The success of a business depends on its ability to deliver high value to clients at a controlled cost. This page is meant to describe the pricing side of that equation.
The first requirement for all accounting engagements: The estimated benefits and value of the project for you must exceed the estimated cost of the project performed by us. Only after making this determination that the work is suitable may we offer pricing. We will not propose projects that do not meet this fundamental requirement.
Two pricing methods
All projects are priced as either single occurrence or repeating and ongoing. Single projects are billed by invoice. Recurring or ongoing work is billed as automatic pre-approved ACH bank draks.
Built-in cost control measures
We use tools to keep prices down. For example, many aspects of our virtual accounting practice are designed to keep costs lean and offer competitive price advantages over larger more traditional “bricks and mortar” firms. Our engagement agreement, for example contains many cost control features designed to let us deliver maximum value at the lowest cost. Pricing is important to success in the small business market. I use the same cost control strategies as recommended to my small business clients to maintain a low price, high value competitive advantage in my field. The savings are then passed on to clients in the form of lower pricing.
This high value competitive pricing strategy depends a few operational procedures:
- Written agreements help improve communication about the details of engagements and our expectations. I primarily use emailed engagement agreements and ask you to respond with “AGREED” before we begin work.
- Electronic payments made timely, usually in advance or our work or planned dates, to help reduce cost.
- Work scheduling to avoid last minute rush. Fees are higher before a tax filing deadline.
- Ongoing informal electronic communication to keep in touch while ‘on the go’ to supplement in-person and telephone sessions. I typically send weekly updates on active projects.
If you opt to avoid these cost control services then resulting fees will be higher.
A $1,000 initial retainer is required for new small business clients. Alternative payment security options may be available.
A retained is not required for individual clients.
Tax preparation rates
The price for tax preparation services is based on a table. A copy of this rate table is available on request. This table lists each tax firm and the price for preparing each. Most tax forms are in the range of $5 to $20. In many cases we may agree on a “flat rate” that overrides the table rates.
Third party contracted services
I rely on the work product and services of others for many accounting engagements. My fee is typically based on a stated dollar amount (or a stated formula) for the successful completion of a contracted service based on an expectation that the demonstrated value or result of this service to you or your business. My fee includes the price of the contracted services. The value of the expected result to you must be higher than my expected cost in order for us to work on this basis. The fee is always agreed in advance in writing in an engagement agreement. I primarily use emailed engagement agreements.
When I am simply re-billing a service provided by another firm, the fee is typically 25% more than the original cost. More often, however, I integrate my work with this third party service and so the resulting price is blend of the third party cost and my fee.
Hourly rate for small business and nonprofit services outside of a fixed contracted price
Services are generally based on a contract price agreed in advance and we do not normally use an hourly rate. However it is often useful to know the hourly rate of billed labor for planning, comparison, or discussion purposes.
In a typical engagement agreement, a maximum of 25% of the total cost may be offered on an hourly basis to adjust for variables and unknown factors at the start of the work. The rest, usually 75% or more, is based on a fixed negotiated price.
Senior accountant / CPA / Controller for small businesses and nonprofit organizations
$160 per hour
Short project under an hour: $3 per minute
Trained and supervised bookkeeper
$45 per hour
Short projects under an hour: $1 per minute
Annual tax filing services
$220 per hour
Audits or reviews required by government, banks or investors
$200 per hour
In all service categories, higher rates apply during rush periods before tax filing deadlines, for overtime and work that must be scheduled during evenings and weekends.