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Upgrading book-keeping software

I am seriously thinking about upgrading my book-keeping software, potentially to Xero as it does look excellent and I have heard such good things about it.

I am just wondering, as it's charged on a per client basis, would you recharge this to the client or suffer the cost yourself as, in my case, it's MY decision to upgrade to the software, so should I make clients pay for that fact?

I am thinking maybe suffer the cost in the first year, show them the benefits as the year progresses, then charge from year 2 onwards.

Does anyone have other opinions?


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Charge 'em!

I use it and clients like it.

The main sticking point has been fees for work on conversion. Some have been happy to pay, others not. I ended up charging a small fee to some and not others. I just charge the annual fees out at cost which is 25% off the listed rates.



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07th Dec 2011 17:57

Charge them for the added value

Our advice would be to do what you're most comfortable with, but certainly take the chance to offer your Xero clients additional value-add services that they don't currently get from you and which are efficiently scaled out over all your online clients.

Packaging up these additional cost options into bundles makes it easy for your clients (and prospective clients) to decide if they are happy to go with a basic compliance service level, for example Bronze, or would prefer additional services (Silver and Gold plans and so on) like a detailed monthly management report, a monthly or quarterly management review, your staff taking care of their bank rec or credit control - the fact that the data is online makes it easier for you to attach value add services around it because the physicality of the data and programs is no longer an impediment.

But the key is to let your clients choose.

Gary Turner
Managing Director, Xero


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07th Dec 2011 17:59


... many thanks Gary, heard so many good things about Xero so will be signing up very soon - had a really good webinar with Glen and the software does look very, very slick...

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Look at it from the client's point of view

If you were doing my books using say Sage, and then decided to switch it to say QuickBooks, but I got no more or less then it's your choice and cost.  If by changing your practices, whatever they might be, and the client gets a better service or functionality AND it's something they needed then you can look to charge them accordingly.  Where a lot of accountants look silly is by adding to a service for a client, when the client hadn't expected it or knew it existed, then asking the client to pay afterwards.

Clearly the prime benefit of using Cloud accounting is in circumstances where you can monitor/supervise client's own bookkeeping or when clients are able to get into a system maintained by you whenever they want to say run off reports, look at debtors etc.  In both these cases it's the client and accountant benefitting.

We use Cloud accounting and so, because no two clients are the same, with some we pay for the entire cost, with others we share it and with others we make a profit.  The latter is far easier to achieve with new clients or where existing clients come to you for the next stage in their bookkeeping.

By the way, once you've started to use online accounting you'll wonder why you put up with desk-bound stuff for so long.

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By chatman
07th Dec 2011 22:03

Depends whether the client benefits

I have clients who have no interest in seeing the ledger or any of the reports. I cannot see how I could justify charging them for it; in those cases I swallow the cost, as it is worth it for the time it saves me.

However, some clients use it for invoicing and some to avoid the hassle of having to download and send me their banks statements every quarter. This lot gets charged for it.

I (unusually) disagree with Paul in his last paragraph: I can produce final accounts from my desk-bound VTT+ far faster than I could from Xero. They both have their advantages.  Gary will forgive me for this, as I am using his software anyway.

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08th Dec 2011 13:42

A New Deal

@Jaybee661 - as you may know, I have some experience on rolling bookkeeping software into an accountancy service.

The best way to do this is to completely change the basis of the working agreement. And, for you to get clients to see a new perspective, you need to show it to them. This requires a sales process and before that some marketing. If you do this right, clients come to you and buy - as opposed to you pushing anything on clients.

Depending on the existing relationship, the quality of their current bookkeeping be prepared for the fee may go up or down. But, if you do this right, your recovery rate on every client will go up.

Good luck.

Bob Harper

Crunchers Accountancy Franchise


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