How do you go from giving discounts to charging 5 times your old rates?
In this special bonus episode of The Abundant Accountant Podcast, we’re hearing exactly how to do it–straight from the mouth of Aleksey Kaplan, a New York based accounting-preneur, who has successfully raised the price of his most basic service from $150 to $650!
As an accountant, I know that you are frustrated and stressed trying to get the right clients through the door, maybe feel like you have no control over who you work with or how much you charge. Maybe you don’t even believe that you can get a potential client to say yes to a high-fee package.
That’s why I invited Aleksey Kaplan on the show to share his story with you. When I first met Aleksey, he had a ton of challenges that were keeping him from getting his firm where he wanted it to go. In this episode, you’ll hear how Aleksey was able to overcome his limiting beliefs and went from sticking to the status quo to being a full-blown accounting-preneur who knows his value, only works with his ideal client, and charges premium rates.
Want to take it to the next level and beyond like Aleksey?
I’m opening up a few strategy sessions to help you get your IDEAL clients coming to YOU so you can build your dream practice, work less, and still have the time and money to enjoy your family and kids. Head to theabundantcall.com now to schedule your coaching session with The Abundant Accountant team!
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Abundant Accountant Case Study | Aleksey Kaplan
Welcome to the show. This is where accountants come to learn all the ways to grow their firms. If you’re ready to learn and ready to grow your firm, then you are in the right place to sharpen your skills and increase that revenue. In this episode, we have a little bit of a twist on the show. It is our bonus episodes that I will be randomly doing with some case studies of students that have graduated my eight-week sales mastery training to show you what’s possible.
What are some of those limiting beliefs that you can break through? What are some of the fears that are holding you back and serving more people and helping more clients and ultimately increasing your revenue? We have a very special guest. Our special guest is Mr. Aleksey Kaplan. Before we welcome our special guest, Aleksey, to the show, as an accounting professional, I know that you could possibly or maybe are frustrated and stressed, trying to get those right clients in the door, having no control over who you work with which Aleksey is going to be talking about or truly how much you can charge with confidence.
Maybe you probably don’t even believe that you could get a yes to a higher monthly fee type of client that can afford you, not based on what you think they can afford. I have our eight-week sales mastery training that I’m going to be opening up a few coaching sessions for some of you that might be reading that have been in business a minimum of two years and that are doing at least a $100,000 in revenue.
If you are an accountant, have your own firm, then feel free to book your call at TheAbundantCall.com and we can go through who some of your ideal clients are, what’s been your challenge, building your dream practice so you can work a little bit less, have more time and money to go enjoy your family and go traveling. Head on over to TheAbundantCall.com to schedule your coaching session with myself, yours truly, or my partner in crime, Denise. Now let’s welcome our guest on this episode, Aleksey Kaplan, all the way from New York City.
Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
I’m glad to have you back again and this is a little bit different. For those of you reading, I am going to be doing some case study reviews and Aleksey has been an all-star student of our eight-week sales mastery training. Ultimately, a lot of you would resonate with his story of where he has been. I thought it would be great to welcome you back, Aleksey, to the show and have you here so you can share some of the biggest challenges you had in your firm with others.
Some of those beliefs of the things that you never even thought was possible, like that you could enroll and collect money upfront and those types of things. Sometimes when we run our own businesses, we have blinders on. We have to take those blinders off in order to see what’s possible on the other side so all of you can help more people, which ultimately brings more money into your pocket. Welcome, Aleksey, to the show. It’s an honor to have you. Can you share with everyone where you’re located and what your firm does so they have a little background on you?
Michelle, once again, glad to be back to the show and sharing some of my experiences from personal challenges I’ve faced since I opened my firm. Now, to introduce myself, Aleksey Kaplan, CPA out of Staten Island, New York. I’m a solo practitioner. I’ve been practicing in this particular location for the past few years. When I joined and opened up my firm, the only thing I knew how to do was do taxes, more of the technical knowledge instead of the business sense I gained with my experiences and working with Michelle and the team.
One of the beliefs that I had when I opened up my firm was that you have to work hard. It’s all about the numbers. You have to get as many people through the door and do as many tax returns as you can in a very short period of time. Based on that income alone that you generate during the tax season, that’s the only income you get for the most part of the year. You have to spread it out and make sure that it’s enough to survive, feed your family, and pay for the overhead.
A lot of people can relate to that but what you said earlier was important and that you know how to do the taxes, do the technical stuff, but as an accountingpreneur that you are, which means you’re an entrepreneur in the accounting field. I have coined the term accountingpreneur. You didn’t have business sense. A lot of us start our own businesses or our own firms. I don’t have my own firm, but I have my own business.
Even people with MBAs don’t learn the real boots on the ground, real-life stuff that happens with running a business. Aleksey, share with us one of the biggest challenges if you had to pinpoint it from where you were when you first started to where you are now that you overcame but the biggest one that you were able to overcome.
My biggest challenge was to charge the fees that I’m charging now. I was speaking to some of my fellow colleague CPAs that have been in business for years to get a feeling in terms of what they charge based on the complexity of one particular return, different schedules, etc., to get a feeling. The biggest notion that I had to overcome is the fact that, “I can’t charge more than my peers. Nobody’s going to work with me.”
The price factor and getting people to hire me only because of price were probably the biggest challenges I had because, based on everything that I heard from everybody around me is that in order to compete with somebody who’s been in business before and you’re starting out your own business now and you’re a new kid on the block is only by price. There’s no demonstration of value. It was more so based on price. The lower the price is, the more likelihood for you to obtain that new client and have them to work with you.
With time, you could slowly and steadily start raising prices. That was probably the biggest fear that I had that I overcharge and I will lose the sale. I will lose the client. Especially in the early stages, when you start with zero, every single client and every single penny counts. There were a lot of mistakes that were made even by me and now I’m looking back and I’m laughing at it. At the same time, I did not know any better. Nobody’s teaching me how to run a business.
Also, no one is probably teaching you how to charge fees that you want because, as you said, the belief and the fear was that if you charge more than your peers that have been doing it a lot longer, no one’s going to want to work with Aleksey with his services. What are one or two things that you did mentally to help someone reading now? What are the few things that you did? Share with us what you used to charge and now because this is a case study. Aleksey is someone who has drastically made a significant difference and you can too. Share with us the after.
Before when I started, I would work with essentially anybody that would call my office. They would call, make the appointment, come in and bring their last year’s tax return. I would look at the prices they used to pay the accountant. I would discount it by 20% to make sure that they’re happy with paying prices and to get their business.
I didn’t even know that. You were doing a discount on top of working with anybody. To clarify, that doesn’t work, right?
No. It does not work for one reason only. It’s because, once again, value. My goal was to pick up as many clients as I could in a very short period of time. Based on everything that I heard, I’m not trying to sound like a broken record, but all of my peers were advising me to charge as little as possible to get the new clients to work with me to establish my reputation and build on it.
I listened to their advice and I did what they said. One of my biggest fears was to charge or to charge more than what they were used to paying because I could not demonstrate the value that I’m worth to them at that particular time. In the first season, I picked up a lot of clients. As the saying goes, if I’m standing in the middle of the woods and I’m exchanging $1 for $2.
I’ll have a line covering the entire wood because everybody would want to get $2 for the $1 that they’re paying. At the same time, does it work in the business? The answer is no because I was losing money by working with low-paying clients because of the overhead expenses, stress level, etc. In the end, I was not as profitable as much as I could have been, even in the beginning and early stages of my practice.
How much do you think you were losing after you analyzed this?
I was losing probably hundreds of thousands of dollars and working all day tirelessly, 7 days a week, 14-hour days. Staying away from my family and sacrificing a lot once again in hopes of establishing something my peers told me was the only way to do it.
What did you change? What are the few things that you change that someone reading can learn from you to make a change? What was the after-effect?
First of all, I did not come up with it by myself. I was only able to change these things after taking your class and learning from you. You need to get credit when it’s supposed to be given.You need to get a credit when it's supposed to be given. Click To Tweet
I appreciate that.
It’s my pleasure, but it’s true. One of the things that I’ve changed is that I’ve established boundaries. Those boundaries are essentially the type of ideal clients that I would only work with day in and day out. That’s the first thing that I’ve done. I’m not picking up and working with everyone that calls me. I need to make sure that they are a good fit for my firm and my practice in terms of what I believe in the type of clients that I want to work with and the type of clients I want to work with for the long term. Not just on the compliance side of things for once-in-a-year type meetings to do their taxes.
That’s the first thing. The boundaries are the first big change that I established. The second thing that I did was I started charging my value. The prices are based on the value that I could offer to all of my clients and those fees are 4 to 5 times higher than what I used to charge a few years ago. Even on the simplest little things.
Let’s hear the simplest little thing because if I’m wondering, so is somebody else. What’s the simplest little thing that you started charging 4 to 5 times and you saw that the fear of charging the high amount was in your favor and that the fear was that one of your limiting beliefs, what we call. It’s what we think is going to be the result, but it’s not the truth.
I’ll give you an example. When I opened up during my first tax season for a scheduled 1040 with itemized deductions, I would charge anywhere from $125 to $175. That would include federal and state filing. The total, let’s say, is $150 on average. Now for the same type of return, I charge anywhere from $650 to $750. It takes me the same amount of time to complete.
I work with a lot less clients because every single client pays for 4 to 5 clients that I used to work with in order to generate the same revenue. This is the most basic service that I offer. I was able to do it and dictate those prices to my prospects. Whenever I’m meeting with them or speaking to them over the phone without any fears, any reservations, in 4 out of 5 times that I do this, I get declined.
Not bad. What did you have to do, Aleksey, to put that fear to the side and see what was possible? Granted, I know you did a lot of work, but if there were one main thing that could support someone now when they’re like, “There’s no way someone’s going to pay that. Aleksey’s crazy. What are Michelle and Aleksey talking about now? I am in a rural town and in this town, no one would pay those prices.” You know what I’m talking about.
I know what you’re talking about because I was that guy.
I know you were that guy.
The biggest obstacle that everyone who’s reading needs to overcome is convincing themselves. It’s the mindset. You have to convince yourself that you’re worth the money. If you are convinced that you are worth the money, it’s a lot easier to relay that message to whomever it is that you are working or meeting with. Once you prove to yourself that you can’t charge this money and you are worth it. You are worth more than that and nobody’s going to give you that objection. If you believe it, it’s a lot easier to “sell it to others.”
You have to believe it first. If you need a little bit of help believing in it, for those of you that have a CPA, an MBA, a Master’s in Tax, tell me what doctors get paid because I guarantee you, Aleksey. A doctor doesn’t do anything for $125 to $175. They might meet you for 30 minutes of work if they get paid $650 or $750. All of you are geniuses, you’re all super intelligent. I love working with you and you also should be getting paid like a doctor. I’ll leave it at that. Aleksey, share with us where your firm is at now. Maybe where you were a year and a half ago and where you’re at now.
The firm is growing and growing exponentially, not so much in the number of clients but in terms of revenue size. I was able to do it with, once again, charging a lot more money for all the different services that I provide and working with clients that fit my per ideal client avatar per se. Only the clients I want to work with and the clients I could help. Once again, it’s all about value proposition. I know for sure that I could demonstrate the value to any of the prospects that I’m talking to or meeting with.
Once they see the value, the fees I charge for the services I offer are basically a no-brainer, but that’s the trickiest part. You have to learn how to do it. It takes time. It takes a lot of practice, but at the same time, you should not give up. You should believe in yourself first and relay that value over to whoever you’re speaking to by substantiating it and supporting it with the level of service you provide.You should believe in yourself first, and you should relay that value over to whoever it is that you're speaking to by substantiating it and supporting it with the level of service that you provide. Click To Tweet
I think that comes with baby wins. When you get a baby win and you got your first client to pay you, even on your smallest service, if it was $150 before and $650 now, that’s a win. When you acknowledge your wins, which Aleksey has not mentioned yet, but a big part of what I like to do and share is that you acknowledge yourself every day for something you did awesomely. Each win will layer on top, which will also increase your revenue. Where were you at before and where are you at now, Aleksey?
I could talk about it in more than one way.
Let’s talk about how many clients because now you’re working with less. You’ve had a decrease in clients and an increase in revenue. I think that would be exciting to understand and quantify for someone reading.
Let’s do it this way. Let’s roll back months ago to January and February of 2018 to get an idea so people could easily see the transition because once again, we are talking to the numbers people. I think numbers are relevant in this case. I will mention a couple. In January of 2018, right before the tax season started, I had 120 tax clients that would come into me and get their taxes done. That’s it.
Now, from January to February of 2018, I was able to pick up 85 new tax compliance clients for additional revenue from those 85 clients of about $49,000. Once again, charging more per client and was the total new revenue. From March 2018 through September 2019, some of those new clients that I picked up were not just tax compliance clients. Those clients needed my assistance with proactive tax planning because they were overpaying money in taxes.
That’s something that their accountant they used to work with did not provide or did not do for them. They did not discuss any of the possible tax-saving opportunities for them. With those same 85 new tax compliance clients from March 2018 through September 2019, I was able to generate an additional $300,000 of revenue.
The average cost of this new client and, once again, not all of them needed the tax planning, but I could still sell about eighteen tax plans to them for a total revenue of about $145,000. Additional services to their ongoing accounting and different tax compliance needs. There was an additional about $130,000 of revenue. All cumulatively together, if I’m working with 85, let’s say 200 altogether, tax clients or tax compliance clients. I’m generating over $300,000 in revenue, which translates to about $1,500 per client. Now, how many accountants charge $1,500 per client?
They’re about to, Aleksey. We keep talking about this. If you want to get paid like a doctor, it’s time to start charging like one. Basically, I believe that this is like the holistic doctor approach because I truly believe that all the accounting services, tax, tax planning and people like me need the preventative approach. We rather pay you more money and pay less to the government. That sounds like a good deal to me.
It’s like you said. It’s about breaking through some of those fears and other things, so kudos to you. By the way, so everyone knows, that’s an additional $300,000 in revenue on top of what he is already currently doing in the firm. Correct, Aleksey? That was just added revenue. That was new revenue, increasing prices, offering higher price services, that is additional revenue, which by the way, that’s what I track because you’ve got your current business, but if you can shed the dead weight, keep your revenue the same and increase it. You’re in a win-win situation.
I have a question, Aleksey. Do you know those beliefs that you sometimes have, like the one you shared? There’s no way I can charge more than the guy down the street that’s been doing this for twenty years, like, “I’ve got a discount my price of 20% to get a client, or there’s no way I’m going to love this selling thing. Sales seems pushy and I didn’t open my own firm to think that I had to sell.” Do you get what I’m saying, like those blinders that we have on? As you said, no one taught you the business side. We’re good on the technical. I’m saying we’re, I know I’m not a CPA or an accountant, but I love working with you, so I include myself now with you folks.
We’re good at the technical. I’m good at making sure that all the numbers are right, but if you don’t have top-line revenue, then you have a nonprofit. I don’t think any of you opened up an accounting firm to have a nonprofit. What’s that other pretty important past belief where you had blinders on something that you did not think was possible, but now it’s like, “I can’t believe I accomplished that.” Your biggest win that you’ve had in the last eighteen months.
Not only if the revenue win, that’s all great and fine and dandy, but I think there are other wins underneath that. Aleksey, one of it was maybe going on trips around the world a lot, but I don’t know. I don’t want to put anything in your ears. I got to see a lot of pictures on Facebook of Aleksey going on a lot more trips than I ever saw before. What was that other belief or thing that with the blinders where you’re like, “I was able to push through that?”
Personally, I have three kids. I have a wonderful family, but at the same time, kids are expensive and a different age group kids in which I have are expensive or more expensive than the same or similar type of age group for the children. That’s something I’ve learned along the way. At the same time, the wins, the traveling, going into all the exotic destinations, that’s something that I was able to win based on the hard work that I put in my practice and by working less.
Essentially, during off-tax season, I work three days a week. I’m in the office three days a week. The rest of the time, I’m hanging out. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m relaxing, spending time with my wife. We go to spas. We go to lunches and dinners and travel with the kids constantly. Something that I always wanted to do is I’m doing. I do not let the business overtake my life. The fact that I could generate more revenue by working fewer hours with fewer clients is a huge win for me.
Using that revenue to divert and invest into my own family to afford things that I could not afford before, without any hesitation, traveling to Europe or all over the world, to all the exclusive destinations that before I could not even dream of. Now it’s a reality and it’s a given. Not to brag or anything, but I came back from Aruba. I went there for four days. We had a small window, so my wife and I took it without any kids.
It’s very expensive to go there but guess what? I could afford it. I’m not afraid to spend money on exotic destinations because it brings me joy. It keeps me motivated to continue doing what I’m doing, to continue helping my clients save ridiculous amounts of money in taxes and, as a result, making an impact on their lives. That’s something that I was not able to do before. That’s huge.
I think one of the biggest things you said is don’t let the business overtake your life. For me, for a lot of the accountants that I personally worked with and I see. I was at QuickBooks and I was at this Profit First and I’ve been around the block now a little bit. Having our businesses take over our life is not healthy. You want to stick around for your three kids and travel. This is the way to go.
I’m super proud of you, Aleksey. Thank you so much for sharing your story with others to inspire them to take action because, without action, we don’t have any results. This is for you to go take action, create your boundaries list like Aleksey did. Aleksey, is there anything else you would love to leave everyone with? One last piece of advice or last word.
The number one challenge that I had that I mentioned before is not being able to believe in myself that I’m worth a certain amount of money for particular work. I want to leave everybody with this one thing. Mindset. The right type of mindset gives you the opportunity to do things that you could not imagine you were able to do before.The right type of mindset gives you the opportunity to do things that you could not imagine you were able to do before. Click To Tweet
The minute you realize that you can do it and believe in yourself and your skills, you’re not selling anything. It sells itself. People who see your confidence in yourself would love to work with you because it’s a no-brainer. When you work with somebody successful who’s competent in their abilities to help you as a client per se, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship that will last a lifetime and everybody will win.
Please, believe in yourself. Do not give up. There are a lot of challenges. There are a lot of obstacles in a way, but the minute you start to realize that you are worth something and not something but a lot of money and you believe it, that’s the moment in time where your life will change forever and for better. You could do things that you could not imagine doing before. Believe in yourself and everything will work out.
Thank you so much, Aleksey, for sharing your story with others for them to believe in themselves and that they are worth something. I think you’re extra worth something. It’s important to point out that confidence does sell itself. When you show up to your clients with confidence, not only on the technical side but on the business side, that’s when you can enroll a lot of new clients, just like Aleksey did. Grow your business and buy over $300,000 in revenue in an eighteen-month period. Thank you again so much for being here with us on the show. I can’t wait to see what you create in the future.
My pleasure. Thank you for having me, Michelle.
Thank you all so much for joining myself and Aleksey here on a bonus episode of the show. It is always an honor to be here with you. One of Aleksey’s biggest obstacle, which I have heard from many accountants before, is how do you dictate those prices that you truly want without having that fear? As he said, convince yourself you are worth it and prove to yourself that you are worth it and that you’re probably worth more than that.
I highly invite each of you to do maybe a little exercise that will help and support you in this because you are all of value and intelligent and smart but think about all the CPE hours and continuing education credits that you have invested a ton of time in. Do an inventory of how much you’ve done in school. Maybe you have an undergrad, a Master’s, a CFP, a CPA, an enrolled agent or a certified tax coach. Maybe you’re a Profit First professional. The list goes on and on.
Write it out with a piece of paper and a pen and see what happens for you. See what shifts and transitions through your conversations with clients going forward. Let me know if that helped you out too. You can do that by hitting the subscribe button and leaving a written review for the show. Let me know how did this conversation make an impact on you and your revenue and you helping more clients.
Also, over the last couple of years, I have been perfecting something called our Selling Without Ever Selling System. It’s the eight-week sales mastery training. Up until now, my only high-end clients have had access to this. I am excited that I am offering some free coaching sessions so that I can share some of this information with a few of you.
If you are an accounting professional, your business is doing over $100,000 in revenue and you’ve been in business for over two years, feel free to book yourself a call over at TheAbundantCall.com. We will discuss maybe what challenges you’ve been having and what don’t you believe you could ever happen in your firm.
This free coaching session is for you. Once again, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com if you’ve been in business for at least two years and are already doing over $100,000 in revenue. I want to say one more time, thank you all so much for joining me here on the show. It’s always fun and an honor to be here.
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About Aleksey Kaplan
Mr. Aleksey Kaplan, CPA CTC CTP is not just your average accountant or a tax guy…. He is far more than that…. Mr. Kaplan is a serial entrepreneur who has substantial experience in various industries that he has personally been a part of for many years. Besides the fact that he is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the State of New York, he also holds “Elite and Unique”, Certified Tax Coach (CTC) designation that less than 700 other tax professionals have the privilege in obtaining in the entire United States of America. Moreover, Mr. Kaplan has recently obtained Certified Tax Planner (CTP) designation by American Institute of Certified Tax Planners (AICTP) for the outstanding work he has done for his Tax Planning client. He uses tax reductions strategies that save tens of thousands of dollars in tax liabilities to business owners and individuals alike by using IRS approved and court-tested tax strategies.
Over the course of his professional career, Mr. Kaplan has decided to focus his efforts on working with Business Owners to maintain their sophisticated accounting reporting and compliance requirements.
Message from Aleksey Kaplan, CPA CTC CTP to all business owners: “Your time is valuable, and you deserve to spend all of your efforts and energy on running your business and not have the business run your life… You need to do two things as a business owner… One is to generate appointments by getting qualified leads and two is to close those leads and generate more revenue for your business and yourself. Therefore, stop wasting your time trying to reinvent the wheel and attempt to handle all of your accounting and compliance needs by yourself or with the help of unqualified professionals. Let the professional that knows and understand your industry, your business and all of the headaches that come along with it to help you get rid of your worries and headaches by working with you side by side.”
Specialized Services: Strategic Tax Planning for Business Owners and Individual Taxpayers, Accounting and Taxpayer Representation before IRS and IRS.