Professional training plays a big role in a prosperous bookkeeping business. At first glance, however, this might seem a bit strange.
The rules of double-entry bookkeeping really haven’t changed over the centuries since it was invented back in the 1400s. So if you already have a solid grip on standard bookkeeping practices, how does ongoing training fit in?
Two powerful ways.
First, most bookkeeping is now being done with the help of computerized technology, and there are many software programs that help automate the process. So we do, in fact, need to be trained to stay up to date on the proper use of the ever-changing bookkeeping software, both for ourselves and our clients, to assure efficiency and accurate results.
Creators of accounting software offer a plethora of training programs to help us use (and promote) their software effectively. Just to name a few, there’s the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program, Xero Partner Program, and Sage Network. Plus there are scads of add-on apps for every need, many of which include partner / certification programs, such as Method, T-Sheets, LivePlan, Bill.com and MANY more!
But this is just one side of the training story (albeit the one we hear the most about).
While I do think software training can provide a definite technical advantage for distinguishing you as an expert virtual bookkeeper, it’s not the primary way that you can leverage training to grow your bookkeeping practice!
The second, and most profitable way you can leverage training, is to turn the tables. Take on the role of trainer to your clients and potential clients. And you don’t need to be a software whiz to pull it off, if you don’t want to be.
My own bookkeeping business really took off once I realized that clients will pay for training. Yes, there are many that want “done for you” bookkeeping — and that’s certainly the bread-and-butter service we offer. But the best quality clients — the ones who truly value our services — realize that we are in the perfect position to give them personalized training, troubleshooting, and advice to make their business more prosperous.
Here are three ways you can take on the role of trainer with existing clients, as well as attract more clients to engage your (premium level) services:
Short Training Videos
Making simple screen capture videos is easier than ever before. They’re a great way to not only create an online go-to library of tips and tricks to share with your clients, but you can also use them on your website, YouTube, and social media to attract new clients.
What should you make videos of? Start with the most common questions you get asked over and over again. Make short, 5-10 minute narrated videos to answer those questions. Demonstrate HOW to solve problems so your viewers can follow along.
You’ll soon be viewed as an expert on those topics, and over time, new prospective clients will automatically come your way. You’ll also delight your existing clients (so they’ll be far more inclined to send you referrals)
Best of all, it costs next to nothing to get started. All you really need to buy, if you don’t already have one, is a computer microphone. A headset works great. For recording, you can use free screen capture software like Jing and set up a free YouTube channel. That’s it! (I’m assuming that you already have access to any software that you want to demonstrate)
Public Training Classes
Another highly effective way to grow your business is to offer public training classes. These can be paid or free gigs, online or in person, depending on your objective. Beginner classes on how to use QuickBooks are always popular, but other topics that clients and potential clients appreciate are tax savings tips or anything that helps improve the bottom line.
Start simple to get your feet wet, such as with local business meetups (online or offline) or Chamber of Commerce meetings. You can also partner with complementing professionals (such as lawyers or bankers) which turns your class into a newsworthy event that will indirectly gets the word out about your services in a non-salesy way.
Personalized Training Classes
If public training sounds scary, no problem. Even introverts can leverage training. Simply work with clients personally to help improve their business’s financial health and well-being. They’ll start singing your praises.
You can, of course, offer one-on-one software training (either online or in person), but you have other choices too. Consider simple topics that you might take for granted, but are very valuable to small business owners (and often lead to more billable services). Examples are how to read financial reports, Accounts Receivable best practices, or how to lay out a budget. Some clients may even be open to business consulting, such as using the Profit First system.
Even starting very small can get big results. Simply setting up a monthly or quarterly review meeting with your clients will make a difference. Try slipping in a 5-minute recommendation that will make their workflow more efficient or boost cash flow. Your clients will take notice and start viewing you as a top-notch bookkeeper.
When your existing and potential clients realize the fountain of knowledge you have to offer them, you can quickly shift your bookkeeping practice from a commodity administrative service to a valued member of their business team. That is the real power of training for bookkeepers!
Want a deeper dive into how to train and consult to upgrade the kind of clients you attract AND raise your fees in the process? Then you’ll want to join TFB Premium sooner rather than later since the current training lessons give you a
step-by-step plan and the resources you need to take action now!
What kind of training has been most profitable for growing YOUR bookkeeping practice so far?