How Jerry Changed His Mind and Got His Life Back
“Hi Jerry,” I said cheerfully as I walked into his office. Jerry’s response was so out of character for a normally upbeat guy, that I was taken aback. He held up a printout of his income and expenses for the current quarter and it was grim. Barely any revenue, and all the normal expenses. A big red bottom line.
Once we sat down, he explained that his CPA firm experienced feast or famine every year. But this year was feeling seriously different.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because I feel frustration now, as well as pressure. Up until a year ago, I took these down times in stride because revenue always bounces back in the fall.
But now my little boy is starting to play T-ball. He has friends. I want to spend more time with him. He won’t be little for very long.”
Jerry continued, “If I don’t go to his games, he asks me why wasn’t I there. If I do go to his games, I ask myself why did I take billable hours out of the firm?”
We talked. I wanted Jerry to talk about everything that impacted his firm. The one point he made again and again was the issue of billable hours. No work, no billings, no revenue.
After a time, I asked if he’d ever considered a different kind of fee structure. He was baffled. “What else is there but hourly billing?”
I told him my own story of transitioning my work from hourly rates to fixed fees tied to the value the client received from my work. Clients benefit in many ways and the professional services provider enjoys steady and predictable revenue. In Jerry’s case, fixed fees tied to a broad range of benefits he’d deliver to his clients all year long would ensure monthly revenue. He’d alleviate the famine and the guilt.
This was a big mental hurdle for Jerry to overcome. We took our time discussing it from all perspectives and testing a variety of approaches. Finally, he was ready to roll out an offer to 25 long time clients. He’d deliver numerous benefits to them, including but not limited to, their tax returns, for a fixed monthly fee. No more hours billed, and unlimited access to him for questions and advice.
Twenty-three of the first 25 enrolled immediately. Money started flowing in. The next quarter’s income statement showed an entirely different picture. A big, bold black bottom line.
The joy on Jerry’s face when he shares anecdotes about his son playing T-ball was worth every single penny invested and every single challenge we had to overcome. He told me “My son is so happy every time I’m at one of his games.”
What could you do differently, that you’ve never even considered, that would transform your business and your life?