Establish Yourself as a Trusted Accounting Partner Through Specialization

Gusto Editors

Do you know how to position your firm as an irreplaceable accounting partner for your clients?

Here at Gusto, we’re committed to helping accountants and their firms get the most out of their services. You can bring in more clients while increasing your revenue by specializing in a business vertical. By focusing on a specific industry, you can improve your ability to assist clients while also creating a strong relationship with them. 

Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, hosted a webinar all about accounting specialization and its many benefits. The presentation, “How to Add Revenue to Your Firm Through Specialization,” featured invaluable insights into partnering with business niches. You can watch the entire webinar here

In this article, you’ll learn from the Founder and CEO of Tech Guru, Dan Moshe. Dan has great experience targeting business verticals because his company used the same strategy itself. Tech Guru initially offered IT services across numerous industries, but Dan realized the business model wasn’t working. It started marketing services specifically tailored to CPA firms. In the presentation, Dan discussed critical tools your firm can begin using to specialize and create long-lasting connections with clients. 

Become a trusted partner for your clients

Investing your firm’s time and resources in a business vertical can have substantial benefits. You’ll be able to position yourself as a specialist in your chosen business niche, and you can simplify your workflow because you’re focusing your attention primarily on one industry rather than many. After determining your optimal target niche, your firm needs to focus on marketing and bringing more value to your target clients:

“Now that we marketed it and we’re out there in the marketplace [and] you’re hearing about us, the next thing we needed to do [is] to deliver on those promises. Marketing really is just a promise, at the end of the day. … This is a continuing journey to learn about all the great financial, tax, and other back-office apps.”

Dan Moshe

Tech Guru had to gain an in-depth understanding of the technology that accountants use to deliver on their marketing promises. Your firm needs to learn about its target vertical industry and its relevant applications and technology. For example, if your target vertical is small business restaurants, you may need to familiarize your firm with transaction applications like Square and Zelle

“Once you select a vertical, you’re going to find there’s a handful of specific industry apps that those organizations use and that almost always either have a general ledger or impact the general ledger of their business [directly]. … You don’t need to become experts in setting those up, … but at least understanding how the accounting, how the financials are getting done will position yourself in a uniquely unfireable way because you know the client software and you’re able to help them get the most out of it.”

Dan Moshe
Three colleagues discussing something on a laptop at work.

Your firm can increase its value to clients by helping them get the most out of their applications and software. When you focus on a particular business vertical, you can create strategies geared specifically for that industry and stay updated about their industry’s practices and technology. Dan noted how Tech Guru’s business operations have become much simpler as it shifted focus to accounting firms. It has enabled his company to improve how it assists clients:

“As CPAs become the majority of our clients, it’s going to really simplify all of our operations, all the services we provide, because now we don’t need to know how to manage hundreds of different pieces of software and different ways of doing things. Instead, [we use] just a few of those playbooks. This is an evolving thing, [and we’re] continuing to learn because new apps, as you know, are coming out every day. We’re able to deliver on that promise of helping revolutionize CPA firms by helping them leverage and get the most out of their technology.”

Dan Moshe

How can you position your firm to become a trusted accounting partner to your clients? If you commit to a specialization and focus on the unique needs of a particular business vertical, you can simplify your workflow while optimizing your knowledge of your target industry. 

Helping clients with people advisory services

You can further position yourself as a trusted accounting partner to your clients by offering people advisory services. When your firm offers people advisory, you can guide your clients through people-management processes, such as payroll, HR, and benefits. Gusto makes people advisory easy and offers excellent cloud-based tools, such as cash flow forecasting

“When your data is in the cloud and cloud accounting software, you can do really cool things with dashboards and so forth. By setting these things up for your clients, you’re then able to provide them advanced advisory services, giving them a pulse on their business. There are some great tools out there, like cash flow forecasting. Doesn’t every small business need help with cash flow forecasting and budgeting tools? These are what enable and allow CPA firms to be trusted and really partner with their clients.”

Dan Moshe

You can improve your relationship with clients and become irreplaceable by offering people advisory services and keeping abreast of their industry’s operations and technology.

Forming accounting partnerships to further assist your clients 

Partnerships are a critical way to provide even more value to your clients. You can identify your clients’ unique needs and partner with companies that can serve those needs. Tech Guru partnered with the company CCH, which offers software and information for accountants and audit workers: 

“What we’re doing with our partnerships … is we’re working with others who are helping support CPA firms. I’ll give you an example. We got to know our CCH rep in town. You all have a CCH rep. We made a list of all of them, and we’re partnering with each of them to help understand what it is that they’re doing with each of their clients so that we can help support that.”

Dan Moshe

Tech Guru’s partnership with CCH has given it many opportunities for new business among CPA firms. It has been able to assist firms with the implementation of CCH software. The integration of CCH software with Tech Guru’s support helped CPA firms migrate their software with ease. 

When determining who to partner with to bring even more value to clients, you should consider what companies align with your goals:

“What we’re looking for in our partnerships is a commitment to commonly shared values—and [in our case, it was the] interest in helping CPA firms—… be successful. The question here really is, ‘What partnerships potentially exist for you [within the] vertical that you’re looking to do?’”

Dan Moshe

It’s important to evaluate potential partnerships in your desired business vertical. For example, some partnerships for a particular vertical could include HR consulting companies for managing employees or a business specializing in research and development of tax credits

Becoming an accounting partner by hosting events

Creating connections with businesses in your desired business vertical is critical for your firm’s success. You can start building relationships with potential clients by hosting events and workshops. Tech Guru hosts Technology Planning Workshops to connect with CPA firms and potential partners: 

“We’re seeing that those are taking off, and people are really interested and seeing true value from them. We’re building new and exciting relationships both with partners and with firms. … [We establish] ourselves as a trusted partner through the speaking that we’re doing through the conferences that we’re attending.”

Dan Moshe

Building relationships with businesses is vital for CPA firms because new business is often primarily generated through referrals. You can host events to build connections and increase your likelihood of receiving referrals. 

Business people shaking hands at business event.

Another aspect of building trust and becoming an accounting partner is repeated interactions with potential clients. Dan noted that it takes consistency to build professional relationships:

“[I] was at a conference recently [and] two people came up to [me] and said, “Hey, I remember you. I saw you at this other conference. It’s great to see you again.” It really takes consistency and persistence with any vertical to show that this isn’t just the flavor of the month for you … [and] your practice. … They need to hear from you and see you seven times and hear your messaging seven times.”

Dan Moshe

It takes repetition to sell your service and build connections with members of your desired business vertical. Hosting and attending events is a great way for potential customers to see you and your firm so that you can eventually sign them on as clients. You could host an event specifically targeting their business niche. For example, if your firm primarily focuses on serving restaurants, you could host an event about people management in the food industry. You can make connections with those in your target niche so that you can eventually partner with them.

Learn more about becoming a trusted accounting partner

Dan and Tech Guru have a great deal of success positioning itself as a partner for CPA firms:

“The velocity of growth in this market segment has really improved in a measurable way. We are for the first time … seeing a measurable return on our marketing investment.”

Dan Moshe

Like Dan, you can bring in more clients to your company while improving your ability to serve clients through targeting a business vertical. You can position yourself as an irreplaceable accounting partner so your clients trust you and rely on you for their taxes and people-management guidance.

If you would like more details about becoming a trusted accounting partner, you can view the entire webinar here. Also, be sure to read the other articles in this webinar series “The Benefits of Accounting Specialization: Tech Guru Case Study” and “Specialization in Accounting: FAQ with Tech Guru” to learn more about specializing your firm to better serve clients.

You can start offering clients critical insights into people advisory by partnering with Gusto. When you become a Gusto partner, you get exclusive access to tools and resources to support your clients into the future. Streamline payroll and benefits, and start advising your clients in valuable new ways. Join Gusto’s Partner Program today.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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