Every Tax Accountant prepares a set of accounts and associated income tax returns for their business client every year. This is an indisputable fact.
But not every Tax Accountant meets with their client every year to discuss the results that the accounts reveal. This is unfortunate.
And if they did, the primary focus of the discussion is probably about the taxation results and not business results. This also, is unfortunate.
The reason is that for the most part, Tax Accountant (by virtue of that title) don’t have the desire or perhaps even the inclination to ‘talk business’ with their clients. Let me help you change this.
Here are 5 simple questions (with big potential for extra services) you could ask your business clients every year.
Question 1 – How would you say your business performed last year compared to previous years.
Often’s the case business owners are more concerned with improving the financial results of their business than they are of the tax that has to be paid.
As their Tax Accountant they rely on you to get the best result possible legally minimising their tax payable. Every business owners (and their Tax Accountant) must have this high on their list of priorities in the financial management of their business.
Take a look at my Facebook page to hear what Kerry Packer had to say on this subject.
But the real focus will be on ‘maximising profit’ with ‘minimising tax payable’ a distant second. Every business owner is highly focused on ‘maximising profit’ and any conversation with the ‘Business Accountant’ will (should) be welcomed with open arms.
Question 2 – Which is your most pressing concern at the moment – improve profit or improving cash flow?
As sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, your client will be concerned about one or both of these and will be struggling to find way to improve both or either.
At this point, you should know which of these is is to be the likely no. 1 concern and this is simply because you’ve had access to all the financial information the client has to analyse their financial performance of the business and be ready to offer assistance (using your analytical skills).
That assistance could be in the form of asking, what action have they taken to improve their Gross Profit Margin – it may have been declining over recent years. What is your current sales strategy – sales may have been stagnating and need more focus on the ‘3 Ways To Grow Income’ in a business.
Question 3 – When was the last time you reviewed and adjusted (increased) your prices?
It’s been my experience to learn that it is the client who will worry about a price rise in their business and it will be the customer who will worry least.
Simply as a mater of prudent financial management, business owners should be reviewing prices regularly through out the year.
Nothing will catch a customer/clients attention more than a ‘sudden’ jump in prices whereas incremental (inflationary adjustment) increases a more likely to be accepted.
If what you provide has value (in the eyes of the customer) then small increases in prices over time are perfectly acceptable.
We provide as part of our ‘ClientSAFE® Business Advisor Tool Kit’ a ‘Price Increase Ready Reckoner’ table which demonstrates precisely the % of total customers a business can afford to lose with a drop in current level of profit by increasing prices over a range.
Here’s an example: If a business has a GP Margin of 40% and implements a 5% price increase (on average) then it can afford to lose 11.11% of it customers without a drop in the current level of profit.
Question 4 – Would you like to look at ways to help increase profit and/or cash flow in your business?
Using principles like the ‘4 Ways to Grow A Business’ (actually there are 3) so correctly said it is the ‘4 Ways to Grow (Profit In) A Business’.
And to take this one step further there are in fact 6 drivers of profitability and these are illustrated in our ‘Power Wheel®’ diagram. Each of these ‘drivers’ act like levers which can be pulled individually or in combination (combination works best) at varying degrees of severity to product a desired profit result.
Similarly, the ‘Cash Cycle’ of a business clearly shows what aspects of ‘working capital’ are ‘sucking up the cash’ and if correctly managed could release large sums of cash back into the business.
Our ‘Cash Flow Propeller®’ diagram is a very clear demonstration of how this principle works.
Business owners are always impressed when their Accountant ‘digs below surface level information’ (Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Reports) to demonstrate how the profit and the cash flow drivers can be manipulated to produce the best outcome in their business.
Question 5 – Would you like to look at ways that will help increase the value of your business?
How often do you think a business owners thinks seriously what the value of their business is. In my experience, not very often.
In fact it usually becomes the topic of conversation only when:
- A business broker picks their name off a list and calls and them that they have buyers who may be interested in buying their business, or .
- When they want to sell.
What should be happening is the Accountant should have this discussion on the table much, much sooner as much as 5 – 10 years before any likely time that the question would normally come up.
For the vast majoring of SME owners this is going to be the time for the biggest pay-off they’ll get from their business. With the current small business CGT concessions available the decision to sell may come sooner rather than later. Particularly because of the way governments look for quick and easy ways of closing Budget deficits.
Most business owners don’t know how value is determined for a business and theirs in particular and what aspects of managing the business can have an impact on it’s value.
As their Accountant, you must make sure that your clients always have an eye out for ways to improve the value of their business so that when the day comes, maximum value is achieved.