Last week something very cool happened with an Accounting firm I was coaching.

Before the session I prepped them by asking them to bring a random business client file to the meeting – a current piece of work in progress. So they brought the income statement, the balance sheet and the entity structure of 9 clients. At the end of the coaching session I broke them into 9 groups of 7 people per group. Each group had one client to analyse. They had no idea what was about to happen.

By way of background this firm has a total of 1817 business clients at an average fee of $3,093 per client. Their average yield per hour (for client work) is $208 and their write offs are 4% – or a realization rate of 96%. They also have thousands of personal income tax returns but for the purposes of the exercise we were concentrating on the business clients only.

Back to the coaching session.

I could tell by their average revenue per client that there were many additional services they could be providing to their clients but weren’t. But I needed them to prove it to themselves, believe it and then integrate it as part of their daily workflow.

On each table were a mix of accountants, administration and leadership team members. Interestingly, the administration team were complaining at the start of the day that they would get nothing out of it and they would not be able to contribute – how wrong they were.

The exercise I gave them to do was the ‘client manager’ of the client would present to the rest of the table everything they knew about the client. A 5 minute presentation with no preparation. They had to present what the client did / make / sell, their revenue, profit, assets, liabilities, structure, client types, shareholders, trends etc etc.

I gave the rest of the team on each table some very specific instructions on what to look for in a ‘set of accounts’. Clarifying questions (5 mins) were asked then each person on the table (including the admin team) brainstormed (for 5 mins) what else they could do (potential additional projects) with this client. A note taker was assigned to each table to document the potential client projects.

After 15 minutes we tallied up the ideas. They came up with a total of 71 potential projects for the 9 clients. The least was 3 projects and the most was 13 projects. 100% of clients had something.

This Accounting business celebrates 25 years in business this year and they have never done this exercise before – one of the reasons the average fee per client is $3,093!

Imagine if they did that on every client every year? Imagine if they took those 4,5,6,7,8 ideas to each client? How would the client feel that their accountant actually spent the time and cared? How many projects do you think the client would buy? I’ll give you a clue …. most of them!

And if they priced them on value based fees (rather than time and materials) they would make significantly more than $208 per hour for each new project.

Over the years I have done that exercise with over 3,000 Accountants and 400 business clients. The results is always the same – 100% of clients need something additional if you just stop and think about the client for 15 mins. Then take the ideas to the client in a caring way and hey presto – you double / triple / quadruple the average fee per client.

What an opportunity!!!