The pandemic is still far from over, but with restrictions starting to lift, the world is slowly beginning to resemble what it was before the term "Covid-19" became all too familiar.
As far as accounting goes, readjusting does not necessarily mean going back to the way things were before: the accounting profession has changed and accounting firms would be wise to strategize for the new normal, rather than relying on inertia.
We gathered a few suggestions for accountants and bookkeepers to ensure they are prepared for the post-pandemic world.
Redefining needs and challenges (your own, your team’s and your clients’)
The pandemic forced certain circumstances on us. Clients and team members didn't choose to work from home or hold video conferences. So it’s no surprise that in most cases, accounting firms made ad-hoc, temporary decisions early on, when the pandemic’s magnitude and impact were still shrouded in fog.
Months went by, and temporary decisions became permanent practices, without the necessary assessment and decision process, and without much choice. But now, it's all about choice - how we want to lay down our practice's operating infrastructure for the future.
And the best place to start is by simply asking your clients, your team members, and yourself. Ask them what works best for them, what can be improved and how, and what they need but are not getting in the current arrangement.
Identify and exploit economic & industry trends
Just as the pandemic boosted specific industries (e-commerce) and stifled others (restaurants, travel), the "new normal" is bound to have its own impact.
But it would be simplistic to assume that it will mirror the pandemic’s behavior. Accountants and bookkeepers who research market trends - such as the return of leisure travel and the rapid rise of solopreneur businesses - will uncover the potential to expand their client roster, dive into new niches and utilize growth opportunities.
The same is true for the type of services your firm can offer, pricing trends, and accounting tech trends. You can't risk your competitors offering clients services you aren’t prepared to offer. Keep your finger on the accounting community’s pulse to stay ahead of the curve and utilize the advantages of being the first to meet market demands.
Make tough decisions and apply them
Once you've done the research, you can decide on the path your firm should take: office operation and logistics, service offerings, communication, pricing, niche focuses, etc.
Making conscious, well-informed decisions is not easy, especially when there’s a lot on the line. And it’s equally important to implement these decisions correctly. When applying the decision, make sure you do so methodically, keeping all who may be affected by them (clients, team-members) informed and part of the process, so they are not taken by surprise.
You should also set clear policies to follow your decisions.
If, for example, you decide on a model of either a hybrid or 100% remote firm, you should establish a protocol on issues such as work from home, document delivery, and communication with clients. You should also ensure that you have the proper infrastructure and technological tools to support the decision you make.
Reevaluate your pricing model
Some accounting professionals may feel there’s a lack of symmetry between their time, efforts, expenses, and pricing. And this is probably aggravated by the pandemic. Accountants and their clients may have felt preoccupied with adjusting to the new reality, and old, ineffective pricing models lingered on while accountants waited for the "right time" to introduce order into the chaos.
Well, the right time is now.
After all the necessary adjustments to prepare your firm for a post-pandemic world have been decided on, you have the information and opportunity to introduce a new pricing model for your service. One that is better aligned with your current offerings and the added value you bring to the table.
If you're having trouble navigating your way safely through the pricing jungle, you can use this pricing template created by Hector Garcia, CPA.
Following the steps above will help your firm secure a better footing in the post-pandemic accounting world and propel toward growth, efficiency, and profitability.