Have you ever, at any point, considered niching down, specifically in real estate? It might be time to revisit that thought. Natalie Kolodij joins us on this episode to share her noteworthy success as a real estate tax strategist. Her journey is a testament to the power of specialization and the impact it can have on your accounting or tax firm. Discover how Natalie went from an average client fee of $700 to $7,000, reduced her client load, and increased her annual revenue to the point where she’s approaching seven figures. This episode is filled with insights on pricing, client management, and building a strong presence in real estate communities, both online and offline. If you’re looking to work less, earn more, and create a waiting list of eager clients, don’t miss this episode!
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How To Quadruple Fees, Offload Clients, And Add $970k In Revenue As Real Estate Tax Strategist With Natalie Kolodij
We have a very special guest, an IRS-enrolled agent and the Cofounder of the Certified Real Estate Tax Strategist Credential. She’s also worked exclusively with real estate investors since 2017. She is the national educator for Real Estate related text topics and much more. Before we welcome our special guests to the show, if you’re like most accounting tax and bookkeeping firm owners, make sure to read because I want to show you how you can double your fees, get paid upfront by every client, and create consistent monthly recurring revenue without burning yourself out or working more hours than you are right now.
Here’s the thing. Even if you’re paid well and you’re charging premium fees already, you’re probably leaving a lot of cash on the table. Let’s face it. You’re working way too hard, way too many hours and there are clients that want to see you. Your revenue might look good on paper, but you still continue to struggle financially. I don’t want that for you. If you’re ready to explore what’s possible for your firm, then head on over to TheAbundantCall.com to book a call with me and my team if you are ready to start changing and creating the firm you’ve always dreamed of. It is possible. Let’s welcome our special guest, Natalie, to the show. Welcome, Natalie.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you so much for being here. I look forward to our discussion on why choosing a niche is important, but more importantly, the real estate niche, how you got into it, and what a difference it’s made for your firms. I’m looking forward to connecting on that and sharing with other accounting tax bookkeeping owners who are reading this the importance of it. Even before we spoke, you had a waiting list.
I have put up a waiting list each March leading to the deadline. At this point, it is over 100 people. It builds up quickly.
We’re going to talk about how you can create a waiting list because many of the firm owners that I meet with tell me, “I have a problem with leads.” I’m always like, “It’s not about your leads. That’s about your conversion, sales process, and how you create the demand like Natalie has to attract the right type of clients where you don’t need any leads. You need to convert higher fees, charge premium rates, focus on how you can deliver more value and service, and be the go-to person for your client.” I’m very excited to have you here. Before we start, can you share with everyone a little bio about you? It’s always best to come from you, even though I did it before we even started.
I’ve been in tax since 2014. I started working at public accounting firms. I got into real estate at the same time. How I ended up specializing was accidental. Since then, I have gotten my EA license. I opened my own firm in 2017, where I work exclusively with investors. In 2022, I was teaching CE around the country as a national educator on all things real estate as well.
Why don’t you start with us from 2017 to where we’re at now? It’s only been a few years. You have a waiting list of 100 people. I’m sure it didn’t start out that way. Can you share with everyone what the challenges were when you first started your firm? You can take us to that place or day where you said, “I need to make a change. The way I’ve been going can no longer continue this way.” Share with us how you felt back then and what were some of the struggles that you had with your firm when you first started out in 2017.
My initial start was a little different than what a lot of people started with. I have been present in a lot of real estate communities online. I’m going to local investor meetings and things like that as well. There are a lot of investors who want to work with a real estate-specialized accountant. As soon as I announced that I was going on my own and having a firm working with real estate, from that point forward, I had a steady inflow of clients. The biggest mistake I made at first was pricing too low, even though it was still higher than the minimums at the large CPA from where I was working previously. I thought I was hitting a premium price point and I wasn’t even close at that point.
Maybe you can share with me because I bet a lot of other readers are thinking, “I should price my services around what the competition or one of the big firms is doing.” You look online with someone that you would compare yourself to, and you’re like, “I should price myself like them.” Can you share the thought process on why you thought that was the best thing and then how you realized that you were too low? How do you even come to realize that that was too low if you thought that the bigger firm was charging that? If you could share and take us back to that time, and maybe give an example of the client you’re working with that told you maybe were too low or how that went down.
What I knew I didn’t want was even though we were a bigger firm, we had no structure. We would accept any client in any format. Things were messy. There wasn’t a lot of value being delivered to those clients because when you have to be that go-to person for every client in every field, it’s hard to be a true expert in everything.
When I went out on my own, I knew that I was offering more value that way. When I first started, for a 1040 with a single rental, my start price was either $650, $700, or something like that. That was bare-bone W-2 returns in a single rental. What I quickly realized is that if you price up a little bit, you end up with this level of client and it even gets a little worse if you get around a slightly higher price point but still not a premium because what I found was clients who are justifying your price versus somewhere else they could go for the same service for a smaller price are super price conscious.
If they’re stretching to get to your $700 or $800 1040 fee, to them, that is a huge cash outflow. They expect the world for what they’ve paid because, in their mind, that was a much that might be three times what they paid the year before. If you stay at that price-conscious point, you’re going to have clients who expect four times more than what they were promised because, to them, that price seems stretching to get to it versus if you go even higher, you’re now out of that price-conscious client point. That middle ground is dangerous.You have to get out of the price-conscious point. Click To Tweet
I love that, “You have to get out of the price-conscious point.” I’ve never heard of it from that point of view or those words. It’s great that you’re sharing that because I’m always like, “Go higher.” I had our Abundant Millionaire Mastermind Group. We were talking about what to price the client for a tax plan and I’m always like, “You got to be so far out of range that people think it’s a little crazy. You have to create some curiosity, not only in your messaging, your marketing, and what you share but even in your price thing because, otherwise, you’re dealing with the type of clientele that they’re going to justify your price. Everything is a price conversation.”
At that point, you’re never going to have a client that you can go all in on and deliver the best value and service. They’re always going to be price-conscious. They expect 4 or 5 times more because they gave you everything they had. They’re putting everything in your hands. Who wants to walk around with that weight on your shoulders? If you go higher, we’re going to eliminate all of them together and now you get to work with clients who buy based on value. They are not as price-conscious or price-sensitive as well. Can you share with us what was the client that broke the camel’s back?
There were many, but what I very quickly realized was it was my simplest clients where the complexity of their work was not hard, where they didn’t have a lot going on, but who were expecting the most and taking the most of my time because I was pricing their returns lower based on what was involved but those complicated clients where I could charge a much higher fee are people who are already, in a point, weren’t priced conscious. They were like, “This is a business expense.”
They understood how business owners ran, so they weren’t constantly hounding for updates. They were like, “Here’s my information. We obviously paid for a good bookkeeper. Let us know if you need anything. Otherwise, let us don’t want it to be done,” where’s the person who stretched to get to that middle price point where they might have only had one rental to them was a big splurge and spend.
They’re trying to get into real estate. They wanted to go all in on this. Those were the people who wanted to have phone calls all the time to go over their real estate and wanted to talk about all of these hypothetical text things because they were new that they needed so much more guidance that they weren’t at a point of needing yet. What I quickly found was those easier clients, when it came to the work, were more time-consuming than doing something where I could charge four times the price.
It’s probably scary for someone to read that. They’re probably like, “How did you do that? How were you not terrified that you weren’t going to get a client?” How did you overcome the internal dialogue of the inner chatter in your head even though your simple clients were the ones who thought it was the big splurge and spend? They are price-conscious. They are justifying the prices. They are all those things that drive everyone nuts, especially me.
It drives me crazy to know you’re all stories where you said, “I’m going to go four times higher. I’m going to eliminate myself from the middle and go all the way to the top.” You’re 100% on your own at this time. Share with us how you made those shifts in the steps that you took. If you can break it down into 3 or 4 things, walk us through that process.
I was on my own. I was a small firm owner. I didn’t have a secondary income. I wasn’t married and I could fall back on my spouse’s income. It was just me so it had to work. What I quickly realized was that if you position yourself as an expert in something and have the skillset to back it, you can justify any price point that’s adding value.If you position yourself as an expert in something and have the skillset to back it, you can justify any price point that's adding value. Click To Tweet
If I can put something in front of a client where I can save them $40,000 this year, if I tell them my fee is a quarter of that, they’re happy all day long because their last accountant didn’t even consider these savings options. They weren’t even having these discussions. That was the big light bulb for me. Especially in real estate, they’re real big on ROI. They are taught financial metrics. That is how they look at everything. If they are spending X dollars on you, but it’s saving them four times as much, they are happy to do it. It’s those advanced, knowledgeable, and higher-dollar clients. That’s why you’ve got to get out of that entry zone again.
How do you find them now or how did you create your waiting list of 100 people?
It happened at first very organically. I was in communities where I was adding value. I’m big on adding value for marketing versus goal market.
Let’s get some specifics for the rest of our conversation.
Local real estate communities are huge. I would recommend, if anyone’s looking to specialize in this, you probably have a local REIA Meetup. If you google your city plus real estate meetup, there’s likely a monthly or weekly meeting. There are probably several. That’s an awesome place to go and spend some time. Talk to the person hosting it because that is who is going to be your biggest connection point and who will be able to tell you who is worth talking to in the room.
Speak at those events. If you provide value to these investors and you have now set yourself up as the expert in this community, it snowballs quickly to investors in most businesses, but they’re always asking for referrals. Local communities are huge. There are also a ton of online communities. If there’s an online Facebook group. If you want to stay local, you can find them for every city and state. You can find the general ones.
In any of these places where there are going to be real estate investors, you need to put yourself and be valuable. Don’t throw them a sales pitch. Throw them answers when they have tax questions and then they’ll come to you when they’re looking for a professional. You start getting referred by others who have seen you prove your knowledge. It is what typically happens.
What would be the second thing after you put yourself out there and start answering tax questions and meeting with them? How did you create the meeting or the waiting list to the point that you have it now?
For me, it was a combination of being present online. That parlays into getting on to podcasts. I’ve been on tons of real estate podcasts over the years. That parlayed into teaching real estate more on the tax side as well, which then further back to my reputation of being well-versed in this and being an expert in the space. I hate to say add credibility. We’re not trying to smoke and mirrors but build that credibility. Gain the knowledge point. Put yourself out there on any social platform where you’ll be seen as that expert.
Is there anything that you’ve been doing that you’ve seen fruitful, like in Linkedin? Where did you put most of your efforts on podcasting and speaking at events on teaching the real estate aspect or whatever you’ve seen the highest ROI for you?
I’m not a LinkedIn person. I’m not on Twitter either, which I get yelled at by accountants all the time. I hear Twitter is where tax is at. I’m big on Facebook. I use my personal page as a business page. It’s a better way to do it. It gets better engagement. It’s my preference. I use my personal page to share all of my content.
I’m constantly sharing any episodes I’m on and any upcoming episodes, any classes I’m teaching, any tax updates related to real estate, and any real estate market updates all on my main page. The advantage there is it lets you spread far and wide. If you are in a group sharing knowledge and people come to your page to check it out, if you walk or do what you’re talking about as well, they come to your page and also see a bunch of knowledge. It backs that skillset that you have.
What about the firm owner who’s thinking in their head, “How does she possibly do this? I don’t have any time. I’m in a job and trying to get this firm off the ground on my own, or I’m doing it. I’m overwhelmed with the amount of work that the thought of attempting to go to meet up or do some online outreach and Facebook seems daunting?” For a firm owner who is thinking, “This sounds great, but that’s a lot of work. That’s overwhelming. I don’t even know the first step to take?” what would you say to them?
We’ve all got a finite amount of time. If you could do one thing with your time to get these clients, the best use of your time would be building your skillset specifically, not just in the tax side of things but learning the real estate lingo. If you only have one hour a week, learn something from or with it. Read a book on real estate, a website, or anything. You can watch a YouTube channel of an investor and then at the same time, google the tax implications.
In a lot of the classes I do, I try to make this link because what it comes down to is that there is a huge demand. It is constantly asked in real estate how to find a tax professional who knows rentals and real estate well. All of us who specialize and have a waiting list and no one to refer to, if you build that knowledge that someone who talks to you who is an investor knows that you understand what a BRRRR deal is, subject-to, or understands what they’re doing and how to account for it you won’t struggle to get leads. There will be more than enough leads. Real estate is the only industry I can think of where they’re gung-ho on telling people, “You have to build your team and need a good tax person.” They’re looking for you. They paid money to get trained on real estate and what they were told was to find us.
It also resonates with me because if you learn the real estate lingo as the text professional being an EA, CPA, or even for a bookkeeper who wants to specialize in rentals, I’m sure that becomes a hot mess if the books aren’t done properly. It’s like learning a second language. You could be bilingual in Spanish and English and get far in life or you can become bilingual in real estate, tax, accounting, and English and get far ahead in business for your firm and create yourself a niche. It sounds still very untapped and lots of opportunities.
One of the biggest things they’re told to ask if you invest in real estate is if you’re a tax professional who also already owns rentals. That’s already like one foot in the door. They see that you get what they’re trying to do and also being open-minded. A lot of real estate is not taught, but they see a lot of strategies and ways to invest on TikTok or Instagram. A lot of tax pros right off the jump dismiss those ideas. You can’t be the dismisser. You have to be able to tell if it’s a valid idea or not, but be open to it.
If they come to you with some crazy concept, say, “I’ve never heard of that before, but let’s see how we can do that.” A lot of it is legal and reasonable things. It’s that that lingo. If you don’t understand what they’re doing and the way they’re explaining it to you, a lot of professionals null and void it before even getting the full understanding. Be open to those things.
Since the Abundant Accountant show is all about sales, clearly, this increased your revenue from 2017 to what you’re doing now by niching down and increasing your prices by 400%, can you share with us what you’ve seen as an increase in revenue either as a dollar amount or percentage on your annual revenue from where you were in 2017 to where you are now?
Revenue and pricing-wise, at first, I started at $750 to $800 for the 1040. The other thing I realized was investors want that access to you. They don’t want to pay per phone call. They want to know that if they’re about to sell a property or something, real estate moves quickly. It’s not like a restaurant or a business where it’s pretty consistent or there might be a slow season. Deals happen on the fly and you have to be fast. They want someone they can ask a question quickly. I went from pricing by returns to pricing for an advisory package.
That package started at $5,000. That was for tax advising and planning. I got you a tax plan like an upfront review, feedback, and access for those questions by emails and a few phone calls. The return is priced separately. The return pricing is then based on your specific situation, but you have to buy that access first. Otherwise, I’m not going to do the return. If we haven’t talked all year and I don’t know what’s happening, we’re not doing that. I went from $750 minimum. Let’s call it closer to $7,000 on average. I’ve cut my client numbers down year-to-year. My revenue has increased year-to-year.
What would be the total revenue increase from where you started to where you are now?
In my first year in 2017, I did something silly like $30,000. That was the launch year. That was when I still had a full-time job. In 2023, we’re coming up on 7 figures, especially with the education part on real estate as well. That was from 2017 to 2023. COVID added a large bump to it. A lot of people got started in real estate when they couldn’t go into their full-time jobs or they were looking for alternative security.
Congratulations on your growth, reducing your client load, and going from an average client value of $700 to $7,000. That’s pretty significant. Is there anything else that you would want to share with a firm owner that might be interested in going down this real estate language path in delivering the best advisory services to their clients, understanding the industry in and out, and creating their own waitlist and getting referrals from one another like people like you? Is there anything that you want to share that we didn’t touch on that you think would be important for them to do some next steps?
The next steps would be starting with education and understanding real estate and the tax concepts as they relate to it. What I would encourage everyone to do is if this is an area you think you want to specialize in, look up a local meeting and reach out to the person who puts it together and say, “I am a local CPA or EA. I would love to speak for free at one of your upcoming events. Is that something you’d be interested in?”
There’s a good chance they will and that will snowball. If you’re looking to specialize in this niche, follow me. This is a big part of what I share in all of my teaching. Any CE classes I do are in this area. All I’m ever trying to do is get people educated in this niche because there’s a huge demand. I need somewhere to refer my leads to overflow that I’m not trying to take in. Please specialize in this. There’s a huge demand. Follow me. Go out there, take some steps, meet some investors, and go from there. It will snowball.Go out there, take some steps, meet some investors, and go from there. It will snowball. Click To Tweet
What is your Facebook page so they can go and follow you?
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and successes. Keep up the great work. Your next step is what, work part-time and do seven figures?
My next step is to step out of more of the preparation side and continue to train staff to do that part so I can focus on education and being out there working with other tax professionals because I love teaching this.
Thank you so much for being here with us on the show. It was an honor to have you here.
Thank you so much.
Thank you all so much for joining Natalie and me. It’s always great to have amazing and inspiring speakers. People have done it. If you want to work less, make more, get paid upfront, and go from a $700 average fee to a client per year to $7,000, it’s possible. If you’re a tax accounting bookkeeping firm over and you feel overworked, underpaid, or burnt out, I promise it’s possible and this is for you. I can show you exactly how you can double your fees, how you can get paid upfront and in full, and how you can create reliable reoccurring revenue like Natalie and work substantially fewer hours than you are right now.
Make sure to head on over to TheAbundantCall.com to book your free session with myself and my team and we’ll cover three things on our phone call. The phone calls are completely complimentary, but the trick and the catch is you have to show up committed. That’s all I ask. We’re going to go through where your firm at and the things that are keeping you stuck, where you want to be in your firm in your life to make sure you are paid upfront and saving you a ton of money in the process from not having many mistakes and the exact next steps you can do to double your firm revenue.
Every single client I’ve ever worked with started from this phone call. It will turn into more confidence for you, charging those premium fees that are terrifying you, doubling and tripling your revenue, eliminating burnout, and feeling excited about the work and getting control back of your future. Head on over to TheAbundantCall.com. Book your call. We look forward to talking to you. I’ll see you in the next episode.
- Certified Real Estate Tax Strategist Credential
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About Natalie Kolodij
Natalie is an IRS Enrolled Agent and co-founder of the Certified Real Estate Tax Strategist Credential. She has worked exclusively with real estate investors since 2017 and is a national educator for real estate related tax topics.