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Align Your Services with Millennial Client Needs
Posted on 10th August 2017 in Advisory
Written by Freya Hughes
The world often seems to be against millennials. Being berated for spending money on avocado toast instead of buying houses is one recent example of younger adults being told they’re not hitting the mark, which is absurd! But what needs to be recognised, aside from all this generational competition, is that millennials are the future. There’s no denying it, so how are you going to pique their interest and turn it into revenue?
June 2017 saw the release of a report by Bill.com, which can be downloaded from AccountingWEB. The automated, real-time payments company studied what exactly millennial clients really want and value. The Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey Special Report shows us the opinions of 1000 respondents aged 39 and under. As millennials make up more than 75 million of us, they’re a market steadily taking over the world. You’d be foolish to ignore this generation, as you’re able to add so much value to your firm and adjust your pricing. Read on to learn what you need to know about this growing generation of business owners, and how to align yourself with them before it’s too late…
Lose the paper!
We’re a proudly paperless office here at FUTRLI. This way of working allows us to achieve the same tasks in our days but a lot quicker, and more collaboratively. We get as many pairs of eyes on the work we do, so we can ensure it’s the best quality before publishing it. Looking at services like Google Docs and Trello (designed to be almost like an online ‘to do’ list) are great ones to get you started with this – and we love them! We always get much more unique and creative results from projects when we come together to work on projects, so consider doing the same.
By going paperless, you’ll save filing space, time, and have stronger security with the ability to encrypt and add security layers to your files. A key part of paperless working is upping your customer satisfaction as automated, or instant messaging allows you and your team to jump in to online chats as soon as a client needs assistance. As we found out from Owner of award-winning The Wow Company and Head of Accounting at Xero, Paul Bulpitt:
“At Wow, we use Zendesk to guarantee response times to clients. If you have an urgent query, even if your accountant is on holiday or in meetings all day, we can get back to you much faster than if a message was left sitting in an email inbox or as a missed call in a mobile.”
So now you’ve heard it from us and a contemporary, what does the report find on paperless accounting?
“All age groups indicate a preference for paper-free accounting, with ages 31- 39 indicating positive responses of 78% and 40-55 at 66%. Business owners 56+ approve of paperless accounting by 45%, but display the largest proportion of those uncomfortable with the idea (20%).”
Businesses spend nearly a quarter of the year on paperwork. Let that sink in for a moment. In those months, think what you could achieve. Besides, you’d be doing the environment a huge favour, so get going if you haven’t already.
Adjust your pricing
This one is a win-win. As you can see below, the majority of respondents of this report side with monthly billing:
“This trend is most apparent with those 30 and younger. More than half support monthly at rates and 31% prefer fixed fees, compared to 14% who prefer hourly billing.”
This is beneficial for two reasons:
- Your clients will know exactly how much to budget for your services, which will simplify their forecast. Having this monthly amount accounted for and planned for will placate some of their worries of their outgoings. For you, this is brilliant! You can wave goodbye to hourly billing, which can be quite detrimental to your firm as you may spend many hours preparing their admin on clients behalf.
- You’ll earn more – you could be missing the mark with how much you should be earning per client. Adopting a monthly payment scheme will benefit your firm as you’ll be able to rely on MMR (monthly recurring revenue). So long as these monthly clients are being looked after to the best of your firm’s ability, you’ll notice you’ll have extra time to work on your referral count and hunting down new leads.
Pricing out your services incorrectly really can be detrimental: how do you know you’re making the amount you should be out of each client? You assume you’re charging the right amount but there’s a lot of room for error. Have you reviewed your pricing structure recently? If not, has inflation risen since? There are myriad variables in life and your firm which could mean you’re missing out on revenue.
Similarly, billing after work completion is essentially working for free – what would you do if you spent most of your week on a client’s accounts to hear days later they’d gone bust? Even if clients are seeing a constant growth, who’s to say your invoice hasn’t ended up at the bottom of their pile, gathering dust? We know you tell your clients not to be a bank for their customers but you need to listen (and action) your own advice here.
Add value to your services
The report tells us that while tax services are the biggest hitter still for accounting firms, strategy-based packages aren’t too far behind. As reported:
“More than half (52%) of business owners 39 and younger say they must have a firm that provides strategic insight and guidance for their organisations. This necessity complements services that younger generations already consume such as CFO/consulting services.”
Our community of accountants are switching to advisory services. Checking in with them, we know that adding value to services is the way to be working. See what they had to say:
Sam Wood of Blu Sky Chartered Accountants, based in the UK, says: “The whole team are now so eager to sell forecasting to clients because they understand the value of it for businesses across the board, not just larger companies.” Read the full case study here.
Colin and Oliver Hunt of EzyAccounts, based in Australia, say: “We can make such a difference to our clients’ bottom line, and that’s always been our core mission: deliver a service where we make our clients more profitable. We have clients that might pay us $50k a year but we might be making them $100-200k because of the knowledge we can get to them which allows them to make solid decisions confidently.” Read the full case study here.
Mike Foster of CRM Accounting, based in the UK, says: “I think compliance has done its job. While it’s a valuable service, we’ve noticed that traditional styles of accounting aren’t quite hitting the mark for clients anymore. That’s why we’ve put advisory on the top of our list.” Read the full case study here.
An incredible 72% of millennial business owners consider instant response rates from their accountants a non-negotiable part of service. A generation that grew up alongside the evolution of technology, millennials won’t be impressed if you put off their questions, or miss their emails. The speed at which tech has developed in recent years alone should alert you to how imperative it is to stay current. The Millennial Business Owner-Accounting Firm Survey Special Report shows that older generations tend to be the ones that aren’t so used to learning how to operate and understanding new tech.
“When polled about frustrations, only 5% of millennial owners indicate that learning new technology represents a challenge. The percentages for other generations rank technology as a more substantial challenge at 10% for 40-55 and 20% for 56+.”
The chances are in your firm there are at least a handful of millennials on your payroll. If you don’t fall into this segment of society yourself, sit down with your younger counterparts and ask them how they think adopting technological processes and softwares could help your firm run efficiently. Would they use the cloud if they owned a business? Have they suggested this newer way of operating? Start asking questions within your team – they’re all working towards the same goals as you, so unity is crucial and catapulting your firm into 2017 could well be the difference between your firm’s life or death.