The accounting sector comprises of numerous colossuses. Consider pre-2010, in a bustling economy – most SMBs were able to do well. During those days, compliance services were in demand, and it was quite easy to get new clients. It was a seller driven market.
Those days are now long gone. The accounting industry, today, is roiled by growing competition, declining profit margins, soaring capital costs and an increase in lawsuits.
Regardless of whether your company is a small local firm or mid-sized organization, your competitiveness is measured by how efficient you are and how well you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Differentiation is the key in a highly mature and competitive market, the better you are at it, more are your chances of successfully surviving in the long run.
Here are five ways accounting firms can set themselves apart from their competitors.
1. It’s time to go paperless
A paperless office isn’t a new concept. In fact, many accounting firms have already implemented some level of paperless technology.
With paperless accounting system, employees no longer must spend time digging cabinets to retrieve documents. It allows remote access to files, making it easier for employees or clients to send, receive, review and approve the documents on the go.
Not only would it improve productivity but would also benefit clients, as employees can respond to queries faster without having to search the files or information physically.
Firms that understand the advantages of paperless accounting will find themselves ahead of the competition along with the increased efficiency and a more organized process. Companies that don’t may become increasingly uncompetitive.
2. Move your accounting practice to the cloud
Cloud is now in full force and getting traction in all the sectors. Even if you are not an advocate of cloud, you’re living in an expanding cloud-centric world. If you don’t make the switch to cloud on your own, you’ll likely get the push from your clients in the near future.
Companies embracing this trend will rise further. The reasons are clear. It’s inexpensive, convenient and flexible. The cloud technology can help you communicate effectively and stay connected. Cloud lets you access client’s data 24*7 – from core ledgers to invoices which have been made and to the timing when payment is received.
3. Networking is the key to success
Growing an accounting firm requires a lot more than just expanding geographically. A strategic plan is needed, which is implemented throughout the entire firm. And networking is a key part of that plan.
In today’s competitive business environment, accountants need to demonstrate they can bring more to a firm than just numbers. Networking is one of the best ways to stay updated with changing trends in the accounting industry. Try to attend as many networking events as possible and reach out to people who have worked at your firm and discuss the challenges faced.
4. Automate your services
It’s 2018 and keeping up with your contemporaries means one thing: automation. Like all industries, accounting firms can benefit from automation. According to a study by PwC, bookkeepers and accounting professionals comprised the number one profession, which is most likely to be affected by technology in the coming years.
Automating your accounting process means that you can have real-time reporting and decision-making can be easier. Instead of waiting for days to see how things are going, you can respond to developments through regularly updated financial information.
Automating your processes such as expense tracking, time tracking, payroll, billing and invoicing can save you and your clients a considerable amount of time and money.
5. Leverage technology
What would you choose if you are given a choice between a smartphone and a rotary phone?
With numerous benefits offered by smartphone, there’s not much of a guessing game here. The point is: technology makes a huge difference in your decision-making process. And it surely makes a difference to your clients. Clients, today, demand increased proficiency, faster response and financial assistance over and above standard number-crunching.
Having new technology is not good enough for accountants anymore, they need to tap into its complete potential to achieve success for their client’s business. Using latest technologies such as mobile accounting, cloud hosting, social media, and automation will enable your firm to be more efficient in day-to-day operational work.