Upselling is a great growth technique for medium-sized companies wanting to maximize their resources for expansion. But when exactly is the best time of the year to upsell, and what are the ways you can do it? Our guest, Chris McCormack, says it is NOW. Chris is a CPA, MBA, and CTC (Certified Tax Coach) who enjoys helping investors and business owners operate their businesses the way they need to. Whether you are a firm owner who can barely get his head above water or an employee wanting to quit a corporate job to start your own firm, you don’t want to miss this episode as we delve into how you can upsell, grow your bank account, and create the business of your dreams.
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Case Study: The Best Time For Upselling Is NOW With Chris McCormack
Welcome to the show. We have a bonus episode. Our special guest is Chris McCormack, who is a client of mine here at the Abundant Accountant. He completed the 8-Week Sales Mastery training. He also is on our ongoing coaching calls and is on track to become a part of our Abundant Millionaire Mastermind. Before we welcome Chris to the show, if you are feeling underpaid and overworked in your firm, make sure to keep reading. I know no matter what’s happening in your firm, it is 100% possible for you to work with fewer clients, work fewer hours, get paid upfront, and make a lot more money.
I know that around you, there are firm owners working tons of hours. It’s the midst of tax season. You’ve got way too many clients. You’re scratching your head and wondering, “Why am I working 14 to 18-hour days, seven days a week right now and I have nothing to show for it? My retirement isn’t where I want it to be. My savings account isn’t where I want it to be.”
I want to share with you that’s not how we do things here at the Abundant Accountant. We show you how to create the firm you’ve always wanted, bring in the income that you desire, and serve the clients you choose who are happy to pay you what you’re worth. You can have time to do the things you’re passionate about, spend time at home with your family and your kids, and enjoy dinners even during the busiest time of the year. If you’re ready to make a change, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com and book a phone call with me or my partner, Denise. Let’s welcome our very amazing client, Chris McCormack, to the show.
Chris, thanks for taking out the time to have a conversation as to why you’ve been considering enrolling in the 8-Week Sales Mastery. Probably you don’t want to wait another minute. Also, for those of you that have been through our program, why upselling is the crucial time between now and the end of tax season.
In the US, that’s mid-April. In Canada, it’s the end of April. Thanks for being here for this discussion and bringing up this timely topic that I was working something on. I appreciate you bringing it up. For those people reading this who don’t know you, why don’t you share where you’re at in your firm, where you guys are based, and the services you focus on?
It’s my pleasure. With where I’m at with my firm, I came to Michelle in October 2022, which was about my one-year mark in business. I started in June 2021, but honestly, 2021 was a wash. I was getting my feet under the rug a bit. 2022 was my first tax season preparing 2021 taxes. At the same time, I was in a life transition. My wife and I were engaged and looking to set ourselves up for a life worth living, and the way I operated the business was not how it needed to be.
We got on the phone with Michelle and she walked us through everything that she did and what benefit it could be for us. We took the leap and went right in. Ever since then, my revenue has skyrocketed. I’m sure Michelle has the actual numbers, but based on what I saw on my spreadsheet, it was a financial increase of $60,000 in total, which does not include the prior revenue. Probably up until that point, I was probably doing $40,000 or $50,000 in revenue.
You’ve already surpassed your revenue from 2022. What you were referencing with your $60,000 were the financial gains. You start out with a baseline of, “I’m already doing $40,000 or 50,000. I’ve added another $60,000 on top of that in the last two months.” 2023 started out. You’ve had two months under your belt and you have already done $60,000 of additional revenue on top of what you normally would charge a client. Those are price increases. We’re going to talk about those, which are upsell opportunities and how some of you can take advantage of this time.
You are seeing all of your clients. It’s the best time to book tax planning meetings and advisory meetings. You maybe even see something that is possible to fix with a client, be it with their QuickBooks, bookkeeping, or accounting. It is any way you can help bring more value to the client and more revenue to your firm, so you don’t have to work with as many clients. Kudos to you for skyrocketing your firm and implementing everything you’ve done in such a short amount of time. What are some of the ways that you’ve been seeing upsell opportunities in the firm in the last couple of months?
For starters, bookkeeping cleanup is a huge one. As accountants, we underestimate the power of a bookkeeping cleanup or the power of clean books and what that means from cost savings, which is the amount of costs that they save from not having to go through an IRS audit or higher representation. That’s one thing that we weren’t offering. If we were offering, it was a fraction of what we were bringing in.As accountants, we underestimate the power of “clean books” and what that means. Click To Tweet
What is the average that you’re charging for bookkeeping cleanup and representation work?
The ones we’ve sold have been about $5,000, $6,000, or maybe $7,000. We’ve quoted upwards of $10,000 or $12,000. Saying that out loud boosts our confidence. They haven’t taken it yet, but they also haven’t met our red rope policy in the way that we operate. We know that that’s possible as well.
For those that haven’t taken the course yet, the red rope policy means that those are clients that don’t even meet Chris’s criteria for him to work with. He was meeting with them for practice.
It refines some skills.
It refines the skills and makes it better for when you have your ideal client who you want to meet with and you want to help with a bookkeeping cleanup or representation. You’re not winging it. You’ve had the process in place. You’re learning your step-by-step system. You’re getting all the kinks worked out. You’re making sure that you are fine-tuned for the ones that count. It’s good to keep meeting with pretty much anybody and everybody with where you’re at in the firm.
For those who have been through this program, it’s important to keep meeting with people for practice. For upselling, to have $5,000 to $7,000 engagement right out the gate and then engage them in monthly accounting, so their books are done correctly in the future is a huge win. What were you charging a few years ago for those services?
For accounting services, we were charging as low as $200 a month. I still got to get some people on the calendar to bring that up. I was talking to Jasmine, my wife, that it’s been hard to even overcome the fear of knowing that $1,500 a month for bookkeeping is what we’re worth and what people will pay for that. I know there’s still some room for growth with all the success that we’ve had, which is the benefit of being in the course longer-term.
What upsell opportunities have you found? It is tax season. You’re busy. You’re seeing all your clients. You’re not working and burning the candle at both ends anymore. There are a lot of people that might read this that are like, “I’m too busy right now. I don’t have time. Can we talk about what you all are talking about right here in May?”
In my mind, I’m like, “Why would you miss out on another $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50,000,” or, in your case, $60,000 of additional revenue because you’re too busy? You’re never going to get off that hamster wheel if you don’t make a change. This is the busiest time for you. You get the most practice. You can make the most changes and implement things that you’ve thought about for probably many years.
For someone like you who is starting out, you had one year under your belt, but it wasn’t going to go so hot if you didn’t make these changes. What would you say to a firm owner who’s swamped, can barely get their head above water, and is working seven days a week? Through the night, maybe he goes home to eat dinner, put their kids to bed, and goes back to their desk. They’re doing it over and over again. Their health is taking a toll. They’re not going to the gym. They’re living off caffeine.
Did I get it right?
Yes. We’ve all been there. It makes sense. We know how you feel. The biggest thing is to take a breath, pause, and understand that you could buy back hours, if not weeks, of your time to pause and see what’s in front of you. For a tax plan, for example, it takes a little more time than taking information that they give you and preparing it, giving it back to them and collecting a small amount.
The time it takes is multiplied by the value you bring, the value that is brought into your bank account, and your firm’s profit and loss statement. While it might be tempting to continue to burn the candle at both ends, work seven days a week, and you can’t carve out an hour of your time to review somebody’s tax return and find different areas to save, we have seen a great benefit.
Even those clients that we have prepared tax returns previously for but haven’t taken the next step of selling a tax plan or even recommending a tax plan, that’s where we’ve seen a great increase of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 worth of revenue. That’s in one client, which makes up for however many. For some people, that’s 300 clients if you’re charging a low dollar amount for tax prep work.
It’s a $350 return, a $400 return, or something crazy like that. How did you think through like, “I’m going to spend an extra hour on all of these returns? I’m going to find other opportunities, present those opportunities, prepare for the meeting, and have the meeting.” You’re then seeing the $5,000 to $10,000 increase and you only invested 1 or 2 extra hours or maybe three tops of your time.
How did you carve out the time when maybe you didn’t even have it? Especially being in this course, you were investing a lot of time doing your homework assignments and doing the modules. That was a massive time commitment. How did you say, “Enough is enough. I’m going to commit the hour to spend extra time to review the return.” Instead of recording the history, you’re looking at it from a preventive lens and saying, “I’m going to slow down. I’m going to do these changes.”
The biggest thing, and this is where Jasmine comes into play, is the calendar. A lot of us know that we’re ruled by the calendar. If you’re not scheduling time, then you’re going to find other ways to use that time, whether it’s productively in the form of preparing taxes or unproductively in the form of going to the fridge, the snack cabinet, or whatever it is.
What we do is I do intentionally carve out an hour into the calendar, time block, and tax plan for whoever the client is for that week. At the time, it can be frustrating in a way because you know that there are 10, 20, or 100 tax returns that need to be prepared. It’s also like, “I’m getting my reps in. I know this client needs our services. I know that it can provide great value to us and to them and their family.” You’re ruled by your calendar. You’re putting time in and carving it out so you can look at the tax return rather than rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Even with having to prepare 10 to 20 returns every day, you’re still carving out the time. What you’re saying that’s important is this planning time. You call it your calendar upselling time. What’s changed for you is that you’ve made the shift. You see the results in your bank account. When you start seeing that reflected in your bank account, you’re like, “That hour will pay off.”
It will pay off dividends. It pays off way more than any compliance work you’re doing, even though that’s what you have to do. That’s what you’ve committed to for the clients that are coming. Over the next couple of months, it’s prime time for upselling opportunities. We have to block it out, create that space for ourselves in our heads, and not go to the snack cabinet, not drink an extra cup of coffee, or not put on Netflix in the background as we’re like, “I need a break.”
Another upsell would be the extension and rush fees. We haven’t even seen all of the fruit from that because we’re doing it from the business side, but that’s an added $600 to $700 for an extension, which is a benefit that we bring. They don’t know how to do it themselves.
Especially from what I’ve learned from all of you guys is that if you have to touch a file twice, why would you put someone on an extension for free? You’re having to do 2 touches on 1 client. That’s more work than if they got you this stuff in advance and you were able to complete the return on time. That’s unless you’re going to create a firm where you are going to put everyone on an extension and get things done in October, but you’re still going to be up against a deadline.
At the end of the day, if they don’t get you their documents in time, then you still have an opportunity to collect a late fee. You can implement different policies to not only increase your revenue and call it an upsell, but it’s ultimately having the right type of clients in your firm. You’re in control, not them. There are too many times that your clients are running the show. For you, they were running the show, but not anymore. They’re respecting your time. They’re respecting what you do, which has also given you this space to say, “I’m going to spend an hour every day looking for tax planning opportunities.” What a beautiful thing.
If you are closing the majority of them, which you do, that’s $5,000 to $10,000 for that one hour of planning per day. It is a very high ROI for that one-hour time. The clients will stick around a lot longer. Are there any other upselling opportunities that you’ve seen in the firm? Is there anything you see that is possible that you haven’t implemented yet, you’re curious about, or anything like that?
We’re scratching the surface. We have an opportunity to increase our prices. Even on those tax plans, there’s a mindset that has to be overcome. Also, tax prep work, I don’t forsake that. That’s because if you can charge $9.95 for the 1040, then that, too, is great cash in the door. That’s been a big help in also collecting deposits for people to reserve their spots. We’ve seen our cash receipts go up and our receivables go down, that also frees up more time on the back end.
Your receivables should be at zero. Not only are they going down, but you’re also no longer chasing clients for payments. You’re no longer saying, “I’m not going to work with you until you pay your bill.” You’re no longer asking Jasmine, “Who owes us money?” If you add up, I don’t know how much time you spent collecting money in the past.
I don’t know if I have that number. I’m also thinking about it and like, “This person knows that.”
That’s like a clogged toilet right there. Anyone who’s having to think about collecting money from their clients needs a plumber. You need to get those drains snaked. You’re going to go to the fridge cabinets and the snack cabinets more. That’s horrible. It’s reserving a spot for you in the future, too, between, let’s say, the beginning of March to mid-April. You can also reserve spots for tax planning for the back half of the year to fill your pipeline. What I call that is building your future pipeline of sales.
You can also predict your cash flow even more in the future. If you know you have 20 appointments for tax planning in June, July, and August and you know that probably 10 of them are the ideal best clients and you’re looking to close 10, and you know that your average tax plan at that time will be a minimum of $20,000, let’s say, what’s $20,000 times 10 new clients?
It’s $200,000 of predicted revenue that you already know is on the books because you have maybe a reservation fee for them to book that meeting with you. Also, they are already on your calendar. Jasmine is not only Chris’ wife but also a partner in crime in the business. She quit her job, correct?
One of their dreams, when we first spoke, was Jasmine was going to quit her corporate job. They’re like, “It’ll be probably another 6 months or maybe 12.” She quit her job in two months. I don’t even know.
It was three months. It was a no-brainer so.
It’s important to think about these upselling opportunities as also building your future pipeline. It’s knowing in the future, you cannot only set a goal. If your goal for June is $50,000 and you have 5 meetings on the books, and the average of those meetings is going to be, at that time, $10,000 or $20,000, that’s $50,000 right there.
That’s another thing. It’s backtracking into your goals, which is what I was doing during our call. I was like, “How much do we need on recurring to hit $25,000 a month?” When you look at it that way and you think about what you were charging prior to this course, it’s like, “What was I thinking? How was I ever going to get there?”
I don’t know what you were thinking. For those of you who haven’t taken this course yet, make sure to go book a call at TheAbundantCall.com. We can talk about it. I don’t think waiting until May 2023 is going to do you any good. It’s probably the dumbest idea you could ever possibly have. You’re seeing the most people. You get the most practice. You can make the most money, and you can make the most change, not only for your clients.
When we make a big impact on our clients, it also makes a big impact on our bank accounts. Thank you for taking out the time to share. This was so timely with your comment in class. Is there anything else that you want to share with people that have done this class before and people that haven’t with what you’ve experienced? Is there anything else you want to say on upselling that we didn’t cover yet?
The last thing would be there’s fear involved with all these decisions, whether it’s taking the class, carving out time to tax plan or upsell, or talking about money with your clients. There is fear, but part of overcoming that fear is having these conversations, taking the leap, and doing these things. They pay off, whether in that moment or a few moments down the road.There's fear involved with all these decisions, whether it's taking the class, carving out time to tax-plan or upsell, or talking about money with your clients. Part of overcoming that fear is having these conversations, taking the… Click To Tweet
How did you overcome your fear when you were going through like, “I’m going to carve out an hour of time for doing tax plans. It’s crazy. I don’t have the time, but I’m going to do it anyway.” How did you overcome that fear? What’s the Chris process?
First and foremost, it’s faith in God. That’s near and dear to my heart. It’s trusting that he has a plan and will work for our good and His glory. After that, it’s knowing that there’s a greater benefit. One hour of tax prep might get a couple of tasks done on the to-do list, but will it get you that extra $5,000 or $10,000 in your bank account?
You have to know your goals. One of your goals was to have a wedding. The other goal was to put a down payment on the house. You have lots of goals. We also have to have goals that align with the loftier reasons why we would make these increases, make these changes, and get rid of some of our clients for the volume.
I don’t think everyone here wants to work from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM every day, seven days a week, never see their family, and go crazy all the time. I don’t think that’s what every person signed up for. I would not want that for you either. I want you guys to have Chris’ life or some of the other people’s lives that I’ve been able to see thrive and create this amazing transformation. Kudos to you. The fear is only going to keep coming. It’s not going anywhere. The bigger the changes that you make in your firm, the more fear is also going to creep in with you. It’s not like ever dissipates or goes away.
I believe it, and I’ve seen it. Bring it on.
Thank you for sharing and taking out the time. Hopefully, you’re not going to go have a snack yet. You’re going to go to your hour of tax planning and Jasmine will bring you a healthy snack at your snack time.
Thank you so much for joining Chris and me on this impromptu interview of learning ways to upsell and grow your bank account. This was so you don’t have to scratch your head and wonder why you are working so hard for so little money. You don’t have to work 14, 17, or 18-hour days and feel like you have nothing to show for it. If you’re ready to create this firm that you have dreamt of for so long and make these changes like Chris has and a bunch of other clients, then go book a call with us at TheAbundantCall.com. We look forward to speaking to you very soon. Have a beautiful day.