As an accountant, having a niche can help you grow your business. Consider offering services tailored to real estate clients.
As an accountant, attracting and retaining clients is integral to the functioning of your business. It can also allow you to effectively scale your business, benefiting both you and your clients.
In this article, we take a look at how to identify and grow your niche, and attract real estate clients in particular.
Establishing a niche may seem unnecessary but when done properly, it will give you an edge. With countless directories, search engines and social media platforms available to help clients find a CPA, you need to ensure that you don’t get lost in a sea of competitors.
Depending on how long you have been practicing for and how widely you have cast your net previously, your client roster may span industries. So, why bother with finding a niche?:
Once you have identified your niche, you will need to make sure you are targeting the right clients.
With many DIY landlords and property owners managing their own rental portfolios, there is a need for skilled accounting professionals that can help them file their taxes and make the most of allowable deductions. This is where you come in; to help landlords navigate the nuances of tax season, from correct expense categorization to filling out their Schedule E and everything in between.
While there is nothing stopping you from targeting clients in multiple industries, you will likely find it easier to become an expert if you stick to your niche. As an accountant, you can build loyalty with your real estate clients by offering them value they can’t find elsewhere.
For example, deciding on a real estate niche and then subsequently approaching potential clients in the hospitality industry may end up being a waste of time for both you and your client (who isn’t getting the tailored service they need). Your attention will be divided and it will be harder to stay current.
At the end of the day, the client-accountant relationship should be symbiotic: you can help clients manage their rental accounting, while ensuring that you are building a stable, scalable business for yourself.
Establishing your practice firmly in the real estate niche (or any niche for that matter) and targeting the right clients will help you see the growth you are looking for. To grow in your niche, there are a number of things you should do:
Most obviously, you will have to offer industry-specific services to your clients in order to grow your niche. One of the easiest ways is to help your clients leverage purpose-built software such as Landlord Studio. This will allow them to stay on top of their income and expense tracking, to create industry-specific financial reports, such as overdue rent and rent ledger reports, and streamline their day to day property management. Plus, with our accountant view and Xero integration you can gain access to their data throughout the year to enable you to offer value-added services and ensure a smooth tax time.
Clients are more likely to pay for services that are relevant and insightful.
While your clients may leave the filing of their taxes to the last minute every year, you don’t need to do the same. Instead of waiting until tax season to mobilize, you can acquire clients throughout the year. Furthermore, reminding your current clients to keep on top of their income and expense tracking throughout the year and giving them the tools to do so will also make your life easier come tax time.
Also, keep a keen eye on what your competitors are doing.
If you don’t price your services strategically, you could hinder your ability to grow your client base. Value-based pricing is one strategy where prices are set according to the perceived or estimated value of a product or service to the customer, instead of according to the cost of the product or historical prices.
Implementing a pricing strategy like this will give your clients a better understanding of the value of your services and will also free you from hourly constraints. It will also help you tailor and refine your services based on their needs. This will increase loyalty and create a long-lasting relationship between CPA and client.
If, at the end of the day, you are offering to help your clients, you should be able to preempt their needs.
In order for you to find new clients and for clients to find you, you need to be visible online and offline. This means both going where your clients are and bringing them to you.
With almost everyone and every industry operating in some capacity online these days, you’d be remiss to not consider online channels to help you attract and retain real estate clients. Some of these are:
Emails may seem like a basic tool but can be an effective way of approaching new clients and also keeping current clients up to date about any new services you are offering. Regular newsletters or email contact will allow you to remind your clients why you’re great. Bear in mind that too-frequent contact may be interpreted as spam or junk.
Social media marketing will give your practice more exposure while helping you keep up to date with industry trends. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube are all platforms that a real estate CPA can utilize in order to increase their reach.
Being visible on social media also means there are more ways for your clients to reach you – it is virtually impossible to attend an industry networking event everyday but most people probably check their social media accounts at least once a day. Take advantage of this when you plan your social media marketing strategy.
Joining Facebook groups, industry forums and message boards (for example, BiggerPockets) is a free way to target a captive audience. A quick browse of a relevant group or forum will reveal people asking where to find tax professionals in their particular area. This is where you can jump in to offer your services.
Furthermore, groups and forums are also a platform where you can post your own content. Thought provoking content, will demonstrate the value that you can add for clients.
Very few people will be tempted to read a thousand-word article on a social media platform. This is where blogs come in, as a channel for you to showcase your services, leverage industry knowledge and offer valuable advice.
To take it a step further, you can optimize your content for SEO, to ensure that people searching for industry-specific topics end up reading your content.
Getting your company listed in a trusted online directory can boost your chances of being discovered. Directories may be local or nationwide and organized by location or area of expertise. Be sure to emphasize your niche to help you stand out.
While you may actively avoid clicking on ads, they are one way to boost your exposure. It may take some experimentation to figure out the best ads to run or the best platforms to show them on, but once you have established a reliable strategy, they may help you generate new leads with minimal effort on your part.
Although there are many online platforms that you should be taking advantage of to help you grow your client base, there are still offline channels that you can utilize. Some of these are:
Going to in-person networking events in your local area is perhaps the most obvious offline channel. Look for events for real estate professionals and investors in your area. By positioning yourself as a real estate specialist accountant you can attract clients who are looking for your services in particular.
Consider co-hosting or sponsoring events as another way of attracting new clients. Even if the event is not industry-specific, being a co-host or sponsor will increase your brand reach.
While cold calls may be harder to ignore than emails, they are often seen as an annoyance for those on the other end of the line and overly time consuming for you. With an extremely low success rate (of somewhere around 2%), it can seem like a waste of time. With a referral, it may make more sense.
The acquisition of new clients is, of course, important but if you can take this a step further by facilitating repeat business and referrals, you will be able to scale your business and increase stability.
Plus, by leveraging the right tools, resources and strategies, it's possible to start a service business with low start-up costs. For example, MarketBox offers e-commerce tools that help streamline operations, grow sales, and facilitate payment processing.
Although the world is a big place, you'll find that real estate professionals often run in the same circles. Not only will happy clients return to your business next tax season, they may also refer your services to their own network of colleagues or friends.
If you aren’t quite at the stage where your work (or clients) is speaking for itself, you could try offering referral incentives for your current clients. This may be in the form of a monetary discount or an added service. These referral bonuses will allow you to increase your network, while building loyalty.
An important aspect of targeting clients in the real estate industry is demonstrating that your services are trustworthy and worthwhile. By using purpose-built software like Landlord Studio, which was built with landlords in mind, you will be able to reassure your real estate clients that you are looking after their every need.
Industry-specific reports like the overdue rent and rent ledger reports will give them high level insights into the performance of their rental property portfolio.
Furthermore, using software that both you and your clients can easily access will allow you to keep on top of rental accounting tasks throughout the year. Clients can scan their receipts at the point of sale, track income and expenses on the go and set up automatic invoices. These industry specific features allow you to cater to your niche with ease and confidence.
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At the end of the day, growing your client base is the bread and butter of any accounting firm. If you can find a way to stand out from the crowd, you’ll be able to establish your niche in a way that benefits both you and our clients.
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