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FFAP from Squosh software

FFAP from Squosh software

I would be interested to hear from users of Squosh Software's FFAP fixed fee pricing software to find out how well it works in practice. E.g:
Do they use it for all their fees?
Do they always follow the calculated fee?
Has it lived up to the claims and increased their fee income (by encouraging them to increase fees)?

I am a big fan of value pricing but am unconvinced that menu-based fixed fees are any more than a step along the route from time-based billing to pure value-based fees.
Nigel Harris

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30th Jan 2008 15:09

Extremely beneficial
We’ve used FFAP for a couple of years now and have been extremely please with its contribution to our bottom line.

We have been advocates of value pricing (not just ‘fixed fee’ pricing) for some time now. We are firmly of the opinion that people do not buy our ‘time’ (in the same way as one would employ the services of an administrator from a temp agency) but, as a profession, they value our ‘expertise’. The perceived value that type of expertise as it appears in the mind of the purchaser may not fit nicely into round six minute chunks and each person is different. We might do something quicker than the firm down the road because we are familiar with that technical area or industry but does that make what we do less valuable? I would suggest the contrary was true.

There are numerous debates on here about the merits (or otherwise) of value pricing, however I feel it’s worth mentioning as it helps to articulate the reason why our perception of the value FFAP has added to our practice may be different to others. If you still believe you sell ‘time’ and conduct yourself as such but want a product to get your ‘fixed fees’ up then whilst I still believe you will have some success with this product I think you will be constantly undermining its output to justify the figure you first thought of!! We believe we are good at what we do and have numerous areas of demonstrable differentiation. In addition we have nice offices, pleasant, well trained and articulate staff and good use of technology. We do not provide lip service to the word ‘proactive’ and do not use it as an empty marketing phrase. All of this comes out during an initial meeting with a prospective client and is designed to create an impression in their mind as to the type of firm we are and the type of service they will receive (a ‘brand’ if you like). We are able (via FFAP) to quickly provide them with bespoke marketing material based on the conversation we have had with them so far and talk them through each area. Before we have even discussed ‘price’ they will already have formed an expectation as to whether it would be higher or lower than they originally expected (and if we’ve done our job correctly it’ll be the former!). This is normally where those who price on an hourly rate miss the point as they have not correlated the perceived value of what they are offering in the mind of the client to their pricing methodology. Of course, if you have no differentiation because you “are a firm of accountants and you do what accountants do…” then…I’m afraid there’s little hope that this software is going to help you in any way because you’ll buy it and simply not use it!!...cont below

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30th Jan 2008 15:08

Extremely beneficial (cont...)
It’s such a waste when you spend so much effort creating an excellent perception of value and then leave huge chunks of it on the table because, as accountants, we’re traditionally not very good salesmen (being of a technical ilk). For us, this is where this software comes into its own. You’re in the meeting with the prospect; you’ve created an excellent impression and they are falling over you begging for an engagement letter (okay, I might have exaggerated slightly!) and just want to get the price agreed before they leave excitedly to go and tell their co-directors about the fantastic new firm of accountants they’ve just engaged. At this point your throat becomes dry; your hands shake; you look at your shoes; cough and then as the previous respondent says, stick a wet finger in the air. After ummming and arrrring for a while, followed by a few sharp intakes of breath (well...that’s what the guy in the garage does…and he does lots of pricing!) you finally think of a number. It’s not as much as you’d really want but you couldn’t possibly ‘get away’ with any more…could you (with an image in your mind of you wearing a black stetson and a bandana over your face like a bandit)? Then you open your mouth to give the client the good news…and halve it. The client doesn’t bat an eyelid…says “fine”, signs up and goes on his way. You sit back, sigh and feel smug in the knowledge of a job well done…this fixed fee malarkey…it’s not that hard is it?!! ....cont. below

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By chatman
to Vicky_PolicyBee
07th Jun 2012 11:06

Exactly the same pricing method as me.

wfewtrell wrote:
your throat becomes dry; your hands shake; you look at your shoes; cough and then as the previous respondent says, stick a wet finger in the air. After ummming and arrrring for a while, followed by a few sharp intakes of breath (well...that’s what the guy in the garage does…and he does lots of pricing!) you finally think of a number. It’s not as much as you’d really want but you couldn’t possibly ‘get away’ with any more… Then you open your mouth to give the client the good news…and halve it. The client doesn’t bat an eyelid…says “fine”, signs up and goes on his way.

Brilliantly put. It's as if you have been there in my head when I am quoting.

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30th Jan 2008 15:05

Extremely beneficial (last!)
The software provides what we in this firm refer to as a ‘value crutch’ (no sniggering…we don’t mean that sort of…oh never mind!). It helps us support the value we want to convey (through the in built marketing collateral systems) as well as create an impression during the meeting that there is a detailed algorithm upon which the fee is based. As a result we have never had to discount the end price. We don’t do discounts (we’re not ‘Argos’ and certainly never have a January sale!) and the fact that the software comes up with the price in front of the client means that prospects/clients never ask for one. It’s a silly bit of psychology…but a very useful one. If someone feels the end price is more than they can afford we simply go through their menu selections again and find out what ‘non-essentials’ they want to defer to next year. That drops the end price down (a bit) and, invariably, as long as it’s gone down they say yes! That’s as much fee pressure as we have. Incidentally, when we first started using the software the fees it would quote were probably double what we would have thought of initially (before halving them as above!). I would say in two years we have only had two (decent sized) prospects turn us down on the basis of price but they both went to great pains to acknowledge the value they perceived. What has it done to our bottom line? I can’t quantify it here but safe to say I think it’s obscene!! I can’t put it all down to FFAP alone now as we are less tentative with ensuring we do not hide from charging top whack for what we do and ensuring the clients perceive that as good value. What I can say though is that it would have taken us a hell of a lot longer to have got here (if at all) if we had never started using it.

With all that behind us we simply get on with providing the service. We have to be able to follow through with the high standards of excellence, etc. we were differentiating ourselves on but…many accountancy practices are proficient operationally. We’ve simply fixed the front end!!

Finally…despite the fact that we only have a few clients on standing order and that’s only for ongoing regular services like book keeping or payroll, etc., we have ZERO debtors. Clients actually like paying us and often remind us if they don’t feel we’ve given them a fee note quickly enough! New staff that have come here with experience in other practices often find this amusing but it proves that something works! Whatever that ‘something’ is we feel that FFAP has made a significant contribution towards it.

Right…back to self assessment deadlines……..

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29th Jan 2008 22:56

delighted with FFAP
We have used FFAP very successfully and it has certainly helped us to drive up agreed fees (to where we now feel they should have been).
The idea of offering a "menu" or saying, this is what the computer says the fee should be, seems to be a lot more palatable to the client and removes a lot of the liklihood of "negotiating" over a fee than used to be the case when the client perceived it was no more than us sticking a finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing.
I can only speak for our experiences, but it has worked extremely well for us and on that basis, I would recommend FFAP.

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24th Jan 2008 16:15

FFAP Pricing System
Hello Nigel

As MD and founder of Squosh Software and senior pertner in a general accountancy practice I know how much additional fees and business FFAP has generated for us! I am also happy to provide further testimonials or even ask real life users to speak to you!

Please call me on 01789 201911 or 07970 836528 if you want to discuss the product. In year one I guarantee to refund the money without questions if you ask ... so really the risk is limited to your time!!

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12th Nov 2007 15:40

We use it
It works if you *commit* yourself to using it at fee quotes.
We had to adjust the fee baseline as we found it too high "from the box" for our area.

We now find it works well, on the adjusted fee baseline, we ran a few current clients and found the fees were comparable with the current charges.

At fee quotes we show the prospect the fee quote on a bookkeeping level poorer than currently kept, move up a level to show how they are controlling the fee by maintaining the standards they currently use. Then we show how if they improve further (e.g. computerised or bank rec's) they can lower the fee even further.

Often the fee quote is coming out (a little) higher than our gut feeling, I suppose the computer is removing the emotional feeling to clinch a deal, and because the prospect can see the fee quote on screen they seem more comfortable (again I suppose a computer removes the prospects fear of "how accurate is the quote").

Certainly in house it means any team member can quote without a fear of getting it wrong so long as they key in the correct data (turnover, bookkeeping quality, ST Ptr'ship, Ltd status etc).

We doubt FFAP has significantly raised fees, it has helped to remove a fair amount of guess work, it gives the presenter and prospect something to instantly see, on screen, and talk around, it seems to give prospects the added comfort of a practice that works to a system.

We have just had the latest update and now need to use that to check on improvements.

All in all....we will renew our licence in two months.

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