Pricing: How Much Do You Charge for Bookkeeping?

Potential Client: How much do you charge?

Bookkeeper: What's it worth to you?

The Pricing Question

Answering the pricing question with this rather flippant boomerang question isn’t the usual way of setting bookkeeping fees. Most bookkeepers instead simply quote a generic hourly rate. Either the client accepts it, or not, and off you go.

But within this little question tossing game lies the seeds of a highly successful bookkeeping business… or working far too many hours for too low fees, and wondering why you are working so much harder than you ever did when you had a job working for someone else.

Charging too little is the biggest reason many of us end up creating a glorified work-at-home job that keeps us poor, frustrated, and with very few benefits. We simply don’t know that there’s a better way. A far better way, in fact. When it comes to running a truly successful bookkeeping business, it really comes down to how you’re pricing your services. If you don’t get that right, not much else matters. You’ll burn out.

Mark Wickersham, who is one of the top recognized experts on pricing in the accounting profession hit the nail on the head when he said, “The starting place has to be to get the pricing right in the first place.” You see, he’s an accountant and made the same mistakes when he started his accounting practice too. It’s the mistake most of us make.

Little more than a year ago I joined Mark’s group mentoring program that focuses on pricing. The results have been exciting and I’ve experienced double-digit percentage in revenue growth this year, despite major shifts with a couple of my largest long-term clients that should have had a negative impact on my sales numbers.

In a recent mentoring session Mark clearly explained what we need to do to reach our true potential. He gave me permission to share this short video clip from that private mentoring meeting. Have a look. (it’s only a couple minutes)

Getting the Pricing Right

So, if the key to bookkeeping success is getting the pricing right, how do we do it?

Traditionally bookkeepers charge by the hour. That is actually the worst thing we can do in most cases. It virtually guarantees that you will make less money the longer you have a client. That’s because you’ll get more done in less time (the basis for your fees) as you get more efficient. To make matters worse, the loss of billing based on time is only amplified as you use automation tools. The client will be paying less and less for better results. That’s just not win-win.

Charging a flat fee is usually a welcome change from the client’s standpoint. But for us, it’s a scary concept. What if you underestimate how much work is involved when first taking on a client? What about all that “incidental” work that clients like to throw our way? How can you predict a flat fee? If you’ve tried this, you know that more often than not, bad estimating can put you out of business faster than charging by the hour! That is, unless you learn how to do it well very quickly. Pricing and packaging your services can definitely be tricky.

The other choice is value pricing. You heard Mark mention it in the video above. It's what he's known for. The idea of implementing value pricing is a very popular topic among bookkeepers and accountant. But the concepts can seem somewhat abstract to grasp, and actually putting it into practice even fuzzier. I can honestly say, though, after some intense focus, I’ve cracked the code on value pricing and been able to use it with great success consistently. What I’ve learned from Mark has helped a lot, and now he's come up with a method to shortcut the whole process.

That’s why I asked Mark to join me to concisely give us what we need to understand to move effectively toward more profitable pricing practices and do it quickly. That’s exactly what he did on the recorded webinar included with TFB Packaging & Pricing. On that bonus training (#3) he demonstrated in real time a very specific method for getting fast results that’s nothing short of brilliant!

You can learn how to access that highly popular training, along with related information on how to put your service packages together and the different pricing options available to you (even if you're not quite ready for value pricing). Click here for more info.

What's your opinion? Do you think we have a pricing problem as a profession?

Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and build true win-win relationships.

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7 Responses to “Pricing: How Much Do You Charge for Bookkeeping?”

  • Debra Kilsheimer on April 26, 2017

    Great article!! Looking forward to hearing Mark again during your webinar! He always has new insights into Value Pricing. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Gabrielle on April 26, 2017

      Thanks, Debra. Glad you can join us too!

  • Malcolm Riccardo on May 3, 2017

    Personally I don’t buy the importance of pricing.A customer will value your knowledge and skills and solutions to key areas of advice and direction.

    You need to sell yourself and your skills,offer a life changing experience for every customer that will revolutionise their business forever.Make then come back to you for your approach and attitude.Pricing should never be discussed really as this may put them off your real objectives which are to win their favour and business.

    A Chartered accountant will offer a quote which is a flat rate based on a certain amount of hours or volume of work.
    You need to inform the client that this may change but that if the quote changes they will be notified and given the choice of opting out or carrying on.

    • Gabrielle on May 3, 2017

      Thanks for sharing your take and approach, Malcolm.

  • Cherine Mac Pherson on October 9, 2017

    Hi Gabrielle

    How long is the pricing and packaging going to be $47?
    Is it always available?
    I am taking on new clients and I want to price correctly from the start.

    • Gabrielle on October 9, 2017

      Hi Cherine – The price is planned to go up once before the end of the year since we’ve been adding more and more helpful resources to it. It’s a self-paced class, so you have it available when you need it. Just remember that to learn anything, you need to set aside time to go through the training and then to implement it. Getting your pricing right from the start, as Mark said above, makes all the difference!

      Congrats for setting yourself up for success with pricing!

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