How To Buy Accounting Fees The Easy Way

If you’re looking to buy accounting fees in Victoria here’s something you probably don’t want to hear - take a ticket and join the long queue of buyers! The current demand for accounting fees in Victoria is at an all time high (we have more than 250 registered buyers) while supply remains low. The baby boomers are hanging on longer than anyone expected and as you know, when demand outstrips supply, prices rise. While buying fees can be a quick fix there’s an alternative … it's called marketing.

The vast majority of buyers are in the Melbourne metropolitan area and we only have a handful of practices for sale. There are loads of frustrated buyers out there who can’t even get an appointment to meet with a vendor and they keep asking, “What can I do to jump the queue and get to meet with a vendor?” Some buyers think paying a premium is the answer but think again. Impatient buyers are prepared to buy any practice but when the charge out rate, chemistry and culture are not in sync they are buying trouble. These deals often end up in tears (and a solicitor’s office.)

My advice to hungry buyers is this - Before you invest several hundred thousand dollars in someone else’s accounting practice consider investing in your own firm first. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of scenarios where buying fees makes good business sense. For example, you might need an injection of fees to lock in a young-gun who wants to take equity now or they will leave the firm. You might have your financial planning division humming along and need a fresh client base to mine. However, the vast majority of buyers are in the market because their practice has stalled. They are spinning on their wheels going nowhere and their ageing client base has caught up with them.

These firms stopped marketing years ago because the GST tax system made them busy. However, their ageing clients are now selling their businesses, retiring or leaving to join another firm who offer services beyond compliance. Natural attrition is also taking its toll but the fact is, these firms stopped marketing years ago. Basically, the GST disguised the need for firms to market their services.

A Dog With Fleas?

Buying a fee base from a retiring practitioner can be trouble for several reasons. You might be buying a fee base with precisely the same issues – an ageing client base with declining fees and profitability. It can be a recipe for disaster because in a few years that fee base could be at the same crossroad you are at right now. The ageing client base issue is an epidemic in the profession and paying top dollar for an ‘old’ client base where the majority of the top clients are aged over 55 will come back to bite you. You might also be trying to sell that same client base in 5 to 7 years time when the baby boomers have flooded the market with practices for sale. The economics of supply and demand mean you could be buying at the top of the market in 2015 and selling at the other end in 2020.

Let's face it, marketing should never be taken off the agenda and lot of firms are paying the price for their complacency. Being a process means it requires planning and should be ongoing. It's not something you switch on and off. Having said that, some marketing tactics can be activated and deactivated like Google and Facebook advertisements. I spoke with a practitioner recently who told me he hasn’t taken on a new client for ten years because he is snowed under. Under interrogation he admitted he had lost of few clients lately and his ageing client base is about to cause serious headaches. The erosion is predictable so you need to prepare – either ramp up your marketing efforts or sell before the rot sets in.

The acquisition strategy is seen as a quick fix but when supply is sparse you need to make sure you have your organic marketing strategy in place. Marketing methods have changed and yellow pages and local paper ads simply don't cut the mustard anymore. Without an online presence and a focus on niche markets you are fishing for clients with the wrong bait and tackle.

If you're looking to grow your practice but your marketing engine has stalled, your referrals have slowed or you have an ageing client base ... join me at the Ready Set Boom Seminar on March 16, 2015 where I will put some of the fastest growing accounting firms in this country under the microscope. You'll learn their marketing secrets and see what tools they are using to win more referrals and why they are winning more of their 'ideal' type of client. You'll also see how they are regenerating their client base with younger business owners.

At this morning seminar in Melbourne, I will dismantle the components of an accountant's marketing ‘machine’ and strip down the engine of a website that consistently generates more than $100k of new business every year for a suburban Melbourne accounting firm. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sole practitioner or a four partner firm, the content of this seminar could give you a serious competitive edge. Don’t waste your time attending if you are searching for a ‘marketing silver bullet’ or have a track record of failing to implement. This event is strictly for committed, pro-active and ambitious accountants looking to grow their firm and attract quality SME clients. Spend a morning working on your business on March 16 and for more information visit our Ready Set Boom seminar page.

Click HERE to download a full copy of the March 2015 edition of The General Journal.

Other articles in the March 2015 edition of The General Journal:

The Leyland P76 Accountant
5 Reasons Why Accountants Need To Be Marketing Online
Ready Set Boom Seminar
Do Clients Buy Accounting Services Online?