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The market dictates price

2nd Aug 2013
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Today I have been googling on fees accountants charge. The number of accountants that have a transparent pricing structure on their website has increased since last time I googled on this subject. This is about 4 months ago. 

As I mentioned before my current fees are high. This is the feedback I have received from some potential clients. 

Over the next two weeks I intend to come up with a transparent pricing structure.  This will go on my website. One area that concerns me is how  I deal with existing clients who are paying me the agreed fees. They will understandably ask for a fee reduction when they see that I have reduced my fees. 

May be the loss in existing fees would be just be too much to put my transparent fees structure on my website. 

I also had a helpful telephone discussion with another AW member  morgani on various issues.

The benefits of blogging! A free AC unit from Paul Scholes  and exchange of ideas with  morgani.  I will be in touch Paul,  I just found out my car's MOT has expired. Need to get that sorted first. 

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Replies (13)

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By petersaxton
02nd Aug 2013 17:17

Don't do it!

"Over the next two weeks I intend to come up with a transparent pricing structure.  This will go on my website. One area that concerns me is how  I deal with existing clients who are paying me the agreed fees. They will understandably ask for a fee reduction when they see that I have reduced my fees. "

Isn't this a good enough reason to not put your prices on your website?

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By mrme89
02nd Aug 2013 17:26

Just put 'prices from'. That gives you an easier conversation with your existing clients should they bring it up.

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By morgani
02nd Aug 2013 18:33

How many will look
Ive pretty much always displayed prices for the most basic of scenarios but those prices have changed over time. More often than not they have gone up rather than down but I have changed the way they are shown. Nobody has ever approached me and said hey why haven't ours changed.

My website though has no value at all to existing clients as it is aimed at gaining new clients. Therefore I expect that very few if any of my existing clients visit my website.

If yours is currently aimed at existing clients and they do visit then why not firstly move your website away from existing clients to being aimed at new clients. You give somewhere for existing clients to go? You could then introduce fees once existing clients are not or less likely to visit.

An alternative could be a new brand. Keep your existing brand and introduce a new one for aiming at new clients in the future.

Again you could just look at it cleverly. You can't list all price scenarios only the very simplest and for certain minor differences. Therefore you can easily explain that the prices on the site are a guide for the most basic of businesses and that they change depending on numerous factors including the size and type of business as well as the services required such as bookkeeping, VAT etc etc.

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By petersaxton
02nd Aug 2013 18:52

What is the advantage?

of putting prices on your website?

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By Old Greying Accountant
02nd Aug 2013 20:19

Agree with Peter ...

... I wouldn't want clients who came to me because the Googled me as the cheapest option!

I want clients that I can build a long term relationship with and who come to me for my experience, my skills and through personal and business synergy.

I do quote a fixed fee, but each is personal to the client - generally at a bench mark, but some I discount for various reason, generally because they couldn't afford full price and I like them!

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bike
By FirstTab
02nd Aug 2013 21:07

Prices

Thanks for the varied response.

This article put across the points far better than I can as to why I will state my fees on my website. 

 

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By petersaxton
03rd Aug 2013 02:00

I agree

FirstTab wrote:

Thanks for the varied response.

This article put across the points far better than I can as to why I will state my fees on my website. 

"Yet so many service businesses do not include their pricing on their site. This is understandable if your service is customized for each client and there’s a proposal process to bid on a client’s project, but if you have “packages” that you offer at a fixed rate, why not include them?"

The article does put it better but I come up with a different conclusion.

My service is customised for each client. 

 

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By morgani
02nd Aug 2013 21:27

Place in the market
I dont necesarily see it as a huge advantage on winning a client by displaying prices. What I do think though is that it gives me something different from everyone else and a reason to contact me. If looking around for software (or anything else) how many of the ones who don't display prices do you actually bother to find out more about. The ones who do display prices you can then look into more.

I was recently contacted by Thomson directories about buying new client data. Not something I wanted to do but I was intrigued that on average there are 27 new businesses per month in my area. My records show that I get around 5 - 8 enquiries per month from new businesses so a good proportion.

Now I don't sign all these up, it's actually around 65% and I am by no means the cheapest locally although in comparison to London prices I am.

So my answer is rather what advantage to I gain by not showing example prices and being like everyone else. We all need USP's and while displaying prices is by no means a USP it does show an openness that we have and that we are not trying to hide.

It is very difficult to show fees for every possible scenario but it is possible to show fixed fees for a large number of the common requirements subject to limits.

I dont want to tell anyone whether it will be good for them to show prices or not. What I do know for my own practice is that I want to and believe it adds value to our potential clients.

Sorry but I wanted to add to this that we all have our place in the market. I don't display my prices to compete on price but let's face it that is what we are competing on the majority of the time. Higher fees don't always indicate a higher competence level or a better service. Let's face it the majority of the time we are all selling the same thing to the majority of clients... Compliance. Clients will decide for themselves from meeting prospective accountants what they think of the fees whether that one is too expensive or another is too cheap or one is selling at a value for money price. I always like to thinking I am value for money. So what I offer no one thinks he's ripping me off and no one else thinks Christ he's cheap! No I know some of you won't agree we are selling the same thing as there are different levels and types of service. Th reality is a lot of clients don't ultimately care and just want to know they have found someone who is competent, friendly and is value for money.

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By Old Greying Accountant
02nd Aug 2013 21:25

Agree with Morgani ...

... you are looking at a general scenario.

Accounts are fairly unique in that we have a regular fee and regular contact with our customers. It is not like a plumber, or buying some wood to build a fence. You are looking to build a long term relationship built on trust and will probably end up knowing as much if not more about someone than their husband/wife!

A client who comes to you based on cheapest price does not value you and will go just as quickly. The best and most sustainable clients are those from referral and networking as you will be with you either by reputation or because you have built a rapport of trust and confidence.

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By girlofwight
02nd Aug 2013 22:05

Differentiate
I get your concern about existing clients.

My approach is to set a number of fixed fee packages, with " fair useage"clause as a guard against problem cases. The service level in fixed fee packages is slightly downtuned to existing clients, but equally the price bands are set to be realistic and not a give away.

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By petersaxton
03rd Aug 2013 02:10

My computer guy

I have used the same computer guy for maybe 20 years.

He doesn't put prices on his website. Maybe this is straying into different territory .... I don't ask him for a quote. I prefer him to be flexible with what I want as we go along. I have a rough idea of what he charges. I'll get a bill at the end of the job and I've never been shocked. I agree that I need some indication of what things will cost with somebody I haven't done business with before but once I trust them I am happy to pay what they think is a fair price.

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By Mouse house
03rd Aug 2013 05:06

Benefits of prices on website
We do have our fixed prices on our website. We made a conscious decision to do this from the start.

The main benefiit is that before you even talk to a potential client they already have an idea of what the fees will be. We are not wasting time speaking to people looking for the cheapest service as they already know what they will pay.

I agree with Morgani in that it is generally new clients visiting our website, so we have not had any existing clients asking for fee reductions because they might be paying a different price.

I don't find that people are always looking for the cheapest, they want value for money, and are happy to pay, for example for the personal service we provide say over an online accountant.

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Stewie
By Stewie Griffin
03rd Aug 2013 13:56

Too many variables

Personally I think there are too many variables to pricing that make it almost impossible to include prices on your site –perhaps unless the price was derived from them answering a number of questions first?.

 

For example, the price for a set of accounts for a company that uses an external bookkeeper and reconciles the bank, plus other adjustments, should be much lower than someone who brings all their receipts filed in date order.

 

However, if you asked both business owners, they’d both say their records were good/ brilliant or even excellent.

 

You’ll also be pricing purely on “the job”…how do you factor in that client A will never be off the phone/ email, whereas client B doesn’t speak to you one year to the next?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in standard and fixed prices and with the way we put our prices together, all of our clients with the same circumstances, consuming the same services and with the same quality of records would pay the same price.  However, there don’t actually seem to be many where all the variables are the same!!!

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