Or as it’s more often put, “how much do you cost”?
First things first, our aim is to change the narrative quite a bit here from seeing our services as a cost, to seeing them as an investment in your business.
More on that as you read on but it’s a key point to keep in mind.
We want to remove the mystique from pricing and to make it an upfront and honest discussion, not an awkward and cryptic one.
Sticking with that honesty, you may have seen a well-known advert that says “we offer 3 kinds of service – Good, Fast and Cheap – but you can only pick 2”:
- Good and cheap – but it won’t be fast
- Cheap and fast – but it won’t be good
- Fast and good – but it won’t be cheap
Slow and poor are simply unacceptable to us in any way – and so really there is only 1 service available – Fast & Good. This is not a convenient truth but more a fact that for us, anything that isn’t fast and good isn’t worth entertaining.
We want to help you to:
- Run a successful business achieving its fullest potential
- Make the accounting process as quick, simple and efficient as possible
- Help you to achieve the three life freedoms; time, mind and money
How do we do that:
- By responding quickly
- Regularly reporting how your business is performing, giving you the confidence to run your business to the best of its ability
- Preparing tax bills (business and personal) with plenty of notice so you can plan way in advance
- Not missing deadlines – we certainly don’t operate on lastminute.com (providing we have everything from you submitted to our timescales)
- Removing surprises
- Understand your personal and business goals are so we can work alongside you to achieve them, to know what the pressure points are in your business life to help resolve them
- Making sure you know you’re in safe hands and that every possible saving and opportunity has been considered and acted on.
- Using the best technology available to support our processes and services to deliver an efficient accounting system
- By delivering fair and transparent pricing
We want to be there for you, to care about & understand your business. There’s enough things to think and worry about running your own business. An efficient and informative accounting system with tailored insight and advice removes a huge amount of that stress. Ultimately, that’s how we help you to achieve the time, mind and money freedoms!
If you’ve read this far, you will have worked out that we won’t be the cheapest. If price is your main driver, which is absolutely fine, then we probably won’t be the accountant for you, which is also absolutely fine.
We have no desire to be the cheapest because we don’t want to compromise the service we offer to you. Cheap means we are forced to compromise on the quality of the work we deliver and the speed at which we deliver it.
This isn’t just a convenient saying to justify a higher fee. We’ve worked in accountancy businesses where the fee structure was a race to the bottom, chipping away at the fee because the competition down the road charge less, because my mate pays less for his accounts.
We saw a battery farm approach where standards slipped, deadlines were missed, surprises galore, with clients chased their accountant operated in the dark – total chaos where literally everything was on the back foot, every day was a firefighting exercise, mistakes happened and clients were just a number.
It was cheap but it certainly wasn’t good or fast! It was the best that could be done with the fee they charged but sadly it fell short of what most of us expect from a professional advisor.
And it continues to happen…..we still hear of horror stories when we take on a new client and (mainly for comedy/tragedy effect) here’s a few howlers from our experience of the service clients have received from their previous accountant in the last few years – in all cases, bare bones services were provided on a “we’re the cheapest” basis:
- Missed £14k of VAT reclaim on new plant and equipment because the new kit was purchased on hire purchase, so they never saw the full amount come out of the bank account. They did see the hire purchase repayments but didn’t put two and two together.
- Used cash accounting for VAT instead of the standard accounting for VAT that the client was actually on – led to a £6k surprise bill and 5 months of HMRC crawling all over the last 4 years VAT returns
- Overclaimed furlough by £8k by claiming in error 100% of the wage cost, not 80%. All to be repaid with immediate effect. Client was then billed for all the work submitting the furlough claims!
- A particular favourite – when the COVID situation kicked off in March 2020, our client tried to get hold of their previous accountant with no joy. The accountant’s emails and voicemails all returned the same message – “we’ll be back when this all blows over”. Absolutely priceless! Let’s hope it’s all blown over for them by now.
We use some unique ways to approach pricing:
- We don’t charge for our time. This is the traditional way our industry has charged and quite frankly it is insane! Where is the motivation for an accountancy business to be more efficient if they get paid more, the less efficient they are?!
- Our pricing is transparent. We make sure you can see how the monthly retainer is broken down so you can see what services we are providing and how much they each cost – no finger in the air, “let’s see what we can max out of this”.
- We’ll only offer you what we’d want if we were you, knowing what we know (ok, you might need to re-read that!) – you can pick less services from us or maybe you want more but we’ll give you our honest opinion on what you need right now to run your business to the best of its ability with a plan going forward to keep the services tailored to your business as it changes & evolves.
- All fees are invoiced monthly. No large one off bills to help with cashflow (for us both!).
The monthly retainer is tailored to your business. It’s not an off the shelf package, “all limited companies are £100 a month” method. Every business is different and every business has different needs. There are lots of factors to consider; turnover, complexity, quality of records, what level of reporting do you need, are you VAT registered, do you want a business plan and strategic input, do you need exit/succession planning, what specific tax planning requirement are there and so on and so on.
- The monthly retainer is agreed in advance and only changes with prior notice and agreement when the service level changes. Fees are reviewed regularly as follows:
- For payroll/CIS and software – monthly
- For bookkeeping, VAT compliance and management reporting – quarterly
- Everything else – annually
- The monthly retainer is collected by direct debit. No standing orders, no cheques and not the slightest bit of chasing in sight from us. After all, we’re your advisors, not a debt collector.
- All of this forms the foundations of how we work together (link to Way We Work Together doc) in an efficient and effective relationship.
We’d like to also talk about discounts. Simply put, there are no discounts. This might seem a blunt and inflexible approach but it’s there for good reason. Imagine the following scenario…….we meet and agree to work together. The investment per month in the proposal is say £300/month and you ask for a discount and we agree to it. You leave the meeting feeling elated – you got a discount! And then you start to have a few thoughts:
- I wonder if I could have got more of a discount?
- If that was the price, then why didn’t I get offered that in the first place?
- I wonder what other businesses pay for the same services?
Instantly, distrust and doubt has appeared and the relationship is off to a terrible start. In addition, we’ve taught you not to value what we do for you, to question the quality of what we do, our integrity and we haven’t even started working together. What a recipe for disaster!