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How to Price Cash Flow

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It’s clear that your clients would benefit from comprehensive cash flow forecasting, but many of them may be under the false assumption that they can’t afford it. As an accounting professional, you may also be unsure of how to price this valuable service. With Helm––and with a qualified accountant––cash flow analysis has become accessible for more businesses than ever before. Given Helm’s efficiency, pricing cash flow services can be tricky ––especially when running the forecast doesn’t take up a lot of your time.

Cash flow predictions are valuable to businesses, and it’s nothing to give away for free. Your experience and know-how are essentials to the service: What good is cash flow forecasting without the advice and coaching on how and where to improve? As we near the end of 2020, accountants and firms are busy reevaluating their scope of work for next year. Now is the time to make sure cash flow fits into your service menu. Not sure how to start the conversation with clients? Try this free email template as a starting point for discussions around the value of cash flow forecasting.

Financial forecasting has the potential to prevent businesses from going under and can be the key to a thriving, growing business. This value is multiplied when using Helm, which is more visual and understandable than a traditional cash flow spreadsheet. Despite the fact that Helm takes less time to use––Helm is efficient for a reason––it’s a tool that should not be underestimated. Accountants are in a position to help their clients understand that cash flow services are hugely valuable, and price these services accordingly.

How Do You Price a Service That Takes So Little Time?

Once the initial client set-up is finished, using Helm for cash flow forecasting and reporting takes most users less than an hour. As you become more proficient with the tool, providing clients with cash flow services takes even less time. Because Helm is so efficient, your pricing strategy should be based on the value of the service, not an hourly rate. In other words, the price should reflect the experience you have that allows you to use and critically implement software like Helm, not the time it takes to run the app.

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning pricing based on value:

  1. Start somewhere. Using your best judgment, pick a price. Once you’ve gotten through this first step, you can start to get information on whether it’s the right price or not. By establishing a benchmark number, you can collect data and adjust your rates based on client feedback.
  2. Does it feel right? There is a level of intuition involved in pricing. Check in with yourself and your personal context––does the rate you’re using feel right for the client? From what you know about their industry, does it make sense?
  3. Communicate often. Keep open communication with your clients. If they feel they’re being overcharged, they’ll let you know when given the chance. If you’re undercharging, it will be clear because your clients will undervalue the service. The goal is to find a happy medium between the two.
  4. Ask Helm. We are always available to answer any questions about incorporating Helm into your service menu, including pricing!

Pricing From an Advisory Perspective

Moving from strictly bookkeeping and tax services into an advisory relationship changes the dynamic between accountant and client. Cash flow is more “high touch” than transactional services. Client communication around forecasting is continuous, not just once per year or during tax season. Accountants might be in contact with clients weekly, or even daily if the business’s cash flow issues are severe. While it’s not advisable to charge clients solely by time, you should keep in mind that you’re going to serve them more often. From an advisory position, accountants have the potential to be the true financial partner that clients need in order to progress their business to the next level.

The rate of communication can play into pricing in a few different ways:

  1. How frequently will you deliver reports to clients?
  2. How often will you update their forecast?
  3. How often will you give recommendations based on the forecast that Helm generates?

As Technology Evolves, Don’t Lose Sight of Your Value

Rapid advances in cloud accounting, AI, and SaaS technology have made higher-value services more available and accessible for businesses than ever before. Services––like cash flow––that used to take accountants hours to perform can now be completed in a matter of minutes. This is an issue that the industry will grapple with as financial technology continues to evolve. No tech solution can hold a candle to an accountant’s years of experience, education, and personal connection with clients. All of these factors contribute to how accountants analyze and make recommendations when looking at a cash flow statement––and the cost of the service should include the value of that skillset.