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Fees on my website

19th May 2013
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One of the key piece of information potential clients want to know is what the fees would be. 

So far I have not put fees on my website for illogical reasons:

1) Do not want to give this information away to competitors - it is easy to find this out

2) I could get more from client than what I I have in mind - not a good approach and so far it has not worked. 

I am now thinking it is time to state the fees on my website. I have a good idea what to charge. It could be a time saver in that if the clients cannot afford my fees they can go elsewhere. Plus there is added advantage of transparency from the outset.  

Furthermore, I want to a Xero seminar a few months ago where they advocated stating the fees on the home page. Listening to them., it made sense.

I understand client needs are different so we have to price appropriately. Most of the clients I have taken on fall within the standard fees category. 

I am  now thinking about taking  the bold step (is it?) of putting my fees on my website. This would include exactly what would be covered by the fees. 

Fees that would be stated are:

1) Limited company

2) Sole Trader

3) Partnerships

4) Landlords

The question I am asking myself should I includes fees for:

1) Accountants references 

2) Companies House secretarial services - fees for this? 

3) Xero training 

Have you put your fees on your website? How has it worked? If not will you?  

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Replies (18)

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By Steve McQueen
19th May 2013 16:09

Did this years ago
Didn't seem to make much difference except when one particular client made a complaint and said to my regulator that I was over charging him and used my website as evidence.

Although the regulators claim they don't get involved in fee disputes, they seemed to like having a bash at me whenever they can and although the complaint was eventually dismissed, I decided the pain of it could have been avoided by not having specific prices on my site.

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By petersaxton
19th May 2013 16:25

I am not sure it's a good idea

Would potential clients look at your fees and phone elsewhere and see if they could get cheaper ?

What about giving a broad idea of maximum and minimum and explain what you would take into account when deciding fees?

Do you think it will save time in talking to clients who wont pay your fees?

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bike
By FirstTab
19th May 2013 17:55

Use of Internet
As you know the use of the net is on an increasing trend. This means even when we get a call, clients compare fees after meeting/call.

With fees on the website things are clear from the start.

May be I could give a try for 6 months or so and report back.

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By petersaxton
19th May 2013 18:00

Good idea

I'd be interested in knowing how you get on with that.

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By Heather Townsend
19th May 2013 20:03

To put fees or not...

My view is very simple, you want to give prospects landing on your website some idea of your fees. Whether you go the whole hog is up to you. My reasons for putting fees on your website are as follows:

It gets rid of people who can't afford your fees (and saves you time in qualifying an unsuitable prospect)It reduces the amount of price sensitive clients approaching you. (After all, if they want the cheapest fee, they will go elsewhere)It stops people guessing that you will be too expensive

Your aim, I'm guessing, is to differentiate yourself by the service your deliver to your clients. Therefore, if you focus on this in your website, then putting fees on your website will guide prospects what to expect, rather than dissuade them (unless you are aiming to be at the top end of the fee range)

If you are concerned about putting the whole 9 yards on the site, then use the following words on your website:

Limited Companies: from £xx a month

Sole traders: from £xx a month

 

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By petersaxton
19th May 2013 20:28

The famous "from"

I'd rather go the whole hog in a meeting where I make sure the potential client understands the price - "if you do this I will do that for £xxx, if you only do the other then I will do that for £xxxx"

I don't get inundated with potential clients so I can deal with them without too much trouble.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
19th May 2013 21:04

How much?

@FT - how much traffic do you get and expect to get?

and, does this convert into a decent level of clients?

My view is that potential clients shopping for accountants on line are not likely to make the best quality clients - price will be a big factor and I know previously that you stated that you're not the cheapest and that you were looking to implement a minimum fee level.

Where do you get most of your clients from at the moment?

I get nearly all my clients from referrals at the moment (just checked and 14 new clients this year - all referrals).

I would never consider putting prices on my website - if your content is good that is far more likely to attract better quality clients.

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bike
By FirstTab
19th May 2013 21:47

Clients source

Thanks for the response all. 

KA in the last two years I have got 75% of my clients from my website and the remaining 25% from referrals. These have been start up business and not established ones. Most of  them are still with me.

These clients really do look around and then decide. Normally they see at least three accountants. In these click days I think this is normal.   

For me my website is really working. I am thinking I may get more clients by stating prices.

In terms of traffic - I am embarrassed to say, I don't know. I will ask my web guy to set me up. This is key information I should know. 

 

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
19th May 2013 22:34

Nothing wrong with a guide

If you charge Ltd Companies £xxx and sole traders £yy then put it on your website, there's no point keeping it to yourself.  If however you would rather match the fee to what each client needs, then surely all you can give is a range or average guide.

You mention Xero training for example, one client who I knew would need a lot of hand holding was charged £750 + VAT and another who jumped straight in and has sussed it himself got a £100 setup charge, Trying to put that on a website would be more confusing than it's worth.

I agree that if you get (and want to keep getting) clients from your website then perhaps you should put something up there and see if that improves things.  As with KA I don't seek new clients from mine, I prefer to encourage referrals, so much easier to take on.

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By John Collingwood
19th May 2013 23:25

This puts me in mind of the phrase -

If you have to ask how much, then you can't afford us.

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By jon_griffey
20th May 2013 09:47

Fixed fee woes

I almost find these sites that quote fees unethical.  They are offering a fixed fee at the outset when they know nothing about the client and don't have a clue how much work is involved. 

We often get people ringing up and asking how much it is do so their accounts. They get the piece of string answer. You can have clients with identical businesses but one keeps perfect records, acts on your advice and you only hear from them once a year - the other is a pain. They will quite rightly get completely different bills.  Is it fair to charge the same?

This will only really work if you can commoditise your services and target a particular known sector. A good example is IT contractors. We all broadly know what their requirements and modus operandi are and so it is easier to state your prices. 

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Replying to Dean Ainslie:
Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
20th May 2013 11:21

Fixed fees

jon_griffey wrote:

I almost find these sites that quote fees unethical.  They are offering a fixed fee at the outset when they know nothing about the client and don't have a clue how much work is involved. 

We often get people ringing up and asking how much it is do so their accounts. They get the piece of string answer. You can have clients with identical businesses but one keeps perfect records, acts on your advice and you only hear from them once a year - the other is a pain. They will quite rightly get completely different bills.  Is it fair to charge the same?

This will only really work if you can commoditise your services and target a particular known sector. A good example is IT contractors. We all broadly know what their requirements and modus operandi are and so it is easier to state your prices. 

Jon, I offer fixed fees in quotes but it always states that the fee is based on our discussions, the information made available and sets out the work that is expected from them - bank account reconciled,VAT and PAYE reconciled, etc. This way the client gets certainty over the fees and knows what is expected of them.

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By MarionMorrison
20th May 2013 10:08

Basic info

I stick our fees up on the website but only really for straightforward compliance and then in terms of saying that our bog-standard client pays us £X for this, £Y for that and £Z for the other, but then qualify by saying that it can be a little higher or lower depending on whether records are tidy and organised or in Sainsburys bags.  

The reason for this is because I put myself in their shoes and when I'm shopping for stuff, nothing bugs me more than having goods and services described but not being able to find out how much I'm likely to pay.  Would you book into a hotel room that said nothing about prices?  Some people might choose to ring up the hotel and ask, but the majority would just click on a different website in the hope that it might be a bit more informative.  

Giving them some info helps them - if they know you're charging £100 for a Tax Return they can anticipate what you'll be like for other things and that you won't then charge then £500 for a VAT Return.

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Stephen Quay
By squay
20th May 2013 16:43

Fee Discussions

In the past when a potential client phoned up for a quote we used to explain that it was difficult to quote because we didn't know what we were in for. We then discussed their requirements and gave them a price range and explained it depended on a number of factors such as how good there record keeping was. With hindsight this was just too complicated for a telephone call and usually we never heard from them again.

When a client phones up now it's usually as a result of them visiting our website where no fees are quoted. So they know all about us. We simply invite them to come and see us for a free no obligation face to face visit. Once a potential client has committed to visit you then you know they are serious. At the visit other factors then come into play such as personality, professionalism, trustworthiness, gut feeling, etc and yes, fees. The difference is that if you think you can both work together and build a relationship then you are half way there and the fees, whilst still important, become secondary. The meeting is the place to thrash out job, timescale, what the client will do, what you will do, etc. Only then are you in a position to talk about fees. 

One other important tip is be very careful in quoting fee ranges. Most clients will only hear the lowest fee while you are thinking that quoting a higher end fee may protect you later. It won't. Better to aim for a single fee and stick to it.

We even had a client who, when we sued them for non payment, tried to manipulate their defence by quoting our lowest in the range fee ex vat against what we charged incl vat, making the difference seen larger than it was. We won the case by the way but it just shows how fee ranges can work against you in the wrong hands.

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By petersaxton
20th May 2013 18:56

Hotels v Accountants - Very different

" Would you book into a hotel room that said nothing about prices?  Some people might choose to ring up the hotel and ask, but the majority would just click on a different website in the hope that it might be a bit more informative."

I think prices for a hotel can be easily explained but prices for accounting work cannot. A lot of clients won't even know what they need done until it is discussed.

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By MarionMorrison
21st May 2013 12:14

Yes but

I realise what you say entirely, I'm just trying to think the way punters think and I know that the lack of a guide to pricing is something that would encourage me to look down to the next one in my Google search list if I were looking for help with something.  The hotel room thing is just an example.  Maybe I'm the odd one, but I think people using websites rather than ringing up are going to be alienated by something that requires them to pick up a phone to find out more.

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By petersaxton
21st May 2013 14:12

I still think that

it's better to work with somebody to arrive at a reasonable price than to come up with a price that isn't logical just so that the client doesn't go elsewhere.

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By morgani
22nd May 2013 23:09

I'm with marrion Morrison on this. We display prices on our website which state subject to suitable records with further info available to clarify what is suitable.

I too will quickly move on from a website if fees are not clear. Accounts software is one example. Yes it isnt always easy to show a typical fee for each accountants scenario but the typical software houses that don't show fees on their website are regarded as more expensive automatically.

For me I also tend to think that either they have something to hide or they are unorganised and unsure what to charge, or they will simply see what they can get away with or it indicates they will quote to get a reaction and be prepared to negotiate.

Now I know not all people think like this and it won't suit everyone but I certainly think it helps gain new clients. In particular new start ups as they are often unsure of the market rates and are pleased to get an indication beforehand. We often get told that this and our websites clarity is why they chose us.

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