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“I am looking for a new accountant, can you help me?”

I get this question a few times a week via e-mail, in some cases they add: “… and how much will it cost?”.  And that is it, mostly no context, no company size, volume, etc.

Most accountants answer with an hourly rate, and I do not believe in hourly rates and/or charging by the hour.  I think giving a flat fee price for a service is the best thing you can do for a customer!  But, because we have no context, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to properly answer with a yes/no or a price. So I respond to those emails like this:

Hi [Potential Customer], thank you for thinking about us for your accounting needs, we are very selective with the new customers we bring to the firm as we are focused only in the ones we can create the most value for – and we do have specific niche/specialty which is working with companies that Manage Inventory, Manufacture, and are Custom Project Contractors; so let’s first determine what we could do for you.  Generally, “Accounting Services” are a pretty wide topic, but here is a generic list of accounting services we currently do:

  • Preparing Corporate  Income Tax Returns
  • Preparing Sales Tax Returns 
  • Processing Payroll and Preparing Payroll Tax Returns 
  • Preparing Personal Income Tax Returns for business owners 
  • Reviewing your QuickBooks file for mid-year and end-year financial reports
  • QuickBooks Training and Support (on demand and/or periodically scheduled)
  • Monthly / Quarterly Bookkeeping Services. “AKA” Outsourced Accounting
  • Mid-year Income Tax Planning, Estimated Tax Calculations
  • IRS Audit Representation
  • General Business Training/Consulting (On-site Miami-Metro area and/or Remote)
Services we do not currently perform:
  • Financial Audits
  • Reviewed Financial Statements
  • CPA’s Attestation
  • Business Valuations
  • “In-House” accounting services (that involve internal accounting operations)
In average, my mid-size and larger customers request a package that looks like this:
  1. Quarterly QuickBooks Review with Payroll Withholding Review for business owners and Estimated Income Tax Planning
  2. End of Year Tax Return Preparation for both the corporate and owner(s)
  3. Access to me via phone and/or email for any tax/accounting questions that arise through the year
We will price the services for each customer individually and because we guarantee the value; we must first understand your goals and needs.  But as a reference, a package like this on average will vary from $400 to $600 a month or annualized to $4,000 to $6,000 per year.  However, we do have some smaller customers we love to work with, but that only “show up” in January/February for the Income Tax Returns, and the avg. price for that will range from $1,500 to $3,000.  Most of these customers have tight control over their books, estimated taxes, payroll, etc… and only need that once a year service.
My questions for you are the following:
  • What did the last accountant do for you?
  • How often were you in communications (phone, e-mail, and/or in-person) with him/her?
  • What did you really like about your last service?
  • What do you think we could do better with this new potential relationship?
  • What is the biggest pain point you currently have, that your new accountant should be able to relieve immediately?

Thank you, and look forward to hearing from you, your thoughts about what I mentioned here, and that will help me prepare for our needs assessment call and/or to give you a recommendation where else you could go if it is not a great mutual fit.

Usually, with the answers we get back are a great insight into what the customer was thinking at the time of the email and if the example prices listed above scares them, that is a great filter.  The key is that you and your new potential customer are a good fit and is worth going to the next step and spend 20 mins to an hour on the phone to dig deeper into needs to determine a price.

Hector Garcia

Hector Garcia

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