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The Many Advantages of Defining Your Firm’s Value


It all began when I did some research on how our firm members could better understand their worth and confidently present their value to clients and others. We settled on an approach in which participants answer questions about who they are, what they do, how and why they do it, what sets them apart and why clients should do business with them. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn by really considering the answers to such seemingly simple questions.

I decided that going through the recommended process as a firm would be a good way to challenge ourselves. We have a very loyal client base and know that clients like what they see. We wanted to better understand how to capitalize on that value.

We started by holding a retreat last fall so that we could take advantage of what we had learned during busy season. We had recently merged with another firm, so it was a great team building exercise. Everyone has recognized that we’re now all working together on one project: identifying and billing our value. We noticed immediately that this outlook gave us more confidence and energy. In addition to enhanced team spirit, there are other advantages:

  • It has changed how we talk with others about our firm. Our clients often face tough questions or serious challenges, and we step in to save them. We may feel that we are simply doing our job, but we’ve actually delivered great value to them, and that’s something that firm members should recognize and learn to articulate.
  • With referral sources, we do not just talk generally about wanting business, we tell them specifically that we are seeking clients of a certain minimum size with growth potential. We’re asking for great clients, in other words, because we recognize that we can do a great job for them.
  • Part of the process involved reconsidering the kinds of clients we ought to be serving, which can mean letting go of some of our C or D clients, the ones that grumble about fees or are hard to please. They can sap your energy and discourage the staffs, who are on the receiving end of client complaints.

The entire staff is now excited about our plans to have a follow-up meeting in the spring, when we’ll each try to build a deeper understanding of our own value, then come together to plot what it means for our firm.

Since going through the process, we have not only raised our rates, billing and collections, we’ve also remarketed and rebranded, hiring a marketing consultant and creating a new logo we believe better reflects our value. The effort has not been time consuming. We spent four hours at the retreat in November and expect to do the same after busy season and once again in the fall to be sure we’re still on course.

Based on our experience, I heartily recommend this exercise to any business. Our inspiration came from the book, You Are the Value: Define Your Worth, Differentiate Your CPA Firm, Own Your Market, by consultant Leo Pusateri, and videos in the AICPA’s Private Companies Practice Section You Are the Value workshop. This online video workshop guides you and your team members through practical strategies and steps to assist you in facilitating a value-defining exercise.

In many cases, firms motor along, doing well but never really thinking about the quality of client they should be serving or what they can do to enhance their own success. This process can help you step out of your rut and move your firm forward.

Joel Olbricht, CPA, President & CEO, Olbricht Storniolo Group.

Business meeting image via Shutterstock

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