Gusto for Partners

How to Nail Your First People Advisory Consultation

Jaclyn Anku Partner Education, Gusto  
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Your big moment is finally here: there’s a date on the calendar for your first consultation. You’ve convinced your clients about the power of People Advisory and they’ve signed up for a People Advisory Package

Build a profitable People Advisory practice

So how do you prepare for that conversation and present your People Advisory recommendations in a way that wows? 

Check out this four-stage process.

  1. People Advisory analysis starts with an understanding of your client’s goals, business model, and historical performance. 
  2. Develop people planning KPIs that focus attention on their team. 
  3. Use employee surveys to generate rich qualitative data to add depth to your quantitative KPI analysis from Step 2.
  4. Finally, craft your analysis and recommendations as defined in the People Advisory Package that the client signed up for.

Let’s dig deeper into each stage.

People Advisory? Tell Me More.

People Advisory is a consultative service in which accountants pair their financial expertise with people operations to guide clients on building a great place to work. 

By putting people at the heart of your advice, you can help your clients and their teams with advice on payroll, benefits, and people operations that they need now.

Stage 1: Understand business performance

Begin by reviewing any notes from previous client check-ins. Think about how the client is performing. What are their challenges, strengths, and areas of opportunity?

Consider using Gusto reports to draw insight. They offer a powerful way to develop a People Advisory summary and understand how your client and team have performed to date. Some reports that could be particularly helpful are the cash requirement report, benefits report, time-off balances, and employee summary.

Stage 2: Develop people planning KPIs

Develop people planning KPIs—like revenue per employee, average expense per employee, and % spend by department—to get that deeper level of insight into team performance. These metrics connect the dots between people data and business performance. They will help you to better understand the impact of traditionally hard to measure things, such as team morale, values alignment, and belief in management.

Revenue per employee is a great KPI to look at first: When average revenue per employee rises quickly, a lot of things could be going on—and you’ll want to do more analysis. Does it mean your client’s team is working more efficiently? Or maybe they’re working unsustainably long hours? Or maybe it’s time to hire?

Stage 3: Analyze employee survey results

To understand the people planning KPIs more deeply, you’ll need to do qualitative analysis. In fact, supplementing quantitative KPIs with rich qualitative data straight from the source is one of the many things that sets you apart as a People Advisor.

With Gusto’s Employee Happiness Survey you can generate qualitative feedback from your client’s team to explain underlying trends in the KPI, and make a well-researched recommendation.

The simple act of sending a survey shows the level of care and value you and the employer place on the team’s experience.

Stage 4: Craft recommendations

With quantitative and qualitative insights in hand, you’re ready to make recommendations that drive impact.Craft your analysis as defined in the People Advisory Package that the client signed up for. Present highlights, lowlights, and recommendations for each aspect of the service.

Last but not least, identify ‘Agreed upon next steps.’ You can actively do this during the conversation with your client. Before your next People Advisory consultation, use these next steps as a reference. 

People Advisors in practice

Find out how your peers approached their first People Advisory consultations.

Kenji Kuramoto, Acuity

For Kenji, People Advisory is about using financial expertise to spot issues. Some things he particularly looks for include high recruiter fees and employee retention because these can indicate issues in employee engagement and morale.

“A traditional accountant looks at how to reduce costs of recruitment fees, whereas a People Advisor looks at what is really going on. It’s about digging deeper into the ‘why.’ We’ll now be using people planning KPIs more broadly, including revenue per employee and spending on benefits per head. We had these metrics at hand already, but we weren’t really thinking about them.”

Josh Lance, Lance CPA Group

Josh has been looking at revenue per employee—a basic KPI from the accounting world, recast as a high-impact people-oriented metric. “Can you afford to give raises or recruit additional staff? It’s a great starting point because it’s simple and easy for clients to understand and it provides a lot of talking points. KPIs help highlight issues and tell the people story in the numbers.”

Nikole Mackenzie, Momentum Accounting

“I’ve totally reimagined how I can use people data via reporting dashboards thanks to Accelerator. Previously, I was so focused on financial KPIs, I didn’t even think about the people planning KPIs. Now I plan to use people planning KPIs and Gusto custom reports to help clients understand their people story.

The Time Is Now

In a time of heightened awareness around physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, small business employers need the help of a People Advisor to create a modern workplace that attracts and retains high performing talent. Through reimagining your payroll practice you have the opportunity to meet the needs of clients head-on while also realizing important opportunities for your own team and firm.

Gusto’s People Advisory Accelerator Program provides the training and tools needed for firm leaders to develop People Advisory packages, and to staff, price, and sell them so that you can drive recurring revenue at your firm. In addition to teaching best practices, the program provides 25+ turnkey tools and templates so that you can implement what you’re learning, immediately. You’ll even earn 4 CPE credits in the process. 

You and your team can build your foundation on people operations best practices through becoming People Advisor Certified and earn 5 CPE credits. Learning the fundamentals of payroll, benefits, and people operations provides the knowledge and confidence to deliver a consistently high-value service.

By launching your People Advisory practice you’ll join a community of 2,000+ Certified People Advisors who are a part of the positive change the accounting profession and economy needs now.

Jaclyn Anku
Jaclyn Anku Jaclyn is the Partner Education Manager at Gusto. She started her career as a small business consultant and is passionate about teaching small business owners financial literacy and arming them with great advice. Before joining Gusto, she led business education for accountants and bookkeepers at Xero. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Oakland, CA.
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