This story illustrates a real life story of how I doubled my fees, how my prospective client was aware that I doubled my fee structure, how and why he could see the value and was outcome focused, and therefore was happy to proceed.
What I'd really love is for you to read on and allow a seed to be planted that will help you to make a paradigm shift, which will add up to FUTURE PROOFING your practice as well as allowing you to truly THRIVE, to have an incredible impact on your clients, and eventually the privilege of living your dream on your terms.
Some of you might to think to yourself, "I can't do this. This isn't for me." These are your limiting beliefs. I have built this system, the system I share in my book – I've built this for you, for bookkeepers, not for anyone else. Educate yourself slowly and play the long game, because playing the long game is where you'll find success.
So recently, a client was referred to me by one of my VIPs, and if you know what my VIPs are, that means all my clients – very important people. That VIP is engaged in all my succession products, and in terms of basic bookkeeping, we provide him with what we call DIY bookkeeping support.
So they actually handle the day-to-day themselves, and we have a really great package called DIY Bookkeeper Support where we are available by phone, by email, we check the file, we do their lodgements – we do what I call the heavy lifting like payroll support, things like that. Now interestingly, this VIP that is engaged in succession products. But when I first introduced him to succession products, he did not pick them up. The first time that I got together with him and showed him what I could do and what was next on the menu, he said, "Thanks, but no thanks". And then it was about a year or so later, and I offered up the same welcome line, in this case that was an annual planning and strategy session.
And at that time, a year or so later, he finally decided, "You know what? I can see the value. I can see I need this and I'm ready to jump in to succession products."
Now, if I reflect on the first time versus the second time I introduced that welcome line, I feel like the two key elements are: One, that I had learned to use the VALUE tool. I talk about that in my book extensively in the attraction chapter. That was game changing. Secondly, I had better ASSETS. Also known as collateral. Think of sales and marketing collateral, think of brochures, digital brochures, actual brochures, any collateral that helps you to speak client and convey your value. It was these two things.
I feel like I was using the value tool and I had better collateral, and that helped that client self-assess his need and desire to engage in our succession products. Because as you know, I always say – as bookkeepers, we are not sellers, we are solvers. I don't like anything salesy and high pressure.
I like to help clients and prospective clients see my VALUE, be outcome focused, and then self-assess whether we are right for each other.
And so this VIP has been so thrilled with the impact of working together for the last couple of years in the succession product space that when a business buddy asked him how he freed up so much time in his business, he said, "Just one lady, Jeannie Savage," which led to the referral.
Now, you probably already know that when a client is referred to you, price is far less likely to be a priority, but it is not the be all and end all. It's just one piece of the puzzle.
Making sure that PRICE takes a backseat to OUTCOMES and VALUE
is more like a jigsaw puzzle, and a referral being the lead source
is just one very small piece of that puzzle.
When this prospective client came through, they were obviously able to check me out online and start digesting all my content and getting to know, like, and trust me. If you haven't, do read my book or tune into any of my podcasts to understand more of this.
Now, at the time of getting this referral, I wasn't particularly hungry for the work. My focus was steadfastly on The Strategic Bookkeeper business while my practice, Cloud 9, primarily was taking care of itself. The fact is I really did have a very limited capacity, and I did consider, "Do I really want to take on any more work in this space?" Because I was really solidly involved in my passion project, my legacy project, which is The Strategic Bookkeeper. But, I decided to explore working with this client probably based on gut feel as well. I conducted a needs analysis, and from the needs analysis, I decided I was interested in proposing services to this client.
So from there, I moved on to the CONVERSION process that I have for conveying my value, and helping my prospective client to be outcome focused rather than price focused. And both of those things are all covered off in the conversion chapter of my book. Now, because my capacity was incredibly tight, I had decided if I'm going to take this client on, I was going to be full. Because of that, and because I value the heck out of myself and because I sell outcomes, not hours, I decided that my fee for services at this time was going to double, right? And I gave that some consideration.
I thought about the value –
I thought about all the results I get for clients.
I thought about the fact that this is clearly an INVESTMENT.
To be crystal clear, this was not an effort to price gouge. I do not leave my values and ethics at the door ever. And actually, my expectation with succession services is that my clients will make far more money than they spend on me, which makes it an investment and not a cost. I also offer no lock-in contract. I work month to month because I want my clients to work with me because they love me and they continue to see value, not because I lock them into a contract. Lock-in contracts are fine if you want to use them – I simply don't. And in 13 years, it hasn't been a problem for me. It's one of the things I use in my value proposition, my selling points, and my unique selling proposition and guarantee that I offer to clients: we have no lock-in contracts.
Now, at that time, I was unsure whether my VIP had shared his rate with my prospective client, but to some extent that was irrelevant, right? Because, what's relevant here?
What's relevant is the OUTCOME.
For example, if I charge someone say $10,000 for something, but then from that they make an extra hundred thousand dollars, well, that's like investing in shares or property, right? I wasn't sure if my VIP had shared his rate with a prospective client, but regardless, I decided that if I was going to help this client, as I said a minute ago, the rate was going to be commiserate with my capacity, as well as outcomes. Now, if you have read my book, you'll know that I'm really big on starting work with a new client by engaging them first in some kind of welcome line.
A WELCOME LINE is a no-cost or low-cost product, which is also known as a service that allows the prospective client to get started with me in a way that is lower cost, lower risk, and lets them feel and experience the value even more. And it's like welcoming them through the door, without them feeling so committed. In this case, I proposed an initial piece of work that was about a thousand dollars, and I still consider that a welcome line because it's the initial phase. The client has the opportunity to do that piece of work with me, and then beyond that, they can decide to go on to the month to month engagement. The welcome line came first, and then I made it clear that beyond the welcome line – where we are going to do some really high value work and he was going to get really great value and outcomes – the fee structure was going to be $2,000 a month.
In this case, to be clear, he actually already had a bookkeeper doing the basic bookkeeping. We didn't need to do any of that. All he wanted from us was our succession services, or as I like to call them, SUCCESSION PRODUCTS, which is explained more in the book.
The succession products that he wanted to pick up was what I call the Full Monty. He needed everything – he needed the numbers strategy, and he needed the business strategy through our Better in Business academy. I'm not going to go into the nuts and bolts of the academy, however, I will tell you that the Better in Business academy is a done for you academy and is a lead generation that I provide to the paying members of The Strategic Bookkeeper Transformation Program. I go into that a little bit more in the succession chapter of my book, and I will do a podcast about the Better in Business program, academy, all that jazz as well. If you've got any questions, just email me.
But I digress.
It turns out that my VIP had shared his pricing structure with the prospective client, but regardless, the prospective client pressed go on the initial phase of works. And then he simply asked me to just clarify why his rate was twice what his business buddy's rate was. I was very honest with him. I told him that the VIP was on old pricing, which is the truth, and that he was going on the new pricing. I also told him that my capacity for this kind of work was very, very tight, and that in fact, after he pressed go and came on board that I'd be closing my books for that section of our work.
I told him that there are no lock-in contracts, and my expectation was that he would make a lot more than we charged in fees. And because he was so outcome focused, all of that made total sense and it was totally up to him to self-assess, right?
I knew that the idea that I had doubled my fee structure there,
he had the right to find that acceptable or unacceptable.
He. found. that. acceptable.
Why did he find that acceptable? Because he's focused on outcomes, and so am I.
Now, one thing I want to point out that at no time in our conversation did I use the word cost because I consider it a dirty word in our industry.
Our services, your services, should be an INVESTMENT, not a cost.
I would just love you to adopt that as well. Now, what I was also doing is I was regulating capacity with price. I wasn't super hungry for the work. I certainly wasn't desperate. I don't think anyone should act out of desperation for work. I think you should know your terms, back yourself, and go for it. And there's a podcast on that you can listen to.
Now, in terms of the time that I will spend with that client and that my colleague will spend with that client to achieve outcomes, we don't set a fixed amount of time because we do put a hand on our heart and we want to sell outcomes. Let's say that in two hours in one month, we can get incredible results and it's two hours. Let's say that we need to spend four hours or six hours, month to month the time will change. I've got clients I work with in this space that need to give me a call about an important project and spend an hour with me at that particular time. The time that we spend is a little bit irrelevant. I always have an idea of minimum and maximum time that will be invested in a client, but my focus is on outcomes.
I've also learned that just spending more time with a client is not a gift. It's not beneficial. It's not the thing that helps them.
In fact, the less time you spend with your clients is the gift,
because it's giving them time back.
This client actually said to me, "I really want to get more time back." – it's not about the time that I spend with him, it's about the IMPACT that I have on his business.
So if you feel like you've got clock watching clients, that is something to really think about here. The key here, and what I've learned over time, is that when I can reduce the time required to get an outcome, that is valuable to a client. My clients don't watch the clock because I've structured everything so that they don't need to watch the clock – what they watch is the outcomes. If we're talking outcomes, then it all comes back to my vision for my clients, which is in the brand section of my book.
My vision for my clients is optimal business performance, prosperity, and peace of mind.
We are all focused on getting those outcomes, whether that takes an hour or a hundred hours, that's what we're focused on. And we use diagnostic tools, which is all included in the program, to measure where they are at the beginning and how they're progressing along the way in terms of profit, cash, and time, because they are the three primary things that most business owners want to pull out of their business.
The three key takeaways from this story are:
the power of succession products, which is what's next on the menu after basic bookkeeping;
regulating capacity with price; and
when and why price becomes either irrelevant or takes a real backseat to outcomes and value.
I recently did a podcast called Know your terms, Back yourself, and Value the heck out of your VIP Clients and I'd like to tie this story a little bit to that story. On the very same day that this prospect pressed go and accepted my fee structure, became a VIP client, paying rates that I once thought impossible, I once had a limiting belief around this. On that very same day, another VIP client asked if he could press pause on services for a few weeks due to capital raising problems, to which I responded by giving him one month free bookkeeping plus two and a half thousand dollars of complimentary succession services. And actually, I thought nothing of it. The opportunity to get to give back to the VIP clients who support me every single day in my practice is amazing to me.
And, I think it's manners. If you listen to that other podcast, you'll hear the story of when I did this with another client, and I'm telling you this to illustrate that. As I said earlier, this is not about price gouging. This is not about, "Oh, how much can I charge?"
This is about turning profit and making money into a byproduct of your impact, and doing something remarkably.
I am so happy to tell you that the client whose story I shared in that other podcast is now absolutely thriving. We gave them months of complimentary bookkeeping. We gave them tonnes of strategy. They had been with us 13 years. They went from thinking they were going to have to close the business to actually getting through it – just getting a bit of clarity, getting back in control, and now absolutely thriving.
Did we do all of that? No, we didn't. We were there to shine a light and support them. We were part of the journey. And that to me is just phenomenal and so exciting.
Now, I'm all about helping you take action. I feel like from this read, you might have more questions than you have answers. Here's what I'm going to suggest: Jump on and join our private Facebook group called The Strategic Bookkeeper's Way, and in there ask all your questions. If you think that the emperor has no clothes on, shout out, "The emperor looks naked to me!"
Sometimes, when someone tells you something in our industry, you just nod because you don't want to feel or look silly, but you think, "I have no idea what you're talking about." That is okay. Ask questions, my friends. This is a safe space with all of us beautiful bookkeepers there to support one another.
Secondly, depending on where you are at in your bookkeeping practice journey, I recommend that you simply digest the content that I've provided here, even if that means listening tuning into the podcasts two or three times. Then, think about how you can move the needle in your practice with succession products or with regulating capacity with price rises, and by using my end-to-end conversion process – which is completely explained in the book – to convey your value and make your prospective clients and your clients outcome focused rather than price focused.
So there you have it, ask questions, commit to being educated and take incremental action in the direction of success, and you are sure to get there. And, I'll be on the podcast and online helping you and redirecting you just in case you get a little lost along the way, which I have definitely done myself and which is all part of the journey. Lastly, a lot of this stuff is done for you in The Strategic Bookkeeper Transformation Program, okay? Feel free to find out more about that through thestrategicbookkeeper.global.