Fire 50% of your clients while also increasing revenue and working less? Yes, you read the headline right. And while it might sound too good to be true, it can be done. In fact, many firms are living a less-clients-more-revenue reality today.
If thinning your client herd is something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t been able to pull the trigger, this article can help. According to our experts, Greg Kyte, CPA, founder of Comedy CPE, and his Drunk Ethics podcast co-host Adam Broud, this can absolutely be your reality—and may not be as difficult as you think.
Read on to understand how you can start to pare down your client list and serve only ideal clients—those you enjoy serving, are good at serving, and pay well. The journey to reducing your client base, increasing revenue, and working fewer hours starts here.
Before diving in, it’s important to define what value really means. That is, what is the value of your services to clients and what are true value-added services?
Greg Kyte is definitive in his answer: “Non-value-added activities include any activity that does not directly contribute to satisfying the customer’s requirements.” He adds, “It’s any activity that does not contribute to helping your client make more money.”
Kyte goes further to say that compliance work does not fall under the category of value-added. “We have to pay taxes, we have to do the books, but tax and bookkeeping work, I would say, are not value-added. You need these services, but they don’t put more money in your [a client’s] pocket.”
So then, what is a value-added service?
Advisory, of course.
Client advisory services (CAS) is a core business model component for firms looking to lock in recurring revenue and build stronger, multi-touchpoint relationships with their clients. CAS goes beyond tax, assurance, and bookkeeping work to offer clients deeper data insights that improve performance, bolster profitability, and provide a clear lens into overall business health.
“Some firms are taking this a step further by offering coaching,” says Kyte. “Coaching clients on such things as setting pricing for goods and services.”
Advisory, coaching…these are “the goods” clients are looking for. That deeper level of support that helps ensure their long-term business success.
Kyte adds: “And if you are an expert on a certain niche, your value goes up even more.”
Kyte and Broud agree that most clients are looking for this level of service and that they’re willing to pay for it.
Identifying a niche
Not big news here, but it’s worth saying again: The niche model is where it’s at. When firms become an expert in a vertical, it allows them to create advisory services that are highly valuable and repeatable across clients.
For example, if you specialize in the dental industry, you know the core KPIs to track and measure and can repeat services (to a degree) across your dental client base. You also have the knowledge to provide additional coaching in areas such as pricing model, benefits, and even marketing.
Our experts also agree that firms should focus on a single niche. “I see no reason to go beyond one,” says Kyte.
When you become an expert in a certain vertical, it’s easy to corner that market and emerge as the go-to firm. And because you don’t have to spend time mastering multiple industries, it also frees you up to develop and offer expanded advisory services to your niche clients.
Getting started with a niche
Some firms can get stuck right out of the gate…not knowing where to start with selecting their niche. Kyte and Broud offer proven advice:
Accept every client with a pulse: This is not a long-term goal, of course. Rather, Kyte and Broud advise taking on clients from multiple industries initially. This allows you to get a feel for what niche is the best fit for your firm.
Identify which clients you enjoy: As you work with clients, focus on those you enjoy serving (while also identifying those you don’t). Remember, you’re entitled to be happy at work.
Identify which clients pay well: There are clients who actually see and appreciate the value of advisory work, making fees less important. Go after this group! “Really you’re just finding clients who value your work,” says Broud.
Stop taking clients outside of your niche: Once you identify your niche and feel comfortable, you can stop onboarding anyone with a pulse and be more discerning about what new clients you accept.
“This is not about immediately getting rid of clients you already have but about being exclusive about the new clients you take on,” says Kyte.
Actively let non-niche clients go: You’ll reach a tipping point when you can no longer support non-niche clients. You’ll know when you’re there, and that’s the time to start letting them go.
I’ve found my niche…now what?
Once you’ve identified your niche of choice, it’s time to get uber-focused. If you plan to master a market, you have to put in the work. Here’s what Kyte and Broud suggest:
Learn what your niche clients need: Dig into your niche and identify everything clients require. This can include core KPIs to track, pricing strategy, retirement planning, and even compliance work. Also, be sure to ask your clients what they need. Their perspective is important.
“Sometimes you think you know what your clients need that your client doesn’t actually care about,” Broud says.
Build the ideal tech stack: Be sure you have the right tech stack in place to deliver services efficiently and in a frictionless manner for clients. You should maintain a core tech stack that every client is willing to use to work with your firm.
Kyte asserts: “When you master your niche where clients are actively seeking you out, you can say that part of becoming my client is using our technology.”
Adopt niche-specific branding and positioning: From your website to digital campaigns and social, market your firm as an expert in your niche. Your brand should scream to your core audience that you’re an expert.
Go where your niche clients are: Be sure to attend conferences, trade shows, festivals, and other events where your ideal clients are present and engaged.
Get creative: Once you’re established, look for creative ways to serve your niche and attract new clients. A few examples include starting your own podcast or publishing articles within niche-specific publications.
Reap the benefits of going niche
There are numerous benefits that come with a robust and focused niche practice. A few of the biggest include:
Achieving expert-level competence: Focusing on a single niche enables you to become an expert and support your clients at a much deeper level. This is rewarding for a firm and also offers exceptional peace of mind to your clients.
Charging premium fees: You offer immense value to clients that supports higher fees. Know your value and charge accordingly.
Serving fewer clients with expanded services: Pare down your list to include only ideal, well-paying clients. This affords you the time to offer extended advisory services and further strengthen the client-firm relationship.
Working fewer hours: With a refined client list and repeatable services, you can significantly decrease work hours.
Enjoying easier marketing: Your marketing will be focused and exact to your niche. Easy.
So there you go. The niche model is where it’s at. And while it can feel overwhelming to get to the point of mastering a vertical, the end results are well worth it.
Broud sums it up well: “I think when people are looking up at experts, they think, man, it took so much work to get there. But when they are in that expert spot, it feels so good and it starts to feel so easy.”
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About Greg Kyte
Greg has positioned himself uniquely as a licensed CPA and a working standup comedian. He has had the opportunity to perform with many noted comedians, including opening for Weird Al Yankovic, and he has been a licensed CPA in the state of Utah for over a decade. He is the co-host of the Oh My Fraud podcast as well as the Drunk Ethics podcast, and he has presented continuing education courses to tens of thousands of accountants and attorneys.
When he's not busy making people laugh, Greg works as a controller and general manager. He currently lives in Orem, Utah, where he enjoys yelling at his television.
About Adam Broud
Co-Founder, Drunk Ethics Podcast
Adam Broud went on a date with a girl once who described him as, “Suspiciously funny.” He still doesn’t really know what that means, but that’s gotta be pretty funny, right?
Before switching full-time to comedy, Adam worked for a Fortune 50 company, consulted on people management projects for a variety of Fortune 500 companies, and got his MBA from Brigham Young University. Adam has paired his business knowledge with his comedic know-how to make a unique training content that is not only 100% positively rated by participants but is also evidence-based in improving employee skills. Adam interactively teaches teams to improve in trust, creativity, communication, story-telling, presentation ability, problem-solving, empathy, grit, and more.
Adam primarily performs stand-up comedy, but he also performs improv, writes sketches, and writes screenplays. A real jack of all trades so long as those trades involve writing jokes. Adam is based out of Provo, Utah.
This webinar is part of our Redefining Value webinar series. View the other virtual events and learn more about this series.