Let’s face it – most bookkeepers are women, and most CPA’s are men. This is a generalization based on my 10 years of industry experience, and not based on any empirical evidence. And let’s face it, accounting/CPA firms charge more for bookkeeping services than most independent bookkeepers charge. All the recent talk about Value Based Pricing has got me thinking: why do bookkeepers get paid less, and why do they often undervalue and underprice their services?
Again, I have no studies or surveys to quote, but here are my gut-level reasons for my supposition:
• Women lack confidence
• Women fear clients will protest or leave
• Women fear failure
Lack of Confidence
A female colleague, who does bookkeeping and tax prep (she is an EA, not a CPA), charges $30-40 per hour less than our other colleagues, despite her EA designation. She does not realize how the devaluation of her own worth simultaneously devalues everyone else’s pricing.
We hear in the news about historical pay differentials between women and men. So is it ingrained into the female subconscious that women earn less than men, or that we can’t charge the same rates as men? As small business owners, there is no reason we cannot charge the same rates as male-owned or male-run firms. Yet often we don’t. Why?
Truth to tell, I don’t know why this woman feels she cannot charge higher prices. I should probably just ask her. Part of me thinks she feels she cannot charge more because she is not a CPA. Part of me thinks she’s content with her low fees because it brings her volume, and since her billings are enough to cover her costs, she’s satisfied. Yet, this feels unsatisfactory to me. If she had more confidence in her earning power, perhaps she would charge more. I think she needs goals. Achieving goals leads to confidence, which leads to more success, and more confidence. Thus a virtuous cycle is born.
Food for Thought: Do you have monthly income goals? Are they written down? Do you compare your monthly billings to the same month last year? Do you compare your YTD billings to last YTD? If the numbers are up or down, do you know why? Take a look at your own books as you would look at one of your client’s books. What advice would you give yourself after seeing your own revenuesand bottom line?
Fear Clients Will Protest Higher Prices
When I moved to Value Based Pricing in January 2015, here is what happened: nothing. None of my clients complained about the new fixed fee pricing. None pushed back. None quit and left me to find a cheaper provider. I have already built value by providing valuable services, and my clients recognize that and are pleased to continue our working relationship. In fact, some informed me they were glad to know how much to expect to spend on their monthly/annual bookkeeping. No more billing fluctuations or surprises!
Food for Thought: Have you considered making the move to Value Based Pricing? If Yes, did you do it? If you considered it, but did not make the move, why not? What is holding you back? If you implemented it, did any clients leave or complain? Were their complaints valid?
Fear of Failure
How many of us want to make changes in our professional or personal lives, but are rooted in fear and do not move forward? Sometimes changes can be small; sometimes they are monumental. I find that after attending industry conferences, Meetup Groups, or other networking events, I often return with at least one if not more good ideas for making sensible changes to my practice. Some I implement, and some I don’t. But at least I am willing to give it a try, without fear of failure. When facing a prospective change, I find it helps to list the Pros and Cons of each change, and decide if the Pros outweigh the Cons. If they do, I feel comfortable making plans to implement the change. Those plans may entail informing clients and vendors, or they may be internal-only, but having thought them through in advance makes implementation more palatable.
Food for Thought: What would you like to change in your practice, but fear is holding you back? Do you have real justification for those fears, or have you not really addressed them? The clock is ticking – what are you waiting for, and why?!?