, [inaudible 01:01:50] they're having, then you can see all these opportunities, and then you can tell them how this is what we can do to address those problems that you're having. We've got to listen to them, and then a lot of times, they'll be like, "Yeah, that sounds great." You've got to listen to them, and they'll talk you through it and a lot of times they see the benefit of it as well.
Do you ever do an annual contract so that you can recover the time invested initially as they need you? Yes, that's a good idea. When you do this, I encourage you to come up with an agreement for a specific period. We're going to do your books for a twelve month period or for this calendar year or whatever. You definitely need to do this, but you also need to make sure that you reevaluate things periodically because things change. Sometimes the business will grow, sometimes the business will decline. You've got to allow for those changes as well, so your price may need to go up or down depending on the changes in the client's business too. You may not want to do a whole year. You may want to do three months or six months and review every quarter or review it every six months or something, but at minimum you want to review it every year.
Let's see. Oh okay. Let me go ahead and cover some more of the contents here, and then I'll get to some more questions because I did allow time for questions, like I always do, and I knew there would be a lot today. Let's talk about the engagement and then we'll go back to questions. Go ahead and put your questions in there and I'll answer them as I can, and thank you to Wood and Emily for helping as well.
[inaudible 01:03:40] this engagement letter. It's also known as a fixed price agreement. In Ron Baker's book, he calls it a fixed price agreement. This is where we need to make sure that we use an engagement letter. It's going to help us to clearly define those services and support that's included in the monthly fee. This is our tools, it's fairly communicated with the client. We will do X, Y and Z. You will provide this, that and the other by this specific date. If we don't receive it by that date, the penalty is $50 per week or something. Charge them if they're not getting these things on time. We've got clearly define what's included and what you're doing, what the client's doing, the dates, the due dates and things like that.
Then identify possible add-on services. Maybe you want to say we will create a budget based on your current year actual. If you want additional budgeting, then that will be an add-on service. This does not include payroll, that's an add-on service. It doesn't include taxes or doesn't include your tax returns. What's included? What's not included? Does it include the audit representation? Does it not include that? If you're putting audit representation in there, you can charge a ten percent to twenty percent premium on that. In other words, if you charge them $1,000 and you tell them that you're going to represent them in the event of an audit, now you can charge a ten to twenty percent premium. Another $100 to $200 they're willing to pay to know that you'll be there for them in the event of an audit.
You might have the basic support included, but if they want additional support, if they want remote access, maybe you do four remote access are included per month, an additional this much. You've got to specify everything out. Include details about payments. There's no reason we should be having accounts receivable on our books. We should be getting paid at the time of service. That's what everybody else does. Think about it. You go to the dentist, you go get your oil changed, you go do anything, you pay for at the time of service. What a lot of accounting professionals are doing [inaudible 01:05:49].
Can you hear me?
Yeah, you're great. Michelle, you still there?
Yay, I'm back. I'm here. I don't know what is going back. I'm back.
Also Michelle, can we put up the CP word just now, might as well, and then maybe you can answer some questions and then that way they'll be able to do the poll at the bottom of the hour?
Sure. I already did the CPE keyword.
Oh you did. Okay, I'm sorry.
Yeah, but I will go ahead and launch the poll question now. I'll go ahead and do that. The CP poll question has been launched. Go ahead and answer that now. Thank you Woody. I see somebody that said something about engagement letters and a link that used to be on my website. If you go to the ProAdvisor website under resources, there's a link in there for six sample engagement letters. Also Hector and I did a QB Power Hour on engagement letters not too long ago. If you go to QBPowerHour.com and look in the archives, we've got a webinar where we talked for a whole hour about engagement letters. There's several different resources for that.
We should have that poll question up right now. You guys should be seeing the poll question. Please answer that with the CPE keyword if you need CPE credit. Let's see. Where do you suggest we check with insurance providers? I'll finish that slide [inaudible 01:08:14]. Let's finish the poll question here, and those of you that need CPE questions if you can answer that CPE poll word, I'll give you another ten to fifteen seconds here. How can I get my first client? You know what, that's a great question. How do you get your first client or your second client or any client? How do you keep getting clients? If you join me for the next webinar, the Firm of the Future number four, we're going to be talking about social media and networking and getting referrals and things like that.
I'd love to have you join me for that webinar, and we'll talk more about [inaudible 01:08:50] clients, and that one's on January 15th. You need to register for it too. It's separate from the one today. Those of you that need to answer the poll question, you got another [inaudible 01:09:02] for CPE credit. Last call on poll question. I'm going to go ahead and close that. Thank you guys. You should be seeing the screen again. Including the details about the payments, I was talking about the fact that we shouldn't be invoicing and waiting to get paid later. What a lot of accounting professionals are doing now with QuickBooks payments, you have the client signs something authorizing you to charge their credit card every month, and then you set up a recurring sales receipt and it will automatically charge their credit card, maybe on the 10th day of the month or something like that so that you don't have to worry about invoicing and collecting later.
Also if you're ever doing cleanup work for a client or maybe they come to you and they need you to do the whole year of work and you tell them, "Okay, I can do that. It's going to be $3,000" or something, never ever, ever start working without a deposit or a retainer or some kind of prepayment up front. If they won't pay you now what makes you think they're going to pay you later? I encourage you maybe go a third at the beginning at the beginning of the job, a third half the way through and then a third upon completion? Do not do a whole bunch of cleanup work and then try to invoice them a large amount and then sometimes you have a hard time getting it collected. Set up those automated payments, that helps a lot.
Make sure you include a provision to reevaluate things on a regular basis. Remember the client business may be growing, so the volume of activity may be going up. On the other hand, things have been hard for some business, maybe they're going to close the location, so the activity's going to go down. You need to reevaluate things on a regular basis, and how often is going to depend on your client. Some clients amply might be fine. Other clients may be more volatile, and you'll need to review those maybe quarterly or twice a year, so think about those. Then yes, you should check with your insurance provider for an engagement letter template. You should have E&O, errors and emissions insurance to cover [inaudible 01:11:04]. For professional liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance, a lot of times your insurance provider will have a template that they require you to use, so you might check with them.
Also if you're a CPA, check with the AICPA. If you're a bookkeeper, check with the AIPB or the Canadian Bookkeepers. I can't remember what it is now off the top of my head, but check with bookkeeping associations, accounting associations. Check with some of those as well for a template that you could use for that engagement letter. It's very important that you have that engagement letter again to clearly identify exactly what's going to be done, when it's done and the responsibilities for you and for your client, and then also the consequences when they don't do things on time.
Hopefully that helps a little bit there. Now what we want to do, and let me go ahead and look at some more of the questions that we have here. I'll see somebody's talking about using apps. Somebody's asking about using apps and stuff like that. Does the ProAdvisor program offer website assistance? No it doesn't, but there's lots of people who do websites for accounting professionals. One of them is Sandi Smith Leyva, and there's some others as well. You can check some of those out there.
Let's talk about how do we get started. Look for three initial clients that you want to convert. Just start with those three. You don't want to start with a huge number because value pricing is kind of an art not a science. It's going to take some time and some testing the waters and such. You want to try to get some of your clients that you do regular services for them, a good candidate for QuickBooks Online because that's where it's getting so much improved deficiency and automation and everything, much more so than working with those top clients. I can tell you, I started using QuickBooks Desktop long, long, long, long time ago, I think in mid to late 90s. I started teaching QuickBooks Desktop in 1999. I've written books on desktop, and I don't take any new desktop clients anymore.
Honestly now when I work in desktop, it seems so quirky and dated to me. QuickBooks Online just saves so much time and there's so much that you can automated things with the bank things and the downloaded transactions, so you want to try to find somebody that's a good candidate for QuickBooks Online. Maybe you start with a service aid business. Somebody that doesn't have complex transactions. You don't want somebody that's got a lot of inventory and items that are on every transaction and such so that it's a little bit easier to do the value pricing and to gauge the time and the work that's going to be involved. You also want a client that keeps business and personal separate. We all know there's some of those that we try and try and try to teach them that, there's some that just never will get it right and sometimes I call them former clients because after you've been in business a while you learn that sometimes you don't need every client. That's something to keep in mind.
Also it's very helpful to have a good relationship with a client because that's going to make it a little easier for you to say, "Hey client, we've worked together a long time, and I really think this is going to be good for you and this is going to be good for me, and this is what we're going to do. I'd love your feedback and your comments as we go through this process." Again, use a phase approach. You don't want to do a whole bunch of clients all at one time. Just start with two or three clients, see how that goes for three months or six months and then you can do another batch, maybe ten clients the next time. Convert the clients in phases, and that's going to be helpful for you and helpful for your clients as well.
Now there's lots of additional resources out there, and I am going to spend time answering some of your questions. FirmOfTheFuture.com is where you can register for webinar number four, which is going to talk about social media and getting connected and helping you to get clients and things like that and referral sources. Then also webinars one and two there's links that you can watch those out there. Then also I'd encourage you to join my Successful QuickBooks Consultant LinkedIn group if you haven't already. You can post questions out there and it's a great resource, as well as the Facebook group for QB Power Hour if you're more of a Facebook person instead of LinkedIn. Intuit's Accountants University has lots of free webinars for you. That's where you can find some of the certification prep webinars. Launch for Success is my website. Go search for Intuit average billing rate survey. Again, the Ultimate Accounting Vcon, I had mentioned it earlier. Sandi Smith Leyva and I have that coming up again in May.
It's a great online virtual conference where we talk about lots of things that are going to help you to grow your practice. Lots of resources. Here's the other webinars that we have, the Firm of the Future ones. Again, you can watch the first two, they were recorded. Number four is coming up on January 15th. Please register for that. You need to register separately from this webinar, so I'd encourage you to do that as well. Let's do some more questions here. The company that has a charity and wants to add employee to sell ... Okay, this is a little more specific there and not about value [inaudible 01:16:38].
I'll do that one Michelle, thanks.
Yeah, I'll just type in a response there if you want to continue on to some other questions.
Okay. Trying to look for some value pricing ones. Somebody was saying, "Why do I suggest a template insurance provider for templates running the engagement letter?" Sometimes they have some that they want you to use. They may not, but it doesn't hurt to check because the engagement letter is a legal document. It is a contract between you and your client. You need to treat them with caution and be careful and check with your insurance provider to see if they do have a template that they want you to use. If not, you can always go look at your ProAdvisor website. If you [inaudible 01:17:32], you're going to be able to go under resources and there was a link for [inaudible 01:17:36] in there as well.
Somebody said, "Is there some type of checklist available to go over with clients to determine their needs to help to avoid unexpected needs not considered?" That is a great question Mary Jane, and I'm trying to remember. I think, I can't remember for sure, but I think in my book How to Start a Home Based Bookkeeping Business, that's less than $5 if you buy the Kindle version, I think there is a checklist in there. What yo want to do is talk to your clients about all facets of their operation. Talk to them about their sales and receivables and how they operate there. Talk to them about the payables and how do they record their expenses and their purchases and things like that. Inventory if they've got inventory, other operations, how do they do things and get to know their business. Talk to them about every phase and how they're doing things.
That also helps you to identify inefficiencies where you can help, I call it appify the process, where you can say, "Gosh, what you're doing over here is really inefficient. If we use X, Y, Z app, that would streamline your process, avoid the double data entries and save you lots of time. Would you like to talk more about that?" That's where you can find additional opportunities for additional services as well to help the client there. If you Google it too you might find a checklist as well. Actually now that I think about it Mary Jane, if you go to YouTube at Michelle Wong CPA, last year was the May I believe 2014, I did a webinar called Appify the Processes and initially was talking about doing a needs assessment with your client. We covered lots of stuff in that one as well, so that might be a good resource for you to take a look at. Again, that was YouTube and you go to Michelle Wong CPA, and you can find that as well as other videos that are out there as well. Good question there. Very good.
I hope this is helpful guys. I hope I gave you a lot to think about. I didn't give you specific pricing or anything because obviously I can't because I don't know your clients, but I hope I gave you lots of things to think about and start considering. Now you've got work to do to sit down and work on what your packages might be and work on which clients you might want to use and things like that. Somebody says, "Are you recommending an E&O policy in addition to a general liability policy?" Tina, I am not an insurance person, I'm not an insurance expert. I do encourage you because I don't know what your general liability policy covers, but errors and omissions is for professionals. Let's say you mess up and don't do their payroll, I don't know. Mistakes that we make, errors and omissions is if you get sued for malpractice basically, it's going to cover you.
You need to talk to your insurance provider about what type of insurance you need. Also if you drive a car for business, you might need special insurance on that. If you've got your business in your home, you might need some special insurance to cover your equipment. Talk to your insurance provider about what you need.
Somebody says, "When I come to Miami," oh somebody's going to give me a box of cigars for that cough. Yuck. My husband would like the cigars, but not me. I will be in Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami in about a week or so, January 5th, 6th and 7th, something like that. If you're in any of those areas, I would love to have you join us for the live QBO certification preparation training and get certified. Somebody says, "As always you've given me lots to think about. I've been stressed [inaudible 01:21:34] a couple of key clients, and now I think I can move forward." Awesome Michelle. I'm so glad to hear that. You've got to start and you got to just start slowly. This is where too when you guys have questions, you're not alone. Use the LinkedIn group, use the Facebook group. Post some things out there. I'm not sure about this, I'm not sure about that. What do you think about this?
It's great where people can share their ideas and things with one another about what's worked and what hasn't. Somebody says, "Where can we sign up for the QBO newsletter?" QBOblog.com. Helene says, "Most insurance providers give a discount if engagement letters are used." Good tip. Thank you for sharing that. That's a good tip to use as well. Somebody says, "Thank you Michelle. Get some rest and Happy New Year." Thank you Maria. I've been trying to rest. Unfortunately I've been sick for about ten days now, and I thought I would do better. I apologize.
Somebody says, "What if you already have a client on QBO, you have them on wholesale, you want to sell a service, not hourly labor?" Yes, you're right. We're selling our services. We want to focus on the value that we provide and the results, not the time that it takes us to do things. We want to focus on the results and the value that we're providing for our client. That was a good one too. Other questions that people have in there. Somebody says, "What if you have already converted clients to QBO but want to convert to value pricing?" That's okay. You still can do that. You still can convert them to value pricing, you just to got to sit down and have that discussion with them that I like to add additional value for them whether it's in reports or whatever as you're changing their pricing. You just got to sit down and talk to them about converting them. Most of the clients are very happy to have a set fee where they know what it's going to be.
Somebody wants to know, "Where can I get [inaudible 01:23:41] of doing 1099 on QBO?" Sally, I would suggest that you log into the test drive company. If you just Google QuickBooks Test Drive, you'll find a link to a sample company, and in there you can go into the vendor center, enter a sample vendor, enter some sample transactions, and do the 1099s and you'll see how that works so you can get some practice doing it that way. Somebody said, "I want to get certified. I took the prep course, but I'm not sure where to go after that." You need to take the exam Wanda. After you've done the certification prep course, you need to take that exam. If the exam doesn't come up when you click the link, make sure you allow pop-ups because that's probably it.
Somebody wants to know how to save the chat log? What you do is you click on file. Before you close out of here, you click on file, save questions log and that will save that for you and we'll have Wendy wait a little while before she ends the webinar so that you can do that. Somebody says, "Thanks for the info. Now hit the slopes." No, I think I'm taking it easy. I'm too sick still. I cough too much when I get too into it. Any other questions that I need to answer on here? Where do we sign up for the ProAdvisor free version? If you just go to QuickBooks.com and under [inaudible 01:25:12]. I'm back.
Oh yeah, perfect.
Oh my gosh. Verizon must be saying I'm over my limit or something. I was going to say, I hope you guys will enjoy me for the Intuit Accounting Vcon, the QuickBooks Vcon. It's the 13th and 14th I believe. It's next week. You can go to QuickBooksVcon.com to register for that. I will be doing the QBO certification training, the five different modules there. That would be something to know. Somebody says, "How long should I allow to prepare for the QBO advanced exam?" That's a great question. The regular certification is all multiple choice and you can go through and do that probably two to four hours, depending on how familiar you are with QuickBooks already. The advanced certification on the other hand is going to take a lot more time. It's going to probably take minimum four to six hours per module and there's five modules for it as well. You need to allow a lot of time.
Maybe you want to work on one module per week or something. It is harder and it requires more time and commitment, but it's definitely worth it to do that and to get certification. There's a lot of benefits to that, but it is challenging. It is worthwhile but challenging. I encourage you to do that. Let's see. Somebody says something about the January 15th. Go to QuickBooksVcon.com. Hopefully that will help. The module has no name in my certificates. How do I get my name added? Are you talking about after you get certified as a ProAdvisor? Talk to ProAdvisor support. I think you may want to check with them on that.
Next week you're training certification five modules? Yes, QuickBooksVcon.com. I will be doing the QBO certification. It's over two days I'll be doing five different ones on the five modules for the preparation. Somebody said, "Can you send an email about the live training sessions in Florida next week? Time's running out." Yes, Ken, I think they have been sending some of those out. Hopefully you have registered. You can go to QuickBooks.com and then under the Accountants menu, Learn and Support and that's where you can find the link to register. If you can't find it, send me an email and I'll send you the link to register. Then the CPE for the Vcon, yes there is CPE available for the Vcon. It is free as well.
Let me just go ahead and put this in there for you. QuickBooksVcon.com. Again, send that to everybody. There you go. That's where you can register for the Vcon that's coming up. "One of the best QuickBooks presentations I've been at even though I've only been in business a year." Well thank you Alexander. I'm very glad. I apologize for the technical difficulties. I don't know what was wrong with Verizon today. It says I have three bars on my phone, so I don't know why it keeps dropping my call, but I hope you'll be angry at Verizon and not me. Thank you for your patience and letting me call back in. I apologize for the coughing, but I hope it has been very helpful for you all. Thank you for joining us, and I hope to see you at an upcoming webinar. Don't forget the Firm of the Future number four will be on January 15th. I would love to have you join me for that. We'll talk about social media and how to get clients and referrals and things like that.
Thanks everybody. Thanks to the Intuit helpers, Woody and Emily and Wendy. Thank you guys and thanks everybody for joining me. Talk to you all later. Bye.