I Love Bookkeeping is a global community of Bookkeeping Professionals. We all bleed bookkeeping and want to grow and prosper our businesses. This podcast is for Bookkeeping Professionals who serve clients, and it's for the person who aspires to join our great industry. Join Ben Robinson every week to geek out on Bookkeeping.
What to Do With Shady Clients (How to Fire Them With Tact) - Encore Presentation
We’ve all had shady clients. The question is what you should do when encounter one? For Ben, he gets rid of them as quickly as possible.
[1:15] There isn’t an easy solution if a shady client makes up a good portion of your business’s revenue, but working with an unscrupulous person can put your business in jeopardy.
[1:45] The first signs of a shady client will come up when you’re marketing. When you connect with a potential client, you should try and get a sense of how they feel about taxes.
[2:10] Everybody should avoid taxes as much as possible, but there’s a big difference between avoidance and evasion. If the person insinuates an interest in evading taxes, walk away.
[3:10] If your potential client is hiding something, that means they are lying, and if they are lying to the IRS, do you think they are going to have a problem lying to you?
[3:30] When you’re consulting with these clients, look for things that are off. But if they are already a client and things start to feel wrong, there are some steps you can take.
[4:00] If you start to see warning signs, the first thing to do is to document it and bring it to their attention. First, assume they don’t know and get them on the phone. It may be an innocent mistake, but if it’s not, you’re going to want to call out your client immediately.
[6:15] Ben’s general rule of thumb is one mistake can slide, but if they make a second “mistake”, that’s a pattern and that’s the end of the relationship. Even if the shady things seem small, if you’re seeing them more than once, you should end your relationship with that client.
[7:00] It’s okay to get rid of shady clients. You don’t need to serve them. Most people are fine, but for people that want to pull something over, it’s okay to turn them down. Handle them with care when severing the relationship, and consult an attorney if you need to.
[8:20] You want to work with quality clients that respect you, that respect the laws, and obey everything that they are supposed to.
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How to Get Great Online Reviews - Encore Presentation
Getting online reviews is the lifeblood of a virtual bookkeeping business. Reviews are one of the first things people look at when considering whether to buy a product or service, without them a certain element of trust is missing.
[1:35] Where are you already? We want to make sure you’re being reviewed where your clients can see them easily. Your Facebook page is one avenue, the Better Business Bureau is another. The BBB is a very commonplace that potential clients go to find reviews. Claiming your Google Business page is another important channel. Trust Pilot is another option that’s becoming more popular.
[4:15] When you ask for a review is key. Being consistent and asking for reviews every month from your clients is the best practice. The best time to ask someone for a review is when they are already excited to be working with you. The key way to phrase the question is “would you mind sharing your opinion with everyone else about my service?”
[6:10] Five stars is great, anything else is not good. Ask them beforehand is there any reason that they wouldn’t rate you with a five star. A one-star review will definitely hurt your business.
[6:55] Avoid giving the client a script, just focus on the five-star rating and let them phrase the review how they feel.
[7:10] Reviews are one of the biggest trust elements that will allow you to serve clients online. Ask for reviews from all your clients and make it part of your monthly service.
[8:15] When someone does leave a review, make sure to always reply. This lets other people know that you are involved and care about your clients.
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How to Get Quality Bookkeeping Clients - Encore Presentation
Everybody needs to be marketing, but that doesn’t mean you have to take on clients. One of the cardinal sins in this business is to stop marketing.
[1:10] Your message needs to be going out into the marketplace all the time. It takes time for the marketing engine to warm up, so you want it running once things start to slow down.
[1:45] We don’t want one way to get ten clients, we want ten ways to get one client. If you’re relying entirely on one channel to get clients, you are vulnerable when something changes. You should add additional channels to whatever is already working.
[2:30] Most bookkeepers are transitioning over to a virtual business model since that allows them to get clients anywhere and serve them no matter where they are.
[2:50] The first thing you have to do is have a niche and be able to define your market. Marketing has three important elements: your market, your message, and your medium. Your market will dictate where you go to find your clients.
[3:50] Define your market’s jobs, pains, and gains. You need to have a deep understanding of your market and what they are trying to avoid, what they want, and what they do. Find out where the industry is hanging out. Facebook groups and pages on that subject with a lot of activity is a good sign. Join those groups and start contributing value to them.
[6:30] Marketing is how you put out your message into the market. Sales is where you’re one-on-one with someone to sell to them directly. Don’t confuse the two.
[7:00] Figure out who the associations are that deal with your chosen industry. Determine who has a presence online with a large membership. Another thing that very few bookkeepers take advantage of is trade shows. They are a great place to network and build your business.
[8:55] Is there a local association of the big industry, one that you can join and get in front of? Being able to present information to these groups is a powerful way to add value and attract people to your business.
[10:15] Don’t spend a lot of money on advertising initially until you clearly define your market. You have to come up with a true value proposition of how you help them to achieve gains, how you can help them avoid the pains, and how you take away those jobs that they really don’t like doing. Then refine your message by speaking with your clients one on one.
[11:50] When you have your market clearly defined, and know your message and your value proposition, that’s when you can go to the medium and start running ads. Until you’ve nailed those things down, don’t spend money on advertising.
[12:45] Your website should be focused on one thing: getting the visitor to contact you. As you are creating your site, think about what actions you want the visitor to take and give them an easy to follow path towards connecting with you.
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Bookkeeping Niches: Deep Dive - Encore Presentation
Niche marketing is one of the keys to success for 21st century bookkeepers because you have to go deeper with your clients. If you’re working with a number of different niches, you won’t be able to fully understand your client’s businesses or offer them your best service.
[1:00] Marketing is about three important elements: your market, your message, and your medium. Most people start with the least important which is the medium. The very first thing you have to do in all of your marketing is to clearly define your market, and that’s what your niche is.
[1:50] If you already have clients, list them from favorite to least favorite. Take the top 3 clients that you love working with and look for commonalities between them. What attracts you to those clients? Picking a niche doesn’t necessarily mean an industry, it can also mean choosing the type of person you want to serve.
[4:00] Bookkeeping is first and foremost a relationship business, there is a good chance your relationship with those clients is what puts them at the top of the list.
[4:25] Once you find the commonalities and the character attributes that you love, list out the industry your clients are in. Which industry do you have the most clients in? Consider the top industry you serve and see if there is any overlap between that and your top three clients. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you like serving that industry? Do you know a lot about it? Are you passionate about the industry?
[7:25] You may also find that the industry that most of your clients are in is something you don’t enjoy working with. You need to be passionate about serving an industry for you to make it your niche. 80% of bookkeeping and accounting is the same for every single business. But when it comes to the last 20%, it’s all about the niche.
[8:20] Most people think they have to find a niche but sometimes the niche finds them. We don’t usually find something we are passionate about, we typically find something that we are good at and become a talented craftsperson at it.
[9:30] Your medium term goal should be to focus on a niche. If you have clients in other industries already, you can continue to serve them as you bring on new clients from your chosen niche and just let them go gradually until you are only serving your niche clients.
[10:25] The more you can systematize your business, the easier your life is going to be. Imagine having one chart of accounts for your clients or being able to get a profitability study that gives you insights into your industry. You’ll be able to take the best practices from your niche industry and apply them to your client’s businesses.
[11:40] If you pick the wrong niche, you can always change it. Hopefully you put in the effort now to figure out the right one, so you can avoid doing that. Revisit this exercise frequently until you find the niche that fits your business best.
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How to Research Your Niche with Heather Phillips - Encore Presentation
Heather has always had a desire to help people and that’s reflected in the jobs she’s had in her life. Once her daughter was born, Heather decided she wanted to stay home with her. After a few years, she wanted to explore working again. She looked into becoming a financial advisor before finding Bookkeeper Business Launch but once she found Ben she didn’t look back.
[3:05] Heather currently has four of her own clients plus several others that she subcontracts for. The freedom of being able to choose her own schedule is very important to her as well as genuinely being able to help her clients in their businesses.
[3:55] Heather’s daughter will be going off to Kindergarten soon which will increase the amount of time she can dedicate to working on her business instead of just in her business.
[4:30] The biggest challenge, in the beginning, is just getting clients, and that’s what Heather experienced and pushed through but that often leads to getting multiple types of clients and stretching your ability to become an authority. Heather wants to be able to drill down into the specific niche of real estate investors and narrow down the kinds of clients she works for.
[6:45] Heather has had other real estate clients that’s she’s enjoyed working with, plus she also has a desire to learn more about real estate investing with the goal of doing it herself in the future.
[8:45] Heather’s main challenge is learning where real estate investors congregate, what language they use to describe their work, and how to price her services correctly for their industry. Before getting into a niche it’s important to find out more about it, one of the best resources to use is the Bookkeeper Business Launch community and connect with people who already know.
[11:30] There is no substitute for experience and getting face to face with people that you want to serve. Networking events are a great place to start, especially in the real estate space. Be clear with your intentions and be honest with them, but don’t think you’re going to get clients at the event. The focus should be on research and relationships first.
[14:25] Industry associations are another good resource to explore. Find their websites and see what they are talking about. Read their content and social media. If the niche has conventions, look at the topics they discuss. If the topic is something that they talk about every year and it’s something you can add value to, it may be a good area to explore. Look for authority figures in the space and see what they are putting into the market.
[17:30] Investing in a risk management association study for the industry will give you a good idea on financials for the niche as a whole and could be a good starting place to think about pricing.
[19:00] What are the books and thought leaders that people in that niche are reading and listening to? Who already has the attention of the people you want to serve? Getting to know them will give you different perspectives on the industry but will also help you plant the seeds for referral marketing.
[24:05] The most effective thing you can do is to get in front of potential clients and ask them the right questions. What are the challenges they face? What would they change about their business? What you want to get from the answers is a value proposition, also known as your offer.
[25:15] Nobody wants our bookkeeping, they want the result. They don’t care what you do or what tools you use, they want a solution to their problem. Everything we do in life is based upon feeling better about ourselves or feeling important. Everything you do for your clients should come back to those basic desires.
[27:50] It’s a journey, expertise in a niche takes time. When you get your first client, don’t worry about the fee. Use them to learn everything you can about that industry. When you’re in the books of a client you learn much faster than from the outside.
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Overcoming Difficulty in Business - Encore Presentation
We all face difficult things in our lives, but on the other side of difficulty is usually some victory. For example, getting through the Air Force’s basic training and passing the CPA exam.
[1:20] It wasn’t what I expected, but I persevered, followed the system, did what I was told and pushed through it. When I graduated I was very proud. It was a similar story to passing the CPA exam.
[2:15] It doesn’t matter where you are in the evolution of your bookkeeping business, there are difficult things that you do not want to do. Usually, on the other side of the struggle that we have to go through is the very thing that we want.
[2:45] List out the difficult things in your life as they relate to your business right now. What are the things that you are putting off and avoiding? Then ask yourself what would happen if you did those things. What are the best-case scenarios and worst-case scenarios?
[4:20] Sometimes we have to trick our minds into looking at the benefit that is going to get us there. We’ve got to get over our initial reluctance and just go do that thing.
[5:05] Some difficult things are things that can’t be avoided, but we’re talking about the difficult things that we know will move us closer to our goals, if only we could get over our fears.
[5:30] Busy work is often stuff we do in order to avoid doing the things that we know we need to do to turn the dial in our business. Two of the most common difficult things that bookkeeping professionals avoid are networking and marketing.
[6:35] Feel the fear and do it anyway. Verbalize what you’re afraid of and then go do it. Whenever we are trying to do something new, our subconscious is going to try to dissuade us and convince us of the easier and more comfortable path.
[7:30] Once you identify the difficult things you are avoiding and list them out, figure out the things that you should be doing. Set yourself up for success by putting them into your schedule and giving someone the responsibility to keep you accountable.
[9:00] Take your list of difficult things and start taking action on them. That may mean getting rid of bad clients or letting go of a team member, but you have to keep in mind the benefit on the other side.
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