If you are in a Licensed Profession, such CPA, Attorney, or Hair Dresser, you advise your clients in multiple ways: first by suggesting which services they may require and second by suggesting the best course of action. For example, as a Hair Dresser, you might suggest that your client needs a change in hair style or perhaps a change of color. (The Services you offer.) Then you suggest the style that might work best based on facial features and a flattering color. (How the Services will be implemented.)
Formalizing the mindset that we are already offering Consulting Services opens up the door for revenue generation opportunities with either existing clients or new clients.
The first step is to identify the types of additional Consulting Services that you want to offer based on your area of expertise or interest. It is not necessary to be an absolute expert to properly advise your clients. For example, Information Technology is a broad consulting area. A CPA may not know the explicit technical details of how to install an Accounting Software package. But the CPA will know the value and benefit of implementing an Accounting Software package with the right feature set matched to the clients’ business needs. And, the CPA will know that the appropriate Technical expertise can be hired to perform the actual installation on the clients’ computer system.
The next step is to identify the opportunities where you can demonstrate the value of your Consulting Services. Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz”, we just need to look in our own backyard, in this case, our current client list. Review your current skill set and some of the possible areas of Consulting, which may include Information Technology, Financial Systems, Inventory Control, Warehouse Management, Retail/Point of Sale, Manufacturing Processes, and General Business Process/Workflow. Then review your current client list and see where there is overlap between your skill set and the possible areas of Consulting.
The most difficult aspect of expanding into a formalized Consulting Services relationship with an existing client is changing the client’s perception of your scope of services. If you are a CPA preparing Financial Statements and Tax Returns, the client may only see you as their “Accountant.” It is your job to educate the client and demonstrate that your skill set reaches beyond traditional Accounting by engaging them in a conversation about other Business Process challenges.
It amazes me the number of Clients that have researched and implemented new Financial Accounting and Reporting systems without involving their CPA. I know this from personal experience because I am the Business Process Consultant brought in to analyze the problems with the current Accounting System, research alternative systems, and manage the implementation. When I ask the Client, “Why are we not engaging your CPA in this process?” The answer is inevitably, “The CPA just prepares our Financial Statements and Tax Returns and has no involvement in our Operations.”
The CPA, who definitely has an understanding of how Financial Systems work, could certainly have started a conversation with the Client about their operational issues and been the lead Business Process Consultant.
My favorite example of this problem is demonstrated by the millions of copies of the Quickbooks Accounting Software program that have been purchased and installed by Business owners without any discussion with their CPA. How could the CPA have not suggested automating the Accounting Process? Quickbooks even has a Pro Advisor Consulting program specifically designed to help CPA’s to engage their Small Business Clients and discuss the transition and implementation. Simple Answer: The CPA did not identify the opportunity and start the conversation.
The key point is that many of us have skills and knowledge that far exceed our specific job title. Communicating this enhanced knowledge to our clients will enable us to maximize our revenue potential.