Recast Episode: This episode was originally published on May 25, 2017, but it’s a favorite among our Growing Your Firm Podcast community, so we’re bringing it back. Comment below to tell us if you’ve been listening to the podcast since the original airing of this episode.
Michael Palmer, CEO of Pure Bookkeeping & Podcast host, works specifically with bookkeepers to help grow your bookkeeping practice. Michael spent close to a decade giving bookkeepers the tools to start, grow and scale their own business outside of the accounting firm realm.
- The #1 way to grow your bookkeeping practice
- How to put systems in place to maximize profits
- Ways to keep clients excited to work with you even if you double your fees
- LinkedIn: Michael Palmer
- Successful Bookkeeper Podcast
- Pure Bookkeeping - Michael Palmer's company
- Automate Your Firm 1,500% [interview]
#1 Way To Grow Your Bookkeeping Practice
Michael Palmer is the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping. Pure Bookkeeping helps great bookkeepers grow their business. The founder, Debbie Roberts, originally worked as a bookkeeper in a company. She heard the advice, “Quit and start your own shop.” The words buzzed in her ears for over 2 years before she made her life-changing move. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows (when is it?).
Aside: After 18 months, Debbie was afraid to hire someone because she didn't think they could replicate her work. That's when she read Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited. Many guests on the show recommend this book, so don't wait any longer to pick up a copy.
Debbie realized she needed to take all of her patented knowledge and put pen to paper, documenting all of her processes for reconciling, correcting, etc. As The E-Myth recommends, make your business system dependent, or “work on your business, not in it.” This is the message Michael Palmer pushes as he meets with bookkeepers like you to grow your bookkeeping practice.
Before he digs into concepts from Gerber's book, he first tackles the #1 thing holding most bookkeepers back: their mindset. You must have the right mindset to dominate your space first. You must have the mindset of, “I will make my bookkeeping practice a business and not a J.O.B.”
Pro Tip: The best way to have the right mindset is to have the right focus. Know where you're going. Don't wander aimlessly.
Fixing your mindset starts with understanding: You may not have a clue how valuable you are to the bookkeeping profession. You have no idea how important you are to the ecosystem. Your clients desperately need you to be more successful to help them. That's a core mindset piece to etch into your brain. You must believe those bolded statements. Read them every night if you have to.
How do you know if you have the right mindset? Simple. Ask yourself these two questions:
- Is my business delivering to me, not vice versa?
- Am I making a living I'm satisfied with?
Many who read this might give an affirmative to both these questions. Great! But, really reflect on these questions to get to the honest truth. Knowing where you are is the first step to grow your bookkeeping practice.
How to Put Systems In Place to Maximize Profits
Debbie got more efficient at running her bookkeeping practice as she went on. The lightbulb went off as soon as she started writing down her processes. These processes and checklists to grow her bookkeeping practice provided the jumping-off point for Pure Bookkeeping.
Creating systems is what needs to be done. The problem? There will always be “more important” things to do, especially client work. This is one of those simple tasks you must make time for.
Start with this: A checklist.
Take an easy task (10-15 minutes to do), and make a checklist on how to do said task. Putting these systems together now ensures you aren't playing catch-up later on. Efficiency turns into profits, guaranteed. Efficiency and better profits turn into improved customer service.
How to Set Up the Right Systems
Start with your workflow. Next, look at each aspect of your systems, top to bottom. Michael recommends that you ask why you have these systems. Get to the bottom of why you do everything. Putting in these systems will be met with resistance. It's up to you to lay out your vision of the bookkeeping practice to show the direction in which you're heading. Efficiency should be your priority after mindset.
Steps to Keep Clients Even If You Double Your Fees
As technology advances, Michael warns you: Relying on the tried-and-true old school way of accounting will not work. You cannot expect to chug along doing the same old compliance work for your clients and expect to grow. New technologies will dismantle simple bookkeeping processes.
The Secret to Your Value: Storytelling
But, Michael reveals how you can still keep your clients and increase your fees despite the technology overhaul: Tell clients a story they want to hear. You may not be a storyteller by trade. But you are capable of it! Remember, clients hire you to take care of all the technical, in-the-weeds stuff. In the end, they just want to make a healthy living and have enough in their bank accounts to feed their families. That's the value you bring to the table.
How do you start? Look at the KPIs of your client's books. Don't just report the numbers as they are; explain the meaning and story behind the metrics. When you can spot trends and inconsistencies, that will help your client run and grow their business, and your value to them will explode.
Create Some Rock ‘n’ Roll
“What rock ‘n' roll are you creating?” Michael asks. As technology continues to take over the industry, value is now coming from the creative side of your firm, not from the technical. You must be able to take the information in front of you and transform it into a story the client wants and needs to hear. You're looking at the numbers and asking, “Why is this happening?” After you research what's going on, you can safely report to your client why something is happening and what the client needs to do.
Michael tells us the story of a bookkeeper he knew. This bookkeeper specialized in restaurant bookkeeping. A great advantage of having a niche: you learn to see what a restaurant's books should look like. You can see the successful restaurants and what they do right and transfer that value to your restaurant client who might be struggling. This particular client saw many worry points in the restaurant. So every month, she compiled five specific reports for the restaurant client to follow. Every month, the owner would just base decisions off of those reports. Soon, the owner took months off. The restaurant's profits soared, and more locations opened! All because this restaurant bookkeeper didn't settle on simply doing the numbers, but studying them.
Michael packs a lot of punch into this episode, so check out the full audio above for more goodness!