Why I won’t discount my rates: A Bookkeepers View

Each time I seem to go into a business Facebook group I see the same comment…. “My Bookkeeper/Accountant is over charging me – surely it is a simple job. Why are they so expensive? They are ripping me off.”

Now, before I get my “ranty pants” on – let’s reverse this for a minute. Think about the service you offer and imagine how you would feel if people (who did not understand your industry) questioned your rate and prices every minute of the day?

“It is not a nice feeling to be judged when someone asks for a price, yet they failed to take the time to understand the level of work required to do the job properly.”

We try to offer our clients monthly value packages which incorporate all the tasks they need each month, plus many they don’t even know they need. Now, often the hard thing is getting clients to understand the value in those packages – as they assume that with good accounting software, that these tasks take 5 minutes.

Now, to be honest, we know what we are doing and many tasks do take five minutes – but you are not just paying for the five minutes. I tell you what you are paying for.

“You are paying for peace of mind, the ability to sleep at night without stressing about GST, you are paying for getting it right the first time, you are paying to not have to get the work redone, you are paying for 20 years experience and knowledge, and you are paying for me to field questions from the ATO on your behalf.”

So suddenly – the five minutes is irrelevant.

Let me give you a real life example. Recently we had a potential new client ask us to lodge their BAS. They said to us…

“Really I just need you to hit the submit button, I have done it all – so really it is a 30 second job. How much do you charge – $20 maybe?”

After I stopped laughing and realised they were serious, I thought it was time to advise them why I charge what I do for a BAS review and lodgement (and let me tell you it is not $20 – no where near it!)

For me to do a BAS lodgement, legally I need to review all transactions to ensure I am lodging accurate numbers. My professional registration is at risk if I don’t do this. So saying it is “just hit a button” couldn’t be further from the truth.

So for a quarterly BAS, with multiple bank accounts – this can be up to 300 transactions that I need to check the tax code for. I need to make sure bank transactions were not deleted, I need to check your Balance Sheet is not hiding anything (yes the report you have never run before – well I actually look at it), I need to check you haven’t taken drawings which would be deemed wages, I need to make sure no transactions were dated prior to the current quarter effecting the yearly GST balance, I need to reconcile wages (if relevant) and only then can I run your Business Activity Statement in your software.

I then prepare the BAS, send to you for signing (legal requirement in Australia), I can only lodge the BAS once you have signed it, and then I submit this to the ATO and follow you up to make sure you have paid it (or that you have received your refund).

So just typing all the things that I do for each BAS review/lodgement would cost more than $20 let alone the value of my actual services!

So please don’t ask me to discount my services.

Firstly you need to understand the value you are being provided by your BAS agent or accountant. And if you think that a GST review or preparation of a BAS should be $20 – then I would ask you to work for the same rate. Because we both know that ‘aint going to happen.

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