What I wish I’d known before rolling out advisory services

Accountants having a meeting and taking notes planning advisory rollout

Cheryl Price understands how important flexibility when rolling out advisory services. Having worked in accounts since 2003, Cheryl has experience as an in-house accountant and working in a medium sized accountancy practice, before opening CHA. Her experience is across a broad range of industries and she is both Futrli certified and Xero Certified (advisor, payroll and migration).

Coming from a compliance background in my career, I’d only ever completed budgeting and forecasting as part of my studies. As I’d never done either in ‘real life’, the thought of introducing advisory services was a scary one. However, I needed this type of information to manage and grow my own business, so I knew advisory was the next step in my journey.

Having known about Futrli for a while, they were the first people I wanted to speak to regarding rolling out advisory. I had a lot of questions, mainly around how to pitch to clients, and how to price it all out.

A steep learning curve

I soon realised that I needed a lot more training, both on the software and from a business point of view of launching a new service.

We are actually on our second attempt of launching a new range of services. The first time I was completely unprepared; I had underestimated the amount of work involved in launching the services. This was probably the biggest mistake – I wish I’d not rushed into trying to launch and actually taken the time to establish everything needed to launch new services that I had no experience in.

I also wish I’d actually had some experience in the world of advisory. This would have made the whole process smoother and easier! In the end, I accepted that I was not ready. We didn’t have the foundations in place (notably: the bookkeeping process was not as efficient as required), and I did not have the time to dedicate to launching something new.

Taking stock of achievements

The second time around I was a lot more prepared. I took my time and improved efficiencies throughout the whole business. The compliance side was running smoothly, and I had also taken on a second member of staff who not only had experience in advisory services but also had the drive to help launch a new set of services for the business and our clients.

I wish I’d known how crucial getting the foundations right were the first time around. I could have focused on improving our core services rather than just trying to add more. Now everything was in the right place, and I also had the time required to dedicate to the launch.

With my staff well underway with the training and enjoying learning something new, I still was unsure about the marketing and pricing side of things. Being an accountant, I can work with numbers and complete client work – it comes naturally. The business side of things, however, I’m still learning every day.

Our initial web page and pricing strategy were ok, but I felt it didn’t really suit the service we wanted to provide, nor give our clients what they needed. I took the time to complete the pricing modules of Futrli Advisory Certification, which really helped me to establish the service our clients wanted from us, how we can provide this, and how to price it. Our website was tweaked accordingly and our first client was brought on board.

However, the learning curve didn’t stop there. We are still learning how to give our clients the best possible service and advice. And our pricing will continue to be tweaked for quite a while I’m sure!

Take your time

For anyone looking to add advisory to their practice, I can’t stress the importance of being ready before you start the process.

As I found out, there is no point just trying to bolt it on to your existing services. The foundations need to be solid – with efficient and effective bookkeeping in place the advisory services will be able to run the way they need to. Also, be flexible about what you’re going to do, how you’ll do it and for how much.

Everyone has a different approach, and as advisory covers a wide scope of advice there is no set formulae to pricing. The service you provide will also be dictated to you by your client, their needs and the advice they need to grow their business. This will be different for each client.

Don’t expect to launch overnight either. You’ll need plenty of time to invest in learning the software, how to work with your client, and to establish the ideal client that you want to work with. Your first client, and probably second or third too, will help you with all of this, and you’ll be able to grow with them.

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