The “Full Service” Myth Infecting Accounting Firms

There’s a myth infecting MOST professional service firms (not just a few here or there), which results in them missing out on their single biggest opportunity to grow revenue, improve their win rate, and work with better, more sophisticated clients. This myth is called “full service,” and it goes something like this: if you can supply every service for every client, you’ll be their go-to solution for every problem, right? Dead wrong.

Here’s the ugly truth: there’s no such thing as a “full service” firm. If this statement confuses you, it’s probably because most professional firms still buy into the myth—they trumpet their “full service” offerings as though they’re badges of honor. Open up a typical website, and the page bleeds bland language, such as…

  • “Firm X is a professional services firm delivering integrated services.”
  • ”Firm Y provides its clients with a wide range of accounting services and guaranteed results.”
  • “Firm Z offers an extensive breadth of accounting and advisory services.”

Hate to break it to you, but EVERYONE offers a “wide range of services,” has a “breadth of experience,” and they all “produce results.” Is it any wonder that clients can’t tell one firm apart from another?

“Full service” professional service firms are a dying breed of a bygone era. They fight over revenues that have all but dried up, and sell yesterday’s services to an ever smaller set of clients.

Today, a firm’s success is rooted in its POSITIONING, not its versatility.

What firms should be doing is establishing their niche and building their reputation as a thought leader in their industry; a key aspect of good positioning is building your firm into a strong, distinctive, and memorable brand. Instead, these firms usually bill themselves as “full service”—forfeiting their chance to say something that’s actually defining and differentiating. Most professional service firms fail to realize that trying to stand for everything is the same as standing for nothing at all. Think of it this way…

Imagine that you’re going out for dinner. You’re craving authentic ethnic cuisine, and there’s a ton of options: will you hit up that fine 3-star sushi bar? The ritzy French restaurant downtown? The high-end Brazilian steakhouse on the corner? …or will you choose the Japanese-French Brazilian fusion “experience” in the seedy part of town? No, you’ll opt for the real deal—a restaurant that knows its niche inside and out, that executes every dish flawlessly, and that oozes credibility. And that’s what you stand to gain with a proper positioning strategy: a firm foothold in your niche, an unwavering client base seeking the services you excel at, and a sterling reputation as a thought leader in your industry. Proper positioning also gives you a deeper understanding of your target audience, and it makes the question of where you should focus your attention, time, and resources staggeringly obvious.

When applied skillfully, proper positioning impacts the heart of your  firm, and ripples improvements into every facet of your day-to-day dealings. Effective positioning strategy promises you:

  • Criteria for determining your ideal clients.
  • Better lead conversion on new clients.
  • A theme to tie your marketing and promotional programs together.
  • Deeper understanding of your firm’s resource allocation (and how it should change). And, of course…
  • The ability to charge a serious price premium.

You own your niche, and you’ll have the reputation of being the “go-to” firm in your field. But we’re only just scratching the surface— it’s time to dig deeper. If you’re positioning or repositioning your firm, this guide’s for you. In it, we’ll show you how to get started with positioning, avoid the mistakes we’ve seen so many other firms make, and enable you to make the brave choices that positioning demands. Download our positioning guide for accounting firms to get started with your firm!

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