Vikram Rajan

Brand Your Expertise As a Resource

Publish a regional business health report and add value to your services.

February 22, 2011
by Vikram Rajan

More than an accountant, you are a business intelligence aggregator. You have the power to answer the burning question for each of your (business) clients: “How am I doing, compared to ...”

Your clients are in a vacuum, sucked by their day-to-day work, unable to see their forest from within the trees. As their CPA, you oversee multiple businesses in multiple industries, across many locales. The same can be said for households.
Every metric and ratio from overhead margins to employee gains provides opportunities to reveal financial comparables. Whatever the size of your practice, you are privy to vital data. The power comes from your comprehensive numbers, not from any one client.

Even though you would not share specific data from any client, you should still obtain written consent before using any clients’ data in any public way (see Rule 301 and Ethics Ruling No. 2). Remind them that their private information, including actual name and address, will not be revealed, and that their metrics will be compiled along with many others. It will help your clients (and their neighbors) to grow their businesses more intelligently. The compiled study could even shape public policy.

Your data aggregation has direct marketing benefits:

  • Your published report,
  • Summaries and
  • Visuals

Each of which make you extremely attractive to be quoted by media, associations and even local officials. They can only conjecture without your numbers.

You can also ask clients if they’d be willing to share their ups-and-downs in a media press release, to personalize your numbers. Involving your clients in your study prompts them to share the report with others, bragging about you in the process.

Start small … but start with multiple clients, with similar demographics. Focus on single business size, one industry or neighborhood. Your numbers should be made pretty and palatable through graphs, charts, diagrams and scorecards. Information mapped year over year reveals trends.

Your survey should be as specific as possible highlighting specific demographics, including revenue, employees, industry (NAICS), etc. Your report can be made available on your website, as a download for e-mail. It can also be made available at libraries, chambers of commerce and relevant trade or professional associations. You can present such a product as a webinar or video presentation.

This type of endeavor may feel taxing in the coming months. However, this is the time your clients’ financials are updated. Compiling your business study is the perfect follow-up to tax season. This is a great project for interns and young associates. Moreover, your publication creates an opportunity for you to review your client’s current financials with those of their peers: they are not alone; how they are ahead; and where they need to improve.

“We are starting a new service, where we compare your business with others in your industry, similar size, and track record. Would you be interested in scheduling a few review sessions, over and above our current engagement?” Thus, your financial aggregation is a new revenue source. It can also serve as a lead generator for business advisory, financial planning, valuation and succession services.

Moreover, your initiative brands your practice as the go-to accountant for the pulse of the region. If you feel your practice is too small or singular, this is an opportunity to develop alliances with other practitioners. Together, you can create a more comprehensive, unbiased, and less
self-serving resource for your (business) community.

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Vikram Rajan is a Practice Marketing Advisor™ for CPAs. His latest blogging and social media checklist will be premiering in the Journal of Accountancy

© 2011