What I learnt from spending 3 days with accountants

If you only do it once, don’t do it at all. How systems can transform your business.

Recently I presented my 12 step sales process at the Practice Growth Formula workshop in Sydney. It was a small group of 8 and we went through:

1.The 3 pillars of practice growth
2.Our client’s buying psychology
3.Secrets to premium positioning in the minds of our clients

The majority of our group of 8 were accountants in their own practice and I asked them for the best things they got out of the 3 days. I wanted to share a few of these with you because it will also help you with your fee growth initiatives. While these best things came from accountants, they can equally be applied in any professional service business.

Best thing 1 – If you do it only once, don’t do it at all

Andrew Robertson, my co-presenter at the workshop, summarized the principle of leverage and creating systems really well in his statement “if you do it only once, don’t do it at all”.

This principle is something more for us to strive for, rather than being a hard and fast rule.

We spent quite a bit of time talking about this in the workshop, so this next part isn’t going to do this principle justice, but I thought I’d share the basics with you in a few short emails anyway.

1. This principle can be applied to client jobs you quote for, internal projects, and anything else you do in your business.

2. Fixed price agreements (FPAs) are one-off jobs and therefore while the industry is telling you to move to this model, it’s flawed. This doesn’t mean that we think it’s a good idea to charge by the hour though

3. If you regularly do once off jobs, it’s going to limit your growth for a few key reasons:

  • You can’t be certain how much time and effort it’s going to take
  • As a result, you will always have to leave a meeting without agreeing a price with your client. Rather, you’re likely going to have to email them a fee quote and spend time following your client up afterwards.
  • One-off jobs require a lot of learning time for your staff
  • These jobs also chew up a lot of partner time

4.So if FPAs and charging by the hour don’t work, then what does? The answer is to create packages and productise 80% of your services. I say 80% because in every firm, there’s always the 20% of high value jobs that clients are willing to pay for as they go (such as when you advise on IPOs, acquisitions and mergers), or where there is a good business case for a FPA.

Next week, I’ll share with you the next best thing which gives you more information on packages and products. 

I hope this was useful for you.


Jenny Tse

Jenny Tse

Owner at Licence to Bill™

I am a speaker, published author, sales strategist and coach to small businesses. Over the past decade, I've worked with some of the largest organisations in the world, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, Macquarie Bank and have been invited to speak at the National Audit Conference hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants. I'm brought in by clients increase their revenue. I run a 3 day sales and communication workshop where I teach my 12 step sales process. www.licencetobill.com.au

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Ling Lee

Ling Lee , at Digital Marketing and Personal Branding

Great article! However, most SMEs can't survive be rejecting one-off jobs D: