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ARTICLES Patented & © Copyright 2004
An Adelaide practice thrives on software and property syndication read full article
…"Who wants to know about $65 tax returns? Not us," he says. "We want clients willing to give us their first call, listen to our advice, guide them on business improvement, and in turn generate high profitability for ourselves."…
Buy your ticket to freedom from compliance work read full article

…Among marketing tools successfully used by his accounting firm are Focus for Results … moving from $2500-a-year compliance work to $15,000 in consulting fees.

Telemarketers reel in big, new clients read full article
…They have coupled their personal marketing with use of the Focus for Results business-needs analysis program and offer a free one-hour interview. This has led to fees of up to $15,000 from single clients...
Break-up paves the way for a growth spurt read full article
…Among marketing tools successfully used by his accounting firm are Focus for Results … moving from $2500-a-year compliance work to $15,000 in consulting fees...


Accountants are good at many things, but one thing they traditionally have enormous difficulty with is what we might call the "selling" process. Most accountants simply don't see themselves as "salespeople", yet the reality is that they need to sell their services to at least keep pace with the competitive pressures.

One Adelaide-based accountant has found a solution - one which is now being embraced enthusiastically by his fellow accountants. Even more to the point, their clients are also embracing it. It's a solution that uses technology in an innovative way.

The route to the solution is equally interesting. Greg Perks, a director of Adelaide-based Perks & Associates, was looking for better ways of marketing his firm and at the same time adding value for his clients. After attending a program called the Accountants' Boot Camp in 1992, he realised that there had to be more to life than just compliance work.

Like many accountants, he felt bogged down with the daily grind that takes you away from the real issues that confront clients. He decided that there had to be more interesting and effective ways to market his services to his clients.

The objective was to add value for the clients by going beyond the basic preparation of financial statements and tax returns. Greg Perks soon realised that finding a way to achieve this was going to be harder than he first thought. After a couple of years of business consulting, he had achieved some level of success but was frustrated that it was still not up to his expectations.

In 1994 he and his team at Perks and Associates set about designing a marketing system for accounting firms that would add value for clients while also building non-compliance fees. He saw that there was a possibility of marrying a traditional but often ineffective checklist approach with technology to both personalise and automate the process.

It took two years to create, test, refine and develop the system. The initial end result was a program called Business Needs Analysis. Initially it was used internally at Perks and Associates.

That use created an enormous increase in work at the practice. "The system clearly had the potential to change the way accountants think and do business," Greg Perks says. "For the first time, the accountant was able to obtain a true and accurate understanding of the client's needs. We created what we believed to be a unique marketing system for accountants, but the process becomes much more personal with the client in control."

Over the next two years Greg Perks and his team further developed the system with continual testing and refinement.

Then in late 1996, the system was shown to Paul Dunn, chairman of Results Accountants' Systems (RAS). The program was promptly renamed Focus for Results (FFR) and was further refined before its launch in Australia and New Zealand in April this year. RAS has now assumed responsibility for marketing FFR worldwide.

The FFR system is designed to flag issues which fall outside the normal tax and compliance matters. To that end, it is an effective method of marketing an extended range of services to clients in a way that is not seen as "hard sell": clients see it more as a procedure to review their business and personal affairs.

It is simplicity itself. The client is asked to answer a series of simple "yes/no" questions on the computer screen. The number and type of questions can be modified according to the needs of the client, with additional questions added or deleted as necessary

The answers automatically generate a series of actions. For example, one question is: "Have I got a valid will that expresses my current wishes? if the answer is no, the action is: "Prepare a will as a matter of urgency". Most importantly the client is then asked by the program to prioritise the importance of the actions.

"It's this degree of control by the client that makes a very real difference," says Greg Perks. "The accountant is doing no selling; the client specifies exactly and without pressure his needs. All the accountant then needs to do is respond."

A significant advantage of Focus For Results is its ability to automatically produce detailed and informative reports that identify the client's wishes and priorities. The report also produces an action plan which lists the actions required. the priority of the actions, the person responsible and the target date for completion of the task.

An innovative feature is that it is based upon an agreed monthly budget. All of this happens in a fraction of the time that would otherwise be required - about four minutes compared with seven hours! The reports can then be edited directly with Microsoft Word.

A worldwide patent pending application was obtained in October last year and the program has since been released in New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Britain. In excess of 500 firms have invested in the package worldwide.

The bottom line for the program, however, is the enthusiastic response of a Melbourne-based accountant who has been using FFR since April. "I've been trying to get away from compliance work for years, he exclaimed as he bought a copy of FFR. "This is my ticket to freedom!"