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What's you view of putting fees on your website

My marketing support recommends putting clear pricing on our website, what do you think

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We're a small 3 person practice - husband and wife plus pt admin/ bookkeeper.  We've been working with a brilliant marketing professional for a few months who has helped us with blogs, newsletters,  finding new business, client retention etc.  She strongly advocates putting our fees on our website but very few accountants make their fees public.  In fact fees seem to be so fiercly protected that I've seen people get quite defensive on this forum when other accoutants ask for advise on setting fees...so what do you think?  How open are you about how you price things and how do you feel about advertising fees?  Do you think it would cheapen us if we did this or leave us open to our competitors?  Or cut down on the tyre kickers - like the guy who has emailed me 3 times this week asking for a 70% reduction on my quote?

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By SXGuy
27th Jan 2021 20:49

I think if you really have to show fees. To just list examples of what a particular type of client might expect to pay rather than saying here's our fees.

It gives the public a rough idea whilst not forcing you to stick to a fee that you've advertised. After all someone who says everything is in order and will only take an hour can end up taking a lot longer to sort and so the fee would possibly change as a result.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By Louise76
27th Jan 2021 20:51

I already have that covered in my T&Cs - something like if its doesn't reconcile and its a big mess and its takes me more than an hour to get it to the point where I can do the accounts you'll be charged £x per hour (did you see me being all coy about my hourly rate there)

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Replying to Louise76:
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By Echo761
02nd Feb 2021 10:27

Are £x a new type of bitcoin... lol

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By JD
27th Jan 2021 21:01

Would that be with or without the ''from'' word

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Replying to JD:
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By Louise76
27th Jan 2021 22:47

I think it would have to be from

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By frankfx
27th Jan 2021 21:19

Why is your marketing guru suggesting that?

It may be to differentiate yourself from the ' local' competition.

What is local?

You can then make a virtue of upfront
Indicative pricing.

Can you try a pricing landing page

A landing page with
Without pricing

Your website can then track breadcrumbs!

Is there a noticeable difference in outcomes.

Are you getting sufficient volume of traffic, to even reach a conclusion?

Pricing, transparency may remove the tyre kickers.
It's all about getting pre qualified leads.....
your website content helps or hinders you achieve that goal.

Ultimately you seek profitable conversation and conversion

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Replying to frankfx:
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By David Winch
02nd Feb 2021 10:07

Great advice from someone who understands Marketing! Thank you!

David Winch
Sales & Marketing Consultant, Cambridge

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blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
27th Jan 2021 21:27

We always have because I firmly believe that there is nothing extra special about accountants and we are a service business like any other - I hate not having prices on a website if I am a buyer.
I have also believed in simple fixed monthly fees for many years and as I have often said on here, sometimes we win sometimes we lose, but overall we are more than happy.
We do however add the word "from" as it is very difficult to have a one size fits all.
At the end of the day if prices are not shown it usually means the supplier is more expensive than those that do show prices so take from that what you will but I guess it does depend how you want to attract new clients - recommendations never even mention price, internet searches will pretty much always be mostly about price, for us we are happy to take some of each.

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Replying to NH:
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By Louise76
27th Jan 2021 22:43

This is really helpful, thank you

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By Mr_awol
27th Jan 2021 21:36

If I were a client I’d probably like/want to see this information. It always frustrated me trying to compare gym subs when there was never any info on the website.

Knowing what I know as an accountant I’d avoid the type of practice that advertised prices on their website. Maybe with services like payroll where matrix pricing is possible, but not for accounts and tax. If they have set prices for different businesses then it suggest they are aggregating overs and unders across different clients. Fine if you’re an under (or happy being an over and subsidising others) but really is only in the accountants interest, not the client. It also encourages them to make the work fit the fee rather than balancing the two.

The reason (I believe) people on here are short with those asking about fee levels isn’t because they want to keep prices a secret. It is more that the ability to get a fee quote right is something that comes from experience. The people asking what to charge are normally less experiences (or complete novices) and to be honest if you ask me what you should charge for something that normally suggests you shouldn’t be charging what I do.

As for [***] like go proposal - don’t get me started

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Replying to Mr_awol:
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By patrickcb
02nd Feb 2021 09:52

Well then I strongly suggest that they use an app like GoProposal.

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Replying to patrickcb:
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By Mr_awol
02nd Feb 2021 13:01

Who should? People who cant run their own business and determine their own pricing?

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By Calculatorboy
28th Jan 2021 00:45

Oh come on you can't compare gym subs to accountants fees , to give accurate quote you need to review record keeping

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
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By Open all hours
28th Jan 2021 21:00

Fees on our website when the clients detailed description of their records appears on theirs.

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Replying to Calculatorboy:
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By Mr_awol
02nd Feb 2021 13:04

No that's not the point - what i was saying is that as a consumer i find it annoying to have to subject myself to sales pitch just to get a price.

As a seller, however, i know that the ability to pitch is the most important bit.

And as an accountant i realise that fixed pricing is wrong for the client and as such am against putting prices on my website.

But the second and third points do not override the fact that the clients will often be (perhaps naively) looking at this from point one.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
28th Jan 2021 08:59

Depends on how you want to position your practice. If you are doing it to be competitive, marketing wisdom (in my experience) tends to be that competing on price is a race to the bottom, and its something you do if you don't have a USP. If you believe you have a USP, might putting prices on the website deflect attention from it.

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By bernard michael
28th Jan 2021 09:11

What % increase in client base has your brilliant marketing professional achieved ??
I ask because I tried one a long time ago with zero effect. Most of my clients derive from recommendation

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Replying to bernard michael:
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By Louise76
28th Jan 2021 10:42

Id say about 15% increase (that's in addition to growth we were already generating ourselves via recommendations etc) since she came on board plus we seem to be getting much quality clients now.... the client retention stuff is harder to measure but we are getting lots of positive feedback

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By zebaa
28th Jan 2021 10:17

Fixed fee for fixed work. For example, you don't ask the price of bread, you ask the price of a loaf. If you define what you are offering, by giving examples - and the price for that - it helps.

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Kitten
By Hazel Accounts
28th Jan 2021 10:27

Personally I wouldn't. How would prices compare to what your current clients pay - would they see that as a way of asking for reductions? As others have said it's not all about price - it's also about service.

I'm also a small practice (sole trader + book-keeper). I don't really advertise except our village newsletter (it's a big village). Best advice I've had re marketing is it's cheaper to keep an existing client happy than find a new one, and then hopefully they will also recommend you to others.

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By JD
28th Jan 2021 11:12

The key is of course clarity around the product you are offering and from that your price. It is surprises around price or unanticipated bills that clients understandably do not like. Whether or not price is on your website is possibly of secondary importance.

Put price on your website and you have already overcome price objections and put off tyre kickers. However you are exposed to firm down the road winning potential clients from you by being £10 cheaper than you.

I would gently suggest focusing giving clients a reason to come to you other than price.

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Universe
By SteveOH
28th Jan 2021 11:16

I have both. I have fixed fees on my website for businesses that fit certain criteria; VAT or non-VAT registered, up to £250k turnover. Over the years I have developed a pretty good idea of how long these jobs will take. For larger businesses I will quote a fixed fee after a discovery chat.

Mine is a small practice, though, so it suits me. I also dislike other websites that put no indication of price on their sites. It encourages me to phone them "to discuss" options etc which I am loathe to do. I just get put through to a hard sell salesperson.

PS: Would you mind private messaging me with the details of your marketing professional? I could do with some help with newsletter, blogs etc.

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Della Hudson FCA
By Della Hudson
02nd Feb 2021 09:40

Our website is aimed at getting the right kind of clients to call. Putting example fees on there reduces the number of enquiries but doesn't out off the right kind of clients so my conversion rate increases.
As Bryony Thomas says, "clients want to know if they're shopping in Primark or Prada"

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By patrickcb
02nd Feb 2021 09:47

I've always been an advocate of full transparency wherever possible. I personally hate going to a software website and NOT being able to see the price. On my website https://bambury.info/pricing/ I admit I shy way from putting actual fees down, but I do set out some of the criteria that accountants use to come to a fee proposal (aimed at the "How much do you charge for a set of accounts?" type question). When a prospect books a discovery call with me they are automatically sent a questionnaire to complete so I can judge the scope of the work and complete the fee proposal in GoProposal.

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By David Winch
02nd Feb 2021 10:17

I'd advise not putting prices on your website, even on a landing page that can only ever be seen by people you send to it.

* You need the freedom to be able to charge the 'right' (for each one) price to each individual client - not work from a 'price list'

* You need to 'stand out from the crowd' - There are many far better ways of doing this than competing on price!

NH has perfectly shot themselves in the foot by claiming "I firmly believe that there is nothing extra special about accountants and we are a service business like any other."

Every business absolutely has to stand out from the crowd in their target niche market. If you can't 'stand out' in your niche, find another niche to 'stand out' in.

If you don't 'stand out from the crowd', why would any client ever choose you?

'Following the herd' is a defence mechanism for prey animals. Its aim is to increase the chances of someone else being the predator's lunch!

David Winch
Sales & Marketing Consultant, Cambridge

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Replying to David Winch:
By tonyaustin
02nd Feb 2021 11:45

Hypothetically, David, sole trader A and sole trader B have businesses in the same sector with similar turnover. A is very organised, B is not. B's accounts and tax return take several times longer to prepare than those of A and require a different mix of my staff and expertise. I charge A £500 and I charge B £2,500. What price do you suggest I quote on my website for preparing a set of accounts and a tax return?
This may be slightly exaggerated but is not otherwise untypical of an accountant's practice.

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Replying to tonyaustin:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
02nd Feb 2021 11:55

tonyaustin wrote:

Hypothetically, David, sole trader A and sole trader B have businesses in the same sector with similar turnover. A is very organised, B is not. B's accounts and tax return take several times longer to prepare than those of A and require a different mix of my staff and expertise. I charge A £500 and I charge B £2,500. What price do you suggest I quote on my website for preparing a set of accounts and a tax return?
This may be slightly exaggerated but is not otherwise untypical of an accountant's practice.


"From £500" - then you speak to the client about the records, Mr A you say "well sir you qualify for our lowest fee" Mr B you say (sucking air through your teeth)"dear oh dear we will have to charge a huge amount for that, but do things our way and next time you too will qualify for our lowest fee and save yourself £2000"
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Replying to NH:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Feb 2021 12:55

There is then expectation management, you gave out the first figure publicly you now may need to backpedal when you see the actual records.

It may take longer , or maybe you carry more clients than I ever did with a larger proportion of low fee ones, but revealing the indicative price once you have actually seen what is involved to me seems more considered.

I preferred a different USP, mine was I did not charge for meetings or calls, and I emphasised that point, as we see all the time on here clients get into problems by acting before asking, my philosophy was to sell the fact that I did not charge there was no clock running at a meeting or on the phone. Meetings of course took longer but during lengthy evening discussions (I was PT) the clients said things that raised fruitful discussions and these meetings I think cemented the relationships- I lost no clients to other firms from 2006 to 2019 I think partly because I took the time to really know my clients and how their business ticked.

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Replying to NH:
By tonyaustin
05th Feb 2021 14:39

If accountants did that they would spend more time explaining t0 99% of them why they do not qualify for the bare minimum fee than actually doing the work. My charges for a personal tax return vary from £100 to £2,000. What good is that information to a prospective client looking at prices on a website? My charges vary according to the amount of work and level of expertise required but even publishing highest and lowest rates tells the client nothing as they have no way of judging how much time or expertise their affairs need until they sit down and discuss it with me.

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paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Feb 2021 11:15

If you must quote prices, and I am not convinced you must, at least quote them in guineas, that will certainly stand you out from the crowd and it will also suggest a longevity to your practice, standing, even respectability(despite the fact that having a price list trashes such an idea) ,as if you have been serving the public since at least the days of Scrooge.

Step two could then be employing a commissionaire for your office.

Step three, has to be the adoption of bowler hats and brollies.

With these three simple steps you can rebrand your firm firmly backwards to the early 20th century.

Sorry, but afraid I find the idea of a professional firm having a price list stuck on their virtual wall tasteless in the extreme, next thing your will be buying one of these pub ones with the changeable letters and numbers to fix up in reception to accommodate price changes, it can hang alongside Monet's "Poppy Field" , Vettriano's "The Singing Butler", your framed qualifications and, heavens forbid, your degrees.

I have a theory about the teaching profession that they trashed their standing in the eyes of the public by striking, refusing to support sports outwith school etc and they subsequently never recovered, these were not the actions of professionals and by so acting they tarnished their image , certainly a teacher has nothing like the social respect they had in the past. To my eye accountants look like they are going/have gone the same way.(Think " The Great and Powerful Oz" when the curtain gets pulled back)

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Replying to DJKL:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
02nd Feb 2021 11:28

DJKL wrote:

Sorry, but afraid I find the idea of a professional firm having a price list stuck on their virtual wall tasteless in the extreme,

Back in 2021.....people are used to knowing what they will pay for business services before they commit, preferably for a fixed monthly fee, its really not that difficult to provide that for the majority of small businesses and for the ones that you are not sure about it says "from" on the site

I stand by my original comment - why should accountancy services be any different to other services

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Replying to NH:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Feb 2021 11:41

You can certainly do it, and quite likely it generates more business, but it does to me devalue the image of what you do , in my eyes, and certainly I am old fashioned, you are in effect thereafter merely selling services; my barber merely sells services, Kwik Fit do similar, but neither are part of a profession, neither would in days gone by have been assessed under Schedule D Case II.

I had no problem indicating likely cost on a client by client basis but I would never have published a price list.

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Replying to NH:
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By David Winch
02nd Feb 2021 12:28

I totally agree that "people are used to knowing what they will pay for business services before they commit". Why wouldn't they want to know? Would they ever commit without knowing? (Incidentally, that's what those who charge for their time are asking them to do!)

But you can tell them the price when you talk to them - during the selling process.

If you publish a price list and sell from it, you are no different to an e-commerce website, a pub or a barber's shop.

David Winch
Sales & Marketing Consultant, Cambridge

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By frankfx
02nd Feb 2021 11:32

OP

Based on feedback from Awebers , have you spoken to your marketing advisor?

How are you going to approach the pricing question?

With gusto or trepidation?

Please ,share with us the next steps in your marketing plan.

Should the next steps not meet expectations, do you have Plan B ready to launch?

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Mark Lee 2017
By Mark Lee
02nd Feb 2021 13:41

I have seen both arguments over the years.
The challenge is to use any reference to your fees to discourage the people you don't want to serve and to attract those you do want to serve.

When this comes up with accountants I mentor I suggest an approach that allows you to indicate two levels of fee: your minimum fee for each type of service and also the average fees paid by most clients. The point being to ensure that new clients don't assume that they will all only pay the minimum fee.

An example might be: Self assessment tax returns - Our minimum fee here is £350 but our average fee is closer to £700.

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
02nd Feb 2021 18:37

I'm going to buy a Morris Minor van and have it signwritten, and drive around town in it. Tax Returns £99 (still working on the strapline, any suggestions?). Might even ask as Sage for sponsorship (other software platforms are available).

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Feb 2021 21:12

HMRC being a nuisance, want to stop this Minor inconvenience? Stand up to them, decides if you are a man, or a mouse, contact Pewtey , Putey & Putty, Accountants.

Offices in Cowley, Cowley and Birmingham

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By carnmores
06th Feb 2021 14:36

I abhor websites that do not include pricing information.

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