Should I reference my fees on my website? And if so, how can I do this given how my fees vary from client to client? These are very common questions I get asked by accountants, bookkeepers and tax advisers.
And my answer is always: “It depends.” ;-)
It depends whether you are confident of the following 6 points. And, if you are, please don’t bother reading this blog post.
- You are already getting as many calls as you want from visitors to your website AND
- Enough of those visitors are the type of people you want to work with AND
- They want you to provide the services you enjoy delivering AND
- They are willing to pay you the fees you want to charge for those services AND
- They are willing abide by the payment terms you have set AND
- You are not wasting time having to deal with too many visitors who do not tick these boxes.
If you can’t honestly confirm all 6 of those points then let’s consider the two most common views I come across as regards the question of whether to reference fees on accountants’ websites. And then, at the end you will find five simple ways you can start to discuss fees on YOUR website.
The biggest argument AGAINT quoting fees on your website is that doing so encourages visitors and prospective clients to think only in terms of the cost and not about the value that you deliver. This argument has prevailed for many years and, to an extent, I agree with it.
The related reasoning given for NOT referencing fees on your website is because they vary depending upon each client’s needs and the services you provide for them.
Most accountants are used to getting prospective clients on the phone or to seeing them face-to-face before talking about fees. We have all been there. Perhaps you like to take time to reflect on what you have learned before quoting a fee to a new client. Sadly few accountants tell me that they win a majority of the clients they quote for like this. It is typically a bad idea to allow a possible new client’s first experience of your fees to be when they see them in writing sometime after they spoke with you. What if they’re surprised by your quote? If you aren’t there, you can’t explain it.
Argument in favour
The alternative view also has a lot going for it. This is that referencing fees on your website enables you to repel tyre kickers, to potentially secure SEO benefits and to keep the right people engaged on your website longer than might otherwise be the case.
Frankly, the people who ask my advice are rarely supporters of the first argument beyond wondering how it can be done given they charge each client a bespoke fee. These accountants are simply trying to understand how and why more and more accountants are referencing fees on their websites and in more detail than they did previously.
What clients want
Of course clients want to understand how much they will be charged and why. And it’s your job to explain this to them. But here’s the point that’s often forgotten. Clients want to understand your fees on their terms not on yours.
If you’re openly discussing your fee levels this will evidence your experience and confidence. And that can help build trust and loyalty, particularly as so many accountants are guarded about the fees that they charge. But an increasing number are being more open about their fees too.
Many websites for example, quote set fees for certain packaged services. And many also offer 3 or 4 standard service and fee levels.
The problem is that prospective clients who are looking to learn about your fees before they get in touch don’t appreciate YOUR reasons for NOT quoting your fees online. They don’t understand why your fees might vary depending upon a number of factors. No. The chances are that most of them think “you’re hiding your fees from me“, “you’re expensive” and/or “you won’t be open and honest about your fees”.
This does not engender a feeling of trust and confidence. And thus it’s not a great first impression for prospective new clients. It also probably means that you are unintentionally reducing the proportion of visitors to your website who then actually get in touch.
Think about how you would feel if you went into a restaurant and the prices were NOT quoted on the menu. Or how you feel when you cannot see the prices of clothing items you like in a shop window.
We know what this means. These things are pricey. As a result we often choose not to go into the restaurant or the clothing shop concerned.
The owners probably are quite happy with this reaction. By not publicising their prices they are probably catering for the sort of people who don’t care how much it costs. By NOT showing their prices to passers-by, the owners are reducing the time they need to waste with anyone who doesn’t like their prices or who cannot afford what they are selling.
If that is YOUR reason for NOT allowing visitors to your website to know what they might have to pay you, then that’s fine. After all, many of the visitors who don’t get in touch with you may also assume that your fees are high. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you reference them? Especially given how many other accountants DO now talk about fees on their website.
How do others do it?
If you’re still shaking your head at the thought of referencing your fees, ask yourself how do so many other accountants manage to do this?
I know you’re special. But your approach is NOT unique. Enough other accountants reference their fees on their website. So perhaps it is easier than you think? Unless you simply don’t want to talk about them. Do you lack confidence when discussing your fees generally? is that it?
Just note that this attitude may mean that you are missing potentially valuable opportunities.
So what can you do? Especially as your fees vary from client to client and you don’t want to offer a series of packages services with set fees.
Keep it simple.
Here’s how to do it
Here are five simple ways to reference fees on your website to secure the benefits indicated earlier, even if your fees differ depending upon each specific client and what they need:
1. A ‘from’ fee. eg: Our fees start from £100 a month.
2. An ‘at least’ fee. eg: We are currently unable to take on any new clients unless their fees are at least £150 a month
3. A ‘between’ fee. eg: Our clients are typically paying fees of between £100 and £500 a month.
4. A ‘typical’ fee. eg: The typical fee paid by our clients is around £200 a month to provide all of the services they require – not just to prepare, complete and file their accounts and tax returns.
5. A combination approach. eg: Our fees typically range from £200-£1000 a month with most of our clients paying at least £500 a month.
These approaches have the benefit of reducing the number of times you waste time talking to people who are looking to only pay a few hundred pound a year. Each of them also manages expectations and none of them say that your fees will only be £100 a month.
I have also seen some accountants combine one or more of these 6 approaches with the concept of offering a choice of packages or service levels.
If this blog post prompts any questions or if you would like to discuss how you might adapt these ideas to suit your website and services, you are welcome to get in touch >>> There’s no charge for an initial, no obligation conversation. I do practice what I preach so you will find reference to my mentoring fees here >>>