Frustrated, underwhelmed or disappointed at the growth of your BAS (Business Advisory Services)?
The three fundamentals to growing your BAS revenue stream
There are so many compelling reasons to growing your Business Advisory Services. Here are three:
- Sustainability – given the growing commoditisation of compliance plus the ease of emerging accounting software, clients are looking for differentiation; value-added services provide that.
- Higher Profitability – Value-added services are not tied to hourly rates so this can become a highly profitable revenue stream
- Depth of Satisfaction – building deep relationships and transforming your client’s companies is immensely satisfying. Arguably one of the most satisfying aspects of being an accountant
While these may be compelling and make good logical sense, logic is seldom strong enough to instigate change. So where do you start? How do you start?
I guess you could make a decision and declare a strategy – “One new BAS client by year end”. As the partner, you go out, talk to key clients and begin the transition.
But Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast… what does this mean?
Unless you have buy-in from your team, and their active contribution to this initiative, status quo will eventually erode best intentions. And FTI (failure to implement) will inevitably reign supreme. Culture is so sticky.
The first engagement you need is not with a client, it is with your team – after all they’re the ones with the direct and regular client relationships; they get to spot opportunities.
Culture is ‘how we do things around here’ and unless BAS is an activated thread in the fabric of your culture, it will not flourish.
I am suggesting that your team needs to understand the BAS concepts, have bought in and be volunteering their discretionary effort in support.
This is called ownership and is essential if you want your team to move from an employee mindset (do the minimum) to thinking and behaving more like the Practice Owner.
So where do you start?
1. Develop a Resonant Vision:
it is crucial to create a shared vision with BAS as a focus. I’m not talking about the usual, fatuous phrases like ‘We will be NZ’s premiere supplier of…’.
I’m talking about a 2 – 4 word phrase, written in language which is meaningful to your team and is provocatively energising. A resonant vision. 2 – 4 words makes it easy to remember.
Ideally everyone participates in its creation (if that is not possible then a strong representative cross section of your firm will work).
Here are some non-accountant examples:
- Owning Awesome. Winning Smarter ((integrated AV firm)
- Lov’n the Ride (Real estate firm)
- Igniting Tomorrow with Courageous Action (Fire Engineering firm)
2. Groundswell-creating, “Big Bang’ workshop
This is a ‘bottom-up’ workshop involving everyone. The whole team identifies the primary 12 –month strategies necessary to achieve the resonant vision, then together, co-creates the actions needed to ensure each strategy is fulfilled…. And then they are responsible for implementing that roadmap (not the Partners!).
The reason this works so well, is that 1) people feel included (they are involved at every stage), 2) their ideas sought (so feel validated), 3) they generated the ideas so have buy-in to the ideas and 4) it draws out innovative ideas that would never have occurred to you.
The ‘Big Bang’ aspect comes from the change generated. Because action comes from committed conversations, action is taken. A new vocabulary has been introduced into your firm, communication levels rise and a heightened sense of belonging occurs - ‘we are in this together’.
Which raises morale and productivity.
3. Client Intimacy: Know and understand this one thing about your clients
Given we are talking about Value-added services, you need to know and understand your client’s specific unmet needs. Where and what are their issues, challenges and problems. Address these and you really are adding value.
And adding value not only differentiates you from other accountants but ensures loyalty.
The sales process towards BAS is so much easier when you know what their issues are. Then your ‘Close’ is simply, “Would you like my help with that?”
So, what are some of the questions you could ask to find out their specific unmet needs? Here is a sample
- In regards to accounting, what do they hate doing / hate happening?
- What is their biggest problem and why is it such a big problem?
- What would have to happen to make your service unique in their eyes?
If you are reading this, then you have at least, bought-into the idea of providing value added services. But has your team? How much are they aware of your intention and how much have they been actively included in the conversation?
Your team is a key conduit into your clients. Get them on board, involve them and you will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of their input.
I recently took an accounting firm interesting in growing their BAS, through the above process. When I asked him, what were the unexpected benefits of the process, he said,
“The level of contribution. Don't pre-judge people or their levels of contribution, they can really surprise you. It was like ‘someone is finally listening to me’ – they got more and more involved and just keep giving.”
Therein lies your BAS growth.
Article by Bruce Ross of Ignite Business Leadership.
Phone: 0800 548 900