Tax Guru – Ker$tetter Letter

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Building an Accounting Practice

Posted by taxguru on January 25, 2010

Q:

Subject:  Accounting Business Question

Mr. Kerstetter,

I read some of your blog posts by reading up on tax strategies on the internet and found your blog and posts very informative and interesting to read through. My question is less accounting based than many of your other readers. 

I guess a little background might help first, I am a single dad and currently a CPA who was a financial auditor in my former life. Not even a year after I received my Masters in Accounting I found myself at the brunt of a fairly awesome child support dispute at the worst time possible (due to the state of our economy), it effected my work product and I lost my job. I decided not to waste my education and find a way to begin my own accounting business providing bookkeeping and tax services. 

Long story short I was able to mediate a successful workable support agreement with the mother which will allow me to move to Nashville to be close to my son and to attend a night law school to bolster my legal and tax background so that I will be able to offer additional services in the future and potentially save my a** in case I encounter any additional legal troubles in the future (I was not prepared for how fathers are treated in family court). 

Anyway, In the mean time I will begin the slow task of acquiring new clients in Nashville. My question is this, can you give me any good tips on how to attract clients. I use TaxACT as my tax software and have began familiarizing myself with Quickbooks Accountant and Pro. I have a few clients but they were acquired simply by luck almost. I have a basic fee structure but how do I know if this is competitive or if I’m under/over charging, I was used to billing myself out at $200 an hour at BDO Seidman but that seems a bit much for a new CPA on the block plus it was audit work. If you know of any good books I could read or could offer any advice I would be more than appreciative. Also, how did you go about getting your own domain address for your email? Is it expensive?

Thank you for any help you can give, it means a lot.

 

A:

I have discussed this a number of times in my blog; so you should search past postings.

I haven’t changed my opinion that having an online presence, such as a blog, is the best way to develop a nationwide client base.

Giving free speeches to local service clubs is still the best way to grow a local client base.

Paying a marketing firm to steer clients to you is a waste of money. Those services are scams.

The right billing rate isn’t an easy answer.  I would probably start in the middle of the current rates for other CPAs in your area.  That will give you room to raise your rates in future years as you become more proficient and the clients become more dependent on you.

In regard to the email address, most web hosting companies allow you to have 20 or more email addresses for each domain that you host with them.  It’s obviously a subjective issue, but I have always felt that someone is more professional who has an email address based on his/her own domain rather than using one of the freebie email services.

Good luck.  I hope this helps.

Kerry Kerstetter

Follow-Up:

I will definitely look through your blog posts for the information you mentioned. Thank you very much for responding so quickly!

 

TaxCoach Software: Are you giving your clients what they really want?

 

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