5 Steps to Confidently Price Cleanup Projects

Have you ever eagerly dived into a cleanup project, and realize it’s more complicated than you originally estimated?

That’s when your project quickly turns into a headache. The expanded scope causes frustration, requires additional time, and lowers your profit margin. Fortunately, it’s possible to eliminate the headaches.

Follow these 5 steps to accurately assess the project.

1. Carefully Select Your Clients

There’s a high cost to working with the wrong type of client. Non-ideal clients drain your energy, ignore your requests and create chaos. Sometimes your largest client ends up as a headache client.

Be selective about who you enroll into your services. It’s easier to turn away non-ideal clients during the initial consultation. Once you enroll the wrong type into a monthly engagement, you might tolerate too much for too long.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if someone’s going to be a headache client or not. As you work on the cleanup project, you may find a new client is high maintenance, slow to respond to your requests or expects more than you agreed. Pay attention to those clues.

Your service is right for some people, but not all people. Saying no to potential new clients can feel uncomfortable. But in the end, you’ll be glad you made that decision. It’s okay for you to graciously let non-ideal clients move on.

2. Your Initial Consultation

Do your free consultations sometimes turn into a pick-your-brain-session?

Because you want to help, you give away too much. A consultation process solves that problem. The structure keeps you focused.

Instead of reviewing the books, ask potential clients specific questions. Find out about their business needs and aspirations. Then, educate potential clients about what it’s like to work together.

If the client is interested, discuss how you approach cleanups. Explain that the first step is a paid diagnostic assessment, where you thoroughly review the bookkeeping records.

The paid diagnostic assessment has several benefits.

  • You’re now paid for work you previously gave away for free.
  • You scope out the project without being rushed. This removes many of the surprises.
  • A paid review eliminates price sensitive clients who don’t value your work.
  • It’s a low risk way to work with a new client before getting into a longer engagement.
  • The cleanup is a fixed price instead of a surprise final invoice.
  • Clients who value your accounting service will happily pay for your cleanup expertise.

3. No More Cleanup Headaches

Without a thorough assessment, cleanup projects can turn into cleanup nightmares. As you dig into the project, you discover additional work which expands the project’s scope. What are some of the things you have uncovered as you worked on a new client’s books?

Don’t rely too heavily on a client’s self-report. Many business owners don’t fully grasp bookkeeping. As a result, they don’t realize what’s involved in a cleanup project.

A paid diagnostic assessment gives you an overview before you start the project. As you sift through the books, you’ll discover forgotten accounts, multiple credit cards under a parent account, and uncategorized transactions. During the assessment, note all that is required to get your client’s books up to date.

Next, meet with the client to discuss your findings. The task list may overwhelm your client. Therefore, clearly define the scope in your work agreement.

4. Confidently Price Your Cleanup Projects

Your rates are a reflection of your self-worth. Discounts and negotiating your fees may bring in revenue today. However, your clients learn that you’re willing to lower your fees.

If you desire high value clients, then stand by your offer. Your ideal clients value your skills and knowledge.

By the way, clients don’t want a surprise balance on the final invoice. Since you thoroughly assessed the books, determine a set price for the project. Then, stick to your price.

5. Turn Cleanup Projects into Your Personal ATM Machine

Every accounting professional initially underestimates cleanup projects. Over time you learn from the various mistakes. As you know, underestimating and undercharging for the project lowers your profit margin.

Adding a paid diagnostic assessment to your onboarding process removes the headaches and eliminates the surprises. This process emphasizes the value of your services. By leading with value, clients view your services as an investment rather than a commodity.

When my clients follow this system, they earn two to three times more on cleanups. That’s possible for you, too.

Lead with Value, Not Time

Raise the bar by leading with value. You deserve to work with clients who respect your time and services. Start by slowing down your onboarding process. With a paid diagnostic assessment, you earn income for work you previously gave away for free.

Ready to value price your services? Discover how to double your income while working half the time. Right NOW claim your FREE RESOURCE to separate your fees from time.

Loren Fogelman, founder of Business Success Solution, is an expert in pricing strategy and sales for accounting professionals. She delivers talks across the United States at major conferences such as Inbound as well as many accounting niche conferences. From 2018 to 2020 she’s been steadily recognized by HubSpot in its list of the world’s top 22 business coaches.

Information about Loren’s 5 part webinar series in 2021 for LeanLaw Accounting Pros can be found here.

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