My name is Hector Garcia, and I am the CEO of “QBKaccounting” (legally: Quick Bookkeeping & Accounting LLC), an accounting firm based out of Miami, FL. And this is an open letter to all the potential clients that express interest to hire me or my firm for accounting and related work.
I get several emails a week with start with: “I think I need to hire a CPA / QuickBooks Consultant”; usually followed with a quick backstory of the person’s business they own or manage, and then finished with “Can you call me to discuss your rates?” – In some cases, the emails do not even ask about rates, but want to know WHAT we can do for them and HOW we can help them…
So, I have been thinking about what is the best way to answer this, because actually calling a random person that thinks they might or might not need an accountant could also be either a huge waste of time (for both parties) and/or end up quite frankly giving some free advice to a person that is just not ready to really hire an accountant for their business. That being said, I usually like to followup with first explaining all the possible things an accountant can do (and this list is not complete, it’s just limited to the work I do):
- Answer your basic business, accounting, and tax related questions via phone or email
- Train and advice you on how to do your own bookkeeping and/or use your accounting software
- Integrate your accounting system with other business applications or business workflows
- Consult on QuickBooks-related Inventory Management, E-Commerce, Manufacturing workflows, excel data import, Custom Reports, etc.. (our technical areas of specialty)
- Clean-up/Organize the bookkeeping you have already prepared (or attempted to anyway). Or close your books (prepare completed financial statements) at the end of the month, quarter, or year. Sometimes referred to as “outsourced bookkeeping service”
- Prepare your monthly or quarterly sales tax returns
- Help you setup and prepare your payroll checks with withholdings
- Prepare your quarterly or annual payroll tax returns (including W-2s and 1099’s at the end of the year)
- Prepare your annual individual and/or corporate tax return
- Perform quarterly estimates for income tax and discuss decisions that impact tax liability, AKA “Tax Planning”
- Structure or Restructure corporate entity for ease of compliance and/or best tax treatment
- Help small business owners prepare documents for loan applications
- Revise your previous 2 years of tax returns to see if there are any obvious missed opportunities worth doing an amendment for
- Provide business/management advice beyond the numbers and taxes
Once it is clear “what” is it that an accountant can do, then it’s important to identify if that particular accountant is the right fit for your business. Some accountants specialize in specific industries and company sizes, while others are generalists and take any client of any size or any industry. Usually the price and/or their capacity to provide deeply relevant advice to their customer will vary based on their areas of focus.
I personally don’t believe in giving a “hourly rate” willy nilly and letting the customer decide if the rate makes sense without discussing what are the actual services needed. Unfortunately, a RATE is usually based on how long the work will take; and generally the actual amount the work takes, what the accountant estimated the work would take, and what the customer things the effort is… are usually at odds. But more importantly, the value of the OUTCOME from the work produces will vary greatly from client to client or project to project; and it is for this very reason that I prefer to give a fixed price the job based on those specify outcomes that we can guarantee for the client. This outcome-based fixed pricing methodology id ideal for moving the conversation about “effort” and “rate” but now more focused on what the client expects to get in return. But the number 1 challenge I have, is that for this to happen, I need to have an in-depth diagnosis with the new potential client to be able to make a formal offer!
So for this “I need a new accountant (or “a QuickBooks Consultant”), what can you do for me, and how much are your rates?” question is really hard to answer with nuance. So, for this very reason, our firm is comfortable charging a flat fee for a DIAGNOSTIC SERVICE in order to determine what the work will be, what the desired outcome is, and how involved is our firm going to be vs. the amount of responsibility or work that will be done by the client prior or during our engagement.
Since our firm charges $375 to do this type of diagnosis, many prospects want to to HOW MUCH will the whole thing thing be (or at least) ballpark even before paying for a diagnostic. This is really hard to answer WITHOUT doing the diagnostic, however I can safely tell you that this is a typical answer we have given before:
“Mr. Potential Client, the average company we work with that has $3mm in annual revenues and around 10 employees, that requires all or most of the services named above, pays our firm $2,500 to $5,000 a month for a fixed engagement all inclusive of the services we can provide; and pay even more when they ask for a guaranteed outcome in return”
However, companies that pay our firm $30k to $60k a year worth of services are in the top echelon of our portfolio and are really a handful that we can take because of capacity. We have many clients (generally smaller companies and self-employed people that only hire us for one annual review and annual tax return; and pay under $1,200 per year for all the services they really need from us.
That being said, I could answer that the estimated costs to work with us is between $100 to $5,000 per month… This is why the company size, number of unique type of transactions, number of employees, industry, ownership/investor structure, complexity of business/transactions, growth rate, client expectations, and undertaken risk by becoming someone’s “accountant” all play a role in pricing our services; specially when the outcomes are well defined and/or explicitly guaranteed as part of the service. If the request is Training/Consulting, there are many factors as well that can affect the outcome. And since, this would obviously require a deep conversation. For this I we simply need to charge a diagnosis fee of $375.
I hope this information is relevant to you. And if you want to hire my firm for $375 to determine if it makes sense for us to be come your new accountant or QuickBooks consultant. Here is my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and lets start the conversation
The next steps of the process are explained here: https://hectorgarcia.com/new-client-onboarding-workflow-for-tax-returns/