Lately, I’ve been talking a lot about why every bookkeeper should charge a BAS lodgement fee. It’s resulted in some great discussion among my clients and bookkeepers in my network so I thought I’d share a bit more about my story. Plus share a free downloadable template and email template to help YOU charge the correct fees for your business.
First, my story.
I’d been charging BAS lodgement fees for awhile now when a rather awkward phone conversation with a client made me question myself.
What to do when a client questions your fee
This client approached me. He was very fastidious. He sent me an email saying that he’d been referred by an existing client of mine and he gave me this long dot point list of things that he wanted and expected from a bookkeeper. And at the start of the email, he even criticised his previous bookkeeper… red flag, right? (Yup! One of those ones that I shouldn’t have ignored but thankfully something good came out of it.)
I scheduled our initial meeting on Zoom, and I went through the questions that he’d asked. I talked to him about his business, and I got the sense that he had quite a strong personality as we were talking through things.
He asked me how much I charge per hour. I told him my hourly rate, which was $80/hour and he didn’t flinch about that. Phew!
But then I said, “I charge a BAS lodgement fee.”
And he said, “Oh, what’s that for? Does that include time?”
And I said, “No.”
Then he said, “What, you’re expecting me to pay you $880 extra a year just to “click a button” four times? Why should I pay that?”
I was actually really offended. I was thinking… how dare you? I don’t “just click a button”, thank you very much. I am a professional BAS agent. I took a deep breath so I wouldn’t sound annoyed and said, “It’s standard industry practice.”
And he said, “I don’t care what it is.”
Gulp. The blunt way he was speaking was very confronting, and made me feel nervous. But it was that conversation that made me start to question myself. “Why do I charge a BAS lodgement fee?”
So then I said, “After we finish this meeting I’ll send you some of the information about the BAS lodgement and what’s included.”
How I educated my client and demonstrated my value
Once I got off the phone, I had a bit of space to breathe. I started to really think about the reasons why I charge a BAS lodgement fee.
The reason I started charging this fee in the first place was because another bookkeeper told me I should. I never even asked why. So that’s not a good enough reason. It started to dawn on me that if I don’t have a good reason for charging something then really, I shouldn’t charge it. “It’s standard industry practice,” is not a good reason. It might be a good enough reason for me, but it isn’t a good enough reason for a client. Why should they pay a “standard industry fee” with no explanation? They shouldn’t.
After the phone call, I started to research for myself what I think is included in BAS lodgement, and I came up with five benefits of lodging through a BAS agent, and quickly typed them up. I called it ‘Five benefits of lodging through a BAS agent that will save your sleep’. Then I formatted it nicely, put my logo on the top, and added my business colours and branding.
Then I attached it to my email and sent it through to the client.
What happened next was…
He said, “That’s great. I didn’t realise that’s what I was getting, but I’m definitely happy to pay that. It’s kind of like an insurance premium of some kind, in a way, isn’t it? Yep, happy to pay for you to ‘click the button’.”
PHEW! Great result, right?
The info every bookkeeper needs to share with their clients
After that kind of feedback, I realised I was onto something. If one person found that information about my fees valuable, why not send it to others? So from then on, I then sent that email to pretty much everyone:
- I sent it to my existing clients
- I added it as part of my onboarding process, so that whenever a new client came to my business, they’d get that document and understand the value of my bookkeeping and BAS services
- I fleshed it out and I put it onto my website (the BAS agent page, about page, and then I as a blog post)
And then as I started working with other bookkeepers to help them with their business, marketing, and websites, I started giving it away to them as well. Whenever someone became a client, I gave it to them as a bonus (but with my credentials on it).
Once I stopped offering bookkeeping as a service myself, I decided to just give it away… after all, it improves the industry when more people understand bookkeepers’ value and more bookkeepers get paid for that value.
So, that’s it. And here we are!
Get my BAS lodgement fee templates for your business
Want my BAS lodgement fee document so you can customise it yourself? PLUS the email template I sent it with?
Here they are!
Make sure you attach the document and customise the name fields. But you can also customise the rest of the email to include specific details you think will be useful and interesting to your clients. Feel free to use the template as is, or tweak it a bit to make it sound like you.
Over to you…
Let’s make sure EVERY bookkeeper in Australia has an opportunity to charge a BAS lodgement fee while educating mall business owners so they don’t feel at the mercy of our fees. Please share this post with other bookkeepers, educate our clients, and make it the common practice it should be.
And if you have any questions or experiences about bookkeeper fees and pricing, please leave a comment below so we can keep the discussion going.
P.S. Once you start charging a BAS lodgement fee, you’re officially one step closer to package-based pricing.
Do you need help with pricing the rest of your bookkeeping packages? Join me for 5 Pricing Mistakes Bookkeepers Make (a free email series) and uncover the common mistakes you’re making and what to do instead.