Deep Dive into Fathom – Goal Seek Report

Back for part two on my series on the app, Fathom, which is part of QuickBooks Online Advanced.  I’ve been fortunate to be using this strong combination of tools in my practice.  To access part one of this series, click here.

Last week we investigated the set up of Fathom. And we played around with the templated reports within the application. This week I thought I would dive into how I am using the product to get my clients excited about advisory services.

We’ve all heard the buzz words, CFO services and advisory services. Deep in our hearts, we know that this is a natural progression as technology begins to consume the menial tasks of our chosen occupation.  So where do you begin?  What are the lingering issues?

What if my client thinks advisory services is included in their current service?

We have all experienced this, haven't we?  The problem is most clients assume that this is part of what they purchased when they signed up for bookkeeping services. It’s a struggle we all have.  Putting the exact service offering in writing helps clients know exactly what they purchased.  I used to think I would separate it, and let them select it and pay for it as an extra or choose not to select it and let the client purchase basic write-up services (ala QuickBooks Live).  But that is not working. And more importantly, it is NOT what I want to do!

My experience has been that the client will not select the add on so they can keep their monthly bookkeeping expense low.  Then they will sneak it in as scope creep.  You know how that is.  A free question here, another there.  Now, I include it in all the quotes for all new customers.  It is the work I want to do.  

But what about the existing clients that maybe you did not offer this service to initially?  What about the ones that are not paying for that type of service?

The Solution

Currently, I am reviewing all of my client files, restructuring the contracts that I have with them. And make it 100% clear the services that they are being provided. I’m also increasing their fees. With the customers that I have that have just basic write/up, I am offering these CFO - type services as a special "add on" to their current engagement.  If they chose not to go that route, I will refer them back to that contract when they try to ask those CFO-type questions.

The key to getting the existing client excited about advisory services is to present the new offering and the new contract in person or on a Zoom meeting. I know for a lot of us, this is a scary proposition to  be on camera.  But it will work and it is worth it.

Demonstrate the value of this service using Fathom.  Show them the benefits  and analysis and guidance you can provide.   Most of the companies I am working with are expanding and growing and thriving (thank you economy!). The time is ripe to present that growing firm the opportunity to grow smarter.

The Business Advisor

Practice first

You have to decide on how you want to move forward in your firm. The Goal-seeking report is the the best place to start. Use the sample file. Move the slides.  See how it responds. Here is a pretty neat post on this report with some helpful tips right from Fathom's own blog.

Additionally, with Fathom, you can import a spreadsheet, which is excellent if you want to track some non-financial segments of the business. Get creative and play around in the program until you get comfortable with it.   

Okay, so you have done that. Now what?  How do you start the conversation to get your client interested in forecasting and planning?

Practice, practice more practice

Grab your friend and practice your advisory meeting. For me, the most comfortable place to start to engage a client conversation on advisory is with the goal-seeking report. The goal-seeking report will help the client see the benefit of navigating their firm into a profitable future. It allows them to see the big picture and what they can do to make changes, set goals for themselves, and see the expected financial results of it. It gives them the visual that they need.

Have your friend ask the hard questions. Get their feedback. Remember, if you don’t know the answer, you can always tell the client that you’ll get back to them on that. There’s no way we can know everything. A big part of what we charge for advisory services is the research we do before we get to sit down with the customer.  If you are a firm that specializes in an industry such as I do, this is where we can show off our expertise! Study, rinse, repeat!

You will get more comfortable with time and practice. It’s very fulfilling to help your client grow. You’ve probably been doing some of this work all along, just not as formal  meeting with the slick reporting tool like Fathom.   

One final note

Do you want to set yourself up as a firm of the future? A firm that will survive technology which is spinning around us at a fast pace? These are the things we need to do as automation gets better and better. Remember, we’ve been asking for this! We no longer want to do mundane tasks.

Another way you can get yourself ready for this new direction in your practice, go to QuickBooks connect! I have inside information that a pretty smart guy is going to be teaching some advisory level services right at QuickBooks connect on accountants day at 1pm. I highly recommend joining Matthew Fulton in his class on QuickBooks Online Advanced, custom fields.  There will be a ton of advisory tips at his session, I promise you that!

As we educate ourselves, this is where we get to charge a higher value for our work product. So take a leap  or deep dive into Fathom, you won’t regret it. 

Lynda Artesani

Lynda Artesani is the president of Artesani Bookkeeping where she uses her expertise and organizational skills to help her clients thrive and become profitable. Lynda is a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She is an alumni member of the Intuit Advisory Board. Additionally, she is the first Expert Columnist for the QB Community forum. She is also a co-founder in a Facebook group called QB Community Live!