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4 Ways to Charge Big Retainers (Add Big Value): Starting a CPA, Tax, Bookkeeping and Accounting Firm

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How to Earn Big Retainers as an Outsourced Accountant:

This content is transcribed from the video below.

I want to talk more about this outsource accountant model. Now, in this video, what I'm going to do is I'm going to talk about one of the core ways that you can portray and convey a ton of value to a person while you pique their interest. So you meet a prospect, you pique their interest about how you can make their life better.

Then they'll actually take a meeting with you, right? And I'm always talking about doing three or four stages of meetings. You want to prospect drive towards a connect meeting. Once you get a connect meeting, you want to do an analysis. Once you do an analysis, you want to unveil and show, "Hey, here's what I think would be a good idea for you. Small, medium, large. What would you like? And here's how I think it could make your life better." Right?

But in that, I want to talk about the value that you add, because there's a core fundamental disconnect between a lot of you accountants, the difference you can make in people's lives, and business owners lives, because you think like an accountant. You don't think like a value focused person. And I want to talk about that. And that's not a shot at you. It's just a reality.


Growing our tax and accounting firm here in Lakeville, when I would intersect with people, it was like fish in a barrel. Like our competitors, if I could get in front of a business owner, I had like a 95% close rate. You know why? Because I spent years in training, sales training. And then I was a financial planner for 10 minutes.

I also had years of training with my father who sold Caterpillar machinery; Caterpillar's always 30% more money, higher dollar, but they help business owners. They help business owners with machinery that has lower downtime. If you can connect value, and productivity, and efficiency to your machine, which that's what they're all about their machine, and their solution, getting parts out quicker, having proactive maintenance packages and whatnot. They actually save you money.

It may be 30% more upfront, but in the long run, you're going to save money and people that work with Ziegler understand that that's the goal, and that's usually what happens. So I grew up with this value first. It's not about what something costs. It's about what it's worth, and worth is all about value. One of the things that accountants and tax people think of is listing out the services that you provide. And it talks about you. And it talks about what you do. What it doesn't do, is this key thing. And this is something we focus on in our four step process. You don't talk about how you make the client's life better. Now, I think there are three value props, I give this away for free, right? Mitigate their taxes, and maximize their wealth. That's what we're going to hit on here.

Number two, save them time and money by doing the services for them, be a staff alternative. Number three, keep them protected, and keep them compliant. Okay? If you do those things and you can actually put dollars to them, they're going to want to sign up with you. In fact, if you look at, let's just say just the middle one, for example, let's just say a business owner decides that he's going to hire part time Patty and pay her $18 an hour. He's going to have her come in two and a half days a week. So let's just say it's 15 hours, right?

So boy, I don't even know where my calculator is. Let's just say, so for $18 an hour, times, wow, this is great content, 14 hours a week, times four, that's like a thousand dollars a month, if she comes in for like a day and a half. You start doing the math on labor, labor's expensive guys. If you can save that, and you can do it all, there's a litany of value that you're able to add.

You're able to make sure that they don't have to hire a somewhat competent person to do financial transactions. That could be everything from the bookkeeping to the payroll, to the onboarding their new employees, paying their subcontractors. You can do that for them. And not only that but if you serve it up... And so right there, if you can just replace that one part time person, they're going to spend a thousand dollars a month on that.

Then they're going to have self employment taxes, they're going to have to lead and manage them. They're going to have to develop them. They're going to have to be on the hook for benefits, if they want to. Like that's hard. Or you can be a write off service for them, right? So there's value you have to connect. And one of the ways that you have got to connect value is in the way that the financial planners, and Dave Ramsey are. Okay? So that first one, when it comes to mitigate your taxes and build wealth, I'm going to challenge you right now, that if you are a CPA or accountant, you've got to wake up a little bit.

You have got to be having some serious conversations about the financial picture of your customers. Okay? And that means everything from figuring out how much debt they're in, to what kind of investments they have, to figuring out are they protected? Do they have insurance? You don't have to sell them investments. You don't have to push them into investments. You have to push them into insurance.

If you can add the kind of value that it usually takes, that is usually delivered by having a simple conversation, you're going to realize that you're worth way more than what you assume. Now, let me prove it to you real quick. Okay? In a way, financial health, when it comes to just building wealth is a lot like losing weight, right? Usually, all you need is somebody to come in and look at you standing on the scale and you're embarrassed, right?

Take your shirt off,  walk around and let you big old love handles and your big old gut hangout and all of a sudden you're a little more embarrassed, right? There's nothing like weighing in every single day, and publicly doing that, to really get some accountability going, right? As a CPA, your clients look to you to be the authority. Okay? You actually have a coveted position that every insurance person, and every investment person, wishes they had. They trust you.

You know why? Because you're not out there to sell them a bunch of crap, right? You're actually worthy of trust in a way that most financial companies are not. So you really owe it to your customers to add some financial coaching alongside your services. This has to be done year round. You cannot only do tax returns. You cannot only do bookkeeping. You've got to step back, and be a voice in their life to help them build financial wealth. And there's a couple of got you's at the end of implementing your great tax strategies, too. If you implement too many S-corp strategies and you never have a conversation about taking that, save taxes, and putting it into a retirement fund, or at least something that gets compound interest, all of a sudden they're going to retire and their social security check is lower, and you just hosed them.

They had no idea that their social security check was going to be low. I have bumped into 65 year old dudes, 70 year old guys, old entrepreneurs who are so mad at their accountants because they're still working. I can see it. It was at this Bible study that I went to. I met this business owner, he was a plumber. He's like, "Yeah, me and my son had been doing it forever. I wish I could get out, but my accountant pulled some shenanigans and I don't get a social security check." And he never helped them invest. So these guys get to the end of their careers, their bodies are broken and they have no wealth built up, because their accountants failed them. Don't fail your clients guys.

So here's the thing that you should do. I would just do what Dave Ramsey does. Okay? And this isn't cheap stuff. This is don't click off here. Okay? He's got the seven baby steps, right? Build up a little bit of cash, pay off your debt, build up more cash. And then what you do is you start investing. You pay off your house and yada, yada, yada. But at its core, do a financial snapshot. Find out how much do you have in checking?

Like when you sit down with people, lean in and get uncomfortable, right? They may not love it. Your goal should not to be too close the customer. Your goal should be to deliver amazing value to your customer. That should be your goal. And if you pursue that relentlessly, whether it's through any of those three, I could dive into each one. If you pursue that relentlessly, they're going to throw their money at you, because you're worth it. And you're authentically worth it, guys.

But, if you don't sit down and lean in to add value and get into that uncomfortable space to say, "Hey, you know what? As part of this, I'm going to do a financial snapshot. Now, we're going to get a little personal here. In fact, nobody's going to know more about you. I'm going to know everything about you. Because I'm going to see your checking account. I'm going to see your bank account. I'm going to know everything. I'm going to know what you buy. I'm going to know how many times you go to the liquor store. I'm going to know everything," right? You can get real poignant with that if you want to.\.

Or, you can just softly say, I want to take a financial snapshot, because here's the deal, my goal would be that I can help add value to help build financial momentum in your life. Because if I don't, you might get to the end. And I've heard stories about guys not having enough social security check to actually retire on, you'll work too long. Okay? So I want to help you. So in that, do this snapshot. Find out how much they got in checking. How much income is that family making, right? What's the spouse making? What's he making? How much cashflow is coming in.

How much are they spending? If they don't know, hook them up to your accounting stuff and show them their basic family spending. Like poke into that a little bit, help them out, help them identify what that is. Find out how much they have in savings. Find out what they have for investment accounts. So you want to identify each investment account. How much is there and what is it invested in? Here's another thing you owe it to your clients to push in, to find out, are they invested in appropriate investments for however old they are?

Now, this might sound... A lot of business owners are kind of conservative leaning in terms of the risk that they take when it comes to their investments, right? They will notoriously roll the dice on some things and not on others. It's funny. You can see all sorts of like... They're like a lever pulling machine sometimes.

Right? But what you'll see is that sometimes though they'll be 30 years old. And because they watch a lot of Glenn Beck, they've been sitting in like gold the whole time, earning nothing, and not realizing they're paying super high fees. Right? Or they might be a retiree about to retire. Maybe they're these baby boomers and gen-Xers that are getting ready to retire, it's still, I get nervous about... We got this volatility in the market, the market's way up.

Do they have a cash plan figured out? Do they have the first five years of retirement kind of figured out so that they can continue to grow, but they have some protection? Like maybe, they should have some 60/40 split, instead of all stock market participating stuff. Or, maybe in this climate... Whatever. You get the point. You got to find out if they're kind of in the directionally correct stuff.

And you can be that voice to help them understand that, if you're going to do like any retirement, you're going to have to have X, Y, Z amount. You should figure that out. Okay? I'm not going to get into that in this video, but you owe it to them to do that snapshot, to find out where are they? And then encourage them, participate in compounding interest for crying out loud.

Rob Satrom:
If you don't participate in compounding interest, you're failing yourself. It doesn't mean you have to use a qualified plan, get them in a brokerage account. Folks, you don't have to use a 401k plan to invest. You can just invest. And go after like qualified dividend funds out of Vanguard and Schwab, they have low fees, they're tax sensitive, and their great, right? They're paying off dividends. Or they could be tax sensitive funds.

So they don't have to do 401ks, IRAs, Roth IRAs, just make them invest so they get compounding interest and reinvest the dividends, reinvest the growth, and whatnot. That's super important. Here's the second thing you owe it to them, help them save up. Like out of sight, out of mind. Most Americans right now, just they got so much stuff sucking out of their bank account. They don't have a clue.

Make them save. Just encourage them. Somewhere in there, find out if they are saving. If they're not, have them sock away whatever amount makes sense. And put it somewhere that takes three days to get the cash, put it in a money market account in Vanguard. So that there's some sort of like behavior that has to change for them to actually get the money. And they will thank you. Five years will go by, they don't even know it. Next thing you know, they're sitting on 100 GS in cash, and you're like, "Oh you forgot that we did that." Right?

Here's the next thing. I think that you should lean into life insurance, long term disability, short term disability, and health insurance. Folks, it is so confusing to figure out health insurance right now. Find a trusted advisor, figure out the exchange. You owe it to them. You're their financial coach. You're at least the accountant that understands it. Make sure that they're figuring out health insurance.

Make sure that they understand how the exchanges work. How do they write that off? Can they pay it off in the business? Give them good advice about that. Right? How do they use an HSA properly? Lean into that, because the financial advisor, he's going to act like he does, but he doesn't. Once that money's rolled over, they might have their annual checkup, maybe. But chances are, it's not happening.

And if it is happening, they're probably not leaning into anything that doesn't mean get them paid. Okay? So talk about health insurance. Make sure they have term life insurance. Right? Make sure that if they died, their kid is taken care of. Make sure that they explore, what does it mean to have longterm disability? It might be expensive, but dog gone it, as a business owner, I'm quite concerned that if I get hit in the head, my wife is going to have to know everything.

Now, she works in my business so she understands it. But longterm disability is a big thing for their family. Now, the next layer of these protections. So if you die, or if you get sick, or if you can't work, those are important things. Not because the insurance salesman said so, but because all you got to do is be on the other side of this and it's ugly.

Now, if they're in a partnership, you can add value another way by diving into, what happens if your partner can't work? Because they get hit in the head? What happens if your partner dies? But him and his estate still own half the business. You should look at life insurance as a buy/sell agreement. I'm not saying it's a great idea. Sometimes they're so expensive, it's stupid.

Maybe what you need is to save up in each other's estates, so that you can buy each other out, have some sort of just legal buy/sell agreement. But you have to think through, what happens if you get disability? If you have business partners, you should probably have longterm disability taken out on each other and pay it out of the business. And I know some guys that do a really good job at this.

There's all sorts of great investment and insurance people out there. There's a lot of crooks though, too, so be careful. Shop around, get that figured out, but add that value to figure out as a business owner, what happens, especially if you're in a partnership, if one of you dies, or gets sick, or can't work? You should get that figured out. So by adding that value, you're going to do a huge thing.

Here's the last thing, I'm going to move really quick. Help them figure out like, their mortgage. This is so silly. But if you sock away 200 to $800 a month extra, towards a 30 year mortgage, which everybody's got these 30 year mortgages, right? Because we all wanted a ton of houses, and we get a ton of house, and whatever. But help them pay that off. If you just had somebody with like a 350,000, $400,000... Which some of you are like, "That's not very much." Some of you're like, "That's such a big house". I got this clients in San Francisco, it's like, Holy cow, every house is a million dollars or more. And over here it's like 350,000 gets you a pretty big house.

But if you put extra towards that, or if you aggressively pay that off, some people are like, "Ah, that's cheap money. I don't want to pay extra towards a 4% mortgage." But if you start doing the math man, you can save 100 GS over 10 years really quick. And then you can save up some cash and get some cash back. So maybe encourage them to attack their mortgage a little bit better.

Again, look into the Dave Ramsey, seven baby steps. I think if you help them build up a six month cash, then attack your debt as hard as you can, get rid of consumer debt. You just start showing what your mortgage, your vehicle loans, and all your student debt, the interest that you're paying. There's two types of people, those that earn, and those that pay interest. Make them people that earn interest, right? If you add that value, and you start adding up the different layers there, you're going to see that you can truly impact their life. And it's meaningful.

Now, I'll stop there. But there's some specific things that I'll be putting in the comment section. It's not quite finished yet, but there's some specific value that every investment advisor, and every insurance guy kind of acts like they're adding. But look at fees of their investment funds. You don't have to sell them investment and give them advice on investment, but help them see the fees. They're all in fees. A lot of times you have mutual funds, and then a wrap fee going to the investor. Sometimes you'll bump into clients, they're paying like 4% on their investments.

Or, they could be all in, at like 0.8 percent on a Vanguard fund. And even at 0.8 or 1.2%, they could be getting advice from a Vanguard person. Schwab is a great spot, too. They have these cheap index funds. I'm telling you, these are great values that you should put people towards. If you start doing the future value of 30 years at 6.5%, versus getting 8% 30 years, if they get an old 401k, it's a 100 GS. And 30 years later, if they're 30 years old, and they're six... You're going to save them so much money in fees and nonsense.

It's going to be stupid. So that's a big way that you can do it. Check out their mortgage, encourage them to pay a little bit extra. If you make two little tweaks there, let's say you save them a percent and a half in their investment account. You have them pay off their mortgage 10 years early, you might save them three, four, or five, $600,000 in interest payments, or paid fees that they don't need to. I'm serious. This is serious stuff here, guys.

And if you position yourself to be in one of your three things, again, mitigate taxes and build wealth, save them time and money by doing the services for them, keep them protected and compliant by doing stuff right. And looking at insurance, that'll be helpful. So hopefully this helps you. If you add that value and you say, "Hey, its 1500 bucks a month for us to work together," they're going to view this as a no brainer and you will close more deals. Good luck, God bless. You guys, go out and take action in your business. Call us, we'll set up a web site. We have some affordable plans where we can set up websites with messaging and calls to action, and email campaigns, and Google ads that will get you results.

And dog gone it, this is my Milton Friedman shirt, live free. Right now we're in this hot contested time. And no matter what, I love Democrats, I love Republicans. I genuinely, I love people. I love you guys. A lot of us don't see eye to eye when it comes to politics, but we got to remember a couple of things. We all want to have a meaningful career, or a meaningful life. We all want to have great relationships. We all want to be, or have great family, right?

Let's all work towards being good, great family. And let's be able to argue. Argue it out. Argue and debate. And argue hard. Because ideas and precision ideas matter, but then we can forgive each other. And, I think that's one of the things that I've realized that I'm bad at. I will engage and just kind of debate with people. But then I don't get the opportunity to intersect with them in a good way. So hopefully we... I think we should all be able to argue hard, and then forgive each other, and get over it. And treat each other right. We can disagree on business, and in politics, and still place value on people, and love them no matter what. God bless guys. Good luck.

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