The case for three value adding services in your client offering

Summary

A small number of additional services provided to appreciative clients can significantly increase profits while at the same time enhancing client longevity.

Introduction

A conversation I often have with accountants and financial planners is about what other services could be provided by their firm, particularly to core clients.

Value adding services defined

Essentially, value adding services are those which go beyond the basics and exceed client expectations. For accountants, such services must be over and above attending to tax returns and other statutory documents. For planners, this means going beyond competently managing clients’ money and personal risk insurance.

Why

There are compelling reasons for giving valued adding services your attention –

  • Increased client loyalty. Bankers talk about this in terms of “share of wallet” i.e. the more services clients obtain from your firm, the higher the barriers (real and perceived) to leaving
  • Increased likelihood of take up. Existing clients are going to be much more receptive to suggestions regarding additional services because they already know and trust you.
  • Economy of effort. The client’s information is already on your system.
  • More interesting work. An opportunity to work with clients in different ways.
  • Boost your profits substantially.

The 4 essential characteristics of value adding services

Ideally, any extra services you recommend to clients will exhibit the following features –

  1. Clients appreciate the service
  2. Your firm can produce efficiently, with minimal time input from principal advisers
  3. (For accountants) the service generates a superior rate per hour
  4. Enjoyable work for your team to undertake

In short, it’s a good day in your Firm when an order is placed to provide such a service!

Designing a winning application

What service you provide is largely limited by your imagination. For example, you may be able to apply an idea from a completely different industry. Another good place to start is to analyse problem areas experienced by your clients – what might you be able to provide which would overcome these problems? It’s also good policy to ask clients. “How might we serve you better?” is a great question to raise, particularly in a client advisory panel environment where lively discussions can ensue.

Your service needs to have marketability too – the word these days is “package”. Translated, this means a catchy name, fixed price and straight forward engagement arrangements. Behind the scenes, it also requires streamlined means of doing the work to ensure you live up to expectations.

Getting the word out there

Happily, the next challenge is to let prospective users know about the service. Case studies from successful prototypes are marketing gold. A well written description on your website and regular mentions in your newsletter are also recommended.

Client conversations

To give yourself the best chance of success, aids such as a PowerPoint slideshow, one page summary and what-if calculators should form part of the sales “tool kit”. For some, sample scripting of conversations provides a track to follow. Rehearsing such conversations in role plays can dramatically improve confidence and ultimately, your outcomes.

Final tips

Although great to have rampant enthusiasm for the new service, it pays to test before launching the service to the world. A “friendly” client who is prepared to act as a prototype case is great, even if this is service is provided at reduced rates. Better to fine tune the offering before you run off 500 brochures!

Ideally, your Firm will develop and provide up to three such value adding services – a variety of innovative ways to help clients is the aim but not that many as to inhibit mastery.

Conclusion

Having a range of additional services is great for clients and a booster for your profits.

Scott Charlton is a director of Slipstream Coaching, a company dedicated to assisting financial practitioners achieve their potential. A long term business coach to both accountants and financial planners, Scott is also the author of three books regarding professionals in practice. Scott can be contacted via phone 0409 870 330 or email scott@slipstreamcoaching.com.au